Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

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Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:03 pm

So, now that all the mirrors are complete, people can start discussing specific questions (yes, that means you, people who played at this a month and a half ago, if you want to chime in). I'd quickly like to note a few things:

1. There are currently three versions of the packet set going around: "original", which consists of the original ten packets played at UCI, "edited", which you have if I sent them to you, and "final', which was played at VCU (the only major difference between the "edited" and "final" is that I caught two repeats and one minor factual error yesterday going over the packets one last time). I may have already fixed your complaint if you played at or saw either the "original" or "edited" versions.

2. Any clunkers, factual errors (except the one in the Rancho Bernardo packet that I intentionally left in with a note to the moderators), and other problems are entirely my fault; in particular I apologize for a couple of wacky subdistributions. As this was my first time head-editing a tournament, I don't expect this to have been up to the level of some great novice level tournaments like ACF Fall, EFT, and MCMNT, but I hope you nevertheless found it to be a well-written, controlled difficulty tournament. Praise for most of the literature should go to Ray Luo, for current events and geography, Ray Anderson; any disappointments in those categories are my fault for letting the questions into the tournament in that state. If you saw a well-written physics question, thank Seth Teitler, as he wrote about half the tournament's physics.

3. Thank you to all the people who helped write questions for this tournament: Charlie Dees/Abdullah Schoaib/Fred Morlan, Jason/Marcus Luna, the UCLA team, Daichi Ueda/Kuo-Kai Chin, the Rancho Bernardo team, Ted Gioia/Andy Watkins, the Pension Grillparzer team, the Caltech team, Chris Chiego, Seth Teitler, Ray Anderson, Ray Luo, Brendan Shapiro, and Jon Wong. This tournament couldn't have gone off without your contributions.

4. This is the final per-packet distribution over 14 packets. Note that I didn't have any particular distribution in mind for the questions in the packet; this is just kind of what happened.
  • Literature: 4.00/3.64
    History: 3.71/3.86
    Science: 3.93/3.86
    Arts: 2.43/2.57
    RMP: 2.14/1.86
    Social Science: 1.00/0.93
    Geography: 1.00/0.86
    Miscellany: 2.36/2.43
    Total: 20.57/20.00
Note that Miscellany includes Current Events, Pop Culture, and Inter/Multidisciplinary questions; also, the 20.57 comes from the fact that Rounds 1, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13 and 14 had tiebreaker tossups and the other 6 did not.

Again, I hope you had a good time playing the tournament, and am looking forward to critiques on how I can better my writing/editing skills for the next time I edit something (hey, look, that's TTGT11!). Should there be demand for another such novice tournament next summer, I would be tentatively be willing to serve as head editor for that. These packets will be headed to the Stanford Archive and most likely to collegiate.quizbowlpackets.com (I will refrain from sending questions there in the unlikely event that this tournament ends up widely panned).
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:53 pm

Other than some ridiculous difficulty cliffs and the packets being easier than expected in the prelims, the set overall was decent. Really, my only major problem was the utter destruction of my lit questions. The Oe bonus was pretty good, but the No Exit bonus I submitted was respectably difficult to 30, and the one I saw played was NAQT A-level. Also, I strongly disagree with the moving of Pistorius to the first line of my Demian TU. In general, it seemed like parts of our packet were made easier and parts were made harder for no apparent reason, which was a bit annoying. Also, I'm new to packet submission and thus don't know if this is normal, but there were at least 5 questions in the packet with our names on it not written by us, some of which were not responded to well that we had to assure people we were not responsible for (I don't remember the answers; I believe SCIENCE! was involved). Crediting whoever wrote those would have been nice. However, there were instances in which the editing was definitely for the better (e.g. my Gresham's Law TU). The inconsistency was kind of weird, but I guess that can be attributed to inexperience. Hopefully it was a good learning experience.

