Location of Powermarks

This forum is for discussing tournament formats, question styles, strategy, and such.
Post Reply
NLiu
Lulu
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:38 am

Location of Powermarks

Post by NLiu » Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:26 am

This is just a thought I had one day; not sure whether it's just totally ridiculous or not really relevant or whatever.

If you look at powermarked quizbowl questions, they're all marked so that the powers make sense if you're reading or were writing the question; e.g. the power cuts off at the crucial word or right before the crucial phrase. Therefore, ideally, someone reading the question or seeing it could still power by recognizing the first part of the phrase right before it becomes significant (e.g. if someone buzzed on "this author wrote Ethan* Frome").

However, quizbowl questions aren't read or experienced visually; they're heard. And, at the speed that good moderators read questions, it's often a good ten words or so from the "moment" that a clue is recognized to the moment the actual "buzz" occurs. So, I guess, if the point of the power is to reward specific recognition of whatever clue was supposed to demonstrate the "deep" knowledge, then couldn't they build in some sort slight auditory "lag" so that the last "power-worthy" clue is still power-worthy by the time it's buzzed on, instead of people buzzing at the end of power always getting "10s" even if they knew it right before power cut off?
N. L.
St. Joseph High School
Tenure 2011-2012

User avatar
Cheynem
Sin
Posts: 6511
Joined: Tue May 11, 2004 11:19 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Re: Location of Powermarks

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:34 am

This isn't that ridiculous and I agree, a little bit of lag could be dropped in at times. One thing that works is also, if possible, having the powermark be after a description but right before a buzzword, which in general, tends to reward deeper knowledge and anticipate buzzer races. Obviously this isn't always possible nor a perfect science.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

"You killed HSAPQ"--Matt Bollinger

User avatar
Deviant Insider
Auron
Posts: 4567
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2004 6:08 am
Location: Chicagoland
Contact:

Re: Location of Powermarks

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:22 pm

I disagree with the original post. There are times when a word triggers a buzzer race, and the power marks should come before those words.

The change proposed would also lead to more difficult calls for moderators, since there are buzzes that border on being somewhere the end of a major word and the beginning of the next word. To take an example from HSNCT that ended up in the QANTA match, let's pretend the power mark was placed like this: "George Osborne marries a schoolmate of Amelia Sedley. (*) For 10 points..." In such a case, the length of the pause before FTP would likely play a major role in determining whether a buzz was in power, and there would be a decent chance that there would be a virtual tie between the student buzzing and the moderator starting the next word. Those outcomes aren't good. Such things still happen, but the proposal would make them more common.

I'll add that the current system is designed to address the problem Nolan raises. Somebody who knows the previous clue can get a power whether they buzz in the moment the previous clue is said or a few words later--they just have to buzz in before the next major clue is said.
David Reinstein
PACE VP of Outreach, Head Writer and Editor for Scobol Solo and Masonics (Illinois), TD for New Trier Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity, Writer for NAQT (2011-2017), IHSSBCA Board Member, IHSSBCA Chair (2004-2014), PACE Member, PACE President (2016-2018), New Trier Coach (1994-2011)

User avatar
ganman0305
Lulu
Posts: 29
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:17 pm

Re: Location of Powermarks

Post by ganman0305 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:24 pm

Hello, I'd like to revisit this thread since I'm writing some HS questions with powermarks. So, for each question I have, do I need to have like a definite point (not necessarily a cliff) where the question transitions from 15 point material to 10, as referencing the Ethan Frome example from above? If so, how would I determine what this material is? My struggle is that I'm trying to write questions that break away a little from traditionally asked subject matter and I don't really know where the average player would jump on. Is this just a play testing thing? Any help would be awesome, thanks!
Ganon Evans
Francis Howell High School '18
University of Iowa '22

jonah
Auron
Posts: 2294
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2006 5:51 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Location of Powermarks

Post by jonah » Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:46 pm

ganman0305 wrote:Hello, I'd like to revisit this thread since I'm writing some HS questions with powermarks. So, for each question I have, do I need to have like a definite point (not necessarily a cliff) where the question transitions from 15 point material to 10, as referencing the Ethan Frome example from above? If so, how would I determine what this material is? My struggle is that I'm trying to write questions that break away a little from traditionally asked subject matter and I don't really know where the average player would jump on. Is this just a play testing thing? Any help would be awesome, thanks!
What are you writing for? Usually power marks are added by editors, not writers.

