Working on Illinois question sets

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Working on Illinois question sets

Post by Dominator » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:25 am

Greetings Illinois quizbowler!

In your QB days, you have undoubtedly enjoyed tournaments run on sets written in Illinois: SCOP Novice, Scobol Solo, Masonics, IHSA, occasionally others. Those four sets get written every year, by people.

Unfortunately, the number of people getting involved in writing those sets is not increasing much (with the possible exception of SCOP), which means that some of the writers of some of the most anticipated sets of the year are at risk of getting overworked and burnt out. I am one of them, having written for all four of those sets this last year in addition to a smattering of questions for NHBB and writing/editing for HSAPQ before it folded. And while I don't have any knowledge to confirm it, I suspect that at least some of the other volume writers are feeling worn out as well.

If you are a quizbowler who is interested in helping out with those sets to make sure that the Illinois quizbowl circuit continues to thrive, let us know! You'll get better at QB by writing, and the editors of these sets will preserve a bit more of their sanity. And don't wait! Contact them right away and let them know you're interested! (Several of these tournaments are already in the planning stages for next year's sets.) If you want to get involved but feel awkward emailing the editors, PM me and I'll introduce you.

Personally, I don't think I'll do much writing next year, but I'd love to serve as an editor for any of these sets to work with some new writing talent. This is especially true in (non-computational) math, which too few people in QB know how to write.

I hope you all enjoy Masonic State and the IHSA series.
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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Re: Working on Illinois question sets

Post by Deviant Insider » Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:00 pm

Other than Noah writing less, I endorse this thread. I will start writing questions for next year's Solo and Masonics in a few weeks, so contact me soon if you want to be able to choose which part of the distribution you will take. Solo does not pay at all, and Masonics does not pay much, but I am happy to allow free mirrors to anybody who contributes and will not be near the few places where the set is already mirrored. For Masonics, there will be a version of the set with a fairly standard distribution and in a standard 20/20 format.
David Reinstein
PACE VP of Outreach, Head Writer and Editor for Scobol Solo and Masonics (Illinois), TD for New Trier Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity, Writer for NAQT (2011-2017), IHSSBCA Board Member, IHSSBCA Chair (2004-2014), PACE Member, PACE President (2016-2018), New Trier Coach (1994-2011)

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Re: Working on Illinois question sets

Post by dtaylor4 » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:10 pm

I’ll add my 2c and endorse this. This is the first year in over a decade that I did zero writing, and it was due to burnout. I might do some freelancing next year.

These tournaments need more writers willing to contribute.

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Re: Working on Illinois question sets

Post by AGoodMan » Sun Feb 25, 2018 11:47 pm

I'd be willing to write a few questions, especially for Scobol Solo.
Jon Suh
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Harvard '20 (Co-President)
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Re: Working on Illinois question sets

Post by nsb2 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:35 am

I would be happy to contribute to both Scobol Solo and Masonic, although I'm not sure how much I will be able to write. I'm not inexperienced as a writer but would be happy to improve my writing skills, especially at slightly lower high school difficulty.
Pranav Sivakumar
Barrington Station MS '13, Barrington High School --> IMSA '17
UC Berkeley '21

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Re: Working on Illinois question sets

Post by _nestorius » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:34 am

As a veteran of Illinois quiz bowl, I would be happy to contribute to Scobol Solo and Masonic, particularly the latter. Admittedly, I'm fairly inexperienced as a writer, but I can certainly send some examples of questions I've written if you like.
Mitch Baron
New York University '20
Illinois Valley Central High School '16

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Re: Working on Illinois question sets

Post by Dominator » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:18 am

AGoodMan wrote:I'd be willing to write a few questions, especially for Scobol Solo.
nsb2 wrote:I would be happy to contribute to both Scobol Solo and Masonic, although I'm not sure how much I will be able to write. I'm not inexperienced as a writer but would be happy to improve my writing skills, especially at slightly lower high school difficulty.
Since I know David is in this thread, I'll let him contact you two.

Generally speaking, he'll want you to take an entire line of a subdistro. In Solo, that means 20/0. In Masonic, it varies depending on major vs. minor categories. For Solo 2017, I wrote two groups of 20/0, and for Masonic 2018, I wrote groups of 6/8, 24/24, and 20/20. If you only want to write a handful of questions, a minor category in Masonic is your best bet. If you can swing 20 questions, though, it opens up the opportunity for Solo, and David* will be eternally grateful.

(Aside: David is a great guy to work for. He sets good reasonable expectations and helps you meet them. He appreciates and is thankful for your work. He works countless hours on his own writing, TDing, doing PACE work, and in his former role at the head of IHSSBCA, and without some help, he'd be writing a thousand questions a year between Solo and Masonics. You'll be glad to have helped on his projects.)
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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Re: Working on Illinois question sets

Post by Deviant Insider » Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:35 am

Thanks to the people who have already been in contact with me. We are now at the point where people are claiming questions, so now is a good time to contact me if you want to work on Masonic and/or Solo.
David Reinstein
PACE VP of Outreach, Head Writer and Editor for Scobol Solo and Masonics (Illinois), TD for New Trier Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity, Writer for NAQT (2011-2017), IHSSBCA Board Member, IHSSBCA Chair (2004-2014), PACE Member, PACE President (2016-2018), New Trier Coach (1994-2011)

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Re: Working on Illinois question sets

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Sun May 20, 2018 10:38 pm

I'd like to get the ball ready to roll for 2018-19 IHSA writing. It is my honor to be head editing the set again this year.

The set is, as usual, 11 and three-halves rounds of 24/24. Regionals is four rounds, Sectionals is three rounds at a slightly higher difficulty level, and State is three rounds at a slightly higher difficulty level then one more championship round at a slightly higher difficulty level. Each half-round is a set of replacement questions for the three events.