Edit: This may not have been the best complaint to make on the board; I realize I probably just should have emailed Dwight, but I was too annoyed at the time to think of that. I hope the general criticism on difficulty fluctuation was somewhat constructive...
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:06 pm

MLWGS-Gir wrote:The Oe bonus was pretty good, but the No Exit bonus I submitted was respectably difficult to 30, and the one I saw played was NAQT A-level. Also, I strongly disagree with the moving of Pistorius to the first line of my Demian TU.
Regarding the Oe bonus, there was a repeat on Kawabata that we had to get rid of, and Ray decided to go with an Oe theme instead of add another Japanese author. Regarding the other two questions: objectively, if lots of teams 30'd the question, or got the tossup at that point, then it was too easy; if not, then they weren't. The problem with the as-submitted bonus was that there wasn't really an easy 10 points - Garcin was the easiest part of the bonus, and I'm pretty sure that most of the teams in our field wouldn't have been able to pick it up. Maybe this was different at the VCU site, and I'll agree that it was probably made too easy (in all fairness to Ray, I edited that one).
Also, I'm new to packet submission and thus don't know if this is normal, but there were at least 5 questions in the packet with our names on it not written by us, some of which were not responded to well that we had to assure people we were not responsible for (I don't remember the answers; I believe SCIENCE! was involved).
It's pretty standard for the editors to have to replace questions that they have to throw out for reasons of repeat; also, sometimes editors will take out a question because they think it's too hard or poorly written and would rather write a new question than edit the original question. I count 3/1 written by us, everything else was either written by you or based on something of yours (e.g. the Rodin bonus was based on your sculptors bonus, and a Zenobia Frome tossup was converted to a likely-more-gettable Ethan Frome tossup). The tossups on Leviathan and Priam and bonus on Gilgamesh were written by me because practically your entire RMP distribution overlapped with stuff that was already in the original ten packets. The Truffaut tossup was written by Ray Luo to replace the less-well-known Czerny (a search of the two major packet archives indicates Czerny was a mid-level bonus part at Chicago Open 2005 and mid-level clues at a bunch of other tournaments; his first appearance as a tossup probably shouldn't be at a Novice tournament). Realistically, the Leviathan tossup might have been weak, since I can't write philosophy well, but the other three questions I thought were fine. There was a total of 19/14 throughout the tournament that was entirely written by people not mentioned as authors; almost all of this was used to replace repeats, difficulty problems, or fairly hopeless-to-edit questions (like the one spelling bonus that got submitted).

To give you an idea of how weak our field was, the original Rancho Bernardo packet had a bonus conversion of 8.53 (this would be the 4 teams that weren't Rancho Bernardo + Auroni). The only substantial post-Zot Bowl editing of those bonuses were bonus 20, which no one heard at our site, un-editing an opera bonus (put in the original "Amahl and the Night Visitors" in place of the edited part on "Eurydice") and replacing a bonus part on noted too-hard-for-the-tournament Ozawa-Flynn-Wall isoconversional method (yeah, putting that clunker in was my fault) with the much easier Hammond Postulate. So we were actually (re-)editing for a much weaker field than the VCU Novice tournament. Some of the scores at the Missouri mirror indicated that the packets were probably not too easy (e.g., there was apparently a 65-60 game on the Dees packet).

Also, no problem with calling me out on the site. I believe that editors should criticize privately and be criticized publicly. If I screwed up, let it be known.
Last edited by cvdwightw on Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:20 pm

I think I miscounted the Ethan Frome TU, then. I winced when I heard the Celtic myth B (which didn't go to us, unfortunately) that was 2/3 the same as mine in terms of answers. I was glad to hear that replaced, and I thought the repeat control overall was good (just to clarify my earlier statement: I meant that your handling of the Oe bonus in light of the repeat was good, not the original as submitted). While the No Exit B was 30'd in the room I observed and I heard about a buzzer race between Ted Gioia and Will Butler on Pistorius, I concede that this might not have been the case at other sites. I'd bet most teams 30'd No Exit (although some may have missed Estelle), but that may have been the only room buzzing on Pistorius. My reaction to that was mainly based on how much I enjoyed Demian and some frustation from yesterday about quasi-prominent characters coming too early, IMO. I think the clue about Sinclair's drinking buddy might have been a better lead-in because it's uniquely-identifying but doesn't narrow it down quite as much right away (that is, it would be narrowed down to something about a guy's school life rather than straight to a work dealing with philosophy/religion). Thanks for the clarification regarding question replacement; I wasn't sure of crediting norms. Also, the Priam question was excellent. I think our main issue was interpreting "novice" differently than others might have.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:04 am

I am way too tired to post any real feedback stuff tonight, so I'll just note
A college football bonus answer allegedly written by Fred Morlan in the *novice* tournament wrote: The galleryfurniture.com Bowl
This ruled. In the sense that it was asking for the thing the Houston Bowl was known as for the two years before it became the Houston bowl. Which is to say, every conceivable sense there is.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:46 am

I heard some pretty harsh criticism about difficulty cliffs and anti-pyramidality, and I'm interested in hearing some criticism on the Rancho Bernardo packet, if you played it. My email is removeforspamauronigupta@gmail.com
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by ihavenoidea » Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:18 am

