ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

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ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by vengefulsweatermensch » Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:40 pm

Welcome to the discussion thread for ACF Fall 2018! I hope you enjoyed playing our questions. Here’s who edited what:

Rahul - European literature, visual fine arts, other fine arts, social science
Olivia - American literature, British literature, World literature, any/other literature
Young - religion, philosophy, auditory fine arts
Ashwin - chemistry, physics, mythology
Nitin - all of history
Neil - biology and any/other science

In addition to coordinating the set’s science editing, Adam Silverman randomized the packets and chipped in with editing advice outside of his nominal categories. He was an invaluable collaborator. Nitin, Rahul, and Young also went beyond their jobs as editors to help me proofread the set.

Richard Yu helped me set up the registration spreadsheet. Alex Damisch did a lot of work with this tournament’s finances. Jonathan Magin patiently answered my questions about the head editor role and gave me guidance early on in the editing process. Jennie Yang helped set up the editor application form and guest-edited two music tossups. Rob Carson edited a baseball tossup. Many people gave feedback on questions, including Benji Nguyen, John Marvin, and Alex Freed. If I’ve forgotten anyone - surely I have - well, sorry! I’m very tired right now, but I will update this post to include you.

From my conversations with players at the Texas mirror and elsewhere, I think it's fair to say that this set achieved its primary goal: providing well-clued, creatively-designed questions that are accessible to less experienced players without alienating old hands. However, these positive aspects of the set do not mask its issues, which seem to fall into two categories, proofreading and feng shui (i.e a tossup on the Chicago Cubs followed by a bonus on the social science of baseball). These things are a head editors' responsibility, so if you're going to criticize these aspects of the set make sure you're aiming your barbs at me.

Editing ACF Fall is one of the hardest jobs in quiz bowl. It is certainly among the most exposed - no other tournament selects editors through an application process; no college tournament is played by as many teams in as many places; and no other college tournament is forced to cater to the needs of so many different players. Rahul, Olivia, Young, Ashwin, Nitin and Neil all stepped up to this challenge with gusto. I enjoyed working with all of them.

Comments about specific questions or notes on errata should go in the other thread. Discuss away!
Last edited by vengefulsweatermensch on Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by username1 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:40 am

This was overall a great set! I especially appreciated the wide variety of ballet questions, particularly the Coppelia bonus. It's nice to see more ballets that are essentials among ballet enthusiasts but not necessarily considered part of the quiz bowl canon be included in a set of this difficulty.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:55 am

I thought the set did a great job hitting its difficulty and accessibility goals, and especially appreciated the consistently-controlled tossup length. All of the editors should take pride in that, and keep working on stuff! You're a very promising young group of writers and your skill warms my aged heart.

As Nathan alluded to, I think the set's biggest faults were the dubious proofreading and, relatedly, the sometimes-faltering attention to detail--things that specifically come to mind for the latter include the common (though not universal!) lack of pronunciation guides and the relatively (though not universally!) anemic answerlines, the latter of which often lacked things like full names, alternate answers, or prompting instructions. I certainly understand how relatively new editors might miss this stuff! It's easy to miss typos or what have you when you've been staring at the questions for a long time, and it's easy to underestimate the level of effort required for technical stuff like answerlines and pronunciation guides when your primary exposure to sets has been on the receiving end. It's also a lot of extra work for already-busy writers and editors, of course, so this is an area in which you (and any independent tournament producers, really) should feel free to reach out to community members for help (some of whom are ACF members who have indicated their willingness to do this for any ACF tournament but could perhaps be a little more proactive in offering). It does require you to finish the majority of work on the set a little early so your proofreaders and polishers have sufficient time to do these jobs, but the payoff is definitely worth it.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by benmillerbenmiller » Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:30 am

I really enjoyed playing this set. A few feng shui challenges aside, the editing was quite strong, especially when it came to keeping difficulty appropriate and consistent throughout.

