2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

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2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Mike Bentley » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:59 am

Let's use this thread to discuss the questions at the 2011 NSC. FYI, I edited and wrote a lot of the history and I'll have some more to say about that later.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Not That Kind of Christian!! » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:07 am

I edited and wrote all the biology, and wrote some questions for the rest of the set besides.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:16 am

I playtested a small portion of the history and found it egregiously difficult, but apparently the field disagreed as I have only heard good things about questions.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Kyle » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:17 am

And I wrote about half the world history and most of the Islam, plus I wrote 23/25 of the geography and current events and edited the other 2/0. I would very much like to hear and address any concerns that you have with these questions.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Strange Fascination » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:23 am

One of the tossups that struck me as really bad was the "rivers" tossup. Having "upper course" and "basin" in the first line or two was kind of ridiculous. It's definitely possible to write a limnological tossup on rivers, but this would not be how you would do it. Other weird ones included the lead-in snafu on the Secretary of Interior question (see other thread), and the Hamlet question that took a while before it actually talked about what happened in the book.
Regarding the history difficulty, some of the bonus parts were kinda rough, but that's to be expected at a national tournament. I can't remember any ridiculously hard history tossups, all were at least gettable by the end it seemed.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Mike Bentley » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:26 am

Morraine Man wrote:I playtested a small portion of the history and found it egregiously difficult, but apparently the field disagreed as I have only heard good things about questions.


Part of this may have been because I generally used the feedback from playtesting sessions to remove harder clues from the beginning of tossups and replace bonus parts and occassionally tossup answers that turned out to be too hard. I still think there were still a few things in this category that were too hard that made it into the final set, though.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Auroni » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:36 am

This was a pretty good set. Lots of great answer choices across the board, lots of great buzzes by all sorts of teams, excellent innovative questions on topics which have been written about several times before.

I do have a few criticisms however:

- The splitting of difficulty into prelim/playoff/superplayoff/final was a mistake. It's simply infeasible to calibrate difficulty that finely, and it would have put a significantly less strain on the editing crew to make everything uniform in the first place rather than to change the difficulty of individual packets constantly as the format was in flux. Regardless of what the plan was, I noticed several easier questions in the superplayoff rounds and some harder questions in the prelims.

- There were a few early clues that have been used trillions of times from good questions that could have been deleted or moved down in otherwise excellent tossups. I'm thinking of the antibodies questions which mentioned "VDJ recombination" right away. This isn't me complaining that something was too easy for power at all, it's me noting that all of the good teams probably buzzed on that clue because they've heard of this thing several times through packets, and adjusting the question so that people who read about antibodies from packets don't beat people who know things about antibodies to the question.

- Several social science questions were overly difficult. High schoolers probably don't know much about strain theory or about the guy who came up with the term "rational expectations" and isn't Lucas.

- There was that ablution repeat, a repeat about hydrophobicity, and possibly others as well. From what I know, this set was finished early, so a simple read-through the packets by someone would have sorted out these issues.
Last edited by Auroni on Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby etchdulac » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:47 am

Tossup 11 in round 15 was looking for turbulent flow (or turbulence), and midway through the question read "One contribution to the study of this phenomenon related the turbulent stresses to the mean flow". When I noticed I had read the answer aloud mid-question, I stopped and read tossup 21. How did others handle this?
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Strange Fascination » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:59 am

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:
- The splitting of difficulty into prelim/playoff/superplayoff/final was a mistake. It's simply infeasible to calibrate difficulty that finely, and it would have put a significantly less strain on the editing crew to make everything uniform in the first place rather than to change the difficulty of individual packets constantly as the format was in flux. Regardless of what the plan was, I noticed several easier questions in the superplayoff rounds and some harder questions in the prelims.


Wait, this happened? Since all teams are playing in the playoff and superplayoff, why should they be harder than the prelims? I can understand the finals being harder, but it's kinda pointless to make playoffs harder.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Mike Bentley » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:11 pm

Wurzel-Flummery wrote:
every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:
- The splitting of difficulty into prelim/playoff/superplayoff/final was a mistake. It's simply infeasible to calibrate difficulty that finely, and it would have put a significantly less strain on the editing crew to make everything uniform in the first place rather than to change the difficulty of individual packets constantly as the format was in flux. Regardless of what the plan was, I noticed several easier questions in the superplayoff rounds and some harder questions in the prelims.


