Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

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Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:20 am

Thanks to all of the people who staffed and played Urgent Call. I had welcome assistance in editing and writing questions from Libo Zeng, Jarret Greene, and Gautam Kandlikar. There was also a dedicated body of play-testers who gave up long evenings on the IRC, without which some very real issues would have been missed. So thanks to Evan Nagler, Bruce Arthur, Rob Carson, Matt Jackson, Ben Herman, Shan Kothari, Max Schindler, and probably some others who stopped by at times.

I was definitely pleased (though not surprised) by the high degree of creativity in the packet submissions for this tournament, especially in the social history and historiography distributions. It was a joy to edit, so thanks for the opportunity.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Sam » Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:34 am

EDIT: After posting a question it occurred to me this may not be clear yet. Is it?
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Great Bustard » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:26 am

Thanks a lot to Marshall for putting this all together (and for the barbecue on Friday night too). There were lots of fun answerlines, and I think the distribution, format, and direction were great. The only thing that seemed kind of off to me from the start was the relative strength of the two brackets. Granted, without much to go by in the way of subject-specific statlines and such (not to mention people like myself who play once a year), I know this isn't easy. The stats bear out my supposition though - my team was the last place team in the one bracket, and yet our PPB was higher than 5 of the 9 teams in the other, and within .07 of the 4th best team in that bracket. This had no bearing on my enjoyment while playing, though, so it's not really a big deal, maybe just something to consider for future such events. Congratulations to Jeff for being indisputably the best history player on the planet.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Ringil » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:24 am

Sam wrote:EDIT: After posting a question it occurred to me this may not be clear yet. Is it?
I'm pretty sure there are no other mirrors, so it should be clear. That being said, it may be wise to err on the side of caution.

I'll post what questions I was responsible for after Marshall gives the all clear so everyone can know who to blame. However, I'll make some general comments:
  • I wrote mostly Asian and Medieval European history, but there were also lots of submissions in those categories, which made me happy.
  • My general philosophy in writing for this tournament was to write some unexplored common link tossups and in general write on things that have never shown up in quizbowl, which I hope succeeded. My goal for bonuses was to have the easy part be something that's pretty well known in the quizbowl canon, the middle part to require some non-trivial amount of study of the topic, and the hard part is well hard.
  • I wish I could have done some more to help Marshall edit, but computer issues combined with CO proper taking up most of my free time made this not possible.
  • I hope everyone enjoyed the tournament.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:47 am

Sam wrote:EDIT: After posting a question it occurred to me this may not be clear yet. Is it?
Yes, it is clear.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Sam » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:03 am

Ringil wrote:
  • My general philosophy in writing for this tournament was to write some unexplored common link tossups and in general write on things that have never shown up in quizbowl, which I hope succeeded. My goal for bonuses was to have the easy part be something that's pretty well known in the quizbowl canon, the middle part to require some non-trivial amount of study of the topic, and the hard part is well hard.
Bonuses that did not have a truly easy part seemed common. What often happened was one of the bonus answer lines would indeed be something well known, but with clues that were still pretty difficult. For example, here is what I assume was the easy part of a bonus in packet 7:
[10] The 1944 merger between the Farmer-Labor Party and Democratic Party was orchestrated by this politician,
then the Mayor of Minneapolis, who countered the Communist attempt to take over the party in the 1940s.
ANSWER: Hubert H. Humphrey
Humphrey certainly could be the easy part to a bonus, but there are much better known facts about him (he was Johnson's vice-president, he ran against Nixon), and including those would have made it much easier. There were many other examples that made even getting 10 in a bonus sometimes quite difficult, which in turn made the bonus variance much higher.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Ringil » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:27 am

According to the spreadsheet here are the questions I was responsible for that made it into the set:

Tossups: Warwick, Tipu Sultan, green, Ottoman, Joseon (edited), Emperor Wu (tiebreaker), Harold Macmillan (tiebreaker)
Bonuses: Picts/Kenneth MacAlpin/Constantine II, Metz/Napoleon III/Bourbaki, veche/Novgorod/Ivan IV, Stratonice/Caligula/Solon, Pratzen Heights/Napoleon/Ulm, Salic/Sachsenspiegel/fueros, Stalingrad/tractors/Manstein, Kansai/Kamakura/Kanrei, Girondin/Jacobin/Feuillant

