The Court of Question Judgment

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The Court of Question Judgment

Post by the return of AHAN » Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:53 pm

OK... I have taken your feedback to heart and rewritten the basketball toss-up:
4.) General Information (Sports)
The UCLA men's basketball team stayed in the AP Top 25 poll for a record 221 consecutive polls from 1966 until 1980. This streak was being threatened recently when a team, who had appeared in 200 consecutive Top 25 polls, fell victim to a four-game losing streak. Identify this Atlantic Coast Conference school.
ANSWER: Duke (Blue Devils)

Or should I end it with " ...school, based in Durham, North Carolina."??
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Post by First Chairman » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:05 pm

Sigh says the Duke alumnus... this is CBI-ish.

The question doesn't even give any significant information about the history of the Duke basketball program. And there's quite a lot. Name some players at least.
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Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:09 pm

First, for those of you who have been playing and writing college questions for years, let me beg the audience to go easy on this gentleman. He is a junior high coach who has spent most of his time with questions worse than the one above written by others and is new to this board and discussions of what constitutes a good question. He is dedicated to the activity and willing to put in the time to make it better.

My criticism follows.

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Post by First Chairman » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:09 pm

Okay... if that's the case...

At least try spelling Coach K's last name in your question. :cool:

What is wrong with the question is that you focus solely on one piece of information that is "current trivia" without really delving into a lot of information about the basketball program itself. There is just over 100 years of history that the Blue Devil program has had, and not all of it is focused on the AP poll.

Here's a PDF to this year's Duke Men's BB media guide with an extremely brief history. If you want results, here you go.

But one can talk about the decade of dominance that the Duke team has had in securing conference championships, including five straight ACC conference championships, of the number of players of the year or the many Final Fours that the Duke program has had in its entire history.

Questions are good as long as there are multiple clues that point to the answer. The best pyramidal questions present the information layering easier clues upon earlier harder ones to get to the desired answer.
Last edited by First Chairman on Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:18 pm

The biggest problem with the question as written above is the opening. Upon hearing the first sentence, a student might be tempted to answer John Wooden or 200.

The goal is to write a question so that an extremely knowledgeable player can know the answer after hearing the first part of the first sentence. So, you might want to start out by saying that some of famous former players on this college team were Dick Groat, Mike Gminski, Johnny Dawkins, and Christian Laettner. (These are junior high students, so they never saw any of those guys play for Duke.) You could then make reference to the 200 weeks in a row, and then end with a reference to the ACC, Coach K, and/or Durham.

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Post by First Chairman » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:19 pm

Well, in Chicago you would have heard of Luol Deng and Chris Duhon, not to mention JJ Redick.
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Post by cvdwightw » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:25 pm

Generally, the first sentence should specify exactly what you are looking for in the question, so the first actual clue does not show up well into the question and thus prevent people who know what the question is talking about from buzzing. If you insist on keeping most of your clues, I would rewrite your question something like this:

This school recently threatened UCLA's record of 221 consecutive weeks in the AP Top 25 Men's Basketball Poll, but settled for 200 consecutive weeks after a four-game losing streak, including a home loss to in-state rival North Carolina, knocked them out of the top 25. Identify this school whose fans, the "Cameron Crazies", still support Mike Krzyzewski's team.

This would be an example of how I would do a quick fix if I were editing this question on a tight time frame. In the actual writing process, I would definitely listen to the advice given by others in the thread.

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Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:39 pm

Dr. Chuck wrote:But one can talk about the decade of dominance that the Duke team has had in securing conference championships, including five straight ACC conference championships, of the number of players of the year or the many Final Fours that the Duke program has had in its entire history.
As long as Dick Vitale is still alive, the rest of us should focus on Duke's flaws so that the universe stays in balance. Chris Collins? Pete Gaudet? Neill McGeachy?

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Re: The Court of Question Judgment

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Feb 26, 2007 6:20 pm

BarringtonJP wrote:4.) General Information (Sports)
The UCLA men's basketball team stayed in the AP Top 25 poll for a record 221 consecutive polls from 1966 until 1980. This streak was being threatened recently when a team, who had appeared in 200 consecutive Top 25 polls, fell victim to a four-game losing streak. Identify this Atlantic Coast Conference school.
ANSWER: Duke (Blue Devils)

Or should I end it with " ...school, based in Durham, North Carolina."??
In my opinion, you have three steps necessary to improve this question:

1) You need to rewrite the first sentence because it doesn't clarify what you're looking for specifically - it just rambles about the UCLA team for a sentence and a half. You should rephrase it to something similar to "This school recently fell short of match UCLA's blahb blahblasjdf."

