2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

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2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby benmillerbenmiller » Sat Jun 17, 2017 2:20 pm

I am pleased to announce that the Montgomery Blair Quiz Bowl team will be housewriting a set for the 2017-2018 season! Our “Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament” will be a 14-packet set, complete with power marks and 6-7 line tossups.

The distribution for MBAT follows this breakdown:

4/4 Science (Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Math/CompSci/Misc)
4/4 Literature (American, 2 British/European, World/Classical)
4/4 History (American, European, World, Misc)
3/3 Art (Visual, Classical Music, Misc)
2/2 Religion and Mythology
1/1 Social Science and Philosophy
1/1 Geography
1/1 Current Events and Trash


With all of the other housewrites planned for next year, you may be wondering what makes MBAT the best choice for your upcoming tournament. For one thing, MBAT can be mirrored at the affordable cost of just $7 per team. This is about 30-40% lower than most other mirrors available, making it a cost-effective and profitable option for tournaments of all shapes and sizes. We are proud of the quality of our set, and if you want to judge our questions for yourself, check out the half packet sample we’ve attached to this announcement. You won’t be disappointed.

If you are interested in mirroring MBAT or have any questions about the set, let us know by replying to this post or by emailing mbhs.quizbowl@gmail.com. We’re really excited for our inaugural housewrite, and we hope you’ll get a chance to play it!
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby AKKOLADE » Sun Jun 18, 2017 9:59 pm

I hope you're not going to do 1/1 other art; I don't believe there's sufficient material at the regular season HS level to make this viable.

Who will be the head editor?
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby ansonberns » Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:52 pm

That final 1/1 of "Misc." art includes, but is not limited to, other art (architecture, jazz, etc.). It will also include more physical art and classical music.
I will be head editing the set.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:47 am

AKKOLADE wrote:I hope you're not going to do 1/1 other art; I don't believe there's sufficient material at the regular season HS level to make this viable


Ditto "you shouldn't do 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy at regular season HS difficulty."

With that said, this sample packet doesn't look like "regular season HS difficulty" - or, at least, what successful tournaments strive to hit when they say their difficulty level is "regular season HS." Seven of the answer lines for the ten tossups decidedly don't meet "we assume everyone, even new teams coming to their first tournament, will know this answer at the end," with Rockefeller not spotting you Standard Oil to add an 8th question bordering on "too hard for regular season." There's nothing wrong with a few questions per packet stretching into "you need to have studied at least a little for quizbowl to even have a chance," but this is a bit much. In bonuses, it's often hard to tell what's supposed to be easy/medium/hard; for example, essentially no one is going to get exactly 20 points on the Ionesco bonus (you need someone whose list knowledge extends to "Rhinoceros is by Ionesco" but who hasn't heard "Berenger" + "turning into title animal" in a question before; this bonus' structure often works well, but isn't advisable here).

Instead, this looks like another example of a well-meaning, solid group of quizbowl players deciding to write a housewrite but going about it the wrong way. Almost every common trait is here - a category distribution that emulates the college game instead of caring about what plays well in HS (in particular, relegating math, astronomy, and earth science to less than 1/1 a packet is a mistake that far too many people make), a player serving as head editor who hasn't (to my knowledge) edited before, an apparent lack of attempt to collaborate with other schools/experienced editors putting together a set, etc.

The discussion going on in this thread is not for nothing. Housewrites that look like this are bad for the game because inexperienced writers and editors make mistakes that experienced editors can alleviate in the production process. It's almost not hyperbole to say that every first time housewrite misses their deadlines (or sets the wrong deadlines in the first place) and puts out a set that needs more polish. It isn't hyperbole to say that every first time housewrite puts out questions that are bad, either technically or aesthetically. When those mistakes make it into game situations, it makes it harder for newer teams to take quizbowl seriously.

