NAQT ICT 2007 discussion

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NAQT ICT 2007 discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Apr 15, 2007 9:21 pm

The tournament is over and no one said anything about the questions being used elsewhere, so I'm going to start the thread.

This year's ICT questions weren't very good. Last year's were on the whole alright compared to ICTs previous, with some notable exceptions that we talked about at that time. This year's brought back a lot of unmissed favorites from the early 2000s, such as:
-tossups on things that are far too hard to expect more than 0-2 people in the field to know about in the pre-FTP clues, made statistically "accessible" by including a lame cross-category giveaway ("the James web")
-wildly inconsistent difficulty in tossups leading to people not knowing whether to buzz even if they know the answer (the same tournament should not have a tossup on The Battleship Potemkin whose very first clue is "this film has maggot-laden meat in it" and a tossup on One Hundred Years of Solitude with "Macondo" halfway through, alongside tossups on King Idris and Theodore White)
-wildly inconsistent difficulty in bonuses both within and across categories (the Charlie Chan bonus in round 7 probably had an average conversion of about 5; the Alan Moore films bonus in the finals probably would have been 30ed by every single team in the tournament)
-poor proofreading leading to confusing questions (sorry I don't have a less inherently ludicrous example, but we almost talked ourselves out of saying the correct answer of "koopa paratrooper" on the Mario bonus because the words "koopa" and "trooper" were in the clue, and it's standard practice in quizbowl to not include the answer within the question)
-a cascade of "x, y, both, or neither" bonuses that are far, far more difficult to 20 or 30 than standard bonuses and essentially test knowledge of one thing four times
-general lack of agreement across categories as to whether bonuses were supposed to have an easy part or not
-the easiest clue in a tossup not being the last clue and generally poor pyramidal ordering (Marius the Epicurean was pre-FTP for Walter Pater among dozens of other examples)
-tossups on things no one cares about ("secretaries of state of the various states of the United States," "that guy who is on Ugly Betty," etc)
-yet another tossup on the Caprivi Strip, which I continue to assert is neither important enough, interesting enough, or able to be associated with enough unique sets of clues to justify being asked in almost every NAQT collegiate set ever produced
-0 questions on 20th century Russian and Soviet history as compared to 4 questions on soccer
-multiple rounds with more than 1 question on science fiction
-barely veiled trash crap like "the Edmund Fitzgerald" and "Bret Easton Ellis" presumably passed off as history, literature, or other academic categories
-three, four, or five questions from the "crap" section of the distribution all in a row
-a tossup on Henry Moore that reduced to "this guy lived in the twentieth century and created sculptures, most of which can be found in various places in Britain"
-multiple questions on minor sports in the same packet (a tossup on noted non-major tennis venue Indian Wells along with a [confusing] soccer clue in the Heart of Midlothian tossup)

I know this is not exactly a novel or genius idea, but hear me out: If NAQT wants to run a timed tournament with shorter questions than ACF, then can they please lower the trash and geography quotas and just write good, pyramidal 5-line tossups on academic things with good, progressive-difficulty three-part bonuses, instead of using the timed format as a pretext to run a hybrid tournament*?

*hybrid tournament- defined from past examples as a tournament composed 50% of trash and 50% of poorly written academic questions which frequently involve Canada

I will also say that, while the questions will always be the majority factor in determining the quality of a tournament, the administrative side of the tournament ran very well, with delays between the various phases of the event seemingly much shorter than in past years. After actually going through the ordeal of getting to and from Minneapolis, I have to say I'm even less happy about the choice of location than I was before the tournament, but once on campus the logistics were quite good. I also want to congratulate Chicago on being the first non-Michigan team of this millenium to unify the ACF and NAQT titles, with what I believe was a 26-1 record across the two national events.

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Re: NAQT ICT 2007 discussion

Post by Zip Zap Rap Pants » Sun Apr 15, 2007 10:03 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:After actually going through the ordeal of getting to and from Minneapolis,
Dude, flying to Chicago and renting a van is a pretty bad idea anyway (coming not so much from me as a Minnesota native I know). Driving all the way and spending a night somewhere would've even been better.

I think I heard the Caprivi Strip come up a long long time ago as a high school tossup, but regardless of difficulty it's one of those geography things that can't be pulled off pyramidally, either you know it or you don't. It would work as a bonus part but that's it.
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Re: NAQT ICT 2007 discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Apr 15, 2007 10:09 pm

Matt Morrison wrote:Dude, flying to Chicago and renting a van is a pretty bad idea anyway (coming not so much from me as a Minnesota native I know). Driving all the way and spending a night somewhere would've even been better.
How dare you impugn our flawless plan?

Snarky feedback coming soon.
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Post by theMoMA » Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:56 am

A couple div II criticisms (previously and vaguely stated in another thread)

First, there was a tossup on This is Our Country, the Chevy ad campaign. I don't believe that needs explanation.

After a toning down of hockey questions at SCT, they were back with a vengeance at ICT. TWO questions on people whose names are on league-leader hockey trophies in the Div 1 finals?

Besides the prolific hockey distribution, the sports questions were simply subpar. There was a hose baseball question on Travis Hafner that referenced the nickname Donkey (Donkey or Big Donkey is a common nickname for Adam Dunn). If the first clue is gettable, it better be uniquely identifying.

Many of the leadins to sports questions were of the almanac stats variety (he won 49 games for the Blue Jays, then accomplished things in the NL). Roger Clemens won 41 games for the Blue Jays and had success in the NL sometime afterward. Chris Carpenter won 49 games for the Blue Jays and had success in the NL sometime afterward.

Many other sports leadins or the vague information variety (entire clues that state "he played for a team that moved").

Maybe this is a more general criticism of NAQT, but why does it seem that only a particular genre of music gets asked? There's like a 1/1 pop/indie distrib, whereas you're very lucky to hear one Beatles question.

Finally, in Div II there were approximately two tossups on the first 30 or so works on the NAQT frequency list. I don't remember if there was a Shakespeare tossup or not. As someone with a good grasp on canonical literature, I answered perhaps three questions that I would define as mainstream, just-above-novice, works-based lit (The Flea and the tossup on selling hair are two I definately recall). I really feel this is unacceptable for this tournament. It's not that the lit was too hard, it's that it seemed not to exist. Maybe I'm just blocking out some of the questions I should have but didn't get, and I'll check out the packetset to make sure, but I felt like legitimate literature was woefully underrepresented in the DivII set.

All in all, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and probably 70% of the questions at ICT. It was great to finally meet quizbowl luminaries/internet superstars.

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Post by Strongside » Mon Apr 16, 2007 3:12 am

Overall I felt the ICT was a good packet set.

I felt there was a little too much trash. I agree with Andrew that the questions about the Maurice Richard award and the Art Ross award in back to back in the championship rounds, along with the other hockey questions was a bit excessive. I do like trash questions but I would prefer to have fewer of them at national tournament.

I am not a fan of paper and pencil tossups at the ICT, but fortunately my teammate who is a math major got the paper and pencil tossup.

As for the question on Travis Hafner, I felt it was poorly written with the reference to Donkey, considering Adam Dunn is nicknamed Big Donkey. That question made the difference between my team winning and losing a preliminary round match, but we ended up making the top bracket. We protested the question but lost the protest. It would have been better if the question started out something like:

Adam Dunn is nicknamed Big Donkey, while this man's teammates nicknamed him Donkey.

I played in Division 2 and felt on the whole that the questions were on the easy side, but that they were also difficult to power. I felt the power marks were generally consistent and in the right place.

Logistically the tournament went well and there were no major delays or catastrophes.

I was wondering how NAQT put the teams into preliminary brackets. Is it done based on sectional results, results from other tournaments, is it completely random, partially random and partially following an algorithm?

Congrats to NAQT for running a successful tournament. Although Minneapolis may not have been a good location for some teams, I hope that the teams who competed enjoyed their time in the Twin Cities.
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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Mon Apr 16, 2007 4:57 am

bjb87 wrote:I am not a fan of paper and pencil tossups at the ICT, but fortunately my teammate who is a math major got the paper and pencil tossup.
Are you fucking serious? A computation tossup at ICT? I was gonna shank at least one of the moderators (originally Matt Bruce but sadly we had worse) at ICT but chickened out. Clearly that was a poor choice.

edit: oh, and by the way, I'd rather be raped in prison than hear another tossup on the mountain "Mount Rushmore."

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Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:41 am

theMoMA wrote:There was a hose baseball question on Travis Hafner that referenced the nickname Donkey (Donkey or Big Donkey is a common nickname for Adam Dunn).
In all fairness, Hafner is also nicknamed Donkey. Of course, using this as a lead-in is poor form due to there being multiple players nicknamed Donkey.