2) Add more clues. Until the very end, your entire clue base is "It came close to being in the top 25 for a record time, but didn't." And then you add in the ACC portion, which would make it a bit of a buzzer race between Duke, UNC and Maryland (you might include Boston College in that group, but that answer is far less likely). If you add two or three more clues in, you'll be doing okay.

3) Include the last portion you suggested as a decent giveaway clue.

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Post by the return of AHAN » Mon Feb 26, 2007 6:44 pm

Thanks for all the great, constructive criticism. Keep this up, and I just might have the board re-write this set!!

Here is a question that no kid got in the 4 matches where it was heard:

7.) Social Studies (Current Events)
On December 21st, 2006, Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow, a former dentist, took over as interim president of what Asian nation, which shares a border with both Afghanistan and Iran?
ANSWER: Turkmenistan

Is this simply too hard for a middle school scholastic bowl player? Or did we just get a batch that don't read the newspaper? Any suggestions for clues that might give it away? I toyed with mentioning that it's a former Soviet republic, but that wouldn't help an 11-13 year old.
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Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Feb 26, 2007 6:53 pm

BarringtonJP wrote: On December 21st, 2006, Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow, a former dentist, took over as interim president of what Asian nation, which shares a border with both Afghanistan and Iran?
ANSWER: Turkmenistan

Is this simply too hard for a middle school scholastic bowl player? Or did we just get a batch that don't read the newspaper? Any suggestions for clues that might give it away? I toyed with mentioning that it's a former Soviet republic, but that wouldn't help an 11-13 year old.
It's probably too hard for a middle schooler, yes. Suggested improvements:

-"a former dentist" is probably not a helpful clue at all, but if it is, it should be moved to before the man's name--you've already given away who he is by saying his name so putting in that biographical detail about him afterwards is reverse-difficulty
-the thing most people who know about Turkmenistan are aware of is Niyazov; add "which was ruled by a man who did X, Y, and Z, the eccentric Supurmurat Niyazov" to the end. Since it's a junior high tournament you might even want to conclude the question by including his nickname, Turkmenbashi.
-I personally don't like to confuse "country" and "nation" but that's a very nitpicky point
-"Central Asian" would be more specific than "Asian" in helping people figure this out
-you also might want to mention its relationship to Uzbekistan and Krygyzstan in order to help people rule out all the other countries in that area, which are very easy to confuse especially if you're in middle school and have no reason to know them in depth

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Post by Trevkeeper » Mon Feb 26, 2007 7:08 pm

I think Turkmenistan is too hard for middle schoolers in general, but the suggestions Matt made would certainly help.

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Post by David Riley » Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:57 am

Don't underestimate middle schoolers. I once had one answer "Albania" once he heard the name "Hoxha". I asked him how he knew Enver Hoxha, and he replied "I don't. Hoxha is a common Albanian name" (turns out his mother is Albanian). You never know.

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Post by Matthew D » Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:44 am

Yes don't underestimated the middle school bunch. In some ways they are easier to get on the right track than high schoolers. I have at least two that would have gotten that question after the rewrite

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Post by STPickrell » Tue Feb 27, 2007 11:18 am

Individual countries shouldn't be too hard for middle schoolers, especially one that's been in the news lately with Turkenbashi dying.

My greeting to my father when I was in middle school would consist of "Hi Dad, where's the paper?" Granted, I'd read the comics and the sports pages first, and then the news/editorials, but I think quizbowl players, even in middle schools, would have a tendency to keep up with the news.

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Post by the return of AHAN » Wed Feb 28, 2007 10:55 pm

Critique this question...

Social Studies (History)
This U.S. president was born in Texas, retired to a farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and was buried in Abilene, Kansas. Prior to being president, he was the commander of Allied forces in World War II. Name this president, who succeeded Harry S Truman in office.
ANSWER: Dwight D. Eisenhower

I wrote it such that it immediately identifies what's being sought. Is that an improvement?
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Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:03 pm

BarringtonJP wrote:Critique this question...