Anson, Ben, I don't know you or the rest of your team at all, so I hope you'll trust that I'm looking backward at past failures by other people (including myself!) and not at you as players unable to rise to the task. Indeed, in a vacuum, there are some neat things going on in the individual questions of the sample packet. You put all 10 power marks before important words; plenty of new writers screw that up. The Congo River tossup shows a good eye for geography clue choice. The Ta-Nehisi Coates bonus is very cool and moves in a great way to get an easier part in there for people who don't know Coates; that's an underrated skill. But as a set of questions, there are systematic issues like tossup accessibility and bonus differentiation -- issues that new writers are unable to fix themselves because they lack the experience to see the problems at all -- that make this something I don't want to see mirrored in Illinois next year, unless you collaborate with other writers and find a head editor who has successfully worked on a set before.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Charbroil » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:11 am

Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:Ditto "you shouldn't do 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy at regular season HS difficulty."


I agree with most everything else in this post, but I don't know if this is true or not. As far as I can tell, most if not all of the regular difficulty housewrites this past year had 1/1 to 1.5/1.5 social science and philosophy. (For reference, IS-sets have 0.9/0.9 of those subjects, which seems pretty similar to 1/1).
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby ansonberns » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:31 am

Ditto "you shouldn't do 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy at regular season HS difficulty."

I think this is more of a personal preference on the ideal distribution than the rule you make it out to be - anthropology, sociology, psychology, linguistics, and philosophy combine to certainly enough for 1/1

With that said, this sample packet doesn't look like "regular season HS difficulty" - or, at least, what successful tournaments strive to hit when they say their difficulty level is "regular season HS."

Although you used quotation marks, we did not describe the set as strictly "regular season HS" difficulty. Rather, I would call it perhaps "regular-plus", with an expected adjustment of around +1.
Seven of the answer lines for the ten tossups decidedly don't meet "we assume everyone, even new teams coming to their first tournament, will know this answer at the end"

Yes, I'd agree that the set would work best if the teams playing it have never attended a tournament before, but that's true of almost everything above the novice level. The set will be decidedly canonical and the questions do include giveaways to those answerlines by the end. It may be true that a person off the street couldn't get every tossup, the answerlines we are using are mostly in accordance with GSAC, etc.


Housewrites that look like this are bad for the game because inexperienced writers and editors make mistakes that experienced editors can alleviate in the production process. It's almost not hyperbole to say that every first time housewrite misses their deadlines (or sets the wrong deadlines in the first place) and puts out a set that needs more polish. It isn't hyperbole to say that every first time housewrite puts out questions that are bad, either technically or aesthetically. When those mistakes make it into game situations, it makes it harder for newer teams to take quizbowl seriously.

I disagree that this looks bad for the game. While our output may not be perfect, that is too high a bar. Certainly you can point out a few errors here and there, but personally I don't think one could look at the half packet we produced and tell that it's a first time set.

I know that all of this advice and criticism is meant well, but I also think that judging the set primarily a priori based on the fact that we haven't done this before is unfair.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby 1992 in spaceflight » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:23 pm

Charbroil wrote:
Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:Ditto "you shouldn't do 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy at regular season HS difficulty."


I agree with most everything else in this post, but I don't know if this is true or not. As far as I can tell, most if not all of the regular difficulty housewrites this past year had 1/1 to 1.5/1.5 social science and philosophy. (For reference, IS-sets have 0.9/0.9 of those subjects, which seems pretty similar to 1/1).


And most of it was too hard. That's kind of the point. Even some of the WHAQ philosophy/social science may have been too hard at times for the field.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Dominator » Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:44 pm

ansonberns wrote:Certainly you can point out a few errors here and there, but personally I don't think one could look at the half packet we produced and tell that it's a first time set.


Yes, you actually can. I had pretty much the same reaction that Brad did.

ansonberns wrote:I know that all of this advice and criticism is meant well, but I also think that judging the set primarily a priori based on the fact that we haven't done this before is unfair.