I would also welcome a copy of the comments of the Rancho Bernardo set to be sent to my email address, wonderworm10k at gmail dot com
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by ak47 » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:14 am

Like Zhao and Auroni, I would be grateful if people could send me some feedback regarding the Rancho Bernardo packet. My eMail is FedererAK@gmail.com.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:17 am

DumbJaques wrote:I am way too tired to post any real feedback stuff tonight, so I'll just note
A college football bonus answer allegedly written by Fred Morlan in the *novice* tournament wrote: The galleryfurniture.com Bowl
This ruled. In the sense that it was asking for the thing the Houston Bowl was known as for the two years before it became the Houston bowl. Which is to say, every conceivable sense there is.
I seriously just barely remember this bonus. Like, I am aware I wrote a bonus either on TCU or Texas A&M football for Dees' packet and I guess I wrote about the galleryfurniture.com bowl. Let me see if I can find it in my notes...

Fake edit: Oh, there it is, in my e-mail, and the answer line definitely was not the bowl game but TCU.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:04 pm

Here's what I want to know: which novices are the target audience for a bonus part about David Chalmers?
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:51 pm

On board with the Rancho Bernardo people, I'm very curious how people liked my partial packet. I didn't write science other than the plants bonus, and some of my other stuff got changed a bit, but a lot of the stuff I submitted showed up pretty intact so it's a safe bet I had some hand in writing anything you had problems with. My email is charlie16 at gmail dot com. (Dwight, especially you, email me about it.)
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:12 pm

I thought this set was pretty good, but it had its problems. There were lots of diffulty cliffs, inconsistent bonuses, and some vague descriptions of works in author questions. The bonuses varied from auto 30s like No Exit, or the Tennessee Williams (notably with the Glass Menagerie as a middle part) to having ridiculously hard parts (or two hard parts). I've seen Madame Butterfly several times and have listened to the soundtrack countless times and I couldn't answer the third part about the Prince. The third most famous character from A Bend in the River or an entire bonus devoted to C. Wright Milss just aren't novice difficulty.

Also I felt like in many author questions there were very poor descriptions of works. For example, during the Tennyson tossup I was playing against Minnesota and both Andrew and I had read Locksley Hall, yet neither of us found the descrpition even vaguely helpful. This also happened in the questions on Borges, Chekhov, Boll, and many others. I've seen Walton's opera based on The Bear, but I couldn't buzz on some clue about how many people one character had slept with. I don't want to sound like this tournament was all bad. I generally enjoyed most of the questions and would b e happy to see Dwight edit this tournament again next year, but I hope some of the minor issues can be ironed out.

Just to answer Sarah's question Will and I did buzzer race on the Pistorius clue for Demian. I think a lot of quizbowl players have read that, and Pistorius is a bad leadin. I'd be interested to see the original question.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:52 pm

The Demian TU as I submitted it:

The main character of this novel first meets the title character after a Latin school lesson on Cain and Abel, which is then reinterpreted for him by the title character. Despite the protagonist's gratitude to the title character for ridding him of Franz Kromer, the two never discuss him. While at boarding school, the protagonist is influenced by the organist Pistorius and himself influences the suicidal Knauer. As he searches to learn more about Abraxas and the strange images appearing in his dreams and his paintings, he stumbles upon the title character and discovers his love for that man's mother, Frau Eva. FTP name this Hermann Hesse work, subtitled The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth.
A: Demian, the Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth Prompt on subtitle before given Accept Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend

I liked the clue about his drinking buddy that was added and think that would have been a better lead-in than Cain and Abel. I put that and Franz Kromer early because they take up less space page-wise than Pistorius, although all three are important to the plot. My original, before I changed it for submission, was way too long and rambled about Sinclair's rambling about the divided world and such, which in retrospect may have merited inclusion.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:00 pm

So, in short:

More concrete clues on authors. This is a weakness I will attempt to improve on; I think a lot of the problem came from me using rather obscure quotes that wouldn't actually help anyone get the question.

Work out the inconsistent bonus problems. I think a lot of the problem here came from trying to write for two different fields. On the one hand, some of the stuff was clearly intended for the weaker field that we had, while on the other hand, I was trying to estimate the level of the VCU field. I'd honestly say that the No Exit edit was done with our original field in mind, while the some of the harder bonuses were done with the higher-level field in mind. To get an idea of how disparate the fields were, the highest field-averaged bonus conversion at our site was 15.17 on the Caltech packet. The lowest field-averaged bonus conversion at the VCU site was 16.07 on the House 2 packet. With two radically different fields in terms of skill level, I think I ended up getting caught fluctuating between both sides rather than trying to settle down in a happy medium.

