VICO Thanks and Discussion

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VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by vinteuil »

Thanks to everyone who played VICO—I hope it was a fun and mind-extending experience all-around (writing it certainly was for me). I’ll take this post to thank a bunch of people. Once discussion has quieted down a bit, I’ll also offer my ideas about this tournament; I’m sure Will will do the same. Since neither of us were able to be at any of the VCU open sites, we’d be interested in hearing as much feedback/reactions as people have to offer.

First of all, huge thanks to Will, who deserves exactly as much credit (or blame, if it comes to that) for this tournament as I do—he wrote exactly half of the questions, and we both worked extensively on each other’s questions (more than is reflected in the number of compound <name/tags>). I learned a lot of very "fresh," relevant, and exciting from things his questions, and I hope everyone who played it did as well.

Big things as well to Sam Bailey and Shan Kothari for playtesting (along with Richard Yu, Lloyd Sy, Ryan Rosenberg, and others) and looking over the set; their comments were enormously helpful, both in general and about their categories of expertise.

Also (at his request), I really ought to thank my father for letting me use his library, which provided some or all of the primary source material for about half of my questions: "The Monsters and the Critics," poets, translation, courtly love, Gibbon, Netherlands, Bourbaki, category theory, complementarity, colours, The Elements, ergodicity, Haeckel, Kant, sexual selection, uniformitarianism, variational principles, art history, Beethoven’s Ninth, Diderot, England (in art history), experience, Avicenna, Cassirer, City of God, constitutions, d’Alembert, Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Goodman, heavenly bodies, liberal arts, Moses Mendelssohn, Rashi, rhetoric, speech acts, Proto-Indo-European, and Word and Object. (The material on Euclid, Diderot, Augustine, Paul Goodman, Proto-Indo-European, rhetoric, Moses Mendelssohn, and Newton's/Goethe's theories of colours was especially influenced by things he's taught/shared with me.)

As for the breakdown of categories: I wrote most of the literature, and almost all of the philosophy and science; we split arts and history more or less evenly; Will wrote most of the psychology, miscellaneous questions, and trash; and Will wrote almost all of the "social thought" and general "social science" questions, as well as all of the economics.

In case anybody's interested, we ended up having roughly this distribution of answerlines: 30% "person," 15% "title," 5% "country or language," and 50% "concept."

Thanks again for playing, and thanks in advance for your feedback!
Last edited by vinteuil on Sun Aug 09, 2015 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

I had a great time playing this tournament. I am eternally grateful for the tossups on Tacitus and Proto-Indo-European.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

I proclaimed this tournament the future of quizbowl at the VCU site, and I very much hope that comes to pass.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by Red Panda Cub »

This tournament was a load of fun and had a load of awesome answerlines and clues (Bernard Williams on a pornography committee! John Darnielle's book about Black Sabbath! A whole tossup written from "Odysseus' scar"! Those wacky squares from the PI! John McPhee! The triangle offense! Waking Life!). I felt like tossups on things I had actively engaged with were clued well and playing tossups on them felt rewarding - this perception seemed to be echoed in the responses of the other people playing at VCU and the sorts of buzzes people who read this sort of stuff were getting.

There were also some goofy ideas, like calling Prince Charles a thinker, that tossup on children that seemed pretty transparent because of the TV clue, the Schlegel tossup which seemed to give people stress about first names when it wasn't required, or the Porphyry tossups that talked about definitions and species in a way that I'm sure is unique to him but that at game-speed sounded a lot like the introduction to Being and Time. These sorts of things were definitely in the minority, and are sort of hard to totally excise when you're writing a huge chunk of questions about fairly abstract things, so they don't really have much negative weight in my assessment of the event.

More tournaments like this would make me and a lot of other people super duper happy.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

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Short-beaked echidna wrote:More tournaments like this would make me and a lot of other people super duper happy.
Given this tournament's success, I'm thinking of writing a set on the model of this one (except with a slightly different distribution and a good bit lower difficulty) to be played as a side event at the open tournament Stanford is writing for next year. I was originally thinking of trying my hand at an arts set, but I have a lot more background knowledge in "thought", so if the stuff at MO goes over well I'll go ahead and write the set instead. I'd call it PHISSHH (Philosophy, Social Science, and History/Historiography) [EDIT: This doesn't mean it would stick 100% purely to those categories, though I wouldn't write trash or close to pure science for the set since I don't know very much about those categories]. Again, I'll see how much writing stamina I have by then.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by Cheynem »

I liked the idea of this set, but I personally found a lot of the tossups on concepts fairy grueling to play--I'm not a good philo or thought player, so take this with a grain of salt--but it seemed awfully difficult to parse the concept tossups, and other players had similar reactions in the rounds we played. In my case, lack of sleep probably didn't help concentrating either.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