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Post by First Chairman » Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:25 am

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Post by shlack » Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:07 am

leftsaidfred wrote:
theMoMA wrote:There was a hose baseball question on Travis Hafner that referenced the nickname Donkey (Donkey or Big Donkey is a common nickname for Adam Dunn).
In all fairness, Hafner is also nicknamed Donkey. Of course, using this as a lead-in is poor form due to there being multiple players nicknamed Donkey.
In all fairness (but not to NAQT, who made the error), Hafner is always referred to as Pronk, never as Donkey. It wasn't until people had been calling him that for a while that the public learned the origin of the nickname.*

*that being Project+Donkey. (I forgot who gave him the name. It might have been Bob Wickman).

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Post by NoahMinkCHS » Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:12 am

But in all fairness, as was noted previously:
TheMoMA wrote:If the first clue is gettable, it better be uniquely identifying.
Of course it's also also Hafner's nickname; nobody disputes that -- "pronk" notwithstanding -- and in fact, that is the problem: That two players (kinda) have that nickname and NAQT didn't know it. I can see how one might make that mistake (if you've only heard it used for one or the other, you just wouldn't know to anticipate that). The only way around it would be to think, "Hey, this is a relatively common English word that might describe more than one baseball player; maybe I should Google baseball nickname donkey and... wait, results say Hafner-Dunn-Hafner. Guess that cannot be a clue for Hafner until I have eliminated Dunn!*" I don't know for sure if I would have thought to do this, but I imagine if I were producing a national tournament, I would -- or at least should have.

* I haven't heard the question, but evidently this did not happen in this case.

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Post by DumbJaques » Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:20 am

I thought the div II questions were, overall, more than adequate for the average div II field. In particular, they were several hundred times better than the div II sets from 2-4 years ago, and that deserves corresponding praise. The academic questions, on the whole, were pretty good, particularly the tossups. I don't think there's any game I played that I can look at and say "if those questions hadn't blown, it would have gone differently," and that is always a testament to a tournament's quality, because I am a jerk.

I'm not a fan of Minneapolis as an ICT location, but I am under the impression that NAQT had a hell of a time with finding a host, so I wouldn't criticize them for that.

Also, the tournament did run very well and all the NAQT people I interacted with were, as always, courteous and considerably more than competent in running the tournament. In particular, Chad Kubichek twice volunteered to read a scrimmage round for my team, which really helped us to keep our focus, and I really appreciate that. I hope the forthcoming critiques won't be treated as "GARGH I HATE NAQT" or anything like that, but as some suggestions I really would like to see taken into account.

Now, the forthcoming critiques:

Bonuses: the 5 for 1, 10 for 2, 20 for 3, etc. and x,y, both, or neither bonuses were bad bad bad. I think the former is ok (though not preferable) as an entity when written well and with standard bonus construction kept in mind (not so this weekend), while the latter is bad because, as Matt said, it basically tested the same thing 4 times. Bonuses in naqt, in my opinion, need a major structural overhaul to be a better test of measuring depth of knowledge with "easy." "medium," "hard" etc.

Distribution: If you add general knowledge, geography, pop culture, current events, sports, and normally academic answers that have been mutated into terrible questions by the aforementioned topics being used as clues into one category, you come startlingly close to half of the questions. This is bad! Also, I can still see no reason not to balance distribution by packet, and if timers will still be used, no more than 1/1 of any subject should be in the last 4/4.

Trash: The trash isn't even good trash! The trash sub-distribution isn't even close to balanced (BASEBALL BASEBALL BASEBALL). Also, I'd like to think there are better trash answers than Damon Huard (like, almost any mentionable current or historical player in football history) or this is our country? I think I got this is our country, and I think it was against Georgia, who I'm willing to wager knows a little bit more about the Chevy and John Cougar Mellencamp than I do, because I don't know balls about either of those things. I'm going to put my own personal preferences about trash distribution aside, and say that I think a lot of problems in this regard could be fixed with some tweaking of the trash questions.

This one thing that happened that sucked: I made a protest that the bonus part answer given by the opposing team, "Congo," should not have been acceptable for Democratic Republic of the Congo. Congo was all that was underlined on the paper. I held that saying "Congo" couldn't possibly differentiate between DRC and the Republic of the Congo, and moreover that the Republic of the Congo is much more often referred to as Congo than is the DRC. I wasn't necessarily saying the answer should be incorrect, but it certainly should have been a prompt. However, I am still of the opinion that NAQT believes the answer should be incorrect, as they wrote:
In rare cases, an otherwise acceptable answer may be ruled incorrect when it creates ambiguity with another plausible answer (e.g., Mary Wollstonecraft, the birth name of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, would not be acceptable, or promptable, for her, as it is more often given as the full name of her mother.
The protest was denied, but that isn't really what bothers me though (we ended up winning the game anyway). The NAQT representative who informed us of the ruling stated that the protest committee had been split, and that the decision to reject the protest and accept the answer was based on the fact that the packet had only "Congo" underlined, and that "they couldn't go back and rewrite the packet." When I pointed out that this was ludicrous, the NAQT representative had basically no response and kept insisting that, while a decent percentage of the debaters in the control room or wherever had supported my argument, the fact that the packet was printed in a certain way was the deciding factor. Essentially, NAQT denied my protest on a "what's on the paper is what's correct" basis, which is an absolute joke at a national, college tournament. I want to say that I am entertaining the possibility that this guy who explained the ruling to me (who seemed absolutely terrified of doing so, for some reason) did not explain the nature of the ruling correctly. However, he definitely made it clear that the fact that the packet had something underlined was a very important, if not the most important, factor in the decision, and I don't think he was lying. I would very much like an explanation for this, not because it mattered or because it affected the tournament, but because it's something that really needs to be addressed. Also, when I requested that I at least get to hear the actual TD or someone higher up than my scorekeeper (who the "official NAQT representative" happened to be) give me the ruling and explanation, if not hear my argument, I was rebuffed. I understand the need for protests to be handled quickly, but in this case it really wasn't an adequate resolution, on any level.

Again, I want to say that despite the problems I had with the tournament, I thought it was good on the whole, and being a good national tournament is not easy. The fact that there exist lots "national" formats and tournaments which are far, far less beneficial to the activity than NAQT is not a reason not to rightly criticize, but it is something to keep in mind when weighing total opinion of the company. In summation, I'd like to see some changes (I think most of us on the forum would), but in my opinion and based on the questions I heard, I thought that nationals was a very good tournament.

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Post by BobGHHS » Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:30 am

In all fairness, Hafner is also nicknamed Donkey.
Being from Cleveland, I can clarify this...

Hafner is nicknamed "PRONK" because it means Part PRoject, Part dONKey... that is the only reference to Donkey. Never do they call him Donkey here.
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Post by grapesmoker » Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:59 am

Well, I promised snarky feedback, and here it is.

Given the quality of this year's SCT relative to previous years, I really expected something better than this year's ICT. I can't for the life of me see how such a tournament constitutes an acceptable nationals. I think this year's ICT was pretty bad by the standards of good quizbowl, and I'll explain my position below.

First, I pretty much agree with everything that Matt said. NAQT is not supposed to be a hybrid trash tournament; that "A" is supposed to stand for "academic." However, something like a quarter of the content at this and previous ICTs has been trash, geography, and general knowledge. The NAQT distribution is absolutely preposterous and completely out of touch with the standards of modern quizbowl.

Even the trash aspects wouldn't be so odious if they were done well, instead of being terrible questions about dumb shit that no one cares about. Did we really need a tossup on the corporate history of Best Buy? Who thought that was a good idea and would in no way produce a buzzer race on "Geek Squad?" Or that retarded-ass bonus on various kinds of horses; I guess if you're not privileged enough to know what the Spanish riding school is, you don't deserve points. Basically, there were lots of stupid questions on stupid topics that should never come up. Also, can we all please stop pandering to Canada, especially considering that there was not a single Canadian team in DI? There does not need to be 1/1 Canada per packet; in fact, I'm calling for a moratorium on all Canadian geography and pop-culture questions. The moratorium will be lifted when a Canadian team comes to an ACF tournament.