The distribution is similar to last year, with one slight active change (more religion and geography, less other SS) and a few passive changes (History and Social Sciences are now separate top-level categories; mythology is now under Social Sciences instead of Literature) that don't change the game. Specifically, the 24/24 distribution is:

*1/1 Biology
*1/1 Chemistry
*1/1 Physics
*1/1 Other Science (including Astronomy, Earth Science, Environmental Science, Health, etc.)

*4/4 Mathematics (with a subdistribution TBD by the writer(s); all tossups are non-computational)

*2/2 US Literature
*1/1 British Literature
*1/1 European/World Literature

*1/1 Early US History (pre-1865)
*1/1 Late US History (post-1865)
*1/1 European History
*1/1 World History

*1/1 Mythology
*1/1 Religion
*1/1 Geography
*1/1 Social Studies (including Current Events, Government, Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Philosophy, Political Science, etc.)

*1.5/1.5 Visual Arts
*1.5/1.5 Music

*1/1 Miscellaneous (which can be pure pop culture, but is generally Interdisciplinary between academic categories, general knowledge, and/or pop culture)

I am looking for writers to cover individual categories of the distribution; that is, each bullet point above should be covered by a single writer, with the potential exception of Mathematics. All writing will be done by the end of winter break at the latest, with a small financial incentive for writers finishing their categories by Thanksgiving weekend. Writing for the IHSA State Series pays $4 per question, which is not competitive with the major question writing companies. I am in discussions with the IHSA to make our questions available for mirroring out-of-state after the State Series for potential further pay; this is TBD.

The following facts and writing philosophies should be kept in mind by applicants:
*The Regionals set is played by over 500 teams, half of whom will be eliminated after Round 1, which may be the only game of quizbowl they play all year. Accessibility of answer selection at Regionals is of the utmost importance; our goal is as close to 100% tossup conversion as possible. The appropriate definition of easy/medium/hard at Regionals, especially in Rounds 0 and 1, is easier than essentially any "regular difficulty" quizbowl tournament yet created, but still needs to show differentiation between the three parts at a wide spectrum . In 2018, several Regional games between eventual State Series participants had combined scores (including bouncebacks) of 900 or more out of 960; this was a feature, not a bug, as a Regionals bonus part that cannot be answered correctly by national top-25 teams can be expected to go dead across the entire state. I think there is room for the Regional set to be a little harder than it was in 2018, but overall, the set achieved my goals.

*The Sectionals set is played by 64 teams who won a Regional championship to qualify. Some Sectionals feature multiple top-200 teams; other Sectionals feature three or four teams who have played fewer than 30 games. Accessible answer selection is still the number one priority.

*The State set is played by 16 teams who won a Sectional championship to qualify. As with Sectionals, matchups on these packets include "national top-10 team vs. national top-25 team" and "strong teams on the local, but not necessarily statewide, circuit," and the questions must differentiate at both levels.

Good choices and effective gradation of clues in tossups and answer lines in bonuses can make a single set of questions accomplish these goals.


If you are interested in writing a category for the IHSA State Series, please prepare (but do not yet submit):
*A list of high school tournaments for which you have written and/or edited that category in the past. Contributing to a group effort is certainly OK; you do not need to have been responsible for writing every tossup.
*A sample of 6 questions in that category: 1 tossup and 1 bonus intended for each of the Regionals, Sectionals, and State pool play levels. These questions should be freshly written for this application; if you're accepted to write that category, we should be able to use those questions in this year's set. If you aren't accepted to write that category, the questions are again yours to use as you like.
*The answer line of the tossup you would write for the State Championship match in that category.

If you wish to apply for more than one category, you must write an additional 6 questions for each. (One exception: early and late US History will almost surely be assigned to a single writer, so one application will suffice for those two categories. I would like two State Finals answer lines.)

All categories are open for applications; of last year's writing team, Noah is (as alluded to upthread) taking an advisory non-writing position with this year's set, and Andrew and I are open to writing and/or not writing our categories from last year.

I will begin accepting applications on June 10th. On or around June 20th, I will announce as much of the writing team as I can; if no suitable candidate has applied for a category, it will remain open, but the accepted writers can begin working on their assignments at that point.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me at brad.a.fischer@gmail.com. I will probably ignore almost all such e-mails until June 5th or 6th, as I'm busy with other tasks until then.
Brad Fischer
Head Editor, IHSA State Series

Winnebago HS ('06)
Northern Illinois University ('10)
Assistant Coach, IMSA (2010-12)
Coach, Keith Country Day School (2012-16)

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Re: Working on Illinois question sets

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:22 am

A reminder that I'll start taking applications next Sunday, and start responding to them on the 20th.
Brad Fischer
Head Editor, IHSA State Series

Winnebago HS ('06)
Northern Illinois University ('10)
Assistant Coach, IMSA (2010-12)
Coach, Keith Country Day School (2012-16)

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Re: Working on Illinois question sets

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:18 pm

A reminder that applications to write IHSA can now be sent to brad.a.fischer@gmail.com, and that I'll start consideration on the 20th.
Brad Fischer
Head Editor, IHSA State Series

Winnebago HS ('06)
Northern Illinois University ('10)
Assistant Coach, IMSA (2010-12)
Coach, Keith Country Day School (2012-16)

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Re: Working on Illinois question sets

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:10 pm

I've got a few applications so far, and a few promises to get applications in in the coming days; I'd like a few more before I start responding. If you were thinking about applying but worried you'd missed the opportunity, it's not too late.
Brad Fischer
Head Editor, IHSA State Series

Winnebago HS ('06)
Northern Illinois University ('10)
Assistant Coach, IMSA (2010-12)
Coach, Keith Country Day School (2012-16)

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