I mostly enjoyed this set and appreciated its exploration of all kinds of wacky thinkers. That said, I'd have to agree with Dr. Prof. Cheyne and say that some of the writing could have been a little more clear. I often found myself having trouble parsing just what it is that was being talked about in the questions; I'll have to take a look at the set for concrete examples, but as Mike says, some of the concept tossups seemed to me to be a bit opaque. But mostly this was very fun to play and I want to thank Jacob and Will for writing it.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by Ike »

Cheynem wrote:I liked the idea of this set, but I personally found a lot of the tossups on concepts fairy grueling to play--I'm not a good philo or thought player, so take this with a grain of salt--but it seemed awfully difficult to parse the concept tossups, and other players had similar reactions in the rounds we played. In my case, lack of sleep probably didn't help concentrating either.
I thought this tournament had a lot of good topics, there were plenty of questions that asked about things that were underasked. But there were a good number of tossups that were either transparent, or just didn't pin down the answer well enough with its wording of clues. The "complementarity" principle strikes me as the most prominent in regard to the second point: the lead-in says "This concept is the subject of a thought experiment that led to John Archibald Wheeler's assertion that the "past has no existence except as recorded in the present""- there are many things you could say here and be correct; "Bohmian mechanics" was the first thing that came to my mind for me, and my answer isn't really wrong since the delayed choice experiments certainly is the subject of a delayed choice experiment. I wish that many of the tossups had specifically pinned down the predicates surrounding the concepts better.

A lot of the tossups, had you circle around the answers but not get exactly there. The "art history" tossup for example struck me as one example: Will Nediger and I agreed that we should overturn the prompt answerline and just accept art criticism when we ruled on a protest. To use another example, repeatedly calling folklore an entity, or thing is going to confuse many players . I have used Alan Dundes before, but I really didn't know what we wanted and ended up negging the question.

I don't think this plagued the majority of this tournament's tossups and there were some categories that were complete free from it - (I think economics didn't have this problem!) Again, this was a very solid tournament and I would replay it over and over, but I just wished it was a little tighter, less transparent at times, and a bit more cognizant of what players are going to say and think at game speed.

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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

Ike wrote:To use another example, repeatedly calling folklore an entity, or thing is going to confuse many players.
Agreed - it seems like it'd be better to call folklore/mythology a "subject."
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

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Short-beaked echidna wrote:There were also some goofy ideas, like calling Prince Charles a thinker...
Those clues were intended to be a little whimsical, but not totally illegitimate—if I remember correctly, Terry Eagleton actually reviewed "Harmony" when it came out (not that he had anything nice to say about it, but still), and John Stilgoe has claimed that it made a splash in the landscape architecture community: http://landscapearchitecturemagazine.or ... ads-vogue/

I'll also take this opportunity to thank the playtesters for their excellent feedback. If the economics in this set was clear, then Sam Bailey deserves a solid amount of credit for that.

Looking at the stats, it seems like we could've made the early-middle clues in this set a notch easier, apologies for that. I hope the set as a whole didn't end up being prohibitively difficult—in choosing my answerlines, I tried to incorporate a lot of straightforward, easy answerlines, while still keeping some spots open for important, underexposed topics (such as Arjun Appadurai) and screwball ideas (like Riot Grrrl and Donald Winnicott).
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

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Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:Given this tournament's success, I'm thinking of writing a set on the model of this one (except with a slightly different distribution and a good bit lower difficulty) to be played as a side event at the open tournament Stanford is writing for next year.
Also, I hope this happens! One piece of advice I'll offer is that both Jacob and I found these questions extremely time-consuming to write—for me, something between two and three times longer than it'd take to write a "standard" question. I'm really glad we started writing it well over two months in advance.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by vinteuil »

Ike wrote:
Cheynem wrote:I liked the idea of this set, but I personally found a lot of the tossups on concepts fairy grueling to play--I'm not a good philo or thought player, so take this with a grain of salt--but it seemed awfully difficult to parse the concept tossups, and other players had similar reactions in the rounds we played. In my case, lack of sleep probably didn't help concentrating either.
I thought this tournament had a lot of good topics, there were plenty of questions that asked about things that were underasked. But there were a good number of tossups that were either transparent, or just didn't pin down the answer well enough with its wording of clues. The "complementarity" principle strikes me as the most prominent in regard to the second point: the lead-in says "This concept is the subject of a thought experiment that led to John Archibald Wheeler's assertion that the "past has no existence except as recorded in the present""- there are many things you could say here and be correct; "Bohmian mechanics" was the first thing that came to my mind for me, and my answer isn't really wrong since the delayed choice experiments certainly is the subject of a delayed choice experiment. I wish that many of the tossups had specifically pinned down the predicates surrounding the concepts better.