Wait, this happened? Since all teams are playing in the playoff and superplayoff, why should they be harder than the prelims? I can understand the finals being harder, but it's kinda pointless to make playoffs harder.


The instructions I received was to group the difficulty into 3 levels: prelims, playoffs and super-playoffs (which were to be at the same difficulty), finals (and I guess All-Star for a fourth level).

I think one thing that the editors need to do in the future is better checking of other categories. For instance, there were a few repeats between the history and the current events because I didn't do a dilligent enough job cross-checking answers from that category.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Madagascar Serpent Eagle » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:13 pm

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:- The splitting of difficulty into prelim/playoff/superplayoff/final was a mistake. It's simply infeasible to calibrate difficulty that finely, and it would have put a significantly less strain on the editing crew to make everything uniform in the first place rather than to change the difficulty of individual packets constantly as the format was in flux. Regardless of what the plan was, I noticed several easier questions in the superplayoff rounds and some harder questions in the prelims.


I support this generally, but because of the carry-over game I don't think the superplayoffs should have been of a different difficulty than the regular playoffs. I'm all for harder questions to better differentiate similarly-skilled teams, but when you have a carry-over game you have one game in the final standings that's being decided on different difficulty than the other games.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Papa's in the House » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:14 pm

I heard five of the packets throughout the tournament (most of them on Sunday) and thought that the questions were pretty good. The SS in the packets I saw wasn't as hard as some people have made it out to be, but the World History seemed to be 50% middle east and 50% everything else.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:22 pm

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:
Wurzel-Flummery wrote:
every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:
- The splitting of difficulty into prelim/playoff/superplayoff/final was a mistake. It's simply infeasible to calibrate difficulty that finely, and it would have put a significantly less strain on the editing crew to make everything uniform in the first place rather than to change the difficulty of individual packets constantly as the format was in flux. Regardless of what the plan was, I noticed several easier questions in the superplayoff rounds and some harder questions in the prelims.


Wait, this happened? Since all teams are playing in the playoff and superplayoff, why should they be harder than the prelims? I can understand the finals being harder, but it's kinda pointless to make playoffs harder.


The instructions I received was to group the difficulty into 3 levels: prelims, playoffs and super-playoffs (which were to be at the same difficulty), finals (and I guess All-Star for a fourth level).

Raynell is absolutely right, and it's unacceptable that Andy Watkins did not think through the obvious implication of having the superplayoffs be harder than the playoffs, which is that it arbitrarily makes some of your superplayoff games on disproportionately easy packets and then tests a somewhat different set of skills for the rest of the games. Incredibly incompetent idea.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Kyle » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:23 pm

Papa's in the House wrote:The World History seemed to be 50% middle east and 50% everything else.


There was in fact 5/5 Middle Eastern history in the first 20 questions over the course of 25 rounds (plus 1/1 in the post-20 range), for a total percentage of 20% Middle East and 80% everything else. I laid out the world history distribution back when Auroni was signed on as the history editor. I tried to do so in such a way that the world history would be balanced among all regions. The distribution was (post-20 in parentheses):

5/5 (1/2) Latin America
5/5 (1/1) Middle East
5/5 (1/2) Africa
5/5 (2/1) East Asia
2/2 Southeast Asia
2/2 South Asia
1/1 Australia/Pacific
Last edited by Kyle on Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Kyle » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:24 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Freesy Does It wrote:
Bentley Like Beckham wrote:The instructions I received was to group the difficulty into 3 levels: prelims, playoffs and super-playoffs (which were to be at the same difficulty), finals (and I guess All-Star for a fourth level).

Raynell is absolutely right, and it's unacceptable that Andy Watkins did not think through the obvious implication of having the superplayoffs be harder than the playoffs, which is that it arbitrarily makes some of your superplayoff games on disproportionately easy packets and then tests a somewhat different set of skills for the rest of the games. Incredibly incompetent idea.


As Mike just posted, the superplayoffs were not intended to be more difficult than the playoffs because games from the playoffs were carried over into the superplayoffs.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Papa's in the House » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:30 pm

Kyle wrote:
Papa's in the House wrote:The World History seemed to be 50% middle east and 50% everything else.