My only major concern lies with how world history was handled in the set. Way too many packets had a "world history" tossup that instead just discussed Americans/Europeans doing things in places that aren't Europe or America. The best example of this is probably the Rutgers A packet whose world history tossup on German colonialism was really just a third Euro question in a packet that already had tossups on the British airforce and the Bonaparte family. Same goes for the Oxford A packet, which tossed up Cleopatra, Huguenots, and Basques. Other world history questions that more directly covered the history of non-western people still tended to rely heavily on western topics and clues, for instance, the Nanjing tossup in NYU A which clued only Americans and Europeans for the first half of the question.

Overall I really enjoyed the history in the set and thought the questions themselves were almost uniformly well-crafted, but correcting some of the prevailing eurocentrism would have made for a more balanced product.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Karansebes Schnapps Vendor » Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:30 am

Overall, I thought this set was fun - there was a good mix of fun qs on core content and some interesting out there ideas. I generally appreciated the answerline selection and thought there were a lot of well executed ideas.

One of my biggest problems with the set was the subdistributing. In the 13 rounds I played, I heard 0 cs tossups and 2 cs bonuses; similarly, the myth seemed to have a lot more Hindu / Norse myth and a lot less Greco-Roman content than standard, which, from talking to other people, seemed really noticeable (in addition to not really having any questions on Egyptian myth or other important systems like Sumerian myth that I can remember). Both of these surprised me - it seems very weird to just be missing a standard .25/.25 from much of the set especially in the case of CS, even if the other science that filled its gap was usually enjoyable. Were these subdistributing choices conscious or did they just end up that way unfortunately?
(As a side note, one of the packets I played (editors 5? I believe) seemed to have 2 other sci tus: spheres and normal.)

Even as a person who doesn't usually pay attention to music at tournaments, this set seemed to have a lot of score clues, especially during bonus parts. The super long ones especially were quite frustrating; I remember one was over 8 notes in a bonus leadin, that was mostly just a repetition of the note C, that was just a pain to sit through that late in the tournament. In general, it felt that every tu had at least a score clue, and a lot of them had multiple reaching past the halfway point that just seemed to hurt playability at this difficulty. The score clues seemed hard enough that it was notable when people actually buzzed on those, and I can barely remember that ever happening in games I played.

Also, a lot of the tossups seemed to be sort of repetitive - lots of jazz tossups on "this instrument" and lots of philosophy tossups on specific thinkers for instance; not that this is necessarily a bad thing, especially in the lens of convertible ways of asking about deep topics, but this was something that struck me as very noticeable while playing the set.

Besides all of that, I really enjoyed the literature and science in this set - the poetry and short fiction especially seemed awesome to me. In general, I can't remember hearing tossups that made me think "that was a bad idea to write on," even at the Fall level, and I felt that my first line buzzes were quite rewarding. From a player perspective, this was definitely an enjoyable tournament that touched on interesting and deep content in cool and accessible ways, so thank you for putting the set together!
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Couch's Kingbird » Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:59 am

I personally had fun playing the set. More specifically: I enjoyed the lit, although I thought the bonus difficulty varied a lot (some of the hard parts felt very/too hard for ACF Fall difficulty, while some of the other bonuses felt relatively easy). There were also a few (only one or two) questions that were common link/creative answerlines that I wasn't fond of. The set was also definitely heavy on Hindu mythology (and also Norse towards the second half). I agree that the score clues for music didn't feel too helpful (I'm not a music expert by any means; other people who are better with music on my team did say the same thing though)- especially the clues that dropped long strings of notes.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by John Ketzkorn » Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:05 am

Overall, I liked this set. I thought it did a solid job of asking canonical questions while still using interesting clues. A majority of the tossups had a nice flow to them -- primarily avoiding moving bluntly from fact to fact and actually elaborating on the clues and why they're interesting / important.