Your customers are judging your set a priori, though. As a coach, if I thought a set would not be up to standards, I would not spend my team's time and money attending it. (If I later found out the set was good, I would try to attend it the next year, but that just doesn't really happen.)

I agree with Brad that there were some promising signs in what you did write, and we're not saying not to write questions. We are saying that you'll have more time to really bring out the strengths if you (1) collaborate with another program to reduce the writing burden on your team, and (2) bring on an experienced editor to work out any flaws so that the good shines through.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:13 pm

ansonberns wrote:
Ditto "you shouldn't do 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy at regular season HS difficulty."

I think this is more of a personal preference on the ideal distribution than the rule you make it out to be - anthropology, sociology, psychology, linguistics, and philosophy combine to certainly enough for 1/1


You are right that it is a personal preference - one that is shared by a sizable majority of the high school playing audience, as has been my experience as a moderator and question writer for over a decade and the experience of many other people in the community. If you want to write that many questions in that category, you can; what I mean to say here (and didn't flesh it out originally; apologies) is that it will make most people who play your set like it less and, with little exception, make any new teams that are playing this set significantly more likely to not come back for another tournament.

Seven of the answer lines for the ten tossups decidedly don't meet "we assume everyone, even new teams coming to their first tournament, will know this answer at the end"

Yes, I'd agree that the set would work best if the teams playing it have never attended a tournament before, but that's true of almost everything above the novice level. The set will be decidedly canonical and the questions do include giveaways to those answerlines by the end. It may be true that a person off the street couldn't get every tossup, the answerlines we are using are mostly in accordance with GSAC, etc.


Here's a question to ask yourself - and this applies to anyone thinking of writing a set this summer. Do you personally think that the quizbowl calendar as you've played it needs more, fewer, or roughly the same number of tournaments that are harder and, necessarily, less accessible to people "off the street"? From what I've read here, I reckon that you're answering that question with "more" and seeking to provide that with your set. That's an OK opinion to have! But there are plenty of teams that will say "fewer," and your original post doesn't advertise that those teams/hosts should stay away. It is important to flesh out this thought and advertise appropriately. "Appropriately" isn't meant to be purely negative here ; you're writing a set that should be considered by competitive events like, say, Loyola Ultima in Chicago, but without saying "regular+ difficulty" and by using inclusive advertising moves like price undercuts, you're opening it up to be played at an IL tournament without any of Illinois' top-100 teams, an event you're implying would not play well. Advertise positively ("We're looking for hosts in strong circuits and teams looking for a challenge") as opposed to negatively ("Don't mirror if you don't have multiple teams attending a Nats") - but definitely provide a direction for hosts to know what they're getting.

Housewrites that look like this are bad for the game because inexperienced writers and editors make mistakes that experienced editors can alleviate in the production process. It's almost not hyperbole to say that every first time housewrite misses their deadlines (or sets the wrong deadlines in the first place) and puts out a set that needs more polish. It isn't hyperbole to say that every first time housewrite puts out questions that are bad, either technically or aesthetically. When those mistakes make it into game situations, it makes it harder for newer teams to take quizbowl seriously.

I disagree that this looks bad for the game. While our output may not be perfect, that is too high a bar. Certainly you can point out a few errors here and there, but personally I don't think one could look at the half packet we produced and tell that it's a first time set.

I know that all of this advice and criticism is meant well, but I also think that judging the set primarily a priori based on the fact that we haven't done this before is unfair.


I'm not asking for perfect, but players usually do, and they usually do so impatiently. I guarantee you that, if I had junior-year Jakob Myers in my room and the |bridge|s tossup got read, he'd firstline it off the Arthur Miller clue and call it anti-pyramidal. Putting Anitra's Dance in power for a regular season set is going to make somebody groan. Titledropping "Frost at Midnight" in the first line of a Coleridge tossup is a problem; you can save that title drop for later in the question and get more quotes/other clues in earlier. Selma Hayek in a lit bonus is going to gravely annoy the lit players - and if you claim that was a trash question instead, the lit players (and people like me) get happy and the trash players get angry that the rest of that bonus wasn't trash. It doesn't look like every first time set - many first time sets look WAY worse - but the rough edges show.