Difficulty cliffs. I know there were a few of these, and I hope they didn't really detract from the packet set as a whole. I'd be interested to hear exact examples of things that were and weren't difficulty cliffs, since at our tournament the place where I'd reasonably expect people to get questions if there were difficulty cliffs ended up not being the place where people got questions.

Clunkers. Yeah, the Ptah question sucked. I know. In all honesty, the teeth one was pretty bad too. And there were some hard parts that were just ridiculous (minor characters from School for Scandal, David Chalmers, and the galleryfurniture.com bowl should not come up at a novice tournament, I know).

I think the biggest thing this tournament suffered from was a lack of playtesting. We didn't playtest a single question before the original tournament. We tried to use that field as a guess for how well our difficulty approached novice, though obviously that didn't work out too well. And the "playtesting" that the UCI club did on about 3 packets' worth of new questions pretty much consisted of people sitting there looking like they had no interest in doing this.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:28 pm

Dwight, once the set is posted I'd be happy to send you an email with a detailed list of the difficulty cliffs.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Demonic Leftovers » Tue Aug 19, 2008 12:39 am

I think it's hard to judge this tournament from playing at the Richmond site as it was definitely not the type of field that this tournament was intended for. So although there seemed to be a ton of difficulty cliffs that resulted in buzzer races (i.e. mentioning The Aleph in the middle of a Borges tossup, that was possibly a reasonable place for that clue for novices. I think the answer selection for tossups was generally pretty good for novices. Playing a tournament that was so much easier than the one the more bizarre experiences of my quiz bowl career as I had a lot of trouble remembering that the simplest answer was probably correct at this tournament.

Just as a note there was one factual error I noticed. One bonus claimed the battle of Austerlitz occurred on the same day as the battle of Jena which is untrue (I suspect the author confused Austerlitz for Auerstadt which did occur on the same day as Jena).
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:15 am

dseal wrote:Just as a note there was one factual error I noticed. One bonus claimed the battle of Austerlitz occurred on the same day as the battle of Jena which is untrue (I suspect the author confused Austerlitz for Auerstadt which did occur on the same day as Jena).
Again, my fault, not the fault of the original packet authors. It was about 4 in the morning when I edited that, and it slipped my mind.

William the Conqueror beating the Normans at the Battle of Hastings was, as I noted, in the original packet, and as it shouldn't have caused anyone undue difficulty answering the part, I left it in as a testament to my incompetence.

Packets have been sent to Stanford and to Chris so should be appearing online sometime soon.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Eärendil » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:49 am

Magister Ludi wrote:once the set is posted
It's been posted.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:53 am

The one major issue with this set was the issue with the third parts being minor characters. I've noticed this in quite a few tournaments, and I used to do it a lot myself. It should really stop happening. Basically, there are any number of reasons why you might have good knowledge of a lesser-known work and not be able to get an easier work, but if you don't know the initial work, there's no way you're going to get points on the bonus. And even if you've read it, it's not a sure thing you're going to remember relatively unimportant characters.

If there's an issue with the third part not being hard enough because the author is revealed, it's easy enough to switch it so that the hard part is asked for at the beginning.

This:

Characters in this work include Gaffer and Lizzie Hexam and the awesomely named Rogue Riderhood. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this work in which John Harmon takes on the identity of John Rokesmith and ends up with Bella Wilfer.
ANSWER: Our Mutual Friend
[10] This author of Sketches by Boz and A Christmas Carol wrote Our Mutual Friend.
ANSWER: Charles Dickens
[10] This Dickens work features Joe Gargery and Pip, who lusts after Estella Havisham.
ANSWER: Great Expectations

is far better than a bonus that asks for Great Expectations / Dickens / Matthew Pocket or whatever, and still preserves the ideal easy/medium/hard structure.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Gautam » Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:20 pm

The set was good. Just like others said, it was kinda hard.

I had a hilarious neg on the chlorophyll tossup with DNA (I buzzed in on "it has an A form and B form" clue) and some others like that. I was happy about the tossups I got.