As Rob mentioned, there seemed to a lack of alternate answerlines. I remember needing to accept England for the Great Britain tossup since all the mathematicians mentioned were from England. I also think America wasn't mentioned in an answer for the United States. Another oversight I saw was lack of consistent style. I saw various uses of "For 10 points each" and "for ten points each," situations that probably should've been combed through -- although, that's more of a stylistic touch-up and didn't detract from the actual content of the set.

My second point of criticism would be the "feng shui" of the set. There were multiple instances where the same answerlines were used -- which is trickier to avoid at this level, but it was especially discouraging to see the same answerlines come up in the exact same packet.

Overall though, I think this set did its job. The editors ensured players were tested on the core canon while being pushed in spots to know some deeper level things. And that's not an easy thing to do, so well done.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:18 am

I appreciated that both difficulty and tossup length seemed well-controlled -- these both require considerable discipline. I think players at the UMN site appreciated that care and enjoyed the set. As others have mentioned, I think more attention to detail would have paid off, but I also think the set mostly got the big things right.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:44 am

This was a very good set overall.

I liked the creativity of the literature questions especially when the answerlines that were essentially the title but as a person, place, or thing.

I thought the score clues for music were sometimes quite challenging. Take for example the lead in to the Bizet tossup which is one of the most famous opera arias of all time to the Dvorak lead in or the Grosse Fugue lead in. Some were perhaps also a bit lengthy to take in all at once.

There seemed like there was a more trash trash than I expected compared to standard “other” categories like CE/Geo/Mixed. Is there supposed to be more trash here than at regionals?

Could minor quirks have been fixed through an online play test? This could be a great way in the future for borderline too strong teams to play fall without ruining their fields. I think it’s really important for this tournament in particular to be spotless.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by rahulkeyal » Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:52 am

username1 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:40 am
This was overall a great set! I especially appreciated the wide variety of ballet questions, particularly the Coppelia bonus. It's nice to see more ballets that are essentials among ballet enthusiasts but not necessarily considered part of the quiz bowl canon be included in a set of this difficulty.
Glad to hear you enjoyed it!
Karansebes Schnapps Vendor wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:30 am
Also, a lot of the tossups seemed to be sort of repetitive - lots of jazz tossups on "this instrument"
There actually was only one jazz tossup on an instrument ("drums"), however there were tossups both on "harmonica" (in a wide variety of music) and "piano" (in film scores). I realized too late that 3/7 other auditory arts tossups being on instruments wasn't the smartest idea, and had I more time, I certainly would have replaced at least one of the questions.
Last edited by rahulkeyal on Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Pablo Picasso 2 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:49 am

I think this was a great set - people from our A team to D team all seem to enjoy it a lot, and I read some very creative tossups that was difficulty appropriate but still fun to hear. Off the top of my head I really liked the questions on Lisbon from Voltaire, flutes in myths, and wine from Chinese lit (as well as the distillation column tossup that was sadly a tiebreaker).

There were some bad feng shui issues that was irritating, but more amusing than annoying - like a 3rd part bonus with answer "soprano" immediately followed by a TU's first clue about a soprano, or metaphysics and the metaphysical poets both being in the same packet. Some less obvious repetition issues come to mind too - like Diels-Alder and John Lennon/Yoko Ono, which probably could have been avoided easily.

That said, this was a very good edition of ACF Fall - thanks for writing and editing!
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by CPiGuy » Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:25 am

I enjoyed playing this tournament, which contained a number of good ideas. Thanks to the editors for their hard work!

Like others, I thought the tournament suffered from feng shui and proofreading issues. In addition, I thought that there were some issues with bonus difficulty consistency -- some bonuses felt like giveaway 30's while some felt like getting more than 10 required advance knowledge. This tournament felt somewhat like it had never actually been playtested live, given that some (but not all) of the issues it faced would have been very hard to miss.