There was in fact 5/5 Middle Eastern history in the first 20 questions over the course of 25 rounds (plus 1/1 in the post-20 range), for a total percentage of 20% Middle East and 80% everything else. I laid out the world history distribution back when Auroni was signed on as the history editor. I tried to do so in such a way that the world history would be balanced among all regions. The distribution was (post-20 in parentheses):

5/5 (1/2) Latin America
5/5 (1/1) Middle East
5/5 (1/2) Africa
5/5 (2/1) East Asia
2/2 Southeast Asia
2/2 South Asia
1/1 Australia/Pacific

I guess it was just sample bias and bad memory that made me think that. Thanks for clarifying.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:34 pm

Papa's in the House wrote:I guess it was just sample bias and bad memory that made me think that. Thanks for clarifying.

Also possibly the influence of some ME/North African geography and current events.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Public safety diving » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:35 pm

In addition, according to Matt Weiner, the prelim difficulty was applied to rounds 1-7, which meant that three of the playoffs were on intentionally harder questions than the other two.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:35 pm

Sorry, I stupidly wasn't reading that carefully at all. Never mind. Although this 7 rounds thing is a laugh if true.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:46 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Freesy Does It wrote:Sorry, I stupidly wasn't reading that carefully at all. Never mind. Although this 7 rounds thing is a laugh if true.

It isn't. For something around two thirds of the year, we were operating on a sixty-four team format and editing the set to correspond to that, including the seven round prelims that the sixty-four team format requires. So, for a long time we had seven rounds of prelim-appropriate questions. Once the sixty team format was confirmed I ran through rounds six and seven to do any appropriate switches and tuning necessary to make their difficulty match the rest of the playoffs as well as any pair of rounds' difficulty can match. So, the playoffs were not played on two different difficulties of packet.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Mike Bentley » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:50 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
Papa's in the House wrote:I guess it was just sample bias and bad memory that made me think that. Thanks for clarifying.

Also possibly the influence of some ME/North African geography and current events.


I'd have to double check but it's also possible the Middle East history questions may have been spread out more into the rounds played by everyone than the rounds not played by everyone (e.g. tiebreakers, finals, emergency packets).
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:26 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Freesy Does It wrote:Sorry, I stupidly wasn't reading that carefully at all. Never mind. Although this 7 rounds thing is a laugh if true.


Watkins says it wasn't above. I was told it was by another editor. Contradictory information and a lack of communication to the control rooms was definitely the theme of this past weekend, so it seems only fitting.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:16 pm

I edited all of lit and mythology, with substantial writing help from Matt Weiner, Sarah Angelo, Auroni Gupta, Matt Jackson, and Chris Ray, as well as general advice from Evan Adams and Rob Carson. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, but some of my third parts were probably excessive, and some of my later world lit tossups were, perhaps inevitably, difficult. Any other comments people have?
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby jonah » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:29 pm

I noticed two factual errors: a bonus part (I believe from packet 10) claimed that Shabbat ends at sundown—it doesn't; it ends when one sees three stars—and a bonus whose intro quoted some poetry that the first part claimed was by Leon Czolgosz (via asking for Czolgosz) but was actually by Charles Guiteau.

I wrote some math, a little bit of physics, and some religion for this set. Comments are appreciated.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Mike Bentley » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:47 pm

jonah wrote:and a bonus whose intro quoted some poetry that the first part claimed was by Leon Czolgosz (via asking for Czolgosz) but was actually by Charles Guiteau.


Argh, sorry about that. That was a sloppy error on my part. I hope that it did not impact the outcome of any games.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:52 pm

Isn't "the appearance of three stars" the definition of "sundown" for Jewish religious purposes?
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Madagascar Serpent Eagle » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:54 pm

So on the whole I liked this set - some bonus variability issues and at least one absurdly simplistic lead-in (Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina for Locke), but a solid set that I enjoyed playing.