Ok, I could write about NAQT's stupid distribution for another two hours (did I mention I hate this distribution? It sucks and it makes for shitty tournaments), but I want to focus on all the other things they did wrong in those parts of the distribution that were actually supposed to be academic. Many of the questions had worthless excess verbiage, clues that didn't help anyone, and clues that were not uniquely identifying. Some examples:
  • This man explained Galois theory in Treatise on Substitution
    This is a stupid and worthless clue for Camille Jordan; who has read or even heard of his published works? I can't imagine anyone who is not a mathematics historian whom this clue would help. Also, if you're short on characters, why must there be a qualifier that the Jordan curve theorem is "deceptively simple?" That's just completely unnecessary and helps no one.
  • A tossup on the Portinari altarpiece includes the clue about the donors in the start of the second sentence. This is a stock clue for this answer and should come at the end, if at all.
  • "Spin-2" was too early for gravitons (the only predicted spin-2 particles), and CDMS was too early for WIMPS.
  • Did we really need a tossup on the Webb telescope, with the additional qualifier not to accept "Jim Webb?" I went to an hour-long talk on this device and still couldn't pull it until the end. Is this of interest to anyone who is not a professional astronomer? In fact, why was there a metric fuckton of questions about various satellites and asteroids? These areas are at best niche areas in the wider field of astrophysics and should not be represented to the extent that they are in quizbowl.
  • There were a number of calculation bonuses based on the Peter McCorquodale philosophy of making you calculate complicated things in seconds because that tests "real knowledge" or some such stupid shit. We had a huge-ass thread about how this was dumb and you shouldn't do it, but of course since no one at NAQT actually pays attention to such things as debate about what makes good quizbowl, they decided to do it anyway. Did we really need a trick question on relativity where you had to remember to work in c=1 units and therefore "rest energy" was not an acceptable answer for "rest mass" (though they are the same thing)?
  • QUESTIONS ASKING FOR UNITS ARE NOT SCIENCE. Repeat after me, everyone. QUESTIONS ASKING FOR UNITS ARE NOT SCIENCE. There were two such bonuses at this tournament, which is two too many. STOP FUCKING WRITING THESE QUESTIONS.
  • There was a plethora of questions, particularly in the sciences, that were essentially all-or-nothing deals. For example, one bonus basically required you to write down the full thermodynamic identity, cross out the relevant parts, and then make the identification between the remaining parts and the various quantities of interest in thermodynamics. This is stupid because it's too hard to do in the allotted time; plus, unless you're a physicist, welcome to zero points on that bonus. There was another bonus that required you to name open-source software. I have no idea if that was supposed to be computer science, but if it was, a) it's not, and b) I guarantee that 90% of the field knows about 0 open-source programs. That was a stupid bonus.
  • A tossup on Calchas mentions young women being sacrificed in the second line. This basically reduces to "have you heard of Calchas, if yes buzz now."
  • A tossup on the Yanomami beginning with their most distinguishing feature, the combat thing.
  • A tossup on Demosthenes that began with clues about some Greek dude who argued about things. Gee, I wonder who argued about politics in Greece? This is the kind of dumb tossup that encourages one to buzz on intuition rather than any kind of knowledge because hey, lateral thinking!
  • The Pan-American conference mentioned in the first clue of a James G. Blaine tossup; this was one of his most famous achievements.
  • A tossup on the TGV train. Seriously, what the fuck?
  • An utterly transparent tossup on "vowel shifts." Hey, it's a linguistic event, time to buzz!
  • Stock clue on Atahualpa in the first line.
  • Utterly worthless bonus on animals that carry diseases, with the answers being cats, mosquitoes, and birds.
  • A transparent tossup on Outlaws of the Marsh (title group, Chinese names).
  • A tossup on Jack Daniel the only purpose of which is to get people to neg with "Daniels."
  • A tossup on op-amps which talks about how they are typically wired up and then gives "non-inverting input" in the first line. If you know anything about op-amps (like, what an op-amp is), you're buzzing then, and the description of how they are "typically" wired is just false, because there is no "typical" way to wire an op-amp. They are versatile devices that can be used in filter, comparator, and other configurations. This was a stupid tossup.
  • Finally, the bonus difficulty was all over the place. If you were lucky, you could land an easy 30 by getting a trivial Euro history bonus that required nothing beyond standard high school knowledge. If you were unlucky, you would get a bonus on Bradley, Appearance and Reality, and 10 pity points for Eliot. The difficulty of the literature was, again, significantly above that of the rest of the distribution; since I know for a fact that NAQT was keeping track of the specific bonus conversion stats, perhaps we'll actually see this information released in the next couple of days. You know, if it's not a trade secret or something.
I can go on and on; I'm barely halfway through packet 4, for those sports fans keeping score at home. This tournament was sloppily written, full of bad and misleadingly-phrased questions, contained multiple instances of "all-or-nothing" bonuses, varied wildly in its difficulty, and had a shitty distribution that looks like it was purposefully designed to cause upsets. Why anyone in their right mind would return to this crapfest is beyond me. I certainly won't be doing so unless it's held in my backyard, because I'm pretty tired of paying more than $250 and traveling to hard-to-get-to cities to play on shitty questions.

A final word on the moderating at this event. In some rooms in the top bracket, we had games ending at 20 tossups. The fact that the average number of tossups heard by my team was around 22.5 is due to the fact that several times we were in a room with a moderator who was able to get through all 26 tossups. It's my thinking that the fastest moderators absolutely have to be in the top bracket to give those teams as many questions to play on as possible. Not that I think it would have helped us against any of the teams we lost to, but it's frustrating to have a match against Illinois cut off at 20. This is the flaw of the timing system, which I'll just take this opportunity to say sucks and should either be scrapped or have the time of the halves extended by several minutes.

All in all, this ICT pretty much sucked compared to almost every tournament I've been to this year. National tournaments should be held to the highest standards there are, and this tournament doesn't even hold up to the standards set by most invitationals. If even the participation of Andrew Yaphe on the writing team can't fix the endemic problems of the ICT outside his own categories, I can't imagine why anyone would bother returning. My sincere hope is that all the good teams just boycott the ICT next year, but I suspect that this is unlikely to happen for reasons beyond my understanding.
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Post by grapesmoker » Mon Apr 16, 2007 12:03 pm

Oh, and one more thing that got my goat: stop it with the cutesy giveaways, you clowns. If someone doesn't know "The 39 Steps," (as I do not), they don't deserve points for it. Period, end of story. If you don't know what the Webb telescope is, you don't deserve points for a tossup on it. In general, if you don't know the answer to something on a stock giveaway, you don't deserve those points and you shouldn't be getting them on retarded "sounds like" or "shares its name with" clues.
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Post by bsmith » Mon Apr 16, 2007 12:05 pm

DumbJaques wrote:The protest was denied... (we ended up winning the game anyway).
Now I don't know the particular circumstances of your game (ie: if other protests were involved), but is protesting points that don't affect your team's score when you've won anyway the right thing to do in the middle of a tournament? Time is precious at tournaments, and the factual resolution of the protest could have been completed afterward, such as through this board and feedback to NAQT.

I, personally, take the stance that if there is some strange fluke where both the team and a question packet give the same (factually-wrong) answer, let them have the points anyway unless the outcome of the game hinges on it.

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Geography

Post by Brian Ulrich » Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:23 pm

This is sort of an odd question, but seriously - at what point after my retirement did geography start getting lumped in with trash, and considered a non-academic subject? Two floors of a building at UW-Madison are devoted to the "Department of Geography." More directly related to NAQT question content, most non-U.S. history courses I've been around as a TA or with friends as a TA have included a map quiz near the beginning because knowing where Khurasan is can be quite useful when it comes up all the time. Today I noticed that the entire first volume of the Cambridge History of Iran is dedicated to geography. On my desk at the moment is A History of Iraq, which begins with a bunch of maps, as do many other books.

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Post by jollyjew » Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:25 pm

Generally, the specific clues people have mentioned as being bad were just that. Admittedly, the Demosthenes thing juked me out of my pants as I figured the question couldn't possibly be as transparent as it seemed. But on the issue of the bonus on the Spanish riding school, privilege just shouldn't be brought into the equation. That's just an exaggeration. We didn't draw that bonus, but I twentied it under my breath to Pat based purely on Crimson Tide knowledge. While it is definitely a 'general knowledge' question, you don't have to have ever seen a horse or studied the history of riding to score points on that. Denzel movies are worth points.

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Post by MikeWormdog » Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:28 pm

I wasn't there, so I can't comment on the questions directly, and I agree with many of Jerry's sentiments. One point: the Spanish Riding School is pretty famous, as are the Lipizzaner horses. The school is a major tourist attraction in Vienna--it's part of the Hofburg complex and in every guidebook. It and the Boys' Choir are two of the main things that come to mind for a lot of people when they think about Vienna.