To be clear, I played the Briticized version of the set, which may be the cause for some or all of these issues. In particular, the Briticizers apparently rewrote at least 80/80 of the set in about 24 hours, in part because the set was sent to the wrong email addresses. They seemed to have a low opinion of the set, but to be honest the fast pace at which they were working is likely to have introduced some errors -- for example, cluing "The Raven" in the second line of a tossup on Poe which was converted from something else (which is absolutely not an indictment of them -- from what I saw, they did a great job of adjusting the difficulty and distribution to suit their audience, which was absolutely not me!) In the future, I think that if Fall is to continue to be adapted for other countries, that the people doing that should be brought on considerably sooner if possible.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:43 am

CPiGuy wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:25 am
To be clear, I played the Briticized version of the set, which may be the cause for some or all of these issues. In particular, the Briticizers apparently rewrote at least 80/80 of the set in about 24 hours, in part because the set was sent to the wrong email addresses. They seemed to have a low opinion of the set, but to be honest the fast pace at which they were working is likely to have introduced some errors -- for example, cluing "The Raven" in the second line of a tossup on Poe which was converted from something else (which is absolutely not an indictment of them -- from what I saw, they did a great job of adjusting the difficulty and distribution to suit their audience, which was absolutely not me!) In the future, I think that if Fall is to continue to be adapted for other countries, that the people doing that should be brought on considerably sooner if possible.
I'm curious: how broad was the Briticizers's mandate? It sounds like they made relatively broad-based editorial changes, many of which were not plausibly related to differences between British and American curricula and general knowledge bases.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:15 am

As a reader, this seemed like the best ACF Fall by a wide margin in years. The clues and answer lines were consistently interesting. Difficulty and length were well controlled. Thanks to everyone who worked on it.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Fuddle Duddle » Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:50 am

benmillerbenmiller wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:30 am
I really enjoyed playing this set. A few feng shui challenges aside, the editing was quite strong, especially when it came to keeping difficulty appropriate and consistent throughout.

My only major concern lies with how world history was handled in the set. Way too many packets had a "world history" tossup that instead just discussed Americans/Europeans doing things in places that aren't Europe or America. The best example of this is probably the Rutgers A packet whose world history tossup on German colonialism was really just a third Euro question in a packet that already had tossups on the British airforce and the Bonaparte family. Same goes for the Oxford A packet, which tossed up Cleopatra, Huguenots, and Basques. Other world history questions that more directly covered the history of non-western people still tended to rely heavily on western topics and clues, for instance, the Nanjing tossup in NYU A which clued only Americans and Europeans for the first half of the question.

Overall I really enjoyed the history in the set and thought the questions themselves were almost uniformly well-crafted, but correcting some of the prevailing eurocentrism would have made for a more balanced product.
I wholeheartedly agree with Ben's comments here. I don't entirely buy the argument that writing on, for example, colonial governments in Africa or giving World History a smaller space in the distro is necessary at Fall difficulty; a hard part on, say, Cetshwayo or Winnie Mandela would not have been overwhelmingly less accessible than one on Jan Smuts, and a bonus on Ethiopia likely wouldn't have been too much more difficult than one on exploration around the source of the Nile. Even at this difficulty level, Alex Fregeau's dictum in his recent (excellent) thread on World History that World should not just be things Europeans did on other continents should be given significantly more attention in the future. I appreciate the focus the history seemed to have on accessibility for novices and difficulty control, but that focus doesn't necessarily have to come at the expense of greater representation for non-Europeans in the history distro.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by t-bar » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:03 pm

In general, I thought that topic and clue selection in this set were excellent. Many topics that come up often at ACF Fall feel very well-trod, but I found this set fresh and interesting to read. Players seemed to enjoy the set as well.

Other people have mentioned the typos and the dearth of pronunciation guides, and there's a catalogue of factual errors in the other thread. I wanted to expand a bit on what people have said above about bare answerlines.

