ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by AGoodMan » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:08 pm

I buzzed with something descriptive like "the pavilion at the 1929 Barcelona Expo that Mies van der Rohe designed" at the end of the Barcelona Pavilion tossup. My answer was outright rejected, but I wonder if I could have gotten a prompt?
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by cwasims » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:13 pm

Here Comes Rusev Day wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:29 pm
Mike Bentley wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:02 pm
cwasims wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:35 pm
The history was also good, although I thought there were a few issues with balance between different topics. I found there were too many tossups that focused extensively on French kings in the Middle Ages and Renaissance in this tournament; 3 strikes me as excessive. In the packets I played, I don't think there were any history questions on the First or Second World Wars - I think this is really bad since those are by far the most important conflicts in world history.
Not sure I necessarily agree with this critique, but I will note that the finals had a question on the Prepardness Movement, which concerns the US's build-up to World War I.
I'm gonna echo what Mike Bentley says here, and we need to be careful as historians (heck even quizbowl players) to label a period of time or a culmination of events as "most important." Not that it's to say there's a lot going on and people should know and analyze it of course! It's also very possible there was more variety in the tiebreaker packets (editors 5 for one) and emergency packet that Toronto didn't get to hear, which just happens with the packetization sometimes.

This brings up a question you have prompted though, should there be more heavy-handedness and manual movement of individual questions to ensure time periods/genres/what have you are better represented through the day?
I find it hard to believe there are credible arguments that WW1 and WW2 are not the most important conflicts in world history by any reasonable definition of important, even acknowledging a present bias. There's certainly been a movement away from military history of late in QB (which I think is perfectly fine), but I think it's fair to say that the world wars have an enduring impact in a variety of ways that is simply not the case for many of the early modern European wars that have cited as examples of military history overload. Regarding packetization, I would say that the world wars should be a core history topic that should come up in the packets that everyone hears - I imagine people would be upset if the only Shakespeare in the tournament, say, were in the finals or a tiebreaker. (I will note that I am not a world war junkie by any means, but just that I find it pretty bad how QB seems to be fine not asking about it at many tournaments, or in this case leaving it to a pack that almost no teams will hear.)
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:21 pm

One thing that I appreciate about this set was that the questions were not just good on average, but also uniformly: There weren't very many duds. (One could compare this to PIANO, which -- as one of the writers -- I thought was of similarly high caliber overall, but had a handful of questions that played poorly and had to be reworked for later mirrors. We worked really hard on PIANO, so it was impressive that this tournament felt even more polished in some respects.)

I do recall being frustrated by the questions on grazing and the carbon cycle. Could I see those? I also would like to see the question on "eyes" in biology, not because I thought it was a poor question, but rather because I thought it exemplified a minor flaw that I'd like to discuss.

(naturally, I co-sign Jakob's post on non-Western art)
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by 180lb6'3 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:53 pm

I loved this set! It was easily my favourite hard set I've ever played, and maybe my favourite set ever. I thought it was interesting, challenging in the right ways, highly polished, etc. I particularly liked that easy parts were easy but not too easy, as others have mentioned. Also, visual arts was incredible (tied for my favourite set of VFA questions ever, with Jordaens). Thank you to the editors for doing a great job. Sets like this make me really want to keep playing quizbowl!

I have just one (admittedly two-part) comment of criticism, about tossups in my favourite categories (mainly art, philosophy, music). Specifically, some of these tossups seemed to get too easy too early (compared to the bulk of the tossups in these categories). All of the following is based on my very spotty memory of these questions, and I apologize if I say anything wrong/unfair.

First, there was a pattern in several tossups of dropping (very good, but hence very recognizable) descriptions of giveaway-level material around the middle third, which made these tossups tough to buzz on (because it feels just a bit too early for such material). The following is not an exhaustive list (I do think there was a "pattern"), but just a few that I can remember:
-Grice -- some maxims (or some things that sounded a lot like maxims at game speed) came early.
-Locke -- talk of Lockean-sounding-identity-stuff started early (I don't remember the specifics on this one, just the general feeling).
-Tallis -- description of Spem in Alium came early.
-Couperin -- description of Art of Harpsichord Playing came early.
-"come" -- description of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel came early.

Second, there were some incongruously easy first lines (or first-several-lines). These were not as hard to buzz on as the easy-middle-third stuff (above), for whatever psychological reasons, but they maybe made the tossups less fair overall. The following list has all examples I can remember:
-Florence Cathedral -- Uccello's clock is pretty famous (I think -- I have heard it clued before, at least).
-Josquin des Prez -- description of the opening of Ave Maria was first line, and this is his best-known work to non-musicians (in intro-to-music-history courses, it will usually be the selected work for Josquin/Franco-Flemish School, and it has the most views on YouTube (FWIW) of any Josquin work).
-qualia -- mentioned Ned Block and Galen Strawson early, both of whom are pretty famous for this kind of work.
-Death of a Salesman -- IIRC, first clue was a pretty memorable stage direction from the play.
-Rome -- again, the memorable stuff from Catch-22 started pretty early (I think -- at least, it sounded like Catch-22 to me).
-celesta -- score clue was good, but felt very early (I can't remember exactly where it was in the tossup).

I want to reiterate that these are very minor criticisms and the set was excellent overall!!
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:08 pm

wrote:First, there was a pattern in several tossups of dropping (very good, but hence very recognizable) descriptions of giveaway-level material around the middle third, which made these tossups tough to buzz on (because it feels just a bit too early for such material). The following is not an exhaustive list (I do think there was a "pattern"), but just a few that I can remember:
-Grice -- some maxims (or some things that sounded a lot like maxims at game speed) came early.
-Locke -- talk of Lockean-sounding-identity-stuff started early (I don't remember the specifics on this one, just the general feeling).
-Tallis -- description of Spem in Alium came early.
-Couperin -- description of Art of Harpsichord Playing came early.
-"come" -- description of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel came early.

-qualia -- mentioned Ned Block and Galen Strawson early, both of whom are pretty famous for this kind of work.
-Rome -- again, the memorable stuff from Catch-22 started pretty early
-Death of a Salesman -- IIRC, first clue was a pretty memorable stage direction from the play
Are you seriously saying that descriptions of important things which most players know little to nothing about should not be the middle clues in tossups on hard answers, or difficult concepts (like theories of identity in philosophy, or hard as fuck analytic topics)? Or that you should not get a good buzz on a memorable clue from a famous literary work? Are we supposed to not use memorable clues?

And we all wonder why so many people say ACF Nationals is too hard!!!