I will clarify a thing though - putting out this sample packet *doesn't* look bad for the game. It's an above-average effort for first time writers, and it shows that you guys are taking the effort seriously to multiple extents. I'm asking for taking it seriously to a further extent - an extent that, experience has shown, is vital to the production of a set that people will appreciate instead of nitpicking misplaced clues like I did in the last paragraph above. What does look bad for the game is when a finished product isn't finished to the standards they expect out of NAQT, NHBB, HSAPQ, SCOP, and other professional outputs. Housewrites almost always suffer from issues like this - and the rare instances that they don't, they've had experienced head editors making that happen.

Put another, shorter way - I'm not judging *your* housewrite a priori. I'm judging all first time housewrites that lack an experienced head editor. Yours falls in that category, and I'm trying to provide the guidance that every first time housewrite should get.


Here's another important consideration - why am I coming in here and criticizing MBAT when TJ and Beavercreek are going for 1/1 other art and 1/1 Phil/SS too? The honest answer is I was busy and missed them, and Fred's post here caught my eye. I'd certainly advocate they reconsider their distributions. But they've got Ryan Golant and Joe Czupryn on their masthead; that experience is going to make their sets better than yours in certain aspects - first and foremost, in terms of "likelihood, to an external observer, that the set gets done in time to get polished." This isn't a slight against you guys - it's a recognition that they are personally aware of the job in front of them and you aren't yet.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Charbroil » Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:53 pm

1992 in spaceflight wrote:
Charbroil wrote:
Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:Ditto "you shouldn't do 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy at regular season HS difficulty."


I agree with most everything else in this post, but I don't know if this is true or not. As far as I can tell, most if not all of the regular difficulty housewrites this past year had 1/1 to 1.5/1.5 social science and philosophy. (For reference, IS-sets have 0.9/0.9 of those subjects, which seems pretty similar to 1/1).


And most of it was too hard. That's kind of the point. Even some of the WHAQ philosophy/social science may have been too hard at times for the field.


I'm sure it was too hard, but that's not the point I'm trying to make here. Is there some sort of hidden consensus that 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy is too much at high school regular difficulty? If so, then why does literally everyone (including you, in WHAQ II) do it? If not, well, that's the point I'm trying to make.

To be clear, I agree that a lot of high school social science and philosophy questions are too hard. However, I think that's a separate issue from the question of how many social science and philosophy questions should go into each packet. You can have the right distribution and still populate some categories with questions that are too difficult.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:44 pm

Charbroil wrote:To be clear, I agree that a lot of high school social science and philosophy questions are too hard. However, I think that's a separate issue from the question of how many social science and philosophy questions should go into each packet. You can have the right distribution and still populate some categories with questions that are too difficult.


And I disagree - if "a lot" of P/SS questions are too hard, that absolutely informs the debate on what the distribution should be.

For example, the PACE NSC thread is a few clicks away explaining why the math in that set strove to not be college-level; they ended up with way less than 1 math question per packet as a result. SCOP Novice fits 1/1 math per packet because the level of difficulty allows easier math content to have its place in the set, because when we stretch for a hard part, it still lands in high school classwork.

Philosophy/social science at the regular difficulty level suffers from so many faults. It's very often not studied in the classroom. Studying the basics of philosophy/anthropology/sociology/etc. outside the classroom generally has a higher barrier to entry than learning history or reading fiction. If you're not studying and just gleaning what's talked about in common parlance, then you end up way "stronger" in history, literature, and the arts than in philosophy. As a result, because "regular difficulty" quizbowl is written with the assumption that the players have done at least a little bit of studying, anyone who hasn't studied gets dinged way harder in P/SS than in other categories.