My general observation was that answerlines did a pretty good job of including acceptable synonyms for common words or descripitive phrases, such as these answerlines from FSU etc.:
ANSWER: funerals [or burials; accept sky ​burials; prompt on descriptive answers that mention death or the treatment of dead bodies]
ANSWER: education [or learning; or teaching; or pedagogy until it is read]

However, other answerlines that involved portions or variants of more complicated terms often had issues. One of the most prominent examples of this pattern showed up in CMU A etc., the first packet we read at the MIT site:
ANSWER: Eastern Orthodoxy [or Russian Orthodoxy; or Greek Orthodoxy]
Is Eastern Orthodox acceptable? Promptable? If so, don't underline the y in the primary answer. Is Orthodoxy acceptable? Promptable? If it's promptable or not acceptable, then indicate so explicitly, and don't underline just that word in the alternate answers. If it's outright acceptable, then it would be clearer to just underline Orthodoxy in the primary answer. These may seem like minor points--and perhaps every moderator who received an answer of "Eastern Orthodox" did correctly accept it--but moderators should be able to operate by simply following the instructions on the page to the greatest degree possible. Indeed, at high-stakes tournaments like nationals, we're explicitly told to go by exactly what's on the page, and let players protest if they object. This way of doing things doesn't work if answerlines are incomplete.

Experienced moderators know that for people known by a name and a title, or people for whom you need more than the surname, you almost always prompt on a partial answer. However, the following answerlines really should have had explicit prompt instructions ("prompt on Tarquin" is better than "prompt on partial answers"):
ANSWER: Tarquin the Proud [or Tarquinius Superbus; do not accept "Tarquinius Priscus"]
Is Tarquin acceptable? Promptable? Is Tarquinius acceptable? Promptable?
ANSWER: Zelda Fitzgerald [or Zelda Sayre]
Is Fitzgerald acceptable? Promptable?
ANSWER: Amy Lowell
Is Lowell acceptable? Promptable?
ANSWER: Otto the Great [or Otto I]
Is Otto acceptable? Promptable?

Other cases failed to anticipate the full range of plausible responses:
ANSWER: George Walker Bush [or George Bush, Jr.; prompt on partial answer; prompt on Dubya; do not accept or prompt on "George HW Bush" or "George Bush, Sr."]
Is Bush 43 acceptable? Promptable? Are descriptive answers indicating the second Bush acceptable? Promptable?
ANSWER: Shiite Islam
Is Shiite acceptable? Promptable? Is Shi'a acceptable? Promptable?
ANSWER: Yugoslavia
Is Croatia acceptable? Promptable? Is Serbia acceptable? Promptable? (There's further discussion of this question in the specific discussion thread.)
ANSWER: Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation [or CMBR]
Are partial answers promptable?

As I mentioned above, it's better to provide an explicit list of acceptable alternatives (or at least one example!) than to throw the moderator a vague instruction to accept answers that sound similar:
ANSWER: polarization [accept word forms, but do not accept polarizability]
This is especially true in this case, when you're also telling the moderator not to accept another constellation of similar-sounding words.

In some cases, I received a reasonable non-technical response on a question looking for a specific term and wasn't sure what to do with it. Further instructions would have been helpful on:
ANSWER: seismometers [or seismographs]
Is earthquake detectors promptable?
ANSWER: Secession of the Plebs [or Secessio Plebis]
Is strikes promptable?

Formatting was sometimes (though not usually!) inconsistent:
ANSWER: The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus [do not accept or prompt on Faust]
ANSWER: 1848 [prompt on 48]
ANSWER: Frigga [or Frija; do not accept or prompt on Freya]
Elsewhere in this tournament, underlining without bolding typically indicated a promptable answer, while bolding and underlining indicated outright acceptability. Also, without a pronunciation guide, I am not confident of how to distinguish the answers "Frija" and "Freya," which is apparently an important distinction to make.