That being said, I'd just like to point out that the governor of California hasn't been a Republican for over a year and Tommy Thompson hasn't been secretary of Health and Human Services since around January 20, 2009. The former was an annoyance in a bonus along the lines of "Name one of the two states with Republican governors who got most of the money Wisconsin and Ohio turned down for high speed rail." Florida does have a Republican governor, California does not. The Tommy Thompson one did end up costing us our wild-card game: in a history tossup on politicians from Wisconsin, there was a clue along the lines of "The current Secretary of Health and Human Services is from this state..." Buzz "...Tommy" My answer was along the lines of "What? That doesn't make any sense, but the current Secretary of Health and Human Services is from Kansas." My protest was denied because "All the previous clues pointed to Wisconsin and the moderator already said Tommy." I think according to the rules it should have been thrown out and replayed, which would have altered the outcome of the match.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby jonah » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:55 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Isn't "the appearance of three stars" the definition of "sundown" for Jewish religious purposes?
Not as I understand it; in fact, the appearance of three stars is intentionally to signify something later than sundown: in order that we be sure it's been a full day since Shabbat began, we actually make sure it's been slightly more than a full day.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby pray for elves » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:01 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Isn't "the appearance of three stars" the definition of "sundown" for Jewish religious purposes?

Jonah's right on this one. A sundown-to-sundown holiday or fast starts a bit before the first sundown and ends when three stars are visible after the second sundown (or 18 minutes after sundown if the weather prevents stars from being seen). That said, it is nit-picky and most reform congregations just say sundown.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby something similarly dumb » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:02 pm

Joe N wrote:That being said, I'd just like to point out that the governor of California hasn't been a Republican for over a year and Tommy Thompson hasn't been secretary of Health and Human Services since around January 20, 2009. The former was an annoyance in a bonus along the lines of "Name one of the two states with Republican governors who got most of the money Wisconsin and Ohio turned down for high speed rail." Florida does have a Republican governor, California does not. The Tommy Thompson one did end up costing us our wild-card game: in a history tossup on politicians from Wisconsin, there was a clue along the lines of "The current Secretary of Health and Human Services is from this state..." Buzz "...Tommy" My answer was along the lines of "What? That doesn't make any sense, but the current Secretary of Health and Human Services is from Kansas." My protest was denied because "All the previous clues pointed to Wisconsin and the moderator already said Tommy." I think according to the rules it should have been thrown out and replayed, which would have altered the outcome of the match.

As someone who worked for the Department of Health and Human Services answering letters addressed to the Secretary, I can tell you that Thompson hasn't been in office since 2005. It was sort of an office joke when we received letters addressed to Thompson, just because it indicated that whoever was writing didn't really have it all together. Your protest definitely deserved a look.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Kyle » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:13 pm

Joe N wrote:That being said, I'd just like to point out that the governor of California hasn't been a Republican for over a year


You're right. I'm really sorry about that.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:17 pm

Kyle wrote:
Joe N wrote:That being said, I'd just like to point out that the governor of California hasn't been a Republican for over a year


You're right. I'm really sorry about that.

As am I, since that's more or less just a silly thing I should certainly have been able to catch.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Mike Bentley » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:22 pm

Kyle wrote:
Joe N wrote:That being said, I'd just like to point out that the governor of California hasn't been a Republican for over a year


You're right. I'm really sorry about that.


I am similarly sorry about error in the Wisconsin question. I don't know exactly how this error got in. The only thing I can think of is there was a disconnect between me reading "former Secretary of Health and Human Services" and then typing "current Secretary of Health and Human Services" or something. Hopefully this is the last of the errors in the history set that appeared in this tournament--it's already unacceptable that there were so many. Not that I'm currently planning on editing a subject for the tournament next year, but in my future editing efforts I'll make sure to amend my editing process to include a final fact checking pass-through in an attempt to catch things like this or error on the assassination bonus.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:31 pm

Florida has turned down the high speed rail money.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Kyle » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:47 pm

Westwon wrote:Florida has turned down the high speed rail money.


Oh no, you're right. I completely screwed up that entire bonus part. The governor of California thing was just stupid all the way around; the Florida aspect was an instance of me not following the news after I had written the bonus in January. Let this be a lesson to all: write your questions soon before the tournament happens.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:52 pm

Kyle wrote:Let this be a lesson to all: write your current events questions soon before the tournament happens.

Lest that recommendation be taken over-broadly.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:19 pm

Unless I misheard, I believe a bonus part gave Enoch as Noah's grandfather, though Enoch is generally regarded as Noah's great grandfather.