Social Studies (History)
This U.S. president was born in Texas, retired to a farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and was buried in Abilene, Kansas. Prior to being president, he was the commander of Allied forces in World War II. Name this president, who succeeded Harry S Truman in office.
ANSWER: Dwight D. Eisenhower

I wrote it such that it immediately identifies what's being sought. Is that an improvement?
It allows people to guess at the answer right away, unlike the Duke question, but people could still buzz with LBJ on the first clue--try to use a clue that uniquely identifies exactly one answer instead. Still not such a hot tossup--born in, lived at, buried in type clues are unimportant and uninteresting. If I were writing an Eisenhower tossup for low-level play, it might look like this:

This man's presidency saw the creation of the Interstate Highway System and the birth of NASA as a response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik. He defeated Adlai Stevenson in two elections, after coordinating the D-Day operation as supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe during World War II. For 10 points, Richard Nixon served as Vice-President under what Republican, who was in office from 1953 to 1961 as the successor to Truman?

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Post by the return of AHAN » Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:34 pm

Matt,
I see your point. My thinking was along the lines of..."the first sentence tells what's being sought and gives some trivial bit of info, while the 2nd clue begins to help uniquely identify him, while at the same time being a bit misleading by mentioning a place associated with Lincoln, the 3rd clue (Abilene, KS) nails it for anyone who knows that that's where his presidential library is. Now I'll give 2 clues that make this easier for the typical player to get" Before using it in a middle school meet yesterday, I tried it on 2 history teachers. Neither needed to hear the WWII credential, and one knew it when I mentioned the farm near Gettysburg. In the 4 games where it was used, it was answered correctly in all 4, though in the match where I was coaching, one kid buzzed on Gettysburg to say "George Bush". :shock:
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Post by cvdwightw » Thu Mar 01, 2007 1:17 am

It's perfectly fine to be opaque or even downright tricky in the first few clues, but you should never intentionally mislead the reader even a little bit. For instance, you should never use the name of a work written by one author in the lead-in when a different author wrote a better-known work by the same name without directly eliminating the possibility it could be said other author.

I (and many others on the board) agree with Matt that questions on presidents, especially at a low level, are fine, but they should focus on notable events that happened during his presidency or other political career rather than biographical details. For instance, a question on William Howard Taft could begin with a list of Supreme Court Cases he wrote opinions on (e.g. He dissented on someone v. someone else and U.S. v. Glass Chicken Figurine as a member of the Supreme Court), before mentioning that as president he promoted dollar diplomacy and may have gotten stuck in the White House bathtub, concluding with a mention that he succeeded Theodore Roosevelt in 1909.

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Post by the return of AHAN » Fri Mar 02, 2007 5:38 pm

Here is a bonus question from a set (provider shall remain nameless) heard in a jr. high meet yesterday:

5 parts PHYSICAL SCIENCE
Name any five of the seven colors of the rainbow represented by the acronym ROY G. BIV.

Go ahead. Have a little fun with this one.... :twisted:
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Post by Deviant Insider » Fri Mar 02, 2007 5:56 pm

There is no fun to be had with this question. It provides only pain and suffering.

If I tried to get this question wrong, I could say that B stands for Black and G stands for Grey. I would still get 12/20 points, and it's hard to imagine a rainbow including black and grey.

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Post by First Chairman » Fri Mar 02, 2007 6:55 pm

Well, it is for junior high kids.

Most physicists know you should be writing it as VIB G. YOR (increasing wavelength).

Granted... would you accept Re... white for credit?
:wink:
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Post by samer » Thu Mar 29, 2007 6:14 pm

BarringtonJP wrote:Matt,
I see your point. My thinking was along the lines of..."the first sentence tells what's being sought and gives some trivial bit of info, while the 2nd clue begins to help uniquely identify him, while at the same time being a bit misleading by mentioning a place associated with Lincoln, the 3rd clue (Abilene, KS) nails it for anyone who knows that that's where his presidential library is. Now I'll give 2 clues that make this easier for the typical player to get"
FWIW, the goal of the first sentence should ideally be "obscure but precisely identifying." (Again, what "obscure" means depends on the level you're going for; obscure for an 8th grader and obscure for a 12th grader are not the same.) Misleading clues are OK *if and only if* it is clear, by the time you get to that clue, that you've ruled out the "trap" answer. For example: "This composer's "Scheherazade" . . ." is not OK because there are two notable works by that name, and it is conceivable that a player might know one but not the other. "This composer's [year] work "Scheherazade"" would be OK, though, because it immediately rules out the other possible answers.
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