I want to point out one issue with the science. A similar point was raised during the Gaddis discussions. SOme of the tossups started out with clues referencing specific studies performed by some group or the other, and I think these make really really obscure leadins for novice level things. Sure, one can include important experiments, but I think some of the questions contained unbuzzable clues about some study performed by a team from Chicago.

For instance:
Packet wrote:In physics, the “bag model” named for this improves the MIT Bag Model in modeling the nucleon. Gleiser et al recently hypothesized that high intensity and long duration events can induce it in a paper unifying it with punctuated equilibrium. The Cahn-Ingold-Prelog priority rule is used in the RS system to distinguish molecules with this property. First discovered to have a molecular basis by Louis Pasteur in tartaric acid, this property distinguishes enantiomers from one another. For 10 points, what chemical property makes two molecules non-superimposable and gives “handedness”?
Which novice in the country will have read the paper about the bag model of chirality proposed by some MIT scientist?

Also, I think this is an appropriate example of a difficulty cliff. I really don't know who was buzzing in off the first two clues, but once you get to Cahn-Ingold-Prelog or R/S system, it becomes fairly easy. It may not be easy for the *intended* audience, but given the field that existed at VCU, i don't think I will be incorrect in saying it was indeed a cliff.

I had fun playing the set, and I hope any future incarnations of it will be as good if not better. There are things that can be ironed out, and I am sure the competent editing team will address those issues in the future.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:42 pm

Let me just point out, contra Gautam, that putting a hard clue in the first line of a tossup being played on by novices is not actually a bad idea. I don't know whether people know about the "bag" model of chirality, but it sounds like an interesting enough clue, and anyway, there shouldn't be the expectation that one must always be able to buzz on the first clue. I imagine there's a way you might have heard of this model if you've taken some nuclear physics or something like that, though in general it's unlikely. At the very least, you will learn something from that clue. I do think that the second clue regarding the study is probably not useful, since it's no easier than the first and is highly specialized. That tossup would have probably been better if only one of those two clues had been used.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Susan » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:41 pm

My physics knowledge is pretty limited, but I'm aware of the existence of the chiral bag model. As a hard clue at the beginning of a tossup in a novice tournament, I don't think that's too out of control. The next sentence, however, sounds like it only is going to help you if you're familiar with the paper it mentions (surely there are other things that be induced by high intensity and long duration?) and doesn't sound very interesting, though again this is not exactly my area of expertise. So, I agree with Jerry that one of those two clues ought to have been dropped (and I think it's definitely the second one). This is probably another example of how it's difficult to use clues from recent research well.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by vandyhawk » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:42 pm

A Coachman wrote: I want to point out one issue with the science. A similar point was raised during the Gaddis discussions. SOme of the tossups started out with clues referencing specific studies performed by some group or the other, and I think these make really really obscure leadins for novice level things. Sure, one can include important experiments, but I think some of the questions contained unbuzzable clues about some study performed by a team from Chicago.

For instance:
Packet wrote:In physics, the “bag model” named for this improves the MIT Bag Model in modeling the nucleon. Gleiser et al recently hypothesized that high intensity and long duration events can induce it in a paper unifying it with punctuated equilibrium. The Cahn-Ingold-Prelog priority rule is used in the RS system to distinguish molecules with this property. First discovered to have a molecular basis by Louis Pasteur in tartaric acid, this property distinguishes enantiomers from one another. For 10 points, what chemical property makes two molecules non-superimposable and gives “handedness”?
Which novice in the country will have read the paper about the bag model of chirality proposed by some MIT scientist?

Also, I think this is an appropriate example of a difficulty cliff. I really don't know who was buzzing in off the first two clues, but once you get to Cahn-Ingold-Prelog or R/S system, it becomes fairly easy. It may not be easy for the *intended* audience, but given the field that existed at VCU, i don't think I will be incorrect in saying it was indeed a cliff.
Ah, so apparently you have not yet been awarded points on a Casimir effect tossup that discusses it in the context of the chiral bag model of the nucleon. Since that has come up at least 3 times that I can think of (once written, twice answered by me), I think it's a fine opening clue for a novice level tournament, and really isn't just a mention of a random study in my opinion. I'll agree with Gautam's point on the second sentence, though, which seems like a random paper found to add clues and lengthen the question. That second sentence also doesn't really offer any context clues to be remotely helpful to anyone who hasn't read the paper (punctuated eqb = chirality? really?). Sometimes a clue like that can indeed be useful if it provides an appropriate context. I'm not motivated enough right now to find an actual good example, but perhaps a tossup on a protein might mention a study of how it interacts with something, thus providing some clues as to its function while remaining sufficiently hard. Of course, seminal papers on a topic are much preferred to a very recent one from any old journal, and IMO are the only ones that should really ever mention the author - that is, if someone in the field would recognize them as being super important. Despite all this defending of the practice here, I still don't think that using these types of clues should be a common practice, just that they're ok once in a while when done effectively.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Susan » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:43 pm

Matt wrote:Since that has come up at least 3 times that I can think of (once written, twice answered by me),
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:11 pm

Some comments about the tournament:

In general I liked the tournament. It was definitely harder than the advertised difficulty, but for the VCU Open crowd this wasn't a huge problem. As has already been mentioned, several bonuses were more variable than they should have been, and the final two packets in particular had some really hard stuff in them.

In the CS department, the tossups on Rubix Cube algorithims and Computerized Speech seemed like bad ideas. Both of these subjects are pretty far outside the regular CS canon, especially the novice canon. Essentially, a very limited number of people are going to know the early clues on these questions, especially novices. This makes them really big difficulty cliffs with people buzzing on no real legitimiate knowledge at the giveaway.

The current events seemed a little weaker than other areas. While the FISA Amendment was arguably something important, it lacks a distinct name and is probably pretty hard for this set. That tossup would have probably been better if it was on just FISA. Having a tossup on both IndyMac and Bear Sterns at the same tournament seems like not the greatest idea ever. Even if both tossups were submitted, I'd probably throw one into extras. They both pretty much address the same issue of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Gautam » Tue Aug 19, 2008 4:41 pm

vandyhawk wrote: Ah, so apparently you have not yet been awarded points on a Casimir effect tossup that discusses it in the context of the chiral bag model of the nucleon. Since that has come up at least 3 times that I can think of (once written, twice answered by me), I think it's a fine opening clue for a novice level tournament, and really isn't just a mention of a random study in my opinion.
Heh, I certainly did not know of this. I do apologize for making it seem to be bad clue structure.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:37 pm

Things that were definitely too hard for the tournament:
David Chalmers
quasi-frequency modulation
Shell's method
minor characters from books (e.g. Raymond, Snake)

I think that second clue on the chirality question just came out wrong. The paper, while not a seminal paper, hypothesizes as to the evolution of homochirality, and for some reason I forgot to include the words "the 'homo' form". Which, I mean, still doesn't make that a good clue.

I'm learning a lot from this discussion, especially in areas where I'm pretty weak (physics, CS). For what it's worth, I can't write CS worth anything (two of the three bonuses were let in with minimal editing, and the sorting algorithms bonus was my poor attempt at writing one). I also expect the philosophy to have been pretty weak, as that's another area I'm no good at writing.

One place where I'd argue that going to papers is important is in questions on seminal experiments. For instance, the Bobo doll experiment was (almost?) entirely written from the Bandura, Ross, and Ross paper.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Tower Monarch » Tue Aug 19, 2008 7:48 pm

I'll go ahead and give another Pension Grillparzer opinion: overall I thought the set was fine and definitely served my purposes (i.e. applying what we have learned at VCU's summer practice to high school nationals level material) More importantly it gave us (Maggie Walker Students) to have a chance against a possible rival (TJ) a match of which we were pretty proud. To cite another example or two for Sarah's disappointment with some of the editing of out own packet: I was annoyed how Zeena Frome was changed into Ethan Frome with minimal changes, because only readers of the novella know Zenobia originally came to Starkfield as aid to her own cousin, but mentioning a woman coming to take care of her cousin immediately brings to mind Mattie Silver's arrival (and a relatively early buzz for someone whose never read the work). Also, I have a problem that we are the only ones cited as authors when a Melville question was not only vastly simplified (notably swapping in just Bartleby for Ginger Nut and saying Billy Budd in the lead in) but also mis-quoting in the edited part (I have a hard time finding "I should prefer not to" which is what was read... Finally, although I have no packet submission experience, my regular editing knowledge tells me not to take the hardest part of a french philosopher bonus and turning it into a "name two works" format that its original author (arguably a top high school philosophy player) 20'd. In case the length of this post may suggest otherwise, I certainly had a great time at both days at VCU and look forward to playing the same teams again soon.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:55 pm

Tower Monarch wrote: Also, I have a problem that we are the only ones cited as authors when a Melville question was not only vastly simplified (notably swapping in just Bartleby for Ginger Nut and saying Billy Budd in the lead in) but also mis-quoting in the edited part (I have a hard time finding "I should prefer not to" which is what was read... Finally, although I have no packet submission experience, my regular editing knowledge tells me not to take the hardest part of a french philosopher bonus and turning it into a "name two works" format that its original author (arguably a top high school philosophy player) 20'd. In case the length of this post may suggest otherwise, I certainly had a great time at both days at VCU and look forward to playing the same teams again soon.
My bad, I misquoted, but you can not deny at least 5 instances of the quote "I would prefer not to." Also, the lead-in did not mention Billy Budd; it mentioned Benito Cereno, which I think is the second-most-famous work from that collection.