My general technique with power marking is to eyeball the middle of the question (in terms of word or character count), then move toward the end of the question and find the first substantive word* that a bunch of people could buzz on; power mark right before it. I vary this based on the actual clues, what I know about the expected audience (including, e.g., if I know the question is going to be used late in the playoffs), and other factors, but it's a reasonable place to start.

*This means you're almost never going to power mark before, e.g., "the" or "this".
Last edited by jonah on Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Jonah Greenthal
National Academic Quiz Tournaments

User avatar
Deviant Insider
Auron
Posts: 4567
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2004 6:08 am
Location: Chicagoland
Contact:

Re: Location of Powermarks

Post by Deviant Insider » Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:29 pm

Just to be clear, don't write the question differently because it has power marks. Also, keep in mind that power marking is very subjective, so it's OK if you aren't certain where to put the mark and to some extent are guessing.
David Reinstein
PACE VP of Outreach, Head Writer and Editor for Scobol Solo and Masonics (Illinois), TD for New Trier Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity, Writer for NAQT (2011-2017), IHSSBCA Board Member, IHSSBCA Chair (2004-2014), PACE Member, PACE President (2016-2018), New Trier Coach (1994-2011)

User avatar
ganman0305
Lulu
Posts: 29
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:17 pm

Re: Location of Powermarks

Post by ganman0305 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:35 pm

jonah wrote:
ganman0305 wrote:Hello, I'd like to revisit this thread since I'm writing some HS questions with powermarks. So, for each question I have, do I need to have like a definite point (not necessarily a cliff) where the question transitions from 15 point material to 10, as referencing the Ethan Frome example from above? If so, how would I determine what this material is? My struggle is that I'm trying to write questions that break away a little from traditionally asked subject matter and I don't really know where the average player would jump on. Is this just a play testing thing? Any help would be awesome, thanks!
What are you writing for? Usually power marks are added by editors, not writers.

My general technique with power marking is to eyeball the middle of the question (in terms of word or character count), then move toward the end of the question and find the first substantive word* that a bunch of people could buzz on; power mark right before it. I vary this based on the actual clues, what I know about the expected audience (including, e.g., if I know the question is going to be used late in the playoffs), and other factors, but it's a reasonable place to start.

*This means you're almost never going to power mark before, e.g., "the" or "this".
I'm writing for a high school level packet with a lot of editors (WHAQ), so I'll leave the powermarking up to them to make sure its done right. Thank you for the insight!
Ganon Evans
Francis Howell High School '18
University of Iowa '22

User avatar
1992 in spaceflight
Auron
Posts: 1281
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:11 pm
Location: St. Louis-area, MO

Re: Location of Powermarks

Post by 1992 in spaceflight » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:14 pm

For the record, as Ganon's head editor, I'm letting writers place powermarks initially if they want to, with the understanding that the editors have the final say about where the powermark goes.

As for where to place the powermark, I've always thought about what Matt Weiner says in this thread and make sure to apply that as well as I can.
Jacob O'Rourke
Washington (MO) HS Assistant Coach (2014-Present); MOQBA Secretary (2015-Present)
Formerly: HSAPQ Host Contact; NASAT Outreach Coordinator (2016 and 2017); Kirksville HS Assistant Coach (2012-2014); Truman State '14; and Pacific High (MO) '10


"And here we are as on a darkling plain, Swept by confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night."
Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach.

Post Reply