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Re: Geography

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:49 pm

Brian Ulrich wrote:This is sort of an odd question, but seriously - at what point after my retirement did geography start getting lumped in with trash, and considered a non-academic subject? Two floors of a building at UW-Madison are devoted to the "Department of Geography." More directly related to NAQT question content, most non-U.S. history courses I've been around as a TA or with friends as a TA have included a map quiz near the beginning because knowing where Khurasan is can be quite useful when it comes up all the time. Today I noticed that the entire first volume of the Cambridge History of Iran is dedicated to geography. On my desk at the moment is A History of Iraq, which begins with a bunch of maps, as do many other books.
Brown doesn't have a geography department per se, so I looked on the Berkeley web page. As far as I can tell, most of the classes don't involve memorizing which rivers flow into what lakes. Of course, knowing roughly where something is in a general sense is pretty useful; you could hardly talk about the history of, say, Rome, without addressing the fact that it's located on the Tiber. But that doesn't mean that every location with a uniquely identifiable name is now fair game for questions, and it also doesn't mean that geography should be represented in quizbowl to the degree that it is.
But on the issue of the bonus on the Spanish riding school, privilege just shouldn't be brought into the equation. That's just an exaggeration. We didn't draw that bonus, but I twentied it under my breath to Pat based purely on Crimson Tide knowledge. While it is definitely a 'general knowledge' question, you don't have to have ever seen a horse or studied the history of riding to score points on that. Denzel movies are worth points.
One point: the Spanish Riding School is pretty famous, as are the Lipizzaner horses. The school is a major tourist attraction in Vienna--it's part of the Hofburg complex and in every guidebook. It and the Boys' Choir are two of the main things that come to mind for a lot of people when they think about Vienna.
I have never heard of the Spanish riding school before Saturday, nor of Lipizzaner horses. I have seen Crimson Tide, and I have also been to Vienna, and I don't remember hearing or reading about any of this ever.
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Post by DumbJaques » Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:53 pm

Now I don't know the particular circumstances of your game (ie: if other protests were involved), but is protesting points that don't affect your team's score when you've won anyway the right thing to do in the middle of a tournament? Time is precious at tournaments, and the factual resolution of the protest could have been completed afterward, such as through this board and feedback to NAQT.

I, personally, take the stance that if there is some strange fluke where both the team and a question packet give the same (factually-wrong) answer, let them have the points anyway unless the outcome of the game hinges on it.
The protest not being accepted caused the game to end in a tie, and we won the tiebreaker. I didn't say that because the rule at like every tournament since the beginning of time is that protests aren't reviewed by an extensive committee if they are superfluous to game outcome. Also, no one not named Jason Mueller would ever protest another team's losing point total. I would never do that, and if you really thought I did, what the hell is wrong with you? Asking if that's "really the right thing to do?" Something like that suggests that no one can ever know how your real opinion on something you post here, or if you really take such a passive stand on it, suggests idiocy. Being polite sucks, this is a thread for rage (and funn!), and you should get with the program.
This is sort of an odd question, but seriously - at what point after my retirement did geography start getting lumped in with trash, and considered a non-academic subject? Two floors of a building at UW-Madison are devoted to the "Department of Geography." More directly related to NAQT question content, most non-U.S. history courses I've been around as a TA or with friends as a TA have included a map quiz near the beginning because knowing where Khurasan is can be quite useful when it comes up all the time. Today I noticed that the entire first volume of the Cambridge History of Iran is dedicated to geography. On my desk at the moment is A History of Iraq, which begins with a bunch of maps, as do many other books.
Aside from the fact that using whatever happens to be on your desk (if you put it there before you wrote this, you lose) makes that argument kind of sketchy, I think the issue is not that geography is asked about (ok, well, for some of us), but that it's overrepresented given the fact that it's not academic in the sense that most things that should come up are. I don't think it's trash, but it comes up vastly more in NAQT than things like social science and philosophy (and, disturbingly, sometimes art and mythology). I think the ire is more due to the fact that poorly-written questions on random geographical crap like the Caprivi Strip, when added with trash and current events and general knowledge, compose a really, really unacceptable percentage of the distribution. Personally, I think a well-written geography tossup is ok (particularly if the answer is like Khyber Pass or something that matters), but rewarding people for their knowledge of South American plains regions is not.

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Post by cvdwightw » Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:57 pm

For all the complaining about the distribution, I will note that there were actual philosophy questions this year and fine arts questions on things other than paintings/painters, which is good. So, if they added more philosophy and music, what did they take out? I can't comment well, since our team averaged under 20 tossups heard/game until round 12 (the "official stats" say not until after the last round, but I'll comment on that later), but I'd guess literature. I'd guess the Ellis question was probably passed off as literature (not history), but it's still too early to decide whether he fits into the literature or trash category.

I thought, overall, this was an okay tournament, but I'm not filled with the vitriol of some other players. I also recognize that every tournament, no matter how well-edited, is going to have its clunkers. That said, I found the following desperately in need of improvement:

1. Balancing the brackets. I don't know whether NAQT seeds teams or randomizes them, but it seems like every year the brackets come out ridiculously imbalanced. Since they're getting our rosters like a month in advance (does anyone significantly change their rosters less than 2 weeks before), and they should have some idea how most of these players will do based on previous ICTs and this year's/previous years' SCTs, there should be some "expectation" of generally how the final standings should roughly look. If teams tank and finish lower than they should, allowing other teams to move to the top, that's one thing, but a team like this year's Stanford or last year's Princeton shouldn't miss out on the top bracket because there were too many good teams in their prelim bracket. Also, I have no idea how the team with the third-best bonus conversion in the prelims ended up in the third bracket, but I think that's more Texas's fault for not beating teams than NAQT's fault for making that bracket unbalanced.

2. Staff. Yes, I know all these people are volunteers, and generally nice people, and most of them have at some point played quiz bowl before. That said, teams spending over half the top bracket playoff under 20 tossups is unacceptable. I'm fine with occasionally having someone like Emily Pike, who reads slowly (We got through a total of 37 tossups the two times she read for us) but compensates with excellent clarity. Despite being slow (and from what I understand pulled out of the stat room and not expecting to moderate), she was probably third-best moderator that we had. I mean, if you look at our SCT stats, we're used to slow, but it's annoying how many moderators tried to sacrifice clarity for speed and still barely got to 20 tossups. The scorekeepers were worse. I guess I'm more bitter about them because I feel like they screwed me out of a worthless undergraduate all-star trophy (by my count I had 280 points in 137 tossups, which would have just squeaked into the awards). However, these scorekeepers seemed to have little concept of the rules, and one of them in particular kept disrupting our game against Rutgers (I suppose we could have called time-out to ask him to stop laughing and commenting on questions while time was running, but we had all the momentum, and why would you waste momentum?). Also, if a moderator doesn't finish a tossup before the buzzer, it still counts as a tossup heard. Then, at least, you can at least make it look like your moderator's getting through more tossups than he really is. Honestly, I'm in favor of a CBI-style initialing the scoresheet so you can make sure the scorekeepers don't make all sorts of errors. I guess scorekeepers are like refs, when they do their job you don't notice, when they screw up royally you get on their case like you should.

3. Balancing the trash subdistribution. I'd be fine with only a slight decrease (say, maybe replacing one trash question with something else), as this seems to be a major hallmark of NAQT. However, there should still be some idea of what's askable and what shouldn't be. I liked how NAQT recognized that "popular music" does extend past "crappy indie music no one cares about" and in general the music was slightly better than last year. There were questions on movies people (as in more than 1 person) have actually seen, and television shows people have actually heard of (although I got something like 3 tossups based entirely off promos I saw while watching the NCAA tournament, which isn't so good). So, outside of continuing to balance between indie music and music non-fans have heard of, I think my main issue was with the sports. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Mike Modano is askable and Damon Huard isn't. The kicker carousel was askable (and the best example I can think of for a true easy-medium-hard bonus in the trash area), but football penalties are probably not. Also, if you're resorting to 4 or 5 questions on soccer to fill your trash distribution, you probably have too much trash in your distribution entirely. Generally, academic championships should not be decided on trash, but given the existence of the "popular culture" category as a reasonable category, questions deciding those things should be closer to "popular" and "culture" than "trash" (I'm looking at you too, ACF Nationals Seinfeld bonus writer).

4. Separating literature and mythology. So you're aiming for 19.8% or whatever it is to be literature and mythology. This tournament seemed like about 12% literature and 6% mythology. This shouldn't happen. Yes, mythology is an important subject, and it should occur somewhere around 4-8 percent, but it's nowhere near as important a category as literature. By grouping the two together, it seems like covering for the lack of literature questions.