Finally, people have mentioned that the tossup on (all English!) mathematicians from the island of Great Britain was missing England in the answerline:
ANSWER: United Kingdom [or Britain]
This is especially galling since Britain didn't even exist as a political unit for most of Newton's life, and he was the giveaway!

These are fixable problems, but they jumped out at me because many recent tournaments have gone to great lengths to have much more thorough answerlines that address the questions I raise above. This tournament felt like a bit of a step back in that regard.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:19 pm

I didn't read the set, but I'm curious in general what people think is "a lot" of Hinduism content in the mythology / legends distribution - as opposed to Hindu religious practices, which can be harder to write fresh questions on - I generally wouldn't go beyond 2-3 total tossups and bonuses on Hinduism there. In my view, Hindu tales / legends / epics should be second only to their Greco-Roman counterparts among traditionally defined "myth systems" in terms of what should be asked about the most in quizbowl (without getting into the whole debate about where things should be classified, or the introduction of folklore etc). There's an absolute metric ton of source material and there are a lot of people who play this game who could reasonably know it. I think the only other comparable amount of source material is medieval European legend or some of the longer Asian texts, and both of those suffer from bad signal-to-noise ratios in terms of askable quizbowl clues.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Monstruos de Bolsillo » Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:24 pm

There were definitely some packet feng shui issues. I was surprised by the number of repeats within the same packet itself, which have the potential to affect gameplay. I don't remember the packet, but Arabic came up as a bonus part answerline within 1 or 2 cycles of it being included as a tossup answerline. The TU was not converted, largely because no one figured Arabic would come up again so quickly. There were a couple of other examples that were probably not as egregious (the Cubs tossup and a bonus part with baseball in the same packet), but I thought there could have been more attention given to this.

Overall, I thought the set was good, especially the tossups, but I would have liked to see more bonus consistency as I felt that the bonuses were still too uneven, particularly in some categories.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Heinrich Mann's Mustache » Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:55 pm

I wholeheartedly second the opinion that a lot of the world history tossups seemed too European-focused to qualify as "world history." In particular, I wasn't even aware when reading the packet that the Germany tossup was supposed to qualify as a world history question, as the subject matter that it covers would be dealt with extensively in any European history course focusing on Germany. In general, however, I thought the history writing in the packets was probably the best out of the categories that I feel fit to judge. The questions were all on interesting and relevant topics and had a good amount of temporal and geographical scope. However, I wasn't as satisfied with the quality of the music and thought questions. In terms of the music, as other people have commented, I thought that there was a general overuse of note clues. In general, I'm opposed to note clues, as I think the type of knowledge they reward is too specific for most people to ever encounter even if they've listened to the pieces being tossed up many times or played them before. I think that a few note clues on particularly famous arias or melodies might be acceptable. However, it seemed to me that practically every music question began with note clues, which I didn't see a single team successfully buzz on, then moved on to other score clues that were far easier. It also seemed to me that there was an unusually large amount of opera in all the packets to the detriment of chamber and especially symphonic music. In terms of thought, I felt that some of the questions were too difficult, like the tossup on Germany beginning with a clue about Kracauer, who (as far as I know) is still far from a canonical theorist outside of German departments (which is where I learned about him). In addition, some of the clues (while not wrong) were misleading. In particular, on the tossup on "history," Hegel's quote used as a clue is that "the owl of Minerva flies only at dusk." A lot of people interpret this to mean the aftermath of history, but if you know the original quote, you might be a bit confused when first hearing that clue.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:40 pm

What kinds of note clues were being used? I'd generally agree with Daniel in cautioning against the use of note clues unless you are really careful to provide full context and describe a pretty iconic moment of the piece, and further stipulate that putting clues about specific notes in every tossup is actively bad. On the other hand, I think there are a few things you can contextually describe to get a wide range of buzzes from people who have played musical instruments or know pieces well. Picking a random moment in a piece and describing it with notes isn't a good idea - you generally want to use notes to describe a recurring motif or the piece's main theme - and a lot of times you can't really describe a main theme effectively in notes, or it's just far from an efficient strategy to do so.