The French philosophers bonus was converted into a social science bonus on Barthes because (1) Derrida was a triple repeat and (2) the Freud bonus was also a pretty big repeat. And yes, replacing Deleuze (which shows up as the hard part of a few regionals level and up sets) while leaving in David Chalmers (which shows up as the hard part at last year's Cardinal Classic) was a questionable decision.

If for some reason people were angry at my edits and blamed you, I'm sorry, but generally that's how things work - you submit a packet, the editor edits it, hopefully for the better. The editors don't put their names on the packets, because presumably they're responsible for the final state of the packet, whether the original packet was written by the best writers in quizbowl or a first-time writer.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by setht » Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:44 am

I wrote the following questions for the set: tossups on Aeneas, Defoe, Charles Mingus, NMR, vapor pressure, Kelvin, equivalence principle, ferromagnetism, diffraction, Hall effect, parallax, and the Silurian period; bonuses on Loki's exploits with the ladies, Deirdre, Carlos Fuentes, the QM model of hydrogen, Debye, Boltzmann factors, the photoelectric effect, moment of inertia, viscosity, Einstein/Kirchhoff/Planck, spiral galaxies, and weathering. If anyone has any comments on any of these, feel free to drop me a line (setht@uchicago.edu) or post here.

I think a lot of the criticisms of the set can be attributed to the following:
cvdwightw wrote:I think a lot of the problem here came from trying to write for two different fields...With two radically different fields in terms of skill level, I think I ended up getting caught fluctuating between both sides rather than trying to settle down in a happy medium.
I know there was no way to know in advance how few true novice teams would be in attendance at VCU, but I think the best thing to do in situations like these is to put together a set that's geared towards the primary target audience--in this case, West Coast novices--and make it clear to everyone that that's what you're doing. If other sites want to mirror the set with radically different fields, that's their business.

I suspect many of the question difficulty issues came from trying to keep things challenging for a field that included several top-shelf players while also being worthwhile for younger players, leading to difficulty cliffs in tossups where things abruptly changed from "challenging for the national-level players" to "gettable for the newbies," large bonus variability, etc. It sounds like some of it came from Dwight having a hard time editing/writing in categories he's weak in. Hopefully he can get more help from co-editors and/or playtesting next time.

Assuming Dwight has a pretty clear idea of which parts worked well for the novice field and which parts worked well for the higher-level field, I think he'll produce a good novice set next year (or a good mid- to upper-level set, if that's what he decides to do).

Moving on to the "science clues from papers/studies" stuff: I think these clues are almost always a waste of time. If you know for a fact that the paper or study is a real classic that people outside a very narrow niche are likely to encounter in their courses, great; otherwise, scrap it and find a real clue. Imagine what it would be like if we started using clues from random papers on literature as clues for literature questions--it'd be a waste of everyone's time almost every single time. If you can give useful context clues associated with a paper or study, that can be worthwhile, but perhaps the question would be better off with a sentence about the context clues and skipping explicit mention of the paper or study.

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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by The Logic of Scientific Disco » Wed Aug 20, 2008 1:42 am

setht wrote: Moving on to the "science clues from papers/studies" stuff: I think these clues are almost always a waste of time. If you know for a fact that the paper or study is a real classic that people outside a very narrow niche are likely to encounter in their courses, great; otherwise, scrap it and find a real clue. Imagine what it would be like if we started using clues from random papers on literature as clues for literature questions--it'd be a waste of everyone's time almost every single time. If you can give useful context clues associated with a paper or study, that can be worthwhile, but perhaps the question would be better off with a sentence about the context clues and skipping explicit mention of the paper or study.
I think the context clues point here is an important one--I really like science tossups that begin with a clue or two that are unusual or cool applications of the reaction/effect/device/whatever that the question is asking for. Usually, these applications can be found in papers. I'm in the "some word padding is good" camp (that is, that clues can be padded out with a couple of "dead" words to give people more time to think/react), so I think including the author or location of origin for a paper is a pretty harmless way of giving people an extra couple seconds to think "hmm, what might do that?"

The caveat here is that the paper synopses should actually have something interesting, useful, and at least vaguely buzzable in them. This, of course, is the hard part, and presumably what people are getting worked up about.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by waspman23 » Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:38 pm

setht wrote: Moving on to the "science clues from papers/studies" stuff: I think these clues are almost always a waste of time. If you know for a fact that the paper or study is a real classic that people outside a very narrow niche are likely to encounter in their courses, great; otherwise, scrap it and find a real clue. Imagine what it would be like if we started using clues from random papers on literature as clues for literature questions--it'd be a waste of everyone's time almost every single time. If you can give useful context clues associated with a paper or study, that can be worthwhile, but perhaps the question would be better off with a sentence about the context clues and skipping explicit mention of the paper or study.

-Seth
Where would one find a "real clue" if not in a scientific paper? If you look in a textbook, the actual primary source on some aspect of some phenomenon is bound to be a paper from a journal. And what about newer phenomena that don't have textbooks or chapters in textbooks yet? The only available resources for some things are journal articles. And where do review articles fall in the spectrum of usability? It seems that any information on a topic should be fair game to include in quizbowl questions, as long as the degree of difficulty is assessible.

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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:44 pm

waspman23 wrote:Where would one find a "real clue" if not in a scientific paper? If you look in a textbook, the actual primary source on some aspect of some phenomenon is bound to be a paper from a journal. And what about newer phenomena that don't have textbooks or chapters in textbooks yet? The only available resources for some things are journal articles. And where do review articles fall in the spectrum of usability? It seems that any information on a topic should be fair game to include in quizbowl questions, as long as the degree of difficulty is assessible.
I think that what Seth is trying to say is that a clue like "Joe Blow et. al. found that this substance is wet." is not terribly useful without some context. One example that would be (well, was) useful is those studies that people did on BECs where they showed that they could slow light. That would be a useful clue because those studies were relatively well-publicized and because it clues you in to the fact that this is some kind of exotic substance (although by itself that's not uniquely identifying of BECs). I think clues on studies can be good if either they reference studies that are at least somewhat well-known to experts in the field (example: the Pound-Rebka measurement of gravitational redshift via the Mossbauer effect), or if they present some contextual clues that point to the thing in question besides just telling you the author of the study.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by Susan » Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:53 pm

waspman23 wrote:
setht wrote: Moving on to the "science clues from papers/studies" stuff: I think these clues are almost always a waste of time. If you know for a fact that the paper or study is a real classic that people outside a very narrow niche are likely to encounter in their courses, great; otherwise, scrap it and find a real clue. Imagine what it would be like if we started using clues from random papers on literature as clues for literature questions--it'd be a waste of everyone's time almost every single time. If you can give useful context clues associated with a paper or study, that can be worthwhile, but perhaps the question would be better off with a sentence about the context clues and skipping explicit mention of the paper or study.

-Seth
Where would one find a "real clue" if not in a scientific paper? If you look in a textbook, the actual primary source on some aspect of some phenomenon is bound to be a paper from a journal. And what about newer phenomena that don't have textbooks or chapters in textbooks yet? The only available resources for some things are journal articles. And where do review articles fall in the spectrum of usability? It seems that any information on a topic should be fair game to include in quizbowl questions, as long as the degree of difficulty is assessible.
What Seth and other people are objecting to is not, like, the use of scientific facts in questions about scientific topics, but the practice of coming up with a tossup answer, running a pubmed (or arxiv or Google Scholar or whatever) search on it, and using what papers you get for the early clues. This often ends in tears as non-specialists are usually poorly equipped to tell how important or widely known the information they're reading is. Review articles are more likely to be helpful, but a non-specialist may still have trouble evaluating how important the information in the review is, or may pick a lousy review. I do a fair amount of my science-question writing from journal articles and reviews, but I tend to spend a long time reading a ton of articles (well, a ton of abstracts and backgrounds) to get a better sense of context; this isn't a particularly efficient way to write questions. Using a secondary source like a textbook or class notes can make it easier to determine what information on your answer choice is most fundamental or most widely known.
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Re: Zot Bowl/Truman State/VCU Novice Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:42 pm

I think this is a great discussion about how to find good clues for science questions. What I hope it doesn't do is to discourage writers who are less experienced in writing science to be afraid to try it. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that quizbowl's biggest need is competent science writers and editors.
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