If anyone had any comments on these questions or would like to talk about your undying hatred for them, I would l'd love to hear it.
Sam wrote:
Ringil wrote:
  • My general philosophy in writing for this tournament was to write some unexplored common link tossups and in general write on things that have never shown up in quizbowl, which I hope succeeded. My goal for bonuses was to have the easy part be something that's pretty well known in the quizbowl canon, the middle part to require some non-trivial amount of study of the topic, and the hard part is well hard.
Bonuses that did not have a truly easy part seemed common. What often happened was one of the bonus answer lines would indeed be something well known, but with clues that were still pretty difficult. For example, here is what I assume was the easy part of a bonus in packet 7:
[10] The 1944 merger between the Farmer-Labor Party and Democratic Party was orchestrated by this politician,
then the Mayor of Minneapolis, who countered the Communist attempt to take over the party in the 1940s.
ANSWER: Hubert H. Humphrey
Humphrey certainly could be the easy part to a bonus, but there are much better known facts about him (he was Johnson's vice-president, he ran against Nixon), and including those would have made it much easier. There were many other examples that made even getting 10 in a bonus sometimes quite difficult, which in turn made the bonus variance much higher.
While I can't speak at all for what Marshall's philosophy towards difficulty is nor can I judge anything about American history, but surely there is a minimum amount of knowledge needed to acquire a 10? This isn't the tournament to be giving out 10s because you know that the first President of America is George Washington, but perhaps if you knew some more substantial clue it'd be acceptable. That being said I could agree with you that some bonuses had some quite challenging easy parts and commented on this to Marshall on Friday (which was probably too late) and am not sure if they were changed or not.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:12 am

Ringil wrote: While I can't speak at all for what Marshall's philosophy towards difficulty is nor can I judge anything about American history, but surely there is a minimum amount of knowledge needed to acquire a 10? This isn't the tournament to be giving out 10s because you know that the first President of America is George Washington, but perhaps if you knew some more substantial clue it'd be acceptable. That being said I could agree with you that some bonuses had some quite challenging easy parts and commented on this to Marshall on Friday (which was probably too late) and am not sure if they were changed or not.
Expecting you to know Humphrey solely off his role in some thing from the 1940s and his tenure as Minneapolis mayor is not very substantial. This is a hard easy part.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Sam » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:30 am

Ringil wrote: While I can't speak at all for what Marshall's philosophy towards difficulty is nor can I judge anything about American history, but surely there is a minimum amount of knowledge needed to acquire a 10? This isn't the tournament to be giving out 10s because you know that the first President of America is George Washington, but perhaps if you knew some more substantial clue it'd be acceptable. That being said I could agree with you that some bonuses had some quite challenging easy parts and commented on this to Marshall on Friday (which was probably too late) and am not sure if they were changed or not.
Certainly a minimum amount is needed, my impression (which I think is supported by the overall stats, too) was that the minimum in this tournament was higher than the minimum of most other tournaments. In itself maybe this isn't so terrible, but if you raise the minimum difficulty so that instead of a bonus breakdown of, as an artificial example, 10%/50%/30%/10% for 0/10/20/30, teams have 25%/35%/30%/10%, who gets what bonus is going to play a much larger role in what the final score is.

I really enjoyed this tournament and the material used as clues in many ways made up for more mechanical issues like consistent bonus difficulty, which is hard to hit in any tournament. Still, making sure each bonus had a true easy part would be a relatively simple way to achieve greater consistency.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:31 am

I liked the set in terms of tossups; they were for the most part pretty enjoyable and fairly pyramidal--there were some clunkers (Hawaii, Calvin Coolidge, hunger strikes)-but I enjoyed them. I think the set would have been more enjoyable either without bonuses or with like one "hard bonus part" that asked about something exciting. I understand what Libo is saying--side events aren't really interesting to answer easy parts at, but that line of thinking ends up with way too hard easy parts that still don't fool the best teams and oppress all the other teams. I'm pretty sure a number of our submitted bonuses were made harder too.

I see Dave's point about the brackets, but I am also unsure if anyone could really predict the successes of the brackets in that way. Also, I bet both brackets were affected, but at least a couple teams in our brackets became one man teams as the day went on, so that depressed overall numbers.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Charbroil » Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:16 pm

Ringil wrote:Tossups: Warwick
Could you post this? Also, if someone could post the entire set, that would be appreciated.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:24 pm

Cheynem wrote:I liked the set in terms of tossups; they were for the most part pretty enjoyable and fairly pyramidal--there were some clunkers (Hawaii, Calvin Coolidge, hunger strikes)-but I enjoyed them. I think the set would have been more enjoyable either without bonuses or with like one "hard bonus part" that asked about something exciting. I understand what Libo is saying--side events aren't really interesting to answer easy parts at, but that line of thinking ends up with way too hard easy parts that still don't fool the best teams and oppress all the other teams. I'm pretty sure a number of our submitted bonuses were made harder too.

I see Dave's point about the brackets, but I am also unsure if anyone could really predict the successes of the brackets in that way. Also, I bet both brackets were affected, but at least a couple teams in our brackets became one man teams as the day went on, so that depressed overall numbers.
I agree that this tournament would probably be better without bonuses. They take too much time and are really tricky to get the difficulty right for an event like this (my impression is that they were much too hard--Jeff did get 20 ppb on them, but I'd like to see a world where he's getting closer to 25 ppb so you can better distinguish the other teams).

The tossups were pretty enjoyable. I liked that you called out that some things didn't have specific names before the start of the question.

By the way, Mike, what didn't you like about the hunger strike tossup?
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:32 pm

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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:42 pm

I felt hunger strikes was kind of transparent--it's something that Indian people and British-type people are doing as a form of protest (in prison!) that you can theoretically recover from. Maybe it just got to easy clues in our room, but it was still in power, so I assume there were a number of more clues left too.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:57 pm

Cheynem wrote:I felt hunger strikes was kind of transparent--it's something that Indian people and British-type people are doing as a form of protest (in prison!) that you can theoretically recover from. Maybe it just got to easy clues in our room, but it was still in power, so I assume there were a number of more clues left too.
Oh, right, the edited version of that question mentioned "recovering" from that type of action which I wasn't thrilled about. Here was the original version:
Gwynfor Evans was able to blackmail Margaret Thatcher into establishing a TV station for Wales by threatening to perform this action. Hertha Marks Ayrton's home was a popular place to go after British women performed this action. After Potti Sreeramulu performed this action, the Indian government created the state of Andhra. A campaign where several people performed this action followed the failed "Battle of the Bowels" and was prompted by the revocation of special category status. Alice Paul and other suffragists performed this action while at Occoquan in 1917. This action ultimately killed Bobby Sands while in The Maze; Sands was protesting against the treatment of IRA prisoners like himself. This action has recently been employed en-masse by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. For 10 points, name this type of non-violent protest frequently employed by Mahatma Gandhi.
ANSWER: Hunger Strikes [prompt on "not eating" or "fasting"; accept more specific answers like Dying from a Hunger Strike]
I'll also note that the historiography in this tournament was obscenely difficult. There are ways to write about this subject in more accessible ways, but this tournament didn't do it.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:00 pm

One thing that I felt some packets excessively did was a clue that went like this:

"Jonathan Gotzman wrote a biography of this man subtitled 'The Spirit of Invention...'" While I don't mind some of these clues (and I use them myself) and on a technical level, I think they reward historians, they get sort of tiresome and I think they reward weird, history focused title memorization. As I said, I wouldn't mind a packet using one or two of these, but at least one packet I think had like four of them.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Charbroil » Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:37 pm

Ringil wrote: Tossups: Warwick
As far as I'm aware, Robert Dudley was never Earl of Warwick, but rather Earl of Leicester.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Holla! » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:22 pm

I'd appreciate any on/off thread comments on the tossups/bonuses I wrote that made it into this set. This is the first open-level tournament I've played in/written for, so anything you can offer would be great. For what it's worth, I second the comments on the historiography. I don't know if it was edited in, or a lot of people chose to submit on straight historiography, but the 1/1 distribution science/unclassified/other just felt historiographically heavy.

TUs: the Grange, assassination attempts on Queen Victoria, Mongol invasions of Japan, Ruby Ridge

Bonuses: Interstate Highway/Pershing/South Dakota v. Dole, Taff Vale/Lib-Lab Pact/Hardie (I originally used Stanley Baldwin as an easy part; it was edited out), Pisonian Conspiracy/Lucan/Nerva, Liberty Party/Birney/American churches, Farmer-Labor/Humphrey/Non-Partisan League

Thanks, Marshall et al, for editing this tournament and making it a fun one to play!
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:57 pm

MNtoNU wrote:I'd appreciate any on/off thread comments on the tossups/bonuses I wrote that made it into this set. This is the first open-level tournament I've played in/written for, so anything you can offer would be great. For what it's worth, I second the comments on the historiography. I don't know if it was edited in, or a lot of people chose to submit on straight historiography, but the 1/1 distribution science/unclassified/other just felt historiographically heavy.

TUs: the Grange, assassination attempts on Queen Victoria, Mongol invasions of Japan, Ruby Ridge

Bonuses: Interstate Highway/Pershing/South Dakota v. Dole, Taff Vale/Lib-Lab Pact/Hardie (I originally used Stanley Baldwin as an easy part; it was edited out), Pisonian Conspiracy/Lucan/Nerva, Liberty Party/Birney/American churches, Farmer-Labor/Humphrey/Non-Partisan League

Thanks, Marshall et al, for editing this tournament and making it a fun one to play!
The Mongol Invasions of Japan question seemed pretty transparent. I think this has something to do with the fact that (at least in my experience) it's a fairly well-known topic in quizbowl. I buzzed when I heard Japanese and Korean names, "failure," and a clue mentioning bad boats causing that failure (I highly doubted it would be something like "Yamato expeditions to Korea") and don't feel I really deserved power for figuring that question out. The Victoria assassinations tossup seemed fine, as did the Ruby Ridges tossup. I don't know a whole lot about The Grange, but a few people were commenting that the mention of Demeter relatively early was probably a bad idea.

The Farmer-Labor bonus was fine, though Humphrey was (as previously mentioned) very poorly executed as an easy part. The Pisonian Conspiracy bonus was good, though it's sort of lacking an easy part. The Taff Vale bonus seems to me to be lacking an easy part - Baldwin is a good easy part choice on your part. The Interstate Highway bonus seems fine to me as well, though the middle part is a little rough. I'll take a look at the Liberty Party bonus later - we missed the easy part on that one, and I'm not sure why that is.

I'm at the airport right now - I'll have more to say when I get home. Overall this set was quite fun to play, but there were a few tossups I had problems with and I had some issues with the philosophy behind bonuses at this tournament as well.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:10 pm

According to the spreadsheet, I wrote the following questions that made it into the final set. If you have comments on them, feel free to share.

Tossups: Greece, Eunuchs, Armenia, Severan Dynasty, prison riots. TUs on Taiwan and Benjamin Cardozo were tiebreakers.

Bonuses: Der Spiegel Affair/Strauss/Erhard, Gran Sasso Raid/Salo Republic/Pietro Badoglio, Konbaung Dynasty/Imphal/Gurkhas, War of Attrition/Bar Lev/breaking the sound barrier over a city, Leon Rom /Force Publique/Mobutu, Firebombing of Dresden/Rotterdam/Douhet.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by 1992 in spaceflight » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:37 pm

I'd also love commentary on my stuff that made it into the set. From packet 1:

Tossups: Joseon Dynasty (I think Libo edited this); The Alabama Claims

Bonuses: Sonni Ali/Songhai/Dendi; Walsingham/Catesby/Charles II and James II; Yen Bai/Vietnam/Montagnards (I had a different third part that was probably changed for the better); Dulles/Mossadegh/Tudeh (I also submitted a different third part that was probably changed for the better).

Any commentary is welcome on the forums or an email or PM.
Last edited by 1992 in spaceflight on Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:24 pm

The Leon Rom bonus was great (and actually one of the better bonuses in terms of difficulty in the set). Marshall can attest that I reacted favorably to it.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:25 pm

Cheynem wrote:Marshall can attest that I reacted favorably to it.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Ringil » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:42 pm

Charbroil wrote:
Ringil wrote: Tossups: Warwick
As far as I'm aware, Robert Dudley was never Earl of Warwick, but rather Earl of Leicester.
Uh, what I meant to have written was John Dudley, his father, and the clues earlier do all apply to him. So, that's entirely my bad in making a brain fart. Sadly, Marshall did not manage to correct for my failure. Sorry about this.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by The Kirk Store Called » Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:17 pm

Commentary would be nice since it was my first time writing questions (for anything!)

Tossups: Kuomintang, Douglas MacArthur, Australian Labour Party
Bonus: Mortara/Papal States/Pius IX, Mesta/Revolt of the Communeros/Charles V, Gerschenkron/Austrian School/von Bawerk, Maroons/Great Dismal Swamp/Black Seminoles, Social Credit/Manning/Harper

I apologize ahead of time for the Revolt of the Comuneros clunker. I had intended for it to be asked after Charles V and to mention Charles V and mention that it was a rebellion, but those were taken out, which was unfortunate since that left the bonus with absolutely no identifying clues whatsoever. It was actually impossible to get.

For Harper, I had also mentioned "won minority government in 2006", but that didn't make it, so I'm not sure if the question had an easy part (as Harper had the same problem as say, the earlierly mentioned Hubert Humprey question).

Random questions that I remember - Indian Reservations was somewhat transparent. I remember hearing about special laws, a certain type of jurisdiction, a non-Western sounding name in what was clearly a American tossup, and then I buzzed in receiving a power. I did not deserve a power.

I also second Mike's comments on the plethora of history book title clues.

Of the questions mentioned, I really thought the prison riots question was cool, enjoyed Harold MacMillan (even though it lost us the game). The Mongol invasion of Japan question actually tripped me up. I buzzer raced and would have answered the Battle of the Imjin River, but I luckily lost that race.

Overall a fan of the tournament, the questions, and especially the editing. Comparing pre-Marshall-edited questions and post-Marshall edited questions is uh...jarring. Definitely the most educational QB experience I'd ever had (even though I flopped).
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:05 pm

I read and listened to the rounds, so I don't have much to contribute. I would have powered the TU on Mongol invasions of Japan and I know very little history. There were some really cool answerlines. I really liked the Mods/Rockers TU.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:15 pm

kroeajueluo wrote:I apologize ahead of time for the Revolt of the Comuneros clunker. I had intended for it to be asked after Charles V and to mention Charles V and mention that it was a rebellion, but those were taken out, which was unfortunate since that left the bonus with absolutely no identifying clues whatsoever. It was actually impossible to get.
I should note that I actually wrote this question in our rush to submit before June 9th, so I apologize and take full responsibility for missing the fact that the part on the Revolt of the Comuneros, intended as a middle part, didn't actually have clues to effectively uniquely identify it.

I'm responsible for the following:

TUs: Hawaii, Galicia, chariots, Captain Kidd, Basques, Estonia, Rurik, Defoe, Tangiers, Ghaznavids (which was unfortunately missing my anecdote about promising coins for couplets to Ferdowsi)
Bonuses: Champa/Song/Le Thanh Tong (presumably converted into a bonus from a tossup I submitted on Champa), Tennessee/Johnson/Brownlow, Rajputs/khanda/Sikhism, Tocharians/Uighurs/Secret History (originally with a third part of "Kalmuks"), tercios/Thirty Years War/caracole ("tercios" was originally submitted as "pikes"), Kanem/Sennar/sahel
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:21 pm

One thing that really annoyed me about this tournament was Marshall's style of elaborating on an explanation of something while obfuscating actual clues people could recognize and say the answer, instead of just using concrete clues. Who knew this following bonus part cold and didn't guess it to convert?

4. This policy was defined as “settling international.... quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and compromise, thereby avoiding the resort to armed conflict which would be expensive, bloody, and very dangerous” in one revisionist work. For 10 points each:
[10] What is this policy, which that work argued was “particularly British” and which failed in its most famous implementation thanks to the heretofore-correct assumption of reasonableness on the part of the counter-party?
ANSWER: appeasement (accept word forms)
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:23 pm

This set was a lot of fun to play. I thought there were a lot of very interesting tossups on excellent answerlines. I especially liked the tossups on Ruby Ridge and the jousting tournament in which Henry II died. But there were a couple sort-of pervasive problems with this set that it's worth pointing out.

1. It was the rule rather than the exception that the bonuses have no easy parts. Even when the actual answerline was something easy (which was by no means a given), it was often described in an unnecessarily difficult and obscured terms in the easy part. On top of that, the medium parts were often excessive as well.

2. There were a lot of stupid ideas. Richard III's body comes to mind. I also hated the thing where half of some questions would be filled with clues like "there was a plague/famine/mutiny/war in this country from 1689-92, and it was bad."
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:26 am

I liked Richard III.

I agree with Auroni on the bonus parts being made harder through lack of clues and a bit of Marshall-added wordiness, which sometimes was a bit of amusing disdain flowing through his fingertips to the clues.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:07 am

Playtester here, I didn't notice anything too egregious in the set while playtesting it. I will say that there were a lot of bonus parts where the answer was something very easy, but the clues were very hard. I found this incredibly annoying, as I always found such bonuses annoying in my playing days...

...despite the fact that I have been one of the foremost apologists for the "hard tossups about easy answers" movement, which is much more popular than the "hard bonus parts about easy answers" movement. Not sure why quizbowl has too very different opinions on these things, but it appears to.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:16 am

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:Playtester here, I didn't notice anything too egregious in the set while playtesting it. I will say that there were a lot of bonus parts where the answer was something very easy, but the clues were very hard. I found this incredibly annoying, as I always found such bonuses annoying in my playing days...

...despite the fact that I have been one of the foremost apologists for the "hard tossups about easy answers" movement, which is much more popular than the "hard bonus parts about easy answers" movement. Not sure why quizbowl has too very different opinions on these things, but it appears to.
I don't think most people feel this way. Personally I really like those hard parts on easy answers that you find in Yaphe tournaments all the time. The much more basic issue people are having with this tournament is that the easy parts were too hard.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:50 pm

Thanks for all these comments, and sorry I'm replying a bit late. (I was running around all day yesterday with no time at my desk.)

A couple of things before I address the criticism above. First, I'd like to recognize Will Alston and Kirk Jing for a very high-quality submission from inexperienced writers. Though their packet was a bit dominated by pet subjects, the clues were universally interesting, relevant, and well-researched (mostly from reliable sources), and for the most part they targeted the right difficulty for the field. I personally really liked the Douglas MacArthur question that focused on the politics of the American occupation. Second, like I said above, I thought people's submissions in social history and historiography were on the whole excellent, and that is what gave me the confidence to reserve part of the Cane Ridge Revival distribution especially for that. (More on that below.)

I'm sorry that people were frustrated by the bonus difficulty at this tournament. Bentley's comment somewhere above is correct that I ended up doing more of making submitted bonus parts harder than easier, and play-testing generally turned up around two bonuses per packet that would have been at home in ACF Regionals, which I then made harder to conform with the overall tenor of the tournament. Also, to answer Bruce's question about why people don't like hard bonus clues with easy answers, I think it's simply because it makes people feel stupid and no one (and especially no quizbowler) likes staring his own ignorance in the face, a foible I share. My question-writing philosophy was that this was a small price to pay for the opportunity to go over interesting, novel material in a context where that was appropriate, but if it simply demoralized players who felt they were being beaten into submission, I apologize. I personally think that bonuses are a good idea for CO History (even if this set's missed the mark), for the same reason that CO is fun for creating the opportunity to shake up the usual teams, but if everyone else just thinks it's more trouble than it's worth then I don't care about that enough to insist on it next year.

Let me just go over a couple of things that contributed to the bonus hardening:

1. I purposefully did not want to give any points, even 10s, for information that could be absorbed by quizbowl osmosis without any knowledge of history. Since the best history players are also generally the longest-running quizbowlers, that meant eschewing the easiest, "concret-est" clues. For instance, on the Revolt of the Comuneros question that's been criticized above (albeit not intended as an easy part), that (very interesting) event is for some reason rather QB-famous, so I purposefully made use of a different perspective (social conflict among the various elements of Castilian society, as opposed to native aristocratic opposition to what was perceived as the Hapsburg takeover of Spain). That tack was suggested by the submitted first part on the Mesta, so I went with it for Revolt of the Comuneros.

2. Rather than the traditional (and, for most tournaments, correct) approach of trying to preserve uniformity in bonus difficulty, for this tournament I also consciously decided to determine the theme or subject of a given bonus, then choose easy, medium, and hard parts within that constraint. That's why I took the Stanley Baldwin part out of the 1900s Labour Party bonus and why Hubert Humphrey's Vice Presidency wasn't mentioned. (Though I strongly disagree with whoever said his tenure as Minneapolis mayor in the 1940s was insubstantial.) This is also the reason why the bonus parts on John Howard and Stephen Harper did not mention their most prominent jobs--both questions were about something more specific than contemporary Canadian and Australian politics. It's also why I made the decision to ignore Matt Jackson's violent protestations against the Appeasement bonus part, since that was meant to be a question about the revisionist historiography of Appeasement and I was comfortable giving a zero to players who don't know anything about that, but since even Jeff couldn't get it based on the revisionist description (though he obviously knew enough about the subject to get the other two parts), that was obviously a mistake. Similarly, I left Nutter's bonus on the history of the Blues completely intact because I thought it was an interesting, non-traditional subject and too bad for you if you don't know about it. I would never endorse that philosophy for a regular season tournament, but it seemed appropriate to do that for CO History.

A word about Ancient History: this was definitely the weakest category across submissions (IMO), which is why it contains a disproportionate share of questions I and the other editors wrote (hence emphasizing archaeology and economic history), as well as historiography questions I fudged over because I needed to fill gaps with the questions I had. We've fought over Ancient History questions enough on here that's it's not worth my producing yet another manifesto on the subject, but I would encourage people to read more widely than didactic narrative history and consider clues beyond amusing anecdotes and clearly falsified accounts of battles. Of course we know less about things that happened a long time ago, but there's plenty of good work done on ancient history that deserves to take the place of the quizbowl canon in that area. I'd like to know what people thought of the tossups on modern countries from the ancient sites located in them, which were Sudan, Libya, and Peru.

Finally, historiography: I personally enjoyed writing this the most (and not because I'm a sadist), so I'm sorry the bonus parts that asked about specific historians and their interpretations were inaccessible. I very much want individual commentary on the questions to make sure this category works better at CRR. Here are the historiography questions that made it into the set (though some were not "officially" historiography in the final distribution):

Submitted

Muqaddimah (Nediger/O'Rourke)
biographies of Robert E. Lee (Weiner/Liu)
Great Man theory (Hoppes/Aggarwal)
Wickham/Egypt/Pirenne (Madden/Dickinson, edited to include Pirenne)
(there was another excellent idea for a historiography tossup on Team of Rivals from Droge/Hankin, but by the time I got to editing that there was already a great deal of Civil War/Reconstruction in the set so I decided not to use it.)

Mine

Sparta (Packet 7)
White people (Packet 8)
July Crisis (TB in Packet 8)
East India Company/Burton/Indian railways (Packet 3)
Spring and Autumn Period/Schwartz/Wealth of Nations (Packet 4)
Dunning/Foner/Weisberger (Packet 6)
Hopkins/Keynes/Finley (Packet 8)
appeasement/Kennedy/Economic Consequences of the Peace (Finals)

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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:01 pm

I stupidly negged the white people tossup because I didn't parse things and I was tired, but it's a very good idea (I liked most of the historiography except I stupidly negged most of them--as opposed to the biography title drops, I think these are pretty cool ideas).
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:16 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:1. I purposefully did not want to give any points, even 10s, for information that could be absorbed by quizbowl osmosis without any knowledge of history.
Well, if that's how you decide what clues will be in the easy parts of bonuses, of course they'll be inappropriately hard! The set of "well-known things in history that almost any team of two CO attendees will learn from Real sources" and the set of "things that come up in [high-level] quizbowl often" have a huge overlap, and you're guaranteed to spike the difficulty of your bonus through the roof if you insist on cutting anything that justifiably comes up for reason of actual importance or fame (or, you know, because it's a thing...people learn...about history...when they learn...history...) I told you during play-testing that the appeasement bonus part and other parts like it needed a concrete factual clue to be sufficiently easy and allow teams to get them without guessing. I guess I was right.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:24 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:A word about Ancient History: this was definitely the weakest category across submissions (IMO), which is why it contains a disproportionate share of questions I and the other editors wrote (hence emphasizing archaeology and economic history), as well as historiography questions I fudged over because I needed to fill gaps with the questions I had. We've fought over Ancient History questions enough on here that's it's not worth my producing yet another manifesto on the subject, but I would encourage people to read more widely than didactic narrative history and consider clues beyond amusing anecdotes and clearly falsified accounts of battles. Of course we know less about things that happened a long time ago, but there's plenty of good work done on ancient history that deserves to take the place of the quizbowl canon in that area. I'd like to know what people thought of the tossups on modern countries from the ancient sites located in them, which were Sudan, Libya, and Peru.
These were generally pretty good, and I appreciated the heavier use of archaeology and historiography in ancient history. I was ecstatic to hear clues about Gothic migrations come up (looking back at the question, I unfortunately never got to hear the Chernyakhov culture clue, which would have really made my day). I also really liked the Sudan tossup in the finals, as ancient Sudan rarely comes up in quizbowl (though we definitely know things about it and its interactions with the Greco-Roman world), and the Libya tossup, though I wasn't entirely sure about what was going on until it mentioned silphium (which had come up yesterday).
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:44 pm

RyuAqua wrote:The set of "well-known things in history that almost any team of two CO attendees will learn from Real sources" and the set of "things that come up in [high-level] quizbowl often" have a huge overlap, and you're guaranteed to spike the difficulty of your bonus through the roof if you insist on cutting anything that justifiably comes up for reason of actual importance or fame (or, you know, because it's a thing...people learn...about history...when they learn...history...)
Well, yes, trying to eliminate things you can get through quizbowl osmosis is not to deny that those things may be important. As I said, the Revolt of the Comuneros is interesting and important, and cutting out clues that are QB-famous is not to deny they are worth knowing. But, at this point, they're a bit stale and why use the one history tournament where the scope for introducing new things is widest to rehash the same stuff?
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Sam » Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:41 am

Tees-Exe Line wrote:But, at this point, they're a bit stale and why use the one history tournament where the scope for introducing new things is widest to rehash the same stuff?
I'm not sure gettable clues and interesting but hard clues are mutually exclusive. You obviously don't want bonus parts to be six lines long, but in the Humphrey bonus, for example, adding "This man lost to Richard Nixon in 1968" would have made the bonus easier and still kept the interesting material about his time as mayor. As Evan pointed out, this is distinct from having "hard parts on easy answers," which is unobjectionable; the issue is having easy parts on easy answers that are actually not easy. I agree that out of all events this is certainly the one to bring up clues you haven't seen before, but just as a matter of game mechanics having some bonuses very easy to zero can make things screwy.

Matt Jackson's point about a "concrete factual clue" is also true. This wasn't as large an issue as difficulty, but there were at least a couple other bonuses, the ones off the top of my head are latifundia/Pliny/senators and Hopkins/Keynes/Finley, that were mostly commentary. I imagine I found the dangerous and un-American ideology endorsed by many clues in this tournament more endearing than many other players, but things like "this person didn't like large estates" or "this man disagreed with Say's Law" aren't really specific enough to point uniquely to a single person.

Out of curiosity, was there a target difficult for this? Was it supposed to be comparable to the history in CO proper?
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:29 am

I don't understand the point of putting in clues like "lost to Nixon in 1968" in a tournament played exclusively by people who would travel to Chicago to play an open history tournament. You might as well just cut out that part and go with 20-point bonuses to speed things up. The easy part's function should be to distinguish between teams who know absolutely nothing and teams who know a little. At lower levels (high school, regular college difficulty) easy parts should be more gimme-like because that second quartile of team isn't as good. At this tournament, why put in a part that every single team will know?
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Edmund » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:22 am

I enjoyed this tournament. Thanks to Marshall for organising it.

I did feel that sadly the obligatory historiography distribution led to some excessively difficult and/or poorly phrased questions. I wholeheartedly agree that this subject should be well represented in the set, so I'm not sure what the remedy might be!

My questions that made the set were:

Tossups: Common Agricultural Policy, parts of the "David" common link concerning David I, Erich Honecker, Jewish expulsions, Avars
Bonuses: Chris Wickham, Kappel war

Since so many top history players were in attendance and history is not normally a topic I write, any feedback would be appreciated.
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:20 am

Sam wrote:This wasn't as large an issue as difficulty, but there were at least a couple other bonuses, the ones off the top of my head are latifundia/Pliny/senators and Hopkins/Keynes/Finley, that were mostly commentary. I imagine I found the dangerous and un-American ideology endorsed by many clues in this tournament more endearing than many other players, but things like "this person didn't like large estates" or "this man disagreed with Say's Law" aren't really specific enough to point uniquely to a single person.
Noted person who does not concern himself with sordid matters of mere money Doug Graebner was able to recognize a basic description of Keynesian economics. And I would say that an account of some of Pliny the Elder's writings is fair game, even if a bit obscure.
Sam wrote:Out of curiosity, was there a target difficult for this? Was it supposed to be comparable to the history in CO proper?
Yes, nationals but with both more scope for unusual clues and with a greater weighting toward hard clues in tossups (so a steeper drop-off in the last two sentences than would normally make for good competition).
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Re: Urgent Call for Unity Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:27 pm

As mentioned by Matt, I feel like simply not having easy parts at this level may be a better idea. Not only does it help with getting through packets more quickly (in case time issues come up again), but if we're trying to distinguish between teams that know nothing about a topic and those that know something and the topics in question are pretty obscure, it seems reasonable to have 20-point bonuses to not overly penalize teams/produce massive game swings/cause extremely high variance in performance. I recognize that this is an unavoidable feature of hard tournaments, but we can at least experiment with ways to mitigate this.
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