On the other hand, to take a hypothetical example, let's say I described the opening of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, maybe with a clue like "A concerto by this composer begins with four horns loudly playing the descending notes "F, D-flat, C, B-flat" before the entry of the soloist" (side note: please tell me I did this correctly and got the transposition right EDIT: damn I got one wrong, edited). I think a lot of people could buzz on this because it's an iconic, capturing opening to a famous piece, but it's still pretty challenging to buzz on if you haven't listened to the piece or - even if you have - you can't recognize specific the sound of specific instruments. If, on the other hand, I picked a few notes that the horns play halfway through some movement, I suspect even Jacob Reed would have a hard time buzzing.
Heinrich Mann's Mustache wrote:In terms of thought, I felt that some of the questions were too difficult, like the tossup on Germany beginning with a clue about Kracauer, who (as far as I know) is still far from a canonical theorist outside of German departments (which is where I learned about him
For what it's worth I've run into Kracauer on random YouTube videos by amateurs whose channels certainly weren't oriented around German studies. I'd agree that's a challenging leadin for sure, but it's probably not beyond the pale.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Aaron's Rod » Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:31 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:19 pm
I didn't read the set
[speculation]
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:40 pm
What kinds of note clues were being used?
[speculation]
Perhaps it would be prudent to get a copy of the set before making these sorts of comments and musings, especially when (emphasis mine):
vengefulsweatermensch wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:46 pm
I want to correct some formatting issues before I upload the set, so maybe Wednesday? If you want the set before then, email/message me and I'll try to get it to you.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Hobbie Klivian » Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:40 pm

I can't make a lot of specific comments until I see the set, but overall I thought the set was fairly solid; thanks to the editors for all their hard work. I thought history did a very good job hitting the difficulty mark while using interesting clues, and the lit had some creative answerlines (like the duchess from "my last duchess") although some questions seemed a bit uninspired (like the bonus on The Dead/Joyce/Snow).

On the other hand, I was not a huge fan of science and music for this set. This may just be my impression, but there seemed to be an overemphasis on taxonomy/evolution; Darwin came out multiple times in different contexts, and the bonus that went Lamarck/Darwin/Epigenetics seemed pretty plain to me, especially given the descriptions. This may have been part of the effort to keep the answer-lines accessible since these topics are asked about more at HS level. As for the music, I agree with the above comments that the score clues probably could have been used in a more consistent manner as they ranged from the very recognizable opening chord of Don Giovanni as the first clue for a Don Giovanni TU to a long, drawn-out score clue from Liebestraume in a bonus that was quite difficult to parse at game speed. The TU on harmonica was also somewhat questionable, and I am not sure if any music player could have converted it before the clues on glass harmonica.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by ganman0305 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 4:25 pm

Hobbie Klivian wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:40 pm
The TU on harmonica was also somewhat questionable, and I am not sure if any music player could have converted it before the clues on glass harmonica.
For what its worth, Olivia Kiser from UChicago first lined this question.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Thiccasso's Guernthicca » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:26 pm

Hobbie Klivian wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:40 pm
As for the music, I agree with the above comments that the score clues probably could have been used in a more consistent manner as they ranged from the very recognizable opening chord of Don Giovanni as the first clue for a Don Giovanni TU to a long, drawn-out score clue from Liebestraume in a bonus that was quite difficult to parse at game speed. The TU on harmonica was also somewhat questionable, and I am not sure if any music player could have converted it before the clues on glass harmonica.
Or putting "Lebewohl" as the first clue for a Beethoven tossup...