EDIT: Obviously my initial tone is pretty harsh here, but I think this really is part and parcel of how ACF Nationals turns out too hard. It's not good if tossups are dropping the entire thesis of people's work and making the rest of the question perfunctory (the tossup on The Civilizing Process from CO last year still brings back bad memories). However, I really, really don't think this is what is going on with these questions. We really all ought to remind ourselves that questions are usually harder than we think they are. That Rome tossup may well pretty tough for someone who hasn't read Catch-22 and even people who have read it may not be able to place the clues immediately (see John Lawrence playing the Schlegel family tossup in the finals of Nats). Most people in the field don't know what qualia are, let alone obscure any of the important, but fairly obscure (to a general audience) philosophers you mentioned in that tossup. Very few people can buzz on a description of Spem in Alium and even those who can hypothetically do so may not be able to place it. In general, I think we'd be much better off if we had more questions that are actively trying to push towards memorable, important (but not super obvious) clues in the middle of the question, rather than the types of questions that push down memorable details and, say, cause players to lose buzzer races on poets that they've read extensively.

(I would agree on the celesta criticism, though)
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Tue Apr 16, 2019 6:04 pm

I would say there were many questions with content related to the World Wars, although there was relatively little straight military history and many of them ended up late in packets and in TBs. Specifically, there were tossups on the preparedness movement, occupied Denmark, Crete (second half largely from WW2), and Austria-Hungary (with several WWI clues); and there were bonuses on WWI songs, world war and interwar-era pilots, Anzacs, TE Lawrence, and sabotage in the US during World War I.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by jinah » Tue Apr 16, 2019 6:06 pm

180lb6'3 wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:53 pm
First, there was a pattern in several tossups of dropping (very good, but hence very recognizable) descriptions of giveaway-level material around the middle third, which made these tossups tough to buzz on (because it feels just a bit too early for such material). The following is not an exhaustive list (I do think there was a "pattern"), but just a few that I can remember:
-Grice -- some maxims (or some things that sounded a lot like maxims at game speed) came early.
-Locke -- talk of Lockean-sounding-identity-stuff started early (I don't remember the specifics on this one, just the general feeling).
...
Second, there were some incongruously easy first lines (or first-several-lines). These were not as hard to buzz on as the easy-middle-third stuff (above), for whatever psychological reasons, but they maybe made the tossups less fair overall. The following list has all examples I can remember:
-qualia -- mentioned Ned Block and Galen Strawson early, both of whom are pretty famous for this kind of work.
-Rome -- again, the memorable stuff from Catch-22 started pretty early (I think -- at least, it sounded like Catch-22 to me).
[excerpting the portions of your post relevant to questions I wrote]

I think the criticism you raise is valid and was actually something I was slightly concerned about for the exact questions you mentioned, as well as the philosophy tossup in finals 1 that dropped a key tenet of that thinker's work I think about 3/4 of the way through the question. My overall goal when writing was to reward people who had "real knowledge" of the content over people who learned clues by studying old packets. My logic in placing slightly easier clues like a description of Grice's maxims or "Lockean-sounding-identity-stuff" was precisely to reward people who had knowledge of the topic, while avoiding "buzzwords" that had come up in previous questions. The Locke question I playtested against a few people and they thought the difficulty was fine; for answerlines like Grice or The Raft and the Pyramid (almost certainly the hardest answerline in the set), I felt like the answerline was difficult enough in itself that it was worth having a slightly easier question. That said, I'm curious to hear how that strategy played out in practice--I do remember John Lawrence buzzing in on the Grice tossup with something like "it is just Grice!" (which is a sentiment that itself could only come from a top-tier philosophy player).

On the qualia question specifically, I assumed the philosophy-of-mind related answerspace at Nats was broad enough that it could be a variety of answers. For what it's worth, I believe the two people who I know had excellent buzzes on that question--Marianna from Stanford and Caleb from Maryland--had both read the article in question, buzzed in with "consciousness," were prompted, and pulled the correct/more specific answer.

[Edit because I realized I didn't actually address the Rome tossup directly:] Same idea for the Rome tossup. Early clues hopefully sounded like Catch-22, early-mid clues were super dark, tying into the fact that the night walk through Rome is an uncharacteristically dark episode of the novel, and later clues mentioned once again specific clues from the novel that hadn't been linked to Rome specifically in previous questions. I have only anecdotal evidence on how it played, but it didn't seem like it was overly easy.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by 180lb6'3 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 6:21 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:08 pm
wrote:First, there was a pattern in several tossups of dropping (very good, but hence very recognizable) descriptions of giveaway-level material around the middle third, which made these tossups tough to buzz on (because it feels just a bit too early for such material). The following is not an exhaustive list (I do think there was a "pattern"), but just a few that I can remember:
-Grice -- some maxims (or some things that sounded a lot like maxims at game speed) came early.
-Locke -- talk of Lockean-sounding-identity-stuff started early (I don't remember the specifics on this one, just the general feeling).
-Tallis -- description of Spem in Alium came early.
-Couperin -- description of Art of Harpsichord Playing came early.
-"come" -- description of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel came early.

-qualia -- mentioned Ned Block and Galen Strawson early, both of whom are pretty famous for this kind of work.
-Rome -- again, the memorable stuff from Catch-22 started pretty early
-Death of a Salesman -- IIRC, first clue was a pretty memorable stage direction from the play
Are you seriously saying that descriptions of important things which most players know little to nothing about should not be the middle clues in tossups on hard answers, or difficult concepts (like theories of identity in philosophy, or hard as fuck analytic topics)? Or that you should not get a good buzz on a memorable clue from a famous literary works? And we all wonder why so many people say ACF Nationals is too hard!!!
(Replying after reading your edit)

I think you're right that including important middle clues can reduce buzzer races at the end. Your point that criticism along my lines is what can make tournaments skew too difficult, is also well-taken. I do not want either of these things (buzzer races/excessive difficulty), and perhaps I should have been more careful not to suggest something that may result in them.

I mainly wanted to point out that the structure of these questions resulted in their being played sub-optimally (and, since these are minor criticisms, only minorly sub-optimally). As in -- an anonymous music player agreed that the placement of early clues in Tallis and Couperin caused him not to buzz, despite knowing the things being discussed. I got Grice off of very little actual knowledge of Grice. Etc.