But "studying for quizbowl," as interpreted by a Top 200 team, is not at all what "studying for quizbowl" looks like to the hundreds/thousands of teams that never crack the top 200. When that top 200 team writes a housewrite, their concept of what "regular difficulty" should be incorporates a "baseline" level of knowledge that doesn't mesh with what the majority of teams are working on - and weaker teams get punished way harder than they do on, say, an NAQT set. (This claim deserves statistical evidence I don't have time for; sorry to pull a Fermat, everybody!)

P/SS, other art, world literature, and some sciences (often physics, but I'm not good enough at science to have a fully developed opinion on this) are the places where this is most damaging for weaker teams. As a result, if you're trying to write a tournament set that is playable by everyone in the high school circuit, you should limit P/SS, world lit, misc. art, and the like to 1/0 or 0/1 per packet in favor of categories that are more accessible - social studies categories like government and current events, American/British lit, painting and classical music, and the like. (And if you're trying to write a set that caters to people who are already sitting at 20 PPB on an IS-set, then do that and advertise it as such.)
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Cheynem » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:01 pm

Brad alludes to this in his post, but 1/1 social science/philo would probably work if people just took a more flexible idea of what social science is. For example, almost every high schooler when I was in high school (to be fair, in 1950) took a civics course; there could probably be more questions on U.S. government. Physical and human geography are also things people learn about. Foreign languages. More psychology than philosophy.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Charbroil » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:38 pm

Cheynem wrote:Brad alludes to this in his post, but 1/1 social science/philo would probably work if people just took a more flexible idea of what social science is.


Brad, I agree with most every descriptive aspect of your post (most high school SS/P questions are too hard because they require quiz bowl studying to get even a base number of points), but I also agree with Mike Cheyne's post as quoted here. For example, in economics (by far the SS topic I have most familiarity in), you could expand your answer space if you write more about personal finance (interest rates, mortgages, taxes, etc.) and less on academic economics.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby benmillerbenmiller » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:53 pm

Brad, Noah, et al,

We really appreciate your passion for good quizbowl and your commitment to this community. We do understand how much time and effort is needed to produce a quality housewrite, which is why we started working on this in November and have spent an inordinate amount of time planning out first the style and goals of our set, then all the answer lines, and then drafting everything. We are firmly committed to creating an engaging, high-quality set worthy of both our time and the name of our school. If you don’t want to host a tournament with our set or attend a tournament where it is being read, that is your prerogative.

If you have further advice for us as we write and edit our set, please share that with us privately through email or forum DMs. If you have comments about housewrites in general or high school question distribution, we would appreciate those being discussed in their appropriate threads.

Best,
Ben

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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby 1992 in spaceflight » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:38 pm

Charbroil wrote:
1992 in spaceflight wrote:
Charbroil wrote:
Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:Ditto "you shouldn't do 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy at regular season HS difficulty."


I agree with most everything else in this post, but I don't know if this is true or not. As far as I can tell, most if not all of the regular difficulty housewrites this past year had 1/1 to 1.5/1.5 social science and philosophy. (For reference, IS-sets have 0.9/0.9 of those subjects, which seems pretty similar to 1/1).


And most of it was too hard. That's kind of the point. Even some of the WHAQ philosophy/social science may have been too hard at times for the field.


I'm sure it was too hard, but that's not the point I'm trying to make here. Is there some sort of hidden consensus that 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy is too much at high school regular difficulty? If so, then why does literally everyone (including you, in WHAQ II) do it? If not, well, that's the point I'm trying to make.

To be clear, I agree that a lot of high school social science and philosophy questions are too hard. However, I think that's a separate issue from the question of how many social science and philosophy questions should go into each packet. You can have the right distribution and still populate some categories with questions that are too difficult.


We're saying each of them (philosophy and social science) being 1/1 is too much. There's a difference in asking 0.5 philosophy and 0.5 social science. It's a lot easier to make it accessible if philosophy and social science, combined, are 1/1, which I did for WHAQ I and will do for WHAQ II. You're less likely to let a tossup on something like Arthur Schopenhauer if you only have 0.5/0.5 to work with.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Father Comstock » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:43 pm

1992 in spaceflight wrote:
Charbroil wrote:
1992 in spaceflight wrote:
Charbroil wrote:
Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:Ditto "you shouldn't do 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy at regular season HS difficulty."


I agree with most everything else in this post, but I don't know if this is true or not. As far as I can tell, most if not all of the regular difficulty housewrites this past year had 1/1 to 1.5/1.5 social science and philosophy. (For reference, IS-sets have 0.9/0.9 of those subjects, which seems pretty similar to 1/1).


And most of it was too hard. That's kind of the point. Even some of the WHAQ philosophy/social science may have been too hard at times for the field.


I'm sure it was too hard, but that's not the point I'm trying to make here. Is there some sort of hidden consensus that 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy is too much at high school regular difficulty? If so, then why does literally everyone (including you, in WHAQ II) do it? If not, well, that's the point I'm trying to make.

To be clear, I agree that a lot of high school social science and philosophy questions are too hard. However, I think that's a separate issue from the question of how many social science and philosophy questions should go into each packet. You can have the right distribution and still populate some categories with questions that are too difficult.


We're saying each of them (philosophy and social science) being 1/1 is too much. There's a difference in asking 0.5 philosophy and 0.5 social science. It's a lot easier to make it accessible if philosophy and social science, combined, are 1/1, which I did for WHAQ I and will do for WHAQ II. You're less likely to let a tossup on something like Arthur Schopenhauer if you only have 0.5/0.5 to work with.


What's wrong with tossing up Schopenhauer on regular difficulty?
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby 1992 in spaceflight » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:59 pm

Father Comstock wrote:
1992 in spaceflight wrote:
Charbroil wrote:
1992 in spaceflight wrote:
Charbroil wrote:
Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:Ditto "you shouldn't do 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy at regular season HS difficulty."


I agree with most everything else in this post, but I don't know if this is true or not. As far as I can tell, most if not all of the regular difficulty housewrites this past year had 1/1 to 1.5/1.5 social science and philosophy. (For reference, IS-sets have 0.9/0.9 of those subjects, which seems pretty similar to 1/1).


And most of it was too hard. That's kind of the point. Even some of the WHAQ philosophy/social science may have been too hard at times for the field.


I'm sure it was too hard, but that's not the point I'm trying to make here. Is there some sort of hidden consensus that 1/1 Social Science and Philosophy is too much at high school regular difficulty? If so, then why does literally everyone (including you, in WHAQ II) do it? If not, well, that's the point I'm trying to make.

To be clear, I agree that a lot of high school social science and philosophy questions are too hard. However, I think that's a separate issue from the question of how many social science and philosophy questions should go into each packet. You can have the right distribution and still populate some categories with questions that are too difficult.


We're saying each of them (philosophy and social science) being 1/1 is too much. There's a difference in asking 0.5 philosophy and 0.5 social science. It's a lot easier to make it accessible if philosophy and social science, combined, are 1/1, which I did for WHAQ I and will do for WHAQ II. You're less likely to let a tossup on something like Arthur Schopenhauer if you only have 0.5/0.5 to work with.


What's wrong with tossing up Schopenhauer on regular difficulty?


There's nothing wrong with it, if it's like the hardest tossup in your philosophy distribution. However, Schopenhauer is not going to get good conversion rates at non-Nationals tournaments. There are several easier answerlines in Philosophy that would have much better conversion numbers among teams not in the Top 200 than Schopenhauer (because, as many others above me have pointed out, philosophy is a category that is hard on new teams). In my opinion, you are far better spent choosing answerlines that will be well-converted and making sure your leadin and second clue are going to challenge teams in the top 200, than on tossing up someone like Schopenhauer.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Charbroil » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:02 pm

1992 in spaceflight wrote:We're saying each of them (philosophy and social science) being 1/1 is too much. There's a difference in asking 0.5 philosophy and 0.5 social science. It's a lot easier to make it accessible if philosophy and social science, combined, are 1/1, which I did for WHAQ I and will do for WHAQ II. You're less likely to let a tossup on something like Arthur Schopenhauer if you only have 0.5/0.5 to work with.


The proposed MBAT distribution has 1/1 Philosophy and Social Science combined. Brad was responding to that distribution, so I assume that he's saying that 1/1 combined is too much. That was why I responded by mentioning that literally every set has around 1/1 combined or more (up to 1.5/1.5, though I didn't look at every set, so there may be some that still have 2/2).

I think you're the only one in this conversation who thought we were talking about 1/1 Philosophy and 1/1 Social Science (or 2/2 combined). For the record, I also think 1/1 Philosophy and 1/1 Social Science is too much.

Edit: To clarify, Mike Cheyne is also referring to 1/1 combined above, hence why I'm pretty sure that the "We" in "We're saying each of them..." is only you in this case.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Charbroil » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:11 pm

1992 in spaceflight wrote:
Father Comstock wrote:
What's wrong with tossing up Schopenhauer on regular difficulty?


There's nothing wrong with it, if it's like the hardest tossup in your philosophy distribution. However, Schopenhauer is not going to get good conversion rates at non-Nationals tournaments.


I would also guess that almost no one in high school reads Schopenhauer in class or in any sort of "real" context outside of quiz bowl (ex. reading for fun). One or two questions on topics like that (such as him, Hegel, etc.) are fine, but significant numbers of questions like that are uninteresting and unenjoyable because the game devolves into a contest of who's memorized the most stock clues*.

*Here, I mean "stock clues" to mean "standard clues that you memorize by rote without understanding their context." These clues may be important things, but you don't know what they mean; you just know which words to binary associate with the correct answer.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Dominator » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:18 pm

1/1 Philosophy and SS is too much.

I say this because when we were wide-eyed new writers of IMSANITY, we thought we could do more than that, and we tried. Then we played our questions in front of actual teams. Those questions went dead, which no one enjoyed. For the later iterations of IMSANITY, we wrote 0.5/0.5 each of Philosophy and SS. Looking back at the answer lines (3 years later), I am now of the opinion that even they were too hard. Were I to write IMSANITY 5, I would probably try to find a way to put less Phil/SS in the set (or at least rethink the categories a bit in the way Charles suggested).

I don't think it's impossible to make 1/1 Phil/SS work for a regular difficulty set, but I think it only works if the editor really knows what he/she is doing. For most sets, a smaller amount is the wise decision.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Charbroil » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:26 pm

Dominator wrote:1/1 Philosophy and SS is too much.


I mentioned this in one of my posts, but just to be clear, I'm almost certain that no one in this thread is advocating 1/1 Philosophy and 1/1 Social Science. I'm pretty sure the debate is whether 0.5/0.5 Philosophy and 0.5/0.5 Social Science is too much.

Along those lines, there's no reason why 1/1 Philosophy and SS combined has to be 0.5/0.5 Philosophy and 0.5/0.5 Social Science. There are enough "real world" economics, psychology, and government topics (the personal finance topics I mentioned earlier, various mental health topics, the civics topics Mike Cheyne mentioned, etc.) to make Social Science, say, 0.7/0.7 and Philosophy 0.3/0.3, which I think is reasonable and more accessible.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Dominator » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:45 pm

Charbroil wrote:
Dominator wrote:1/1 Philosophy and SS is too much.


I mentioned this in one of my posts, but just to be clear, I'm almost certain that no one in this thread is advocating 1/1 Philosophy and 1/1 Social Science. I'm pretty sure the debate is whether 0.5/0.5 Philosophy and 0.5/0.5 Social Science is too much.

Along those lines, there's no reason why 1/1 Philosophy and SS combined has to be 0.5/0.5 Philosophy and 0.5/0.5 Social Science. There are enough "real world" economics, psychology, and government topics (the personal finance topics I mentioned earlier, various mental health topics, the civics topics Mike Cheyne mentioned, etc.) to make Social Science, say, 0.7/0.7 and Philosophy 0.3/0.3, which I think is reasonable and more accessible.


I was talking about 1/1 combined. I still think it's too much.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Tue Jun 20, 2017 3:42 pm

I agree with Jacob - a tossup on Arthur Schopenhauer in a regular difficulty HS set is essentially a trumpet call to the world declaring that you can't come up with an interesting, accessible idea in philosophy and instead are subjecting new teams to a dead tossup. It's a failure on the writer's part, it's a failure on the editor's part for allowing it in, and it's a failure on the playtesters' part for not saying "cut this bad tossup before this set gets played for real."

As Charles notes, I am arguing for less than 1/1 combined P/SS in regular difficulty HS play.
*If you don't have current events in your distribution at all, add CE to the P/SS mix. I hate Minor Politician Bowl as much as the next guy who doesn't subscribe to a newspaper, but there are plenty of culturally important topics that aren't properly historical, aren't really trash, etc., that a CE distribution can embrace. You don't need that much - maybe, over 15 packets, you have 8 CE questions, 8 philosophy questions, and 14 SS questions.
*If you've got "1/1 P/SS and 1/1 CE and Geography", I'd strongly recommend "1/1 CE & PSS and 1/1 Geography" instead. Geography is fantastically well converted, highly interesting, has a nearly limitless canon, etc., and no HS tournament should have less than 1/1 Geo.
*I can't find an announced set that's making room for 1/1 CE, 1/1 Geo, and 1/1 P/SS at the same time, but if one exists, I imagine it's either A: not using trash or B: not giving math/astronomy/earth science enough room in the distribution. Those would both be places to look to fix it.

Note that all three of those remedies argue from a place of "look at this other category! Isn't it a good idea for high schoolers to hear questions about it?" As such, these remedies apply to the novice level, the regular difficulty level, "regular-plus," and HS Nats equally well, and I'd encourage almost every set to apply a remedy above. I'd only be OK with hearing a counter-argument along the lines of "we want to see these kids transcend what normal high schoolers are likely to know" out of NSC (which, IIRC, uses 1.5/1.5 PSS) and NASAT (which uses 1/1 SS and a bit less than 1/1 P). Any other set with an eye for "challenging these kids" can do more than a good enough job writing hard questions in more familiar categories.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby Urech hydantoin synthesis » Wed Jun 21, 2017 2:01 am

Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:*I can't find an announced set that's making room for 1/1 CE, 1/1 Geo, and 1/1 P/SS at the same time, but if one exists, I imagine it's either A: not using trash or B: not giving math/astronomy/earth science enough room in the distribution. Those would both be places to look to fix it.

Not from this year, but LIST II, III, and IV had 1/1 CE, 1/1 geography, 1/1 P+SS, 1/1 math, and 1/1 "other sci" (earth sci / astro / compsci). The total distribution summed up to 21/21 per round, not including tiebreakers, though.

I'm also surprised at the ferocity of the backlash against 1/1 combined philosophy and social science, as I recall it had gone over without much issue in prior years.
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Re: 2017 Montgomery Blair Academic Tournament

Postby ansonberns » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:55 am

MBAT will stay at 1/1 Philo/SS, which is pretty standard in high school quizbowl. While discussion of the distribution is important, this thread should be for inquiries and mirror requests for MBAT.

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