I actually found most of the score clues in the tossups generally acceptable for this difficulty (except for the Dvorak one), but there was an excessive amount of score clues in bonuses, and many of them were egregiously ill-constructed (Liebestraume being the most notably confusing one – I have played the third Liebestraume before and I still found the clues to be almost impenetrable in game, especially because many moderators don't read score clues at a slow enough speed). Other than such issues as these, I thought the music on the whole was still quite good for a set of this difficulty.

The category I do want to single out for particular praise was the literature – while the difficulty gradation (particularly in the bonuses) was somewhat inconsistent and there were several gimmicky tossups that only obfuscated the answerline rather than enhancing the question's quality (the Library of Babel and the Tell-Tale Heart come to mind), the questions generally hit the appropriate difficulty and made good use of both canonical and slightly extra-canonical content.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by AGoodMan » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:51 pm

Thiccasso's Guernthicca wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:26 pm
The category I do want to single out for particular praise was the literature – while the difficulty gradation (particularly in the bonuses) was somewhat inconsistent and there were several gimmicky tossups that only obfuscated the answerline rather than enhancing the question's quality (the Library of Babel and the Tell-Tale Heart come to mind), the questions generally hit the appropriate difficulty and made good use of both canonical and slightly extra-canonical content.
I also thought the literature overall was quite good. And I would actually disagree with Wonyoung and say that the Library of Babel tossup was a fresh way to ask about a rather well-worn topic.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:56 am

I think people are complaining too much about packet 'feng shui.' There are two issues here:
(1) Editors only have a certain amount of time, and given more time, the editors of this set should have prioritized proofreading over making sure "metaphysics" and "metaphysical poets" don't appear in the same packet.
(2) Editors only have a certain number of degrees of freedom; given a sufficiently large number of things people feel like they can gripe about, switching out questions to fix feng shui issues can easily create new issues.

More often than not, I think that the onus is on teams to know enough not to be misled.
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by A Very Long Math Tossup » Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:51 am

Generally, I greatly enjoyed this set, and I felt like most of the tossups did a good job of hitting their target difficulty. Our site had a lot of new players, and even those with zero quizbowl experience were able to convert things.

That said, I had a few issues with it:
  • I'm probably biased as a physics major, but I thought the physics in this set was very, very easy compared to the other categories. The leadins on black hole firewalls, the Dirac equation, and Gram-Schmidt orthogonalization were particularly egregious.
  • The "this country" questions got really old really fast, especially since many countries were used multiple times across categories. This also resulted in a lot of easy bonus parts testing geography and ling fraud, rather than actual subject knowledge (though I understand that the answer space is small at this difficulty).
  • I noticed a decent amount of quizbowlese in the set. A few tossups used vague wording like "associated with," and one question resulted in a new player asking "what the hell is a polity?"
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Amiable Vitriol » Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:43 pm

I edited the American, British, world, and "other" literature for this tournament. My goals in this endeavor were 1) accessibility, 2) highlighting the work of women, POC, and LGBT+ people, and 3) emphasizing what is learned in non quizbowl contexts. I know some questions were rockier than others, but I hope that I at least partially succeeded in these goals.

Also, because this is many teams' first packet submission tournament and I don't always see this said explicitly: don't take your questions not being used too personally! I can't speak for the other editors, but, more often than not, I rewrote or replaced questions because of repeats/date submitted, not because of quality. If anyone wants specific feedback on their lit submissions, however, I would be happy to oblige. :)
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Re: ACF Fall 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Panayot Hitov » Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:53 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:40 pm
Heinrich Mann's Mustache wrote:In terms of thought, I felt that some of the questions were too difficult, like the tossup on Germany beginning with a clue about Kracauer, who (as far as I know) is still far from a canonical theorist outside of German departments (which is where I learned about him
For what it's worth I've run into Kracauer on random YouTube videos by amateurs whose channels certainly weren't oriented around German studies. I'd agree that's a challenging leadin for sure, but it's probably not beyond the pale.
Yeah Kracauer is very standard in film classes
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