But I don't want to belabour the issue, because my main point was that this was an excellent tournament!
jinah wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 6:06 pm

[excerpting the portions of your post relevant to questions I wrote]

I think the criticism you raise is valid and was actually something I was slightly concerned about for the exact questions you mentioned, as well as the philosophy tossup in finals 1 that dropped a key tenet of that thinker's work I think about 3/4 of the way through the question. My overall goal when writing was to reward people who had "real knowledge" of the content over people who learned clues by studying old packets. My logic in placing slightly easier clues like a description of Grice's maxims or "Lockean-sounding-identity-stuff" was precisely to reward people who had knowledge of the topic, while avoiding "buzzwords" that had come up in previous questions. The Locke question I playtested against a few people and they thought the difficulty was fine; for answerlines like Grice or The Raft and the Pyramid (almost certainly the hardest answerline in the set), I felt like the answerline was difficult enough in itself that it was worth having a slightly easier question. That said, I'm curious to hear how that strategy played out in practice--I do remember John Lawrence buzzing in on the Grice tossup with something like "it is just Grice!" (which is a sentiment that itself could only come from a top-tier philosophy player).

On the qualia question specifically, I assumed the philosophy-of-mind related answerspace at Nats was broad enough that it could be a variety of answers. For what it's worth, I believe the two people who I know had excellent buzzes on that question--Marianna from Stanford and Caleb from Maryland--had both read the article in question, buzzed in with "consciousness," were prompted, and pulled the correct/more specific answer.

[Edit because I realized I didn't actually address the Rome tossup directly:] Same idea for the Rome tossup. Early clues hopefully sounded like Catch-22, early-mid clues were super dark, tying into the fact that the night walk through Rome is an uncharacteristically dark episode of the novel, and later clues mentioned once again specific clues from the novel that hadn't been linked to Rome specifically in previous questions. I have only anecdotal evidence on how it played, but it didn't seem like it was overly easy.
[Editing to include another reply]

This makes a lot of sense, thanks! I think the philosophy did a great job of rewarding actual philosophy knowledge; in particular "mathematical realism" was a very well-done question on an interesting answerline.

Re: qualia, the fact that the early buzzes were from people who had actually read the article makes me think I'm wrong that it was too easy a lead-in. I thought the early buzzes were guesses based off Block/Strawson, but the actual situation is quite different. Re: Rome, this all makes sense.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Perturbed Secretary Bird » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:31 pm

Popping in with religion stuffs. The subdistro I came up with was based on the percentage of the world that practices each given religion. So it was roughly planned to be:
Christianity 6/6
Islam 5/5
Hinduism 3/3
Buddhism 2/2
All others 6/6

"All others" included a proportion of Judaism questions that was not proportionate to worldwide numbers of adherents but reflected the religion's cultural significance in the US and Europe (as well as in quizbowl).

I'd love feedback about anything! It's my first time editing a nationals, so I've got nowhere to go but up. Infinite thanks to the rest of the editing crew (especially Auroni's careful edits and JinAh's very good ideas).
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Auroni » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:58 pm

otsasonr wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:49 pm
Second, can I get some clarification about the answer line for the tossup on the newspaper industry? I buzzed in with "printing", got prompted, couldn't pull the answer, and was negged, which made sense at the time, but discussing with some people after, I was told that in some rooms just "printing" was accepted. What gives?
ANSWER: British newspaper industry [or the British press; or answers indicating journalism in the United Kingdom; or publishing; prompt on the media]

It occurred to me that people might answer "the media," but it should have also occurred to me that people could say printing; I'd definitely have just accepted that if protested.
AGoodMan wrote:I buzzed with something descriptive like "the pavilion at the 1929 Barcelona Expo that Mies van der Rohe designed" at the end of the Barcelona Pavilion tossup. My answer was outright rejected, but I wonder if I could have gotten a prompt?
The cofounders of SANAA installed transparent acrylic curtains within this structure in one of several yearly “interventions” held by visiting artists to modify this building. Walls clad in green marble extracted from the Greek island of Tinos enclose the smaller of this structure’s two reflecting pools, which houses a nude female statue sculpted by Georg Kolbe [KOHL-beh]. Eight slender cruciform pillars support the low white roof of this building, alongside an isolated wall built from a single piece of the rare onyx doréee marble. Two chrome-plated bars cross in a welded joint to form the frame of a chair that was initially designed for this building, but which actually debuted in its architect’s later Villa Tugendhat. For 10 points, name this Modernist structure built by Mies van der Rohe for the 1929 International Exhibition, held in a Catalan city.
ANSWER: Barcelona Pavilion [or German Pavilion]
<Other Fine Arts>

I treated this as a Named Thing, but given that I'm seeing references to it in books as the _German Pavilion_ at the 1929 International Exhibition, which seems more like an informal but descriptive answer, I'd probably have taken this were I reading for you, since you said the key magic word.
Muriel Axon wrote:I do recall being frustrated by the questions on grazing and the carbon cycle. Could I see those? I also would like to see the question on "eyes" in biology, not because I thought it was a poor question, but rather because I thought it exemplified a minor flaw that I'd like to discuss.
Wallace Broecker has written several books on this set of chemical processes, including one which analogized it to a “great” conveyor belt. The f-ratio is often used to quantify a part of these processes, and is often used to characterize a portion of them that are controlled by the "biological pump." This set of processes is often divided into "permafrost", "terrestrial”, "oceanic", and "atmospheric" components. Scientists recommend keeping a "budget" to balance this set of geochemical processes, and creating reservoirs to sequester the namesake element artificially, since the destruction of forests eliminates a major sink for it. The decay of organisms and respiration by heterotrophs are two primary inputs into, for 10 points, what geochemical cycle centering on the sixth element of the periodic table?
ANSWER: carbon cycle [prompt on thermohaline circulation before “f-ratio”]
<Other Science>

The presence of a precursor to this structure distinguishes the warnowiids from the polykrikoid dinoflagellates. The brittle star Ophiocoma wendtii contains calcite structures analogous to these organs. The reptile Indotyphlops braminus unusually has reduced function of these organs, a characteristic of the family Typhlophidae. Antagonistic pleiotropy may be responsible for the loss of function of these structures in some populations of Astyanax mexicanus. An early precursor to this organ in one lineage is found near the paraflagellar body and appears as stigmata under a microscope; that precursor to this organ is found in Euglena. Andrew Parker posited that evolution of this structure drove the Cambrian explosion in his “light switch hypothesis.” For 10 points, name this organ, which due to an evolutionary quirk in humans, is arranged such that the receptive rods and cones are at the back.
ANSWER: eye [accept lens, retina, or other structures in the eye]
<Biology>
(this one was a freelance question by Eric to replace something hyper-specific that came up at Lederberg)

A slight increase in this behavior shifts a system from a stable region of high productivity to one of low productivity, according to the Noy-Meir model. According to the range succession model, the namesake “pressure” resulting from this behavior transforms the environment along a monotonic gradient from an undisturbed climax community to a subclimax state. In aquatic ecosystems, the word “scraper” is often appended to the name of the types of animals that engage in this behavior. The name of this behavior follows the prefix “over-” when describing a situation in which the exposure of bare soil potentially results in erosion and desertification. Both fire and this feeding behavior are crucial to the maintenance of prairies. For 10 points, name this method of feeding in which an herbivore eats grasses.
ANSWER: grazing [or grazing pressure; or overgrazing; accept word forms, such as grazer-scrapers; prompt on herbivory; prompt on foraging]
<Biology>
[bracing myself on this one]
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:33 pm

Comments on those three questions:

Eyes -- this one is fine! The complaint I thought I had -- dropping scientific names absent context, in an obfuscatory way -- was avoided in the way I'd recommend -- which is to say, by providing contextualizing information about life history or (in this case) broader taxonomy, in plain language. I would want to see questions go even further in this direction, as I still think this question relies a bit too much on players knowing specific taxonomic labels. I don't think it would be too transparent to say "the fossorial snake" instead of "the reptile." (Could be wrong with that judgment call, but the point is I'd like to see people write "the long-lived tropical tree [scientific name]" rather than just "the species [scientific name].")