In general, the religion seemed skewed towards Judaism and away from Christianity, though this perception may be due to some of the non-religious questions being related to Judaism.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby jonah » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:22 pm

Westwon wrote:Unless I misheard, I believe a bonus part gave Enoch as Noah's grandfather, though Enoch is generally regarded as Noah's great grandfather.
You probably misheard, or perhaps the moderator misspoke. Here is the bonus part I believe you're talking about (as I originally wrote it; it may have been changed, but I don't think so):

[10] Arnold Sorsby claimed that Noah was an albino based on a fragment of this apocryphal book, which is named for Noah’s great-grandfather.
ANSWER: Book of Enoch [or Seifer Khanokh]
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby in on these shenanigans » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:07 pm

Westwon wrote:Unless I misheard, I believe a bonus part gave Enoch as Noah's grandfather, though Enoch is generally regarded as Noah's great grandfather.

In general, the religion seemed skewed towards Judaism and away from Christianity, though this perception may be due to some of the non-religious questions being related to Judaism.


I felt this way as well, and am curious to see the religion subdistro to see how it was split amongst the various religions.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby abnormal abdomen » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:12 pm

Speaking of religion subdistributions, I'd also be interested in seeing them. I also found it strange that there was 1/1 Islam in what I believe was packet 15, while I thought there wasn't very much of it otherwise. That packet had the apparently controversial "complications in Islam" bonus, and while I can now see why it was controversial, I thought it was pretty great and enjoyed hearing a different sort of Islam bonus. Also, can someone post the text of the Qur'an tossup?

EDIT: Clarification
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Sir Thopas » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:33 pm

I edited (and wrote a fair amount of) the arts for this tournament, based on the following distribution:

PAINTING
6/6 before 1550
6/6 1550—1750
5/5 1750—1900
3/3 after 1900
5/5 leeway

MUSIC
3/3 before 1750
7/7 1750—1880
7/7 1880—1940
3/3 after 1940
5/5 leeway

OTHER ARTS
7/7 opera
2/2 jazz
2/2 dance
5/4 architecture
4/5 sculpture
2/2 film
1/1 photo
1/1 audio leeway
1/1 visual leeway

I found this distribution very helpful, both for providing a large-scale framework and to ensure that the arts would be spread out on a packet-by-packet basis. I'll have more to say about what this taught me about biases in the canon in another thread at some point in the future.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Strange Fascination » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:38 pm

Kyle wrote:
Westwon wrote:Florida has turned down the high speed rail money.


Oh no, you're right. I completely screwed up that entire bonus part. The governor of California thing was just stupid all the way around; the Florida aspect was an instance of me not following the news after I had written the bonus in January. Let this be a lesson to all: write your questions soon before the tournament happens.


Yeah that bonus part confused me to no end. Current events questions should be written as close to tournament date as feasible.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby sssssssskkkk » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:48 pm

This tournament did a pretty good job of keeping the bonus parts to not be binary (i.e. bonus parts with two possible obvious answers) so that its a 50/50 guess besides the bonus about plant bio that went cotyledon/monocot/ovary. The second part mentioned something about this type of angiosperm being named for the number of cotyledons it had...We guessed dicot and it was easily picked up by our opponents on the bounceback. Other than that, I'm pretty sure the rest of the bonuses were alright.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby No Electricity Required » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:46 pm

I really enjoyed the questions as did the only of my two teammates who is fond of good quizbowl (I don't really know about the other one). I thought all the categories were excellent overall, and my aforementioned teammate praised the music questions for being more "real" that what he's used to; my only complaint was the occasional error (like the train money thing), and also, like Joe said, "Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina" was not a good leadin, but the problems were few and far between. Like others have mentioned I did perceive that the religion did seem to skew toward Judaisim and away from Christianity.

I would say the question quality is what made the tournament come off with such a positive feeling for my teammates, which I was glad for.

Edit: quotations marks come in pairs
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby Kyle » Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:43 am

Wurzel-Flummery wrote:
Kyle wrote:
Westwon wrote:Florida has turned down the high speed rail money.


Oh no, you're right. I completely screwed up that entire bonus part. The governor of California thing was just stupid all the way around; the Florida aspect was an instance of me not following the news after I had written the bonus in January. Let this be a lesson to all: write your questions soon before the tournament happens.


Yeah that bonus part confused me to no end. Current events questions should be written as close to tournament date as feasible.