5. Science. It says here that the eigenvalues question was the worst question of the entire tournament. If you know anything about eigenvalues, you either powered the question, lost a buzzer race for power, or saw someone else get the question while thinking "They just gave the definition of an eigenvalue, so how are they going to turn this into a question on something else?". There was way too much astronomy, especially when most of it was on minor moons. I think most of the "x, y, both, or neither" questions people hated were in the science category too. At least the biology wasn't anatomy bowl this year, which is good, but when the rest of the academic categories are getting toward being consistently good (in particular, I found the social science category to be much better than previous years in both answer selection and pyramidality), the science shouldn't lag behind so prominently.

So, in conclusion, act like you have some idea of what teams are good and what teams aren't; actually use the moderator feedback sheet for feedback (although I guess a lot of teams managed to fill it out wrong and resulted in unusable data) and include a column for scorekeeper performance (just one, although it would probably encompass all the moderator feedback categories, just say something like "was the scorekeeper nice, non-disruptive, and competent?"); figure out what goes under "popular" and "culture" and "general knowledge" and separate it from "trash" and "general not-knowledge"; split the literature/mythology group up so packets don't end up with as much literature as mythology during the randomization process; and find a good science editor.

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Post by Rothlover » Mon Apr 16, 2007 3:59 pm

Hey, I wanted to apologize to any potential players and naqt for not making it out to staff after my flight got pushed back several hours, and appeared to be on the verge of being cancelled. I would've helped it if I could.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Apr 16, 2007 4:21 pm

My ancestors bred horses for the Austrian cavalry, and I wouldn't have gotten any points on any question about Lipizzaner horses. That's a bit out there, as far as answers go. If you want to ask about Austrian horses, ask about some battles, or about some cavalry commanders, or people who might, you know, come up in an academic setting. If you want to ask about Austrian tourist attractions, ask about some of the famous art on display there, or some of the scenes of prominent historic events.

Anyway, I think this underscores the need for a quizbowl canon. The ideal of "quizbowl should ask about what is objectively important" may sound like a fine ideal, but this entire debate shows us that there is no uniform definition of objectively important. One man's "must-know" is another man's "unimportant detail". This will lead to a wide range of answers that large amounts of people will find objectionable, and will make it very difficult for people to get better, as it will be unclear as to what exactly you have to learn.

I want to stress that last point. Matt Weiner will doubtlessly attack me on the grounds that a canon gives an advantage to people who have been on the circuit longer. That's true; but on the flip side, a canon makes it infinitely easier to improve as a player, because you know exactly what you need to learn to get better. A quizbowl canon is the new player's best friend. I feel that, as a new and not-so-good player, I'm more qualified to talk about the advantages of a canon to my kind than, say, a veteran quizbowler who is very good.
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Post by NoahMinkCHS » Mon Apr 16, 2007 4:51 pm

Quizbowl canon? Really? Like a high school Academic Decathlon or something? I don't feel like I need to point out all the things wrong with this idea. I will note, though, that I recoiled with horror when someone upthread complained about the stuff on the frequency list not coming up enough. NAQT probably could use more lit, but that doesn't mean it has to be the same two dozen "canonical" books/authors that always come up. There is knowledge outside quizbowl knowledge and I think it's pretty well-accepted that quizbowl (read: fake) knowledge should not guide writers (beyond not picking really obscure stuff).

(FWIW, I have heard of the Lippizaner Spanish Riding School thing. I think I first heard it on Ren and Stimpy or something random like that, but several times since. May or may not be a legit question, but just because you don't know it doesn't make it so, right?)

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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Apr 16, 2007 4:55 pm

I'm curious, what was the actual Lippizaner/Spanish riding school bonus?
Because I do actually know things about them and don't think they are too out there.
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Post by Summoned Skull » Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:04 pm

Everyone on our team knew the Lippizaner part...

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Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:14 pm

On an unrelated note, does anyone know if NAQT recorded these matches?
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Post by pray for elves » Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:18 pm

In honor of the fact that I attended a trash tournament while many of you were at ICT, I should point out that Norbert from the Angry Beavers (a Nickelodeon mid-90's cartoon, Jerry) had the dream of becoming a Lippizaner Stallion.

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Post by grapesmoker » Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:21 pm

DeisEvan wrote:In honor of the fact that I attended a trash tournament while many of you were at ICT, I should point out that Norbert from the Angry Beavers (a Nickelodeon mid-90's cartoon, Jerry) had the dream of becoming a Lippizaner Stallion.
Although I am vaguely familiar with the Angry Beavers, had I actually been able to recollect this fact, I would have promptly proceeded to throw myself out of the top floor of the tournament building.
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Post by NotBhan » Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:32 pm

theMoMA wrote: Many of the leadins to sports questions were of the almanac stats variety (he won 49 games for the Blue Jays, then accomplished things in the NL). Roger Clemens won 41 games for the Blue Jays and had success in the NL sometime afterward. Chris Carpenter won 49 games for the Blue Jays and had success in the NL sometime afterward.
IIRC, the question said that the subject won 49 games in (I think) 6 years with the Blue Jays before moving to the NL and not sucking, so that would eliminate Clemens.

Also, assuming it's the one I'm thinking of, the 'computation' tossup wasn't really much of a computation question -- it was a fairly easy equivalent resistance question.
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Post by Awehrman » Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:34 pm

A couple of points. Again I was not at the tournament, so I cannot comment on the exact questions. Apparantly North Kansas City High School students and alumni know of the Lippizaner Stallions. They have also toured the United States many times. I know the Lippizaner Stallions came to the University of Arkansas while I was there, so they must have a pretty broad reach. I also recall some Disney movie about the Lippizaners being saved from certain destruction by George Patton.

On the subject of "random geographical crap like the Caprivi Strip," it's important to remember that Caprivi is not a physical geographic feature, but a product of European Imperialism in Africa at the confluence of several modern African countries. It may be because of Northwestern's strong African history department, but I hear people talking about Caprivi pretty often. African history is a difficult subject to ask about even at an ICT level. A tossup on the Lozi peoples would be preferred, but would probably lead to even more un-informed message board second guessing. Again, I don't know what the tossup said. It may have simply given the dimensions of the strip and its physical features, if it did it is a poorer question, but still probably not in the range of "random geographical crap".

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Post by grapesmoker » Mon Apr 16, 2007 5:54 pm

Awehrman wrote:A couple of points. Again I was not at the tournament, so I cannot comment on the exact questions. Apparantly North Kansas City High School students and alumni know of the Lippizaner Stallions. They have also toured the United States many times. I know the Lippizaner Stallions came to the University of Arkansas while I was there, so they must have a pretty broad reach. I also recall some Disney movie about the Lippizaners being saved from certain destruction by George Patton.
Apparently North Kansas City High School students and alumni know more about horses than I do. I'll be sure to consult them for all my horse-related question-writing needs in the future.

edit: I 30'd the bonus about European soccer teams from players. Therefore this is significant and is no way of niche interest and should come up every time and you all should know it.
On the subject of "random geographical crap like the Caprivi Strip," it's important to remember that Caprivi is not a physical geographic feature, but a product of European Imperialism in Africa at the confluence of several modern African countries. It may be because of Northwestern's strong African history department, but I hear people talking about Caprivi pretty often. African history is a difficult subject to ask about even at an ICT level. A tossup on the Lozi peoples would be preferred, but would probably lead to even more un-informed message board second guessing. Again, I don't know what the tossup said. It may have simply given the dimensions of the strip and its physical features, if it did it is a poorer question, but still probably not in the range of "random geographical crap".
I think a tossup on the Caprivi strip in the context of European imperialism would have been interesting if written well. This tossup was nothing but "it's so long and extends from point A to point B." That's boring and tells no one anything about its significance.
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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:47 pm

Everyone wrote:stuff
Ok, well, now that it's been almost 14 hours since I got home from ICT I will give some commentary that hopefully is more constructive than simply comparing NAQT to prison rape.

1. Staff. What whoever it was said about Emily Pike was true, she was slow but very clear. That being said, she was probably the best reader in our prelim bracket. Additionally, what many may not know is that the Asian fellow "scorekeeping" for her was allowed to read for at least one match, which resulted in my almost killing him in our game against FSU (sorry Billy Beyer). I'm pretty sure we had TWO games the entire tournament in which more than 20 tossups were read, one with Matt Bruce and one with R. That is wildly unacceptable. I have to agree with Jerry that if you can't get enough competent staff to at least have the illusion of the tournament being fair and even, don't time the rounds.