...

I don't think this plagued the majority of this tournament's tossups and there were some categories that were complete free from it - (I think economics didn't have this problem!) Again, this was a very solid tournament and I would replay it over and over, but I just wished it was a little tighter, less transparent at times, and a bit more cognizant of what players are going to say and think at game speed.
I suspect I'm to blame for most if not all of these (and the use of more creative pronouns like "subject" is definitely a great idea that would have helped!). Most of them were oversights (the people in the art history question are near-universally referred to as art critics; I was just being stupid on the complementarity lead-in), but I'll be a lot more careful about that in the future.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

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I agree with Mike and Jerry that some of these questions were a little tough to play as written. I'll illustrate with the tossup on social facts. That's a very interesting idea (one that, in retrospect, I understand how you were trying to get the players to get to). The second clue (if I recall) was something like "One of these concepts was described as a 'total prestation' imbued with spiritual mechanisms." (I might not have picked out the exactly correct words, but "total prestation" was certainly in there.)

How a player is not supposed to neg with "gift(s)" there, I don't really know, but that clue very directly applies to Mauss's analysis of gifts. Unless you're going to delineate between "gifts" and "(total) social facts" in a manner that is easy to parse at game speed, it's going to be very difficult for someone who knows that to avoid negging.

There were several tossups throughout the set that I thought fell victim to similar issues. The way I'd describe it is that, from the answer line to the clue, the mapping worked. (In other words, it seemed like the clues all did apply to the answer lines, which is obviously good!) But from the clue to the answer line, i.e. how questions are actually played, the mapping was not as one-to-one as is necessary to ensure that someone who knows the clue can get to the answer. This was occasionally frustrating, although certainly not a fatal flaw in what was, overall, a very enjoyable event.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

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theMoMA wrote:I agree with Mike and Jerry that some of these questions were a little tough to play as written. I'll illustrate with the tossup on social facts. That's a very interesting idea (one that, in retrospect, I understand how you were trying to get the players to get to). The second clue (if I recall) was something like "One of these concepts was described as a 'total prestation' imbued with spiritual mechanisms." (I might not have picked out the exactly correct words, but "total prestation" was certainly in there.)

How a player is not supposed to neg with "gift(s)" there, I don't really know, but that clue very directly applies to Mauss's analysis of gifts. Unless you're going to delineate between "gifts" and "(total) social facts" in a manner that is easy to parse at game speed, it's going to be very difficult for someone who knows that to avoid negging.
Yeah, that was a really stupid idea on my part; I gave up on trying to find a better way to integrate "total social facts" into the question, and obviously the playability suffered.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by theMoMA »

It's not a huge deal, really; it's obvious that a lot of care went into selecting interesting subjects for these questions, and in that regard, the event was very fun to play. The next step is extending the care taken in finding ideas to shaping those ideas into tightly written, extremely playable questions. This is something that I have gone from being "notoriously bad" to "hopefully good" at throughout my writing career, so I understand the struggle.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by Masked Canadian History Bandit »

This was a really fun set to play, and having so much historiography in one tournament was a super cool experience, so thanks to Jacob and Will for writing this. My one complaint is that the first two sentences of the Lyanna Stark tossup aren't actually about Lyanna Stark, but different people, and then the third sentence opens with something like "one theory about this person uses a blue rose..." which was where I buzzed with "Jon Snow" and got negged.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

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Masked Canadian History Bandit wrote:My one complaint is that the first two sentences of the Lyanna Stark tossup aren't actually about Lyanna Stark, but different people, and then the third sentence opens with something like "one theory about this person uses a blue rose..." which was where I buzzed with "Jon Snow" and got negged.
The answerline to that question was actually just "Jon Snow's mother," with the first couple of clues pointing to characters other than Lyanna Stark. I can see how the clue about blue roses could've been ambiguous in terms of pointing to just "Jon Snow," so apologies for that!
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by Gautam »

Hey thanks to Jacob and Will fit writing this set. I had a fun time playing the five packets that were read for Skype bowl.

Thanks for writing that TU on secular stagnation. I think it was a cool topic from the "big problems of our time" list. I might suggest making it clear early on in that TU that you're not looking for "new normal". I had been wanting to buzz in with "new normal" from the very first line but couldn't uniquely place it until Alvin Hansen was mentioned.
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Re: VICO Thanks and Discussion

Post by vinteuil »

I've now uploaded the packets for VICO; they should be available soon.
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