So that bonus part was doubly wrong, which is why you were rightly confused. Even so, I don't necessarily agree with your second sentence. Obviously it's important to do a better job than I did of making sure that things haven't changed since the question was written (oddly, Andy and I did have a discussion last week about the first part of the bonus because Scott Walker has since made himself more famous than he was a few months ago). But I think it's important that the current events distribution cover more than just the most recent events. For one thing, the NSC is an annual tournament, so a year's worth of current events should be given equal weight. But more important, in my opinion, is that the current events category should focus broadly on things that are important in the world today rather than just on particular events (a single election or a protest or whatever). That's why I wrote the high-speed rail bonus in the first place -- because it's an ongoing topic of continuing importance. I just stopped following it too soon and in the process really, really screwed up that bonus, for which I am sorry. That doesn't mean that current events questions have to be written closer to the tournament date so much as it means that the person writing them has to do a better job of paying attention to the news as it develops.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby jonpin » Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:55 am

Joe N wrote:The Tommy Thompson one did end up costing us our wild-card game: in a history tossup on politicians from Wisconsin, there was a clue along the lines of "The current Secretary of Health and Human Services is from this state..." Buzz "...Tommy" My answer was along the lines of "What? That doesn't make any sense, but the current Secretary of Health and Human Services is from Kansas." My protest was denied because "All the previous clues pointed to Wisconsin and the moderator already said Tommy." I think according to the rules it should have been thrown out and replayed, which would have altered the outcome of the match.


Hey look, it's another team eliminated from championship contention on a protest resolution in direct contradiction to the rules!
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby theMoMA » Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:57 am

Joe N wrote:The Tommy Thompson one did end up costing us our wild-card game: in a history tossup on politicians from Wisconsin, there was a clue along the lines of "The current Secretary of Health and Human Services is from this state..." Buzz "...Tommy" My answer was along the lines of "What? That doesn't make any sense, but the current Secretary of Health and Human Services is from Kansas." My protest was denied because "All the previous clues pointed to Wisconsin and the moderator already said Tommy." I think according to the rules it should have been thrown out and replayed, which would have altered the outcome of the match.


The text of the tossup read:

In this state’s largest city, Victor Berger led the so-called Sewer Socialism movement. In the late 19th century, it was the site of the deadliest fire in American history, the Peshtigo Fire. One politician from this state joined George Norris in filibustering the Armed Ship Bill, much to the chagrin of Woodrow Wilson, and later ran for president with Burton K. Wheeler as his running mate. The current US Secretary of Health and Human Services, (*) Tommy Thompson, was once its governor. Another governor worked with university professors to push for legislation like primary elections and the country’s first state income tax, a policy which became known as this state’s namesake “idea”. For 10 points, name this Midwestern state home to Progressive leader Robert LaFollette, Sr.
ANSWER: Wisconsin


The relevant rules states:

Two or more clues within the question uniquely describe different
answers or one clue definitely does not refer to the same answer as the
other clues—hence, there is no correct answer to the question. This
protest may be lodged by either team at the end of a question
converted by neither team or by the team that did not get the question
after a question is converted by one team. However, if this situation
arises on a tossup that the other team converted before the first clue
creating a contradiction was read, there may be no protest because the
team that missed the question was necessarily not misled.


We determined that the clue, though factually incorrect, did not "uniquely describe different answers" and the clue buzzed on could not be said to "definitely...not refer to the same answer as the other clues." This is for two reasons: the player (as we understood it) had heard the word "Tommy," but more importantly, the phrase that led to the buzz did not refer back to the answer. If the question had said "The current secretary of HHS, Kate Sebelius, once lived in this state before moving to Kansas," with the player buzzing after "Kate" with "Kansas," the issue would be essentially the same, and the protest would also be denied (assuming for this example that Sebelius actually did live in Wisconsin at one point). The rule in question confines its application to two very narrow circumstances, neither of which is present here. Both the actual question and the hypothetical above are misleading questions, but there is no recourse in any of the protest rules for this situation.

I hope this all makes sense. If the full logic of the protest resolution did not get back to the teams in question, I apologize.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby theMoMA » Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:17 am

jonpin wrote:Hey look, it's another team eliminated from championship contention on a protest resolution in direct contradiction to the rules!


I want to address the idea that the protest resolutions at this tournament were somehow unfair or ignored the rules. In all instances, we stove to apply the rules as written evenly and fairly to the protested questions. Furthermore, I want to make it clear that we considered only a fair application of the rules to the situation when we were resolving protests. We spent a lot of time reviewing the rules and going over protest situations before the tournament to ensure that we were prepared. When a protest came to us, we consulted the rules directly and applied them as written. When something was confusing or a situation presented a wrinkle we didn't anticipate, we sought out help from outside experts. When we needed to look up facts or consult experts in fields, we did. Any team that brought concerns to us about how we handled their protest received from us a detailed explanation, in some cases requiring us to confirm that our interpretation of the rules was correct. I stand by every protest resolution that we made.