2. On being in the third bracket with the 3rd best bonus conversion. First, Dwight is at least partially right, maybe we should have won games. We played badly, sure. That being said, give me a fucking break. 1) Our play in the second half was HUGELY different, not because the teams were "worse" but because the questions were better and more academic (0 tossups on "best buy" and "mount rushmore"). 2) We only got to hear 20+ tossups in one game. Maybe if we had been able to hear more tossups in every game we could have done better. 3) No matter what, a team that has played quizbowl before ever with an 18+ bonus conversion should beat more teams than we did. I would say the exact same thing had it been some other team. There was a problem with the tossups. There was a problem with the distribution. There are many, many problems with NAQT. We spoke to R for a bit before the game he read for us. For someone who seemed so interested at the time in the problems we had at the tournament he sure seems unwilling to change anything. Here it is, R:

FIRE THE FUCKING EDITORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE "CRAP" DISTRIBUTION.

PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN ON TOSSUPS THAT ARE CLEARLY ON STUPID, CUTESY THINGS.

FIX THE STAFF PROBLEM OR FIX THE TIME PROBLEM.

PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS.

Nobody wants NAQT to be ACF. I would be fine with NAQT retaining its somewhat substantial trash/current events/geography distribution as long as the trash were on legitimate trash subjects (film, music, tv, sports, etc) and the current events were on things people actually care about (not best buy). I don't think it's that much to ask, I really don't. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result each time. While I'll be ineligible next year, in the future, unless changes are actually made, I, like Weiner and Jerry, won't be flying anywhere for ICT. And seeing how numerous teams comically rejected their bids to ICT this year, I'm not sure NAQT can continue to afford to alienate the admittedly pro-ACF crowd. I know Minnesota was NAQT's back backup choice, but it's no coincidence that schools aren't clamoring to help them out. If NAQT doesn't get its act together its collegiate division will go under.

edit: Jerry, just because you don't know about the Lippizaners doesn't mean they're obscure. My entire team knew about them and could name them. We're clearly not the only ones. It's a stupid topic for a question but it's not that obscure.

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Post by kactigger » Mon Apr 16, 2007 6:57 pm

There does not need to be 1/1 Canada per packet; in fact, I'm calling for a moratorium on all Canadian geography and pop-culture questions. The moratorium will be lifted when a Canadian team comes to an ACF tournament.

How is that connected to anything? Even if getting rid of Canadian questions is a good idea (and one that I am fairly sympathetic to) why should question policy (at an NAQT tournament!) be connected to who shows up to a far-too-difficult ACF tournament, especially when American teams can't be bothered to show up to the tournaments? (See the 6 teams that showed up to ACF regionals in Knoxville.) I remember when 20-24 teams used to come every year, and the decline is directly connected to the difficulty of the questions.



A tossup on the TGV train. Seriously, what the fuck?

Was it a poorly written question, or you just don't think that's an acceptable quizbowl topic?


I have never heard of the Spanish riding school before Saturday, nor of Lipizzaner horses. I have seen Crimson Tide, and I have also been to Vienna, and I don't remember hearing or reading about any of this ever.

So, "what you've heard of" is the only acceptable canon for answers? People have different interests, and go to Vienna for different reasons, but the Lippizaner horses are easily one of Vienna's biggest tourist attractions.



Finally, the bonus difficulty was all over the place.

Presumably ACF Nationals was the ideal for bonus difficulty, what with some teams only averaging 4 pts a bonus. There are different forms of crap questions- NAQT has a mildly screwy distribution, and ACF asks questions only a few teams know the answer to. It's not clear to me that ACF is preferrable.

What is the problem with giveaways after the FTP? Then again, Jerry is also the fellow who thought "Portuguese writer" made Saramago a dead giveaway.[/quote]

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Post by ecks » Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:12 pm

Kit Cloudkicker wrote:And seeing how numerous teams comically rejected their bids to ICT this year, I'm not sure NAQT can continue to afford to alienate the admittedly pro-ACF crowd.
What I'm wondering is why there were 14 schools that declined bids in DI, but only 2 for DII, and one of those for DII came two weeks before nationals.
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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:24 pm

kactigger wrote:There does not need to be 1/1 Canada per packet; in fact, I'm calling for a moratorium on all Canadian geography and pop-culture questions. The moratorium will be lifted when a Canadian team comes to an ACF tournament.

How is that connected to anything? Even if getting rid of Canadian questions is a good idea (and one that I am fairly sympathetic to) why should question policy (at an NAQT tournament!) be connected to who shows up to a far-too-difficult ACF tournament, especially when American teams can't be bothered to show up to the tournaments? (See the 6 teams that showed up to ACF regionals in Knoxville.) I remember when 20-24 teams used to come every year, and the decline is directly connected to the difficulty of the questions.



A tossup on the TGV train. Seriously, what the fuck?

Was it a poorly written question, or you just don't think that's an acceptable quizbowl topic?


I have never heard of the Spanish riding school before Saturday, nor of Lipizzaner horses. I have seen Crimson Tide, and I have also been to Vienna, and I don't remember hearing or reading about any of this ever.

So, "what you've heard of" is the only acceptable canon for answers? People have different interests, and go to Vienna for different reasons, but the Lippizaner horses are easily one of Vienna's biggest tourist attractions.



Finally, the bonus difficulty was all over the place.

Presumably ACF Nationals was the ideal for bonus difficulty, what with some teams only averaging 4 pts a bonus. There are different forms of crap questions- NAQT has a mildly screwy distribution, and ACF asks questions only a few teams know the answer to. It's not clear to me that ACF is preferrable.

What is the problem with giveaways after the FTP? Then again, Jerry is also the fellow who thought "Portuguese writer" made Saramago a dead giveaway.
1. Learn to use the internet

2. I think Jerry was being a bit hyperbolic on the Canada issue. Canada is as important as any other nation in the world and should be treated as such. If we have African geography, we should have Canadian geography. Clearly we're not going to stop asking about Margaret Atwood because she's Canadian.

3. It is hard to resist the urge to scold you for your beliefs on ACF, but the fact is that this isn't the place. Stop insulting ACF in a thread about ICT. Nobody really cares about your "OMFG TIME TO MAKE EVIDENCELESS CLAIMS THAT ACF IS IMPOSSIBLE" bullshit.

3. While I agree that "what Jerry has heard of" isn't a good standard for determining what should be tossed up, neither is "what you've heard of." Who the fuck cares if you've ever heard of the Lippizaners? For that matter, who really cares if I have either. Let's see the conversion rate. As to the TGV train, it's not that Jerry (and I) hadn't heard of it, it's that it's a stupid thing to write about. It's not a new development in transportation, it's just a train system in France. It's like writing a tossup on Greyhound or Amtrak. Stupid.

4. Giveaways aren't the problem. Cutesy giveaways are. The real problem with them is that NAQT uses them to write a tossup with the following form:

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah FTP NAME THIS STUPID USELESS THING THAT SHARES ITS NAME WITH SOMETHING THAT MATTERS.

5. NAQT's distribution isn't mildly screwy. Saying so without actually arguing with evidence or cogent opinions isn't going to make it any more true. As I said before, trash, geography, current events, ok. We have ACF for pure academic competition. But at least maintain some form of reasonable subdistribution within each of those things and make sure you have questions on real "literature," "history," and SCIENCE.

In conclusion, stop saying things that make no sense and stop making wild claims with nothing to back them up. Whoever you are.

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Post by Jeremy Gibbs Lemma » Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:31 pm

Yeah, we did get an opportunity to go about two weeks before the tournament but by that point, most of us had already promised to moderate at the MSHSAA district tournaments. ... or a few of us at least. I could have cancelled that, yes, but I figured that we would perform better next year after studying a lot this summer anyway.

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Post by grapesmoker » Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:33 pm

kactigger wrote:How is that connected to anything? Even if getting rid of Canadian questions is a good idea (and one that I am fairly sympathetic to) why should question policy (at an NAQT tournament!) be connected to who shows up to a far-too-difficult ACF tournament, especially when American teams can't be bothered to show up to the tournaments?
Because I'm a jerk. Seriously, though, the abundance of Canadian content seems to exist for no purpose other than to pander to Canadians. I don't see why there should be as much of it as it is; by all means, ask about important and interesting Canadian things, but no more so than about important and interesting things from other countries.

