Redefining collegiate difficulty

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Redefining collegiate difficulty

Post by ryanrosenberg »

The gameplay-related option that received the most votes in the "What is the most pressing issue in college quizbowl today?" poll was "Regular difficulty is 'too hard'". This problem hasn't received much discussion in the thread, but any sort of action to remedy the issue would change college quizbowl very widely, so I wanted to start a separate thread dedicated to discussing this topic.

In my mind, there seems to be two or three separate-but-related questions at issue here. One is "What should the average difficulty of a college tournament be? If that is below current 'regular difficulty', should we rename difficulty levels?" and the other is "Should we change the difficulty of ACF Regionals and SCT, the two premier 'regular difficulty' tournaments?"

Some already-offered answers to these questions to start the discussion:
Jacob Reed, in the other thread wrote:I think there should be more regular-minus tournaments, and "regular" should be more carefully controlled (e.g. this year's Regionals, despite its brilliances, could have had much more tapering on the hard side of its distribution), but I don't think "regular" itself needs to change.
Billy Busse, in the other thread wrote:I agree--it's time for collegiate quizbowl to tranisition to 4 difficulty levels. Many, many tournaments these days bill themselves as somewhere in between the levels and it makes understanding what difficulty a tournament is going to be more difficult than it needs to be. I think "standard" and "qualifier" are reasonable names for these intermediate difficulty levels, and there's no need to adjust the difficulty of novice or nationals.
JM Sipp, in the other thread wrote:The easier we make the tournaments, the easier we make it for star high school players to not actually do that much more studying and learning to succeed, shafting players with lots of real knowledge that didn't have the advantage of being on an elite high school team and knowing the canon inside and out.
Ophir, in the Discord wrote:The label "Regular" is currently used for a relatively wide range of difficulties, but it could be split into a "Medium" level (EFT) and a tougher, qualifying but still widely accessible "Regionals" level. Compared to the nebulous three-level "Easy" "Regular" (anywhere from EFT 17 to Regionals 18) "Nationals", a more standard four-level difficulty progression might help with easing attrition/those "jumps" to the next level
Eric Mukherjee, in the Discord wrote:so one reason why I like this poll is, I think it lends credence to the idea that regular should be trended down to EFT level
and leave SCT, ICT, Regs, and Nats as is
I have also heard plenty of opinion that regular difficulty should not be changed (lest people think I'm biased in the quotes I'm presenting), but in private conversation I would rather not excerpt here; people who oppose this proposal should make their point in the thread.
Ryan Rosenberg
North Carolina '16