Grazing -- most of this question is fine and well-clued enough. (I've encountered the Noy-Meir model, albeit not under that name, and it sure is a thing; not knowing the name, it's hard to tell this clue from all the other ecological situations where one encounters alternate stable states.) The clue that irked me was on the river continuum concept. I don't think the word "grazer" is really so commonly appended to "scrapers" as the name of that feeding guild. I can see some sources online write "scrapers (grazers)," but I think the intent there is usually to convey that those are two (somewhat) interchangeable labels, not a single label. There are also a couple sources that do seem to support the use described in the question -- but I was just a little miffed that I knew what was happening in this clue, and yet that knowledge really help me. That all sounds very petty written out like this, so I'm going to drop it.

Carbon cycle -- not a big fan of this question! For one thing, even if you instantly recognize that some clues (e.g. f-ratio) relate to primary production, it's not clear what the broader class of processes is meant to be. Could it just be "primary production," since the f-ratio specifically quantifies oceanic primary production? And since the f-ratio deals with the role of nitrogen in primary production, it also relates to nitrogen cycling. Keeping budgets is also something one does with all kinds of elements.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by justinduffy » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:08 pm

I'll echo some of the previous praise that most of the bonuses we encountered had one part that definitely convertible without being insultingly easy. However, there were a few bonuses that seemed exceedingly hard, such as the one on category theory.

My only significant beef with the tournament is that I feel mythology was underrepresented, even as part of the 1.5/1.5 conglomerate with CE and geography. I prefer more "canonical" myth, so it's possible that I miscategorized some of the more folklore-y questions as "Other Academic" rather than myth, or that we simply didn't get to some of the myth bonuses. Still, during the tournament, I was struggling to identify the expected number of myth questions (especially after I realized that some of the mythological answerlines like "Ishtar" and "Quetzalcoatl" were likely literature and art rather than myth). That being said, I think the myth tossups were pretty good for the most part - I especially liked the questions on Agni and Nezha.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by setophaga » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:11 am

I'll add my two cents on the music in this set. I thought it was well-written, and written with quite different goals than the music at previous ACF Nats. I've always found Alex's music questions to be engaging, and most importantly, clue parts of the musical canon that more people are likely to know from either listening casually to classical music, or taking a collegiate music history survey class. Even if we music mafia folks get outbuzzed a couple times, I think it's sometimes important to provide music questions that are, yes, hard, but inclusive and engaging for people who might not be as familiar with the "music world", and I think Alex succeeded here. I would estimate that music maybe had the highest conversion rate of any category at this tournament, with the exception of the Still tossup in finals.

In contrast to what people have said, I thought the score clues were extremely accessible and buzzable: the Sugar Plum Fairy clue was early, yeah, but it was well-written and I think a lot of people got buzzes on it; the Korngold clue in the same tossup was definitely buzzable; the Mahler 2 and RVW 4 clues were also good (the RVW tossup was my favorite of the tournament, whoever submitted that!). Ditto with the Missa Solemnis violin solo clue.

I think Alex's effort here provides a critical question of what to do with these esoteric categories of music, science, and social science - categories that are relatively inaccessible to the generalist compared to literature, history, and visual art. The ability of someone who's taken a survey of music history course to convert many of these tossups (and get good buzzes on them!) is in stark contrast to the chemistry in this set, which I found almost impossible to convert, even though I've taken pretty much the equivalent of a chem minor and found last year's Nats chem questions very convertible!

Is either approach desirable? Which is going to differentiate the top teams? Is there a cost to writing completely obscure questions that top teams struggle to even convert at the end? Or is there also a cost to writing generalist-accessible questions in these categories?
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by vinteuil » Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:27 pm

setophaga wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:11 am
the Sugar Plum Fairy clue was early, yeah, but it was well-written and I think a lot of people got buzzes on it
(This post is very much from the peanut gallery—it is not intended even to comment on this set’s music, which I have not seen yet.)

This sounds like a successful clue! People getting good buzzes is exactly what you want.

However, “lots” of people getting a good buzz is much less what you want early on in the question (otherwise what’s the point of pyramidality?). Being cautious not to make a set too difficult is extremely important, but we should always keep in mind that the goal is to distinguish knowledge levels between teams. (This is why a too-hard hard part that nobody gets is as bad as a too-easy one.)

This isn’t like, revolutionary, but I think it’s easy to think “well, we were going for accessibility, and having too many early clue drops is better than the tournament being too hard”—they’re both bad for similar reasons.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Aaron's Rod » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:02 pm

vinteuil wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:27 pm
setophaga wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:11 am
the Sugar Plum Fairy clue was early, yeah, but it was well-written and I think a lot of people got buzzes on it
However, “lots” of people getting a good buzz is much less what you want early on in the question (otherwise what’s the point of pyramidality?). Being cautious not to make a set too difficult is extremely important, but we should always keep in mind that the goal is to distinguish knowledge levels between teams. (This is why a too-hard hard part that nobody gets is as bad as a too-easy one.)

This isn’t like, revolutionary, but I think it’s easy to think “well, we were going for accessibility, and having too many early clue drops is better than the tournament being too hard”—they’re both bad for similar reasons.
This set's editors finally beat into my head that "score clues are hard." I think (I hope!) the celesta tossup was an over-correction, and that generally score clues came early with good reason. Probably the fact that it specified it was descending, consisted of small intervals, and included breaks where the moderator should pause all made this a bit easier than I anticipated. So, "score clues are hard; corollary, except when they're not." :grin:

I obviously agree with Jacob that if "lots" of people are buzzing on a very early clue at ACF Nationals, that's probably sub-optimal, and I think that when framed that way Sameer would agree as well.
vinteuil wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:27 pm
(This post is very much from the peanut gallery—it is not intended even to comment on this set’s music, which I have not seen yet.)
Still fixing some errata, but hopefully tomorrow. Thanks for your patience!
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:06 pm

setophaga wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:11 am
I think Alex's effort here provides a critical question of what to do with these esoteric categories of music, science, and social science - categories that are relatively inaccessible to the generalist compared to literature, history, and visual art. The ability of someone who's taken a survey of music history course to convert many of these tossups (and get good buzzes on them!) is in stark contrast to the chemistry in this set, which I found almost impossible to convert, even though I've taken pretty much the equivalent of a chem minor and found last year's Nats chem questions very convertible!
Oof. When I was planning out answerlines I believe I made it so most of my answerlines themselves were things that could be comfortably tossed up at ACF fall so I apologize if you found this to be the case. If there's some specific factor (the cluing, certian answerline choice?) that made this seem the case please let me know. It looks like there was also a string of harder answerlines at the beginning of the editors packets (first set of rebrackets) that may have helped contribute to that too.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:31 pm

A few important answerline related notes that I wanted to mention:

1) Please include Cantonese answers in tossups on Chinese mythology. I used moderator discretion at this tournament to accept a Cantonese variant of "Nezha" pronounced with an "L," as a lot of younger speakers of Cantonese merge N and L. Unfortunately, Wiktionary does not even note this, so this is another instance of "please do your research and flesh our your answerline." I'd also note that this character seems to crop up in non-Chinese traditions as well, and consequently you should at least probably also have a Vietnamese answer.

2) The tossup on Sogdians had an abysmal answerline with nothing else in it besides the primary one. This is particularly bad because "Sogdian" is a fairly generic term that, in ancient sources, seems to refer to urbanized East Iranians who spoke the common language of "Sogdian" (which, I might add, was used far beyond the region of Sogdia for administrative purposes). So, at the very least, the question should prompt on "East Iranians" and there's a decent argument to prompt on "Bactrians" or "Khorasanians/Chorasmians" as well, even though the latter term usually refers to Greeks, because the region of Sogdia overlaps with the regions referred to as "Bactria" and "Khorasan/Chorasmia." Furthermore, some of the question's clues were misleading at best and wrong at worst - they refer to Samarkand/Marakanda as "the capital of the region named for these people," but this isn't really correct - Sogdian civilization wasn't really unified except by foreign powers, who usually had their capitals in other cities (for example, the Kushans ruled from present-day Bagram and Peshawar, and the Bactrian Greeks ruled from Baktra/Balkh). I'm told that at least one player got screwed by this, and I wouldn't be surprised if others did as well.

In tournaments like ACF Nationals where most players only have a few tossups per game, missing a chance because of a bad answerline really screws with the experience and prevents people from being rewarded. Even if people can protest, they may well not get the points they deserve if the protest doesn't end up mattering, and this sucks! Let's try to do better with this for our national tournaments.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:37 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:31 pm
A few important answerline related notes that I wanted to mention:

1) Please include Cantonese answers in tossups on Chinese mythology. I used moderator discretion at this tournament to accept a Cantonese variant of "Nezha" pronounced with an "L," as a lot of younger speakers of Cantonese merge N and L. Unfortunately, Wiktionary does not even note this, so this is another instance of "please do your research and flesh our your answerline." I'd also note that this character seems to crop up in non-Chinese traditions as well, and consequently you should at least probably also have a Vietnamese answer.
So... include an accept "Na Tra" which is pronounced almost functionally identically to ne zha? (I can see more of an argument for like nata taishi)
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:46 pm

Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:37 pm
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:31 pm
A few important answerline related notes that I wanted to mention:

1) Please include Cantonese answers in tossups on Chinese mythology. I used moderator discretion at this tournament to accept a Cantonese variant of "Nezha" pronounced with an "L," as a lot of younger speakers of Cantonese merge N and L. Unfortunately, Wiktionary does not even note this, so this is another instance of "please do your research and flesh our your answerline." I'd also note that this character seems to crop up in non-Chinese traditions as well, and consequently you should at least probably also have a Vietnamese answer.
So... include an accept "Na Tra" which is pronounced almost functionally identically to ne zha? (I can see more of an argument for like nata taishi)
This is a terrible defense - moderators don't know this stuff! The ACF rules are strict about consonant pronunciation, and I don't blame hesitant mods who don't accept variants because they stick to what's on the page. What if someone read about Na Tra in a Vietnamese culture/history book, but pronounced it in an Anglicized way because they don't know any better? That person could say the answer and not get the points they really deserve on a really hard tossup. A lot of teams, particularly in the bottom bracket, say things like "getting the tossup on X really made my day." That means that failing to get the tossup because the writer was too lazy to put in alternate answers can actually be robbing players of moments that make their day, and make them keep wanting to play Nationals. That sucks!
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:59 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:46 pm
Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:37 pm
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:31 pm
A few important answerline related notes that I wanted to mention:

1) Please include Cantonese answers in tossups on Chinese mythology. I used moderator discretion at this tournament to accept a Cantonese variant of "Nezha" pronounced with an "L," as a lot of younger speakers of Cantonese merge N and L. Unfortunately, Wiktionary does not even note this, so this is another instance of "please do your research and flesh our your answerline." I'd also note that this character seems to crop up in non-Chinese traditions as well, and consequently you should at least probably also have a Vietnamese answer.
So... include an accept "Na Tra" which is pronounced almost functionally identically to ne zha? (I can see more of an argument for like nata taishi)
This is a terrible defense - moderators don't know this stuff! The ACF rules are strict about consonant pronunciation, and I don't blame hesitant mods who don't accept variants because they stick to what's on the page. What if someone read about Na Tra in a Vietnamese culture/history book, but pronounced it in an Anglicized way because they don't know any better? That person could say the answer and not get the points they really deserve on a really hard tossup. A lot of teams, particularly in the bottom bracket, say things like "getting the tossup on X really made my day." That means that failing to get the tossup because the writer was too lazy to put in alternate answers can actually be robbing players of moments that make their day, and make them keep wanting to play Nationals.
I suppose in this specific case I dislike this Na Tra example because as someone who was super familiar with the character of Ne Zha and looked over the tu I was completely unfamiliar with him having a Vietnamese equivalent (although I should have noted "Nata" should be accepted) and from a cursory search of his appearance in Vietnamese culture he does not seem to be remotely distinct from the Chinese figure clued with Chinese names. I find it ridiculous that you are in particular chastising the set for not looking into Nezha's appearance in Vietnam considering a quick attempt at searching the string "na tra" provides me like 500k hits and in the first 2 pages i get like... 3 hits for the character in English language sources.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Auroni » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:01 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:31 pm
A few important answerline related notes that I wanted to mention:

1) Please include Cantonese answers in tossups on Chinese mythology. I used moderator discretion at this tournament to accept a Cantonese variant of "Nezha" pronounced with an "L," as a lot of younger speakers of Cantonese merge N and L. Unfortunately, Wiktionary does not even note this, so this is another instance of "please do your research and flesh our your answerline."
You're right, sorry we didn't do our due diligence by consulting with a panel of white guys who are extremely into Asian culture.

(your points about doing all we can to flesh out acceptable answers to the best of our knowledge are well taken)
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:11 pm

You're right, sorry we didn't do our due diligence by consulting with a panel of white guys who are extremely into Asian culture.
I thought the point of quizbowl was to reward you for being interested in learning about lots of cultures, and that the entire point of this tournament was to try to represent people of diverse interests and backgrounds. Guess it was all just an excuse for us to drag race into things and show off our wokeness by talking about how bad white men are!!!

I'll further note that the player who I moderated for who got the Nezha tossup specifically complained that Cantonese answers are never included in questions and was annoyed by this
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:04 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Ike » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:15 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:11 pm
You're right, sorry we didn't do our due diligence by consulting with a panel of white guys who are extremely into Asian culture.
I thought the point of quizbowl was to reward you for being interested in learning about lots of cultures, and that the entire point of this tournament was to try to represent people of diverse interests and backgrounds. Guess it was all just an excuse for us to drag race into things and talk about how bad white men are!!!
Dude, what the hell?

While the point about Cantonese may be valid here, it comes off as more sneering than a point addressed to the editors of Nationals about diligence. Even you've made this kind of mistake in the past -- you've submitted me questions with Japanese pronunciation guides that fundamentally misunderstood how Japanese pronuncation works! I think you can come off better when making this point.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Auroni » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:16 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:11 pm
You're right, sorry we didn't do our due diligence by consulting with a panel of white guys who are extremely into Asian culture.
I thought the point of quizbowl was to reward you for being interested in learning about lots of cultures, and that the entire point of this tournament was to try to represent people of diverse interests and backgrounds. Guess it was all just an excuse for us to drag race into things and show off our wokeness by talking about how bad white men are!!!
That's still the point of this tournament, but given that your post about an extreme corner case which would have almost certainly been resolved with a protest (you know, the way these things are meant to be resolved?), accused a gracious volunteer of laziness for not having a set of interests external to the content of the question, and was clearly made in an attempt to show off what you know, then I think the step that I mentioned is pretty clearly the only option we could have taken to preempt the issue that you raised.
Last edited by Auroni on Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:19 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:11 pm
You're right, sorry we didn't do our due diligence by consulting with a panel of white guys who are extremely into Asian culture.
I thought the point of quizbowl was to reward you for being interested in learning about lots of cultures, and that the entire point of this tournament was to try to represent people of diverse interests and backgrounds. Guess it was all just an excuse for us to drag race into things and show off our wokeness by talking about how bad white men are!!!

I'll further note that the player who I moderated for who got the Nezha tossup specifically complained that Cantonese answers are never included in questions and was annoyed by this
After about 45 seconds of research I am uncertain how I am supposed to account for the Cantonese name Naa4-zaa1 which does not strike me as something that is a function of not including Cantonese names. Perhaps for anything Chinese I should be making sure to account for how colloquial Cantonese is spoken? I'll keep that in mind so I can start adding equivalents of names with ls and rs swapped in my answerlines containing those specific consonants
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Jem Casey » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:23 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:31 pm
2) The tossup on Sogdians had an abysmal answerline with nothing else in it besides the primary one. This is particularly bad because "Sogdian" is a fairly generic term that, in ancient sources, seems to refer to urbanized East Iranians who spoke the common language of "Sogdian" (which, I might add, was used far beyond the region of Sogdia for administrative purposes). So, at the very least, the question should prompt on "East Iranians" and there's a decent argument to prompt on "Bactrians" or "Khorasanians/Chorasmians" as well, even though the latter term usually refers to Greeks, because the region of Sogdia overlaps with the regions referred to as "Bactria" and "Khorasan/Chorasmia." Furthermore, some of the question's clues were misleading at best and wrong at worst - they refer to Samarkand/Marakanda as "the capital of the region named for these people," but this isn't really correct - Sogdian civilization wasn't really unified except by foreign powers, who usually had their capitals in other cities (for example, the Kushans ruled from present-day Bagram and Peshawar, and the Bactrian Greeks ruled from Baktra/Balkh). I'm told that at least one player got screwed by this, and I wouldn't be surprised if others did as well.
Here's the tossup in question:
These people used small circular felt carpets to perform their namesake “whirl,” which became a dance craze in the sixth century. Tragic letters written by a woman of this ethnicity named Miwnay are among the documents in their Syriac-derived script that Aurel Stein found in a watchtower. Artists from this group depicted a train of ambassadors in a mural discovered on the Afrasiab mound in their capital, where these people were believed to stick glue on the palms and honey in the mouth of newborn boys to aid them in their most notable occupation. Panjakent was a key city of these people’s namesake region, which was also home to a mountain fort that an army supposedly overtook by using flaxen ropes and tent pegs to scale its cliff faces. Alexander the Great met Roxana at that “rock” named for these people’s homeland. Through his father, the half-Gokturk general An Lushan was a member of this ethnicity. For 10 points, Samarkand was the capital of what Iranian civilization whose merchants dominated the Silk Road trade?
ANSWER: Sogdians
Not prompting on "(East) Iranians" was an error, and I apologize if anyone buzzed with that (though I'd be surprised to hear that this happened). Unfortunately, though, answers of "Bactrians" and other Central Asian people are wrong, however related they may be; the tossups clues, respectively on the Sogdian whirl, the Sogdian script, a painting commissioned by the Sogdian king Varkhuman, a legend about the Sogdians in Tang sources, a city in Sogdia, a place named the Sogdian rock, and the Sogdian parentage of An Lushan, all refer, as far as I could tell while writing the question and can tell while doing some quick searches now, to a discrete Iranian people called the "Sogdians" in modern English sources, and could not be construed to be talking about "Bactrians" or "Chorasmians," who lived in a different place under different rulers, doing different stuff and not giving their names to any of the things mentioned in the tossup.

Nor does the question claim that Samarkand was the capital of Sogdia; what the question does say, that it was the "capital of the Sogdians," does incorrectly make a monolith of their political history, but this detail is really linking two more substantive clues and it's hard to see what gameplay issues might arise from it; is there some other group that had its capital in Afrasiab-era Samarkand, to which a player might conceivably think the clue was referring?

edit: spelling :(
Last edited by Jem Casey on Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:41 pm

For starters, to clarify - covering all phonological variants of an answerline is probably an unreasonable task to expect from editors, and I apologize is this is immediate reading of my post - a team of editors lacking knowledge of this particular phonological feature of Cantonese would not have noted this. Over time, ideally we'll build a body of knowledge that helps us address these issues.
a protest (you know, the way these things are meant to be resolved?)
So, to move from the hullabaloo here, I think this is really is the crux of the issue. Sure, under the rules, that's how you would deal with this, but (1) this doesn't take into account player experience and (2) if the protest doesn't matter, the player wont get the points they deserve. Not getting points you deserve is one of the worst things that can happen in this game, and is even more important when you're not getting a lot of points in the first place, as is the case for most teams playing a tournament like ACF Nationals. And I particularly think this is of added importance if we're trying to make the game better and more welcoming for people of different backgrounds.

To dive in a bit: For a figure like Heracles, I'm not sure we need to go out of the way and put the Etruscan "Erkle" in all our answerlines unless we're diving into Etruscan myth, but for something like this, where people from different living cultures know the figures in question under different names, I think we really need to be careful. A quick look at the Wikipedia page and Google search is probably enough to uncover most of the major variants (that's where I pulled this Na Tra example from). And yeah, I've similar mistakes before and felt really awful about them - I forgot to put in an answer of Tripitaka for a tossup on Xuanzang once where the player buzzed with that. That player's team lost the game by a lot, so they didn't get points they really deserved for a good buzz.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Cody » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:47 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:41 pm
To dive in a bit: For a figure like Heracles, I'm not sure we need to go out of the way and put the Etruscan "Erkle" in all our answerlines unless we're diving into Etruscan myth, but for something like this, where people from different living cultures know the figures in question under different names, I think we really need to be careful. I've similar mistakes before and felt really awful about them - I forgot to put in an answer of Tripitaka for a tossup on Xuanzang once where the player buzzed with that. That player's team lost the game by a lot, so they didn't get points they really deserved for a good buzz.
Isn't this covered explicitly under rule G.5? Or is there a reason this situation is different?

"If the correct answer to a question is a religious or mythical figure appearing in multiple religious or mythological traditions, acceptable answers are limited to the names of that figure in specific traditions which have been identified, either explicitly or by reference to character names found only within those traditions, in the question text up to the point at which the player buzzed in."

edit: (the specific Xuanzang / Tripitaka point would appear to be fine under rule G.2, but I don't think that's generalizable to the point you are making.)
Last edited by Cody on Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Auroni » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:50 pm

Now that I've been made aware that this happened, I'll know to provision for Cantonese pronunciations/variants in my future writing and if I find out that others have been similarly affected (and their answers denied), I'll apologize to them. What I don't take kindly to is the insinuation that writers and editors are "lazy" for not foreseeing the entire panel of potential possible answers when some of those answers are not something you'd come across in sources, as well as the extreme poasterly vehemence which is being leveled at what is comparatively a pretty minor infraction.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by TheInventor » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:55 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:31 pm
In tournaments like ACF Nationals where most players only have a few tossups per game, missing a chance because of a bad answerline really screws with the experience and prevents people from being rewarded. Even if people can protest, they may well not get the points they deserve if the protest doesn't end up mattering, and this sucks! Let's try to do better with this for our national tournaments.
I just wanted to also bring up aqnother example of this. I spent a significant amount of time studying the Mahabharata this year, and when the Bhima tossup came up, I was negged because I didn't pronounce the '-a' at the end, even though that is, as far as I know, a completely valid pronunciation of his name. This is actually the third time I have been ruled wrong for the same thing but instead for other characters (specifically Arjuna and Yudhisthira). I would like to request that question writers take note of this for the future.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Auroni » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:07 pm

TheInventor wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:55 pm
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:31 pm
In tournaments like ACF Nationals where most players only have a few tossups per game, missing a chance because of a bad answerline really screws with the experience and prevents people from being rewarded. Even if people can protest, they may well not get the points they deserve if the protest doesn't end up mattering, and this sucks! Let's try to do better with this for our national tournaments.
I just wanted to also bring up aqnother example of this. I spent a significant amount of time studying the Mahabharata this year, and when the Bhima tossup came up, I was negged because I didn't pronounce the '-a' at the end, even though that is, as far as I know, a completely valid pronunciation of his name. This is actually the third time I have been ruled wrong for the same thing but instead for other characters (specifically Arjuna and Yudhisthira). I would like to request that question writers take note of this for the future.
I actually brought up this very possibility in a conversation with the other editors and writers, used my discretion to accept this in my room, and am ashamed about it because this is an issue that I've been talking about for years (being Bengali), so I'm sorry that this happened to you -- will definitely never make sure it happens again (even if I'm going over the answer in question at 2 AM the Friday night before).
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:09 pm

Jem Casey wrote:Not prompting on "(East) Iranians" was an error, and I apologize if anyone buzzed with that (though I'd be surprised to hear that this happened). Unfortunately, though, answers of "Bactrians" and other Central Asian people are wrong, however related they may be; the tossups clues, respectively on the Sogdian whirl, the Sogdian script, a painting commissioned by the Sogdian king Varkhuman, a legend about the Sogdians in Tang sources, a city in Sogdia, a place named the Sogdian rock, and the Sogdian parentage of An Lushan, all refer, as far as I could tell while writing the question and can tell while doing some quick searches now, to a discreet Iranian people called the "Sogdians" in modern English sources, and could not be construed to be talking about "Bactrians" or "Chorasmians," who lived in a different place under different rulers, doing different stuff and not giving their names to any of the things mentioned in the tossup.

Nor does the question claim that Samarkand was the capital of Sogdia; what the question does say, that it was the "capital of the Sogdians," does incorrectly make a monolith of their political history, but this detail is really linking two more substantive clues and it's hard to see what gameplay issues might arise from it; is there some other group that had its capital in Afrasiab-era Samarkand, to which a player might conceivably think the clue was referring?
This is a pretty interesting discussion. I'd like to dive in a bit to some of these clues:
Artists from this group depicted a train of ambassadors in a mural discovered on the Afrasiab mound in their capital, where these people were believed to stick glue on the palms and honey in the mouth of newborn boys to aid them in their most notable occupation.
So yeah, as Jordan mentioned, it's not correct to refer to Samarkand as the "capital of the Sogdians" any more than it is correct to refer to Athens as the "capital of the Greeks" - and I do think it's possible for someone to get confused by this, particularly if all they know is that the Afrasiab mound is in Samarkand. The rest of the clues seem fine, as they're referring directly to quotes from foreign sources describing Sogdian kings and customs (much as the earlier clues are, as Jordan notes, referring to the script called Sogdian and the Sogdian dance).
Panjakent was a key city of these people’s namesake region, which was also home to a mountain fort that an army supposedly overtook by using flaxen ropes and tent pegs to scale its cliff faces.
Perhaps this is just an idiosyncracy of mine, but I think sentences should be a one-to-one mapping to the answer when taken in their entirety, and I'm not quite sure this does it. "Sogdia" is the correct answer here based on the earlier clues, but all of these clues refer to cities that are within the regions also called "Khorasan" and "Bactria" and both of those regions have peoples that are named for them as well (the Khorasan/Chorasmia link is loose, but the Bactria/Bactrians link is more solid). Thus, I think it's advisable to offer prompts on these answers, while not necessarily accepting them outright.

I think perhaps a better wording might be: "These people, who were the main early inhabitants of the city of Panjakent, defended a siege of a mountain fort..."

The broader point here is that ancient ethnography is pretty broad and complicated, particularly in a tricky region like Central Asia where we are heavily reliant on foreign sources. I know this comes across as really nitpicky and hostile, but I think this sort of precision particularly matters for ACF Nationals to help make sure teams can buzz confidently on clues and get the points they deserve.

EDIT: As a general addendum, I would like to offer some apologies for my caustic tone, particularly in light of criticizing others for doing the same. I feel pretty strongly about this issue, and was pretty disappointed to see that editors who took so much care with the rest of the set neglected something that I feel pretty strongly is important to player experience.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by The Abydos Helicopter » Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:38 am

As far as I can remember, this is the only quibble I had with the actual content of a history question, which happened to have a major effect on the outcome of one game and consequently our weekend - the question on Denmark in WW2, specifically the line about the White Buses, which iirc said something along the lines of 'The Red Cross and this country's government organised evacuations on White Buses' - at this point I buzzed in with Sweden, because the White Buses, although painted in Red Cross colours, were notably provided and manned by the Swedish Army with Swedish Government approval [1]

Obviously previous clues had been about Denmark, which I didn't know, and the protest was rightly denied, but this felt like a real lapse amongst what was otherwise an incredibly solid history set.

[1] see https://www.redcross.se/contentassets/4 ... -buses.pdf
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10. ... 0.11087111


(For what it is worth, I think I agree that a question on the Sogdians should probably be quite liberal with prompts - e.g. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/s ... archeology shows how intertwined the region was with Bactria)
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Thu Apr 18, 2019 9:59 am

The Abydos Helicopter wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:38 am
As far as I can remember, this is the only quibble I had with the actual content of a history question, which happened to have a major effect on the outcome of one game and consequently our weekend - the question on Denmark in WW2, specifically the line about the White Buses, which iirc said something along the lines of 'The Red Cross and this country's government organised evacuations on White Buses' - at this point I buzzed in with Sweden, because the White Buses, although painted in Red Cross colours, were notably provided and manned by the Swedish Army with Swedish Government approval [1]

Obviously previous clues had been about Denmark, which I didn't know, and the protest was rightly denied, but this felt like a real lapse amongst what was otherwise an incredibly solid history set.

[1] see https://www.redcross.se/contentassets/4 ... -buses.pdf
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10. ... 0.11087111


(For what it is worth, I think I agree that a question on the Sogdians should probably be quite liberal with prompts - e.g. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/s ... archeology shows how intertwined the region was with Bactria)
Apologies for the misleading Denmark clue, I did look up the topics in that submission but should have been more comprehensive in my research.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Fuddle Duddle » Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:07 pm

The Abydos Helicopter wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:38 am
As far as I can remember, this is the only quibble I had with the actual content of a history question, which happened to have a major effect on the outcome of one game and consequently our weekend - the question on Denmark in WW2, specifically the line about the White Buses, which iirc said something along the lines of 'The Red Cross and this country's government organised evacuations on White Buses' - at this point I buzzed in with Sweden, because the White Buses, although painted in Red Cross colours, were notably provided and manned by the Swedish Army with Swedish Government approval [1]
Tracy from Florida made the same neg against us.

Ed. Actually it was Taylor
Last edited by Fuddle Duddle on Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Mahavishnu » Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:13 pm

Fuddle Duddle wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:07 pm
The Abydos Helicopter wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 6:38 am
As far as I can remember, this is the only quibble I had with the actual content of a history question, which happened to have a major effect on the outcome of one game and consequently our weekend - the question on Denmark in WW2, specifically the line about the White Buses, which iirc said something along the lines of 'The Red Cross and this country's government organised evacuations on White Buses' - at this point I buzzed in with Sweden, because the White Buses, although painted in Red Cross colours, were notably provided and manned by the Swedish Army with Swedish Government approval [1]
Tracy from Florida made the same neg against us.
That was actually Taylor; you may be thinking of the Indonesia and Malaysia question, which I negged with Singapore and Malaysia a couple of questions later.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:54 pm

Could the question be posted? IIRC the question said something like "The White Buses operated in this country" which would be a clue that's more correct for Denmark than Sweden (though probably could stand some clarification)
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Auroni » Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:41 pm

I have updated the first page of this thread with the question set and the answer spreadsheet, so that people can see who wrote what, how things are coded, and can easily find questions that they want to pull up.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Kasper Kaijanen » Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:28 am

This is somewhat nitpicky, but Nixon's dog Checkers died before Nixon became president, so I don't think it would be accurate to refer to him as a "presidential dog." Also, the tossup on Laplace transforms has a sentence fragment at the end of the third line, "that partial fraction expansion method."
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by oslo » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:31 am

Packet 8, TU 14: Castile is a region of Spain, not a town.
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Re: ACF Nationals 2019 discussion: Question Content

Post by Sam » Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:43 pm

I was intending to post here the same time I did in the logistics thread and for some reason never got around to it.

Mostly I just wanted to thank the editors for an excellent tournament. I was especially impressed that so many people on the editing team were relative newcomers, at least in terms of editing for a national tournament (though I didn't realize until JinAh posted in the other thread that this was the first year since 2012 that at least one of the editors was female[!]).

More specifically: I think this tournament was particularly good at using context clues. I remember someone on Berkeley A (I apologize for not remembering who) saying they liked how "you hear the clues and it really sounds like it could be X and you buzz in and it is X," and that's a pretty good description. This carried over to the bonuses as well, which may be one reason why the easy parts felt gettable but not insulting--they still required some thinking to figure out what was going on, but not very specific knowledge.

The risks of these types of clues, especially when you're asking on things that very few people in the tournament have studied in any depth, is that it becomes a game of who's willing to pull the trigger first. I felt the "bonsai" and "private detectives" may have suffered from this a little. But these are shortcomings I'm very happy to accept if it means we get to see questions like the "migrant workers" one, which people are right to praise.
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