Also: Waaah, ACF is IMPOSSIBLE!
(See the 6 teams that showed up to ACF regionals in Knoxville.) I remember when 20-24 teams used to come every year, and the decline is directly connected to the difficulty of the questions.
Well, maybe if more than 6 teams had bothered to show up to ACF Regionals every year, you wouldn't be on here complaining about how hard ACF is. Oh no, pyramidal questions with clues. Anyway, all I need to say is that 27 teams showed up to Nationals this year and apparently most everyone had a good time, so rumors of ACF's demise are premature.
Was it a poorly written question, or you just don't think that's an acceptable quizbowl topic?
I think it's a retarded topic for several reasons. First, I can't see how this is any more worthy of being a question than, say, Amtrak's Acela line. The problem is that it just comes down to "have you heard of this one thing" and is totally unrelated to how many people would plausibly have had exposure to it. If you don't live in the Northeast, I wouldn't expect you to know what the Acela is, or what the Boston T is; why would anyone be expected to know what the TGV is? Second, even if it were a worthy topic by itself, you can't write a good tossup on it, because it very quickly becomes obvious that this is that magnetic train thing. So it's either power or nothing.
So, "what you've heard of" is the only acceptable canon for answers? People have different interests, and go to Vienna for different reasons, but the Lippizaner horses are easily one of Vienna's biggest tourist attractions.
Yes, clearly this is what I said. I am indeed the very arbiter of what's acceptable and all things need to be cleared by me before they can be part of packet sets.

The problem with the horses is the same; how does one go about acquiring such knowledge? For example, if I don't know something about a particular show that's on TV and that topic comes up, that's fine; if I really wanted to know about that, I could watch the show. Same for movies, music, sports, and other such things. Of course, the answer space is somewhat fragmented, but there is a lot there that people who are interested in these things could reasonably expect to know. I have no idea how one comes to learn about these stupid horses except by accident; I've been to Vienna, read about Vienna in the guidebooks, spoke to my friends and family before going to Vienna, and not once was this topic mentioned. It all comes down to accident and serves no purpose other than to randomize the results.
Presumably ACF Nationals was the ideal for bonus difficulty, what with some teams only averaging 4 pts a bonus. There are different forms of crap questions- NAQT has a mildly screwy distribution, and ACF asks questions only a few teams know the answer to. It's not clear to me that ACF is preferrable.
ACF Nationals bonuses could, and should, in my opinion, have been easier. But it's absurd and false to claim that ACF asks quesitons that "only a few teams" know the answer to. Almost all the bonuses at ACF included a relatively easy part for 10 points, and most of the tossups were pretty gettable towards the end. Yeah, the bottom third of the field had trouble with bonus conversion, which is a problem, but those questions were still an order of magnitude better than a lot of the FUNN crap that came up at ICT.
What is the problem with giveaways after the FTP? Then again, Jerry is also the fellow who thought "Portuguese writer" made Saramago a dead giveaway.
First, "Portuguese writer" is in fact a dead giveaway for Saramago, unless you'd care to name another well-known Portuguese writer, in which case I think you should stop complaining about how hard ACF is. Second, the point is not that there should not be giveaways, but that the giveaways should not be of the form "compute the number of rises." Such clues have nothing to do with the content of the question and just generate buzzer races. If neither team knows about, I don't know, "The House of the Seven Gables," from major characters and author (and almost certainly a clue about the "titular structure") then neither team should get that tossup, and we don't need extra verbiage about "a building with a septet of triangles on top" at the end, especially given how limited space is in NAQT questions.
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Post by vandyhawk » Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:38 pm

grapesmoker wrote:A tossup on the Portinari altarpiece includes the clue about the donors in the start of the second sentence. This is a stock clue for this answer and should come at the end, if at all.
The Ghent Altarpiece also depicts its donors, as I'm sure many others do. Not sure if there was something unique about these donors since I don't have the questions in front of me right now.
grapesmoker wrote:"Spin-2" was too early for gravitons
Yep.
grapesmoker wrote:An utterly transparent tossup on "vowel shifts." Hey, it's a linguistic event, time to buzz!
That was against us, and I'm pretty sure everyone was thinking that, but was wondering if it could actually be that transparent, and it was...
grapesmoker wrote:A tossup on Jack Daniel the only purpose of which is to get people to neg with "Daniels."
This one is iffy. I've had a teammate neg with Jack Daniels before, so I knew to leave off the S, but it's probably just a bad idea for a tossup in the first place. Maybe make it about the whiskey instead? Certainly more likely to be able to come up with a pyramidal tossup about that.
grapesmoker wrote:A tossup on op-amps which talks about how they are typically wired up and then gives "non-inverting input" in the first line. If you know anything about op-amps (like, what an op-amp is), you're buzzing then, and the description of how they are "typically" wired is just false, because there is no "typical" way to wire an op-amp. They are versatile devices that can be used in filter, comparator, and other configurations. This was a stupid tossup.
I also easily powered this one. I tried to right a tossup on op-amps one time, and found it surprisingly tough to come up with pyramidally ordered clues. Regardless, I'm pretty sure it was better than this latest effort.
grapesmoker wrote: Finally, the bonus difficulty was all over the place. If you were lucky, you could land an easy 30 by getting a trivial Euro history bonus that required nothing beyond standard high school knowledge. If you were unlucky, you would get a bonus on Bradley, Appearance and Reality, and 10 pity points for Eliot. The difficulty of the literature was, again, significantly above that of the rest of the distribution; since I know for a fact that NAQT was keeping track of the specific bonus conversion stats, perhaps we'll actually see this information released in the next couple of days. You know, if it's not a trade secret or something.
I can't legitimately complain too much about this since we were missing Paul "Sargon" Gauthier (and Robert Trent didn't make a last-minute surprise appearance like at ACF Nats) and therefore lacked bonus consistency, but there certainly did seem to be a very wide range.
grapesmoker wrote:I can go on and on; I'm barely halfway through packet 4, for those sports fans keeping score at home.
Kwartler wrote:Our play in the second half was HUGELY different, not because the teams were "worse" but because the questions were better and more academic
I couldn't agree more with Eric's statement, and perhaps Jerry agrees as he looks through the rest, but who knows. The first 7 rounds seemed to see a whole lot more strange results than the playoffs did, where for the most part, the best teams won. There were other factors, but we did so much better in the playoff rounds, and our bonus conversion, contrary to most teams, actually went up by almost 2 ppb for some reason. A team that beat us in the prelims and finished the first RR 2 games up, Harding, did significantly worse in the same playoff bracket than we did. I can only conclude that the distribution got more academic and less crap-tastic, since we're a lot better at the former than the latter. That provides a logical reason for Texas falling into the 3rd bracket as well. Was there some sort of intentional changing of the rounds after round 7?
grapesmoker wrote:A final word on the moderating at this event...have the time of the halves extended by several minutes.
We had a couple games (from the same moderator, who actually used to be better...) end with less than 20 tossups. Since it seems that the questions may have gotten a bit longer or more clue dense (sometimes), I really think another minute needs to be added to each half. That would add a total of 28 minutes to the tournament, which I think is quite doable.
kactigger wrote:anti-ACF stuff
Like some others have said, they're not trying to make NAQT into ACF. I also enjoy both formats, when executed well. The bonus conversion rates aren't the issue. It's the extreme swings in difficulty from one bonus to the next that can make or break a close match. Most agreed that ACF Nats bonus difficulty fluctuated too much as well, but it wasn't close to as much as at ICT, in my opinion.

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Post by Howard » Mon Apr 16, 2007 7:41 pm

DumbJaques wrote:The NAQT representative who informed us of the ruling stated that the protest committee had been split, and that the decision to reject the protest and accept the answer was based on the fact that the packet had only "Congo" underlined, and that "they couldn't go back and rewrite the packet."
While "they couldn't go back and rewrite the packet" is never an acceptable explanation for an answer's correctness, I could possibly see using what's on the paper as a tiebreaker if the protest committee was split 50-50. The fact that it's the way it was probably means that the question writer or editor though it should be that way. For my money, that should be worth a tiebreaking vote (but not much more).
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Post by Strongside » Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:30 pm

If one is fed up with NAQT and believe that they are not taking you criticisms and ideas seriously, I suggest trying to become a question writer.

I don't intend this message to sound condescending, but as a question writer you could write questions for NAQT and if you feel you can write good questions you can also feel you are being a positive contributor the questions that NAQT writes.

I know Rob Hentzel made announcements about being a question writer. To do this write 5 tossups and 5 bonuses and send them to naqt@naqt.com

I know that most college students and graduate students could use some extra money too.

More information is available at the following link:

http://www.naqt.com/jobs.html
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Post by Rothlover » Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:45 pm

bjb87 wrote:If one is fed up with NAQT and believe that they are not taking you criticisms and ideas seriously, I suggest trying to become a question writer.

I don't intend this message to sound condescending, but as a question writer you could write questions for NAQT and if you feel you can write good questions you can also feel you are being a positive contributor the questions that NAQT writes.

I know Rob Hentzel made announcements about being a question writer. To do this write 5 tossups and 5 bonuses and send them to naqt@naqt.com

I know that most college students and graduate students could use some extra money too.

More information is available at the following link:

http://www.naqt.com/jobs.html
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Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:24 pm

bjb87 wrote:If one is fed up with NAQT and believe that they are not taking you criticisms and ideas seriously, I suggest trying to become a question writer
I can't write questions for tournaments I'm going to play in, so that really won't fix any of the problems with the collegoate tournaments. The theory that my writing for high school sets will allow (entirely hypothetical) competent NAQT writers who are not current collegiate players to spend more time on the collegiate sets has also proven false over recent years. NAQT has expanded its high school output to the maximum that its writers can bear and will continue to do so if more high school writers sign up, rather than moving people to the collegiate sets. Were those two enormous problems somehow solved, we'd still just be in a further magnified version of the current situation, where some categories are written well and others are not, and difficulty swings among a large crop of writers with different backgrounds and philosophioes are common. It's no good for me (or Subash, or Andrew, or Seth, or anybody) to write 300 good questions if they are just going to be even more of a contrast to the 700 shitty questions that comprise the rest of the set. Instead of giving the inane Wikipedia-esque answer of "if you don't like it, fix it" and making me write a bunch of questions, perhaps NAQT should give me the ability to fire Matt Bruce, Samer Ismail, Ken Jennings, Tom Waters, and R. Hentzel, just to name a few of the notoriously poor writers whose questions any putatively competent NAQT editor must somehow find a way to include. There are like a dozen more people whose names I don't even know because they somehow got jobs as NAQT writers without any notable experience in editing independent tournaments of a high quality. which is of course the root of the problem.

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Post by Frater Taciturnus » Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:56 pm

:shock:
Yeah, sorry everyone, but due to a terrible computer error, it appears that half the ICT question were written by my little brother... :oops:
(if only it were that simple. In fact, I think that may have actually been better, based on what has been said so far. :neutral: )
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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:59 pm

bjb87 wrote:If one is fed up with NAQT and believe that they are not taking you criticisms and ideas seriously, I suggest trying to become a question writer.
You are also forgetting that NAQT has "editors" who will actually mangle your questions if they think badly of them. Unfortunately, said editors sometimes know minimal amounts of some or most specific areas within their subjects or just are so convinced their idiotic philosophy of question writing (lolz cute stuff and/or TRASH PERVADES ALL) is right that they will add or subtract clues from your tossups. Matt's right, NAQT's HS product is so popular (and rightly so) that additional resources will just go to expanding that. Although I have said repeatedly that nobody wants NAQT to be ACF, I think the only way to make NAQT what it should be is to get current or former ACF writers to edit the categories that Samer et al currently edit. Really, they don't have to be actual ACF writers/editors, just people who get the concept and know things. Keep the trash/geography/current events distribution, fine, but at least get people who actually know how to write questions so they evaluate knowledge and differentiate between teams and additionally know which topics are appropriate.

As to "not taking you [sic] criticisms and ideas seriously," there is no evidence that anything whatsoever will ever make NAQT actually listen to what its discontents have to say.

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Post by Frater Taciturnus » Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:02 pm

Kit Cloudkicker wrote: As to "not taking you [sic] criticisms and ideas seriously," there is no evidence that anything whatsoever will ever make NAQT actually listen to what its discontents have to say.
*GASP* HERESY! :roll:
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Post by theMoMA » Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:13 pm

NoahMinkCHS wrote:Quizbowl canon? Really? Like a high school Academic Decathlon or something? I don't feel like I need to point out all the things wrong with this idea. I will note, though, that I recoiled with horror when someone upthread complained about the stuff on the frequency list not coming up enough. NAQT probably could use more lit, but that doesn't mean it has to be the same two dozen "canonical" books/authors that always come up. There is knowledge outside quizbowl knowledge and I think it's pretty well-accepted that quizbowl (read: fake) knowledge should not guide writers (beyond not picking really obscure stuff).

(FWIW, I have heard of the Lippizaner Spanish Riding School thing. I think I first heard it on Ren and Stimpy or something random like that, but several times since. May or may not be a legit question, but just because you don't know it doesn't make it so, right?)
In a Div II tournament (for first- and second-year players) many of the top thirty works on the frequency list should come up! Some of the distribution should be works-based lit written specifically for Div II, which should include things like Vanity Fair, Moby-Dick, Gatsby, King Lear, and Faust. I shouldn't have to rack my brain to remember if there was a Shakespeare question!

I'm not complaining that the lit distribution was too hard. I'm complaining that it didn't exist. In a supposedly just-over-novice-difficulty tournament of nearly 600 questions, many accessible works should come up!

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Post by grapesmoker » Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:05 pm

bjb87 wrote:If one is fed up with NAQT and believe that they are not taking you criticisms and ideas seriously, I suggest trying to become a question writer.

I don't intend this message to sound condescending, but as a question writer you could write questions for NAQT and if you feel you can write good questions you can also feel you are being a positive contributor the questions that NAQT writes.
This sounds like a reasonable suggestion, but in fact, given the makeup of NAQT's writing team, is actually a lost cause.

The reason for this is that even if I joined and wrote, say, all of the physics tossups for NAQT, this would do nothing to fix bad history questions. The problem is endemic to the group that writes for NAQT in 2007 as though the year were actually 1999; those standards are no longer acceptable in the collegiate game. I don't dispute that many things, particularly the philosophy and literature questions, have been improved by Andrew's writing, and that's great, but that's still only part of the tournament.

After the 2006 ICT I offered to help edit the next ICT; I never really received a response to that offer. Hell, I'm pretty confident that if I got a head start on things, I could certainly write a better tournament, but there's no guarantee that my efforts would come through in the form in which I would like to see them. On top of that, I would apparently never be able to play NAQT again (unless I misunderstand their policies). So yeah, the payoff for me is next to nothing because I value a degree of autonomy in my questions and I don't want to see them changed by NAQT editors.
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Post by Kyle » Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:37 pm

Here's something positive to say about the ICT. I don't want to disagree with anything that has been said so far, but I do want to say that I had a really fun time this weekend. This was the first tournament where I felt like there was a great deal of camaraderie beyond the competition among the younger undergrad players. My teammates and I particularly enjoyed spending time with people from the Stanford, Dartmouth, MIT, Caltech, Amherst, UVA, and Johns Hopkins teams (all of which featured a former high school teammate or close rival of one of our team's members). Many people on this message board often talk whimsically about giving younger players a "voice" or complain about a perceived decline in overall quizbowl ability from a few years ago. I think the first step in solving both these problems is for the younger players in question to get to know each other and to learn to appreciate quiz bowl outside the context of questions and answers or winning and losing. It's a game and the whole experience meant to be fun — and, at least for my team, last weekend was fun. I guess I'm young and naive, but for me the occasional tossup on Chevy advertising campaigns was incidental to the experience.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:50 pm

Kyle wrote:Here's something positive to say about the ICT. I don't want to disagree with anything that has been said so far, but I do want to say that I had a really fun time this weekend. This was the first tournament where I felt like there was a great deal of camaraderie beyond the competition among the younger undergrad players. My teammates and I particularly enjoyed spending time with people from the Stanford, Dartmouth, MIT, Caltech, Amherst, UVA, and Johns Hopkins teams (all of which featured a former high school teammate or close rival of one of our team's members). Many people on this message board often talk whimsically about giving younger players a "voice" or complain about a perceived decline in overall quizbowl ability from a few years ago. I think the first step in solving both these problems is for the younger players in question to get to know each other and to learn to appreciate quiz bowl outside the context of questions and answers or winning and losing. It's a game and the whole experience meant to be fun — and, at least for my team, last weekend was fun. I guess I'm young and naive, but for me the occasional tossup on Chevy advertising campaigns was incidental to the experience.
I'd say just about everyone here feels the same way about national quiz bowl tournaments. That's honestly a big reason why a lot of us go to masters tournaments. There is indeed a lot of camaraderie in college quiz bowl, and believe it or not, it happens at ACF nationals too. Except there you don't have any tossups on Chevy advertising campaigns. Nobody's saying you or anyone else shouldn't go to ICT, that'd be stupid. But if that's what you really liked about the weekend, you should think about coming to ACF nationals. As it turns out, the mean and vitriolic people who post on this board are by and large friendly and welcoming to anyone who wants to be social.

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