I also want to add a personal note to this. The most heartbreaking loss of my quizbowl career came at the end of a protest resolution. I have been on teams eliminated from ICT contention twice following protest resolutions. I know how hard it is to be on the wrong end. But I also know that in each case, all of those tournament directors and protest committee members considered only what was fair in light of the situation and the rules. That's what we did as well, and it really disappoints me that anyone would think otherwise.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby GBRodgers12 » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:23 pm

theMoMA wrote:
Joe N wrote:The Tommy Thompson one did end up costing us our wild-card game: in a history tossup on politicians from Wisconsin, there was a clue along the lines of "The current Secretary of Health and Human Services is from this state..." Buzz "...Tommy" My answer was along the lines of "What? That doesn't make any sense, but the current Secretary of Health and Human Services is from Kansas." My protest was denied because "All the previous clues pointed to Wisconsin and the moderator already said Tommy." I think according to the rules it should have been thrown out and replayed, which would have altered the outcome of the match.


The text of the tossup read:

In this state’s largest city, Victor Berger led the so-called Sewer Socialism movement. In the late 19th century, it was the site of the deadliest fire in American history, the Peshtigo Fire. One politician from this state joined George Norris in filibustering the Armed Ship Bill, much to the chagrin of Woodrow Wilson, and later ran for president with Burton K. Wheeler as his running mate. The current US Secretary of Health and Human Services, (*) Tommy Thompson, was once its governor. Another governor worked with university professors to push for legislation like primary elections and the country’s first state income tax, a policy which became known as this state’s namesake “idea”. For 10 points, name this Midwestern state home to Progressive leader Robert LaFollette, Sr.
ANSWER: Wisconsin


The relevant rules states:

Two or more clues within the question uniquely describe different
answers or one clue definitely does not refer to the same answer as the
other clues—hence, there is no correct answer to the question. This
protest may be lodged by either team at the end of a question
converted by neither team or by the team that did not get the question
after a question is converted by one team. However, if this situation
arises on a tossup that the other team converted before the first clue
creating a contradiction was read, there may be no protest because the
team that missed the question was necessarily not misled.


We determined that the clue, though factually incorrect, did not "uniquely describe different answers" and the clue buzzed on could not be said to "definitely...not refer to the same answer as the other clues." This is for two reasons: the player (as we understood it) had heard the word "Tommy," but more importantly, the phrase that led to the buzz did not refer back to the answer. If the question had said "The current secretary of HHS, Kate Sebelius, once lived in this state before moving to Kansas," with the player buzzing after "Kate" with "Kansas," the issue would be essentially the same, and the protest would also be denied (assuming for this example that Sebelius actually did live in Wisconsin at one point). The rule in question confines its application to two very narrow circumstances, neither of which is present here. Both the actual question and the hypothetical above are misleading questions, but there is no recourse in any of the protest rules for this situation.

I hope this all makes sense. If the full logic of the protest resolution did not get back to the teams in question, I apologize.


In short, no, this makes absolutely no sense at all. How does it not uniquely describe a different answer? The current Secretary of Health and Human Services, which is what was buzzed on, clearly leads to Kansas. Because the reader got another word out after the buzz should not change this. Even if in some convoluted way the stated rule does not apply (which I think it does anyways), I would think sense would prevail. The clue very clearly did not apply to the answer line and obviously led to the buzz and subsequent miss of the question. I don't see how anyone can try to justify this being the right decision.

It is absurd that a factually incorrect question can be stamped as "only misleading" and not thrown out once protested.
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Re: 2011 NSC Question Set Discussion

Postby AlphaQuizBowler » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:29 pm

theMoMA wrote:
Joe N wrote:The Tommy Thompson one did end up costing us our wild-card game: in a history tossup on politicians from Wisconsin, there was a clue along the lines of "The current Secretary of Health and Human Services is from this state..." Buzz "...Tommy" My answer was along the lines of "What? That doesn't make any sense, but the current Secretary of Health and Human Services is from Kansