Paired Tossups and Bonuses

This forum is for discussing tournament formats, question styles, strategy, and such.
Post Reply
User avatar
Milhouse
Rikku
Posts: 293
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:16 am

Paired Tossups and Bonuses

Post by Milhouse » Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:14 pm

Split from Parsing Answerlines thread - Mgmt.

At the risk both of iconoclasm and derailing this thread, surely the simplest significant quality-of-life improvement to be made in quizbowl packets would be to put bonuses between tossups and have the bonuses associated with dead tossups be skipped; this would both prevent readers from having to switch back and forth between sections of the packet (also meaning that for SCT or other tournaments where teams are given physical packets they may not have to re-staple them), make tossup-bonus feng-shui issues be easier to detect (and eliminate issues where bonus N has issues with tossup N+X that are only apparent if X tossups go dead), and prevent the (possibly merely imagined by me) temptation of putting worse bonuses at the end of packets where they are less likely to be heard by teams. I can imagine objections relating to making it easier for people to study just tossups or just bonuses, or that there are other issues regarding packetization or set production that I, never having done those things, am unaware of, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clear argument for why bonuses are not skipped.
Eric Wolfsberg
Bethlehem Central High School 2016
University of Delaware 2020
Writer, NAQT

User avatar
Mike Bentley
Auron
Posts: 5831
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:03 pm
Location: Bellevue, WA
Contact:

Re: Faster (Human) Parsing of Answer Lines

Post by Mike Bentley » Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:34 am

Milhouse wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:14 pm
At the risk both of iconoclasm and derailing this thread, surely the simplest significant quality-of-life improvement to be made in quizbowl packets would be to put bonuses between tossups and have the bonuses associated with dead tossups be skipped; this would both prevent readers from having to switch back and forth between sections of the packet (also meaning that for SCT or other tournaments where teams are given physical packets they may not have to re-staple them), make tossup-bonus feng-shui issues be easier to detect (and eliminate issues where bonus N has issues with tossup N+X that are only apparent if X tossups go dead), and prevent the (possibly merely imagined by me) temptation of putting worse bonuses at the end of packets where they are less likely to be heard by teams. I can imagine objections relating to making it easier for people to study just tossups or just bonuses, or that there are other issues regarding packetization or set production that I, never having done those things, am unaware of, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clear argument for why bonuses are not skipped.
If you skip bonuses, you can end up with a round where, say, no science bonuses are read because you just happened to miss the tossups with those bonuses. While I would personally see that as a net positive, science players likely wouldn't be very happy. Yes, the same thing could happen if you randomized the packet such that the last 4 bonuses were all science, but in practice no one does that.

Although it is interesting that modern quizbowl has (apart from a few side events) decoupled the tossup subject from the bonus. In quizbowl-adjacent activities such as game shows and bad local high school formats of yesteryear, bonuses were often a reward to see how deep you can go after getting the initial question. Perhaps the pyramidal tossup makes that redundant. But maybe a tournament should experiment with paired tossup/bonuses categories (specific subjects probably being too much of a pain).
Mike Bentley
VP of Editing, Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence
Adviser, Quizbowl Team at University of Washington
University of Maryland, Class of 2008

User avatar
Irreligion in Bangladesh
Auron
Posts: 2075
Joined: Thu Jul 08, 2004 1:18 am
Location: Winnebago, IL

Re: Faster (Human) Parsing of Answer Lines

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:29 pm

Milhouse wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:14 pm
At the risk both of iconoclasm and derailing this thread, surely the simplest significant quality-of-life improvement to be made in quizbowl packets would be to put bonuses between tossups and have the bonuses associated with dead tossups be skipped; this would both prevent readers from having to switch back and forth between sections of the packet (also meaning that for SCT or other tournaments where teams are given physical packets they may not have to re-staple them), make tossup-bonus feng-shui issues be easier to detect (and eliminate issues where bonus N has issues with tossup N+X that are only apparent if X tossups go dead), and prevent the (possibly merely imagined by me) temptation of putting worse bonuses at the end of packets where they are less likely to be heard by teams. I can imagine objections relating to making it easier for people to study just tossups or just bonuses, or that there are other issues regarding packetization or set production that I, never having done those things, am unaware of, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clear argument for why bonuses are not skipped.
The IHSA does this, and for the reason Mike noted and a few others, I wish they didn't.

When tossups & bonuses are paired, the head editor has to make official decisions as to wish bonuses are tied with which tossups; when they aren't paired, the vagaries of randomly missed questions relieve the head editor of that burden, and any perceived faults get chalked up to chance. If bonuses are paired, you invent the feng shui problem of "am I going to give this history tossup a history bonus on purpose?" If you decide that's a problem - and the IHSA did decide that, and forbids category/category matchups - you then have to A: do the work of looking through your randomized question assignment and checking all your pairs, and B: make the judgment call of what questions to swap. Now, instead of worrying about the temptation to bury bad bonuses at the back, it would be burying them on (the hardest tossups/the tossups you like the least/early tossups so it doesn't feel like the bonuses influence the final outcome of the game/whatever bad justification you like instead). If you don't decide that's a problem, you open yourself up to intentionally bad feng shui & claims of bias (hyperbole, but think "we were doomed, they paired all the science with science and gave literature bonuses to all the history tossups, so we had 10 PPB and they had 30"). Either way, I think it's better to leave them unpaired.

Mike noted the experiment of intentionally pairing TU/B categories - USABB does this, and I don't particularly like it; I think it artificially increases bonus conversion. If you want a "normal"-feeling game of quizbowl, you have to increase bonus difficulty, and at the MS level, that's unwise. Obviously, it's a different story in, say, a side event at a summer weekend event.
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)

User avatar
Milhouse
Rikku
Posts: 293
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:16 am

Re: Faster (Human) Parsing of Answer Lines

Post by Milhouse » Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:50 pm

Yeah, both of those sets of arguments are reasonable. Thanks!
Eric Wolfsberg
Bethlehem Central High School 2016
University of Delaware 2020
Writer, NAQT

User avatar
QuestionCactus
Lulu
Posts: 23
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:55 pm

Re: Faster (Human) Parsing of Answer Lines

Post by QuestionCactus » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:25 pm

Mike Bentley wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:45 pm
I think it would be an interesting exercise for someone to do a top-down review of the quizbowl packet / scoresheet from a design perspective.
Milhouse wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:14 pm
At the risk both of iconoclasm and derailing this thread, surely the simplest significant quality-of-life improvement to be made in quizbowl packets would be to put bonuses between tossups
When I was writing a packet for a brief side-event-type thing at HSNCT, I divided the layout into two columns with the tossups on the left and bonuses on the right: https://quizbowlpackets.com/2326/Latin-Packet-I.pdf (note that because the bonuses were slightly longer than the tossups, they would have outrun them if I hadn't made some manual adjustments).

I think this format is visually appealing and easy to read, and much more space-efficient than the current standard design.
Arjun Panickssery [Clarke High School, NY]

Download QuizDroid on Google Play

User avatar
vinteuil
Auron
Posts: 1356
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:31 pm

Re: Faster (Human) Parsing of Answer Lines

Post by vinteuil » Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:35 pm

I personally find this formatting extremely cramped and unnatural to read. (I have a lot of trouble with double-column text in general)
Jacob Reed
Chicago ~'25
Yale '17, '19
East Chapel Hill '13
"...distant bayings from...the musicological mafia"―Denis Stevens

User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6621
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Faster (Human) Parsing of Answer Lines

Post by Cheynem » Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:41 pm

Yeah, I'm not sure on the benefit of that, especially if you're following normal conventions of not linking the tossups to the bonuses.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

User avatar
the return of AHAN
Auron
Posts: 1947
Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2007 10:40 pm

Re: Paired Tossups and Bonuses

Post by the return of AHAN » Mon Sep 09, 2019 1:58 pm

I've long maintained that pairing TU/bonuses usually has the unintended consequence of having MORE bonuses in categories where the toss-up is missed, since writers strive to ask about something other than the TU category. So, in a 24 TU match, if 4 math TU go dead because both teams are weak at math, math becomes THE most asked about bonus topic.
Jeff Price
Barrington High School Coach
Barrington Station Middle School Coach (2013 MSNCT Champions, 2013 & 2017 Illinois Class AA State Champions)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

User avatar
btressler
Tidus
Posts: 616
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2004 7:23 pm
Location: West Chester, PA
Contact:

Re: Paired Tossups and Bonuses

Post by btressler » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:00 am

One of TJ's tournaments (the one that used to be MLK weekend I believe) used to do this. If you answered a tossup on say Alexander the Great, you got a bonus about the lands he conquered. Or perhaps films about Alexander.

I wouldn't want it every week, but I kinda liked it.
Bill Tressler,
Dickinson ('97) Carnegie Mellon ('99) Delaware ('06)
Seen moderating at various SE Pennsylvania events.

User avatar
Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite
Auron
Posts: 1137
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:46 pm
Location: Fairfax, VA
Contact:

Re: Paired Tossups and Bonuses

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:09 am

btressler wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:00 am
One of TJ's tournaments (the one that used to be MLK weekend I believe) used to do this. If you answered a tossup on say Alexander the Great, you got a bonus about the lands he conquered. Or perhaps films about Alexander.

I wouldn't want it every week, but I kinda liked it.
The major problem having tossups and bonuses linked that much was that you had to take away potential clues from the bonus. It was a neat idea in theory, but the execution left a lot to be desired.
Harry White
TJHSST '09, Virginia Tech '13
VP of Technology, PACE
Owner of Tournament Database Search and Quizbowl Schedule Generator
Will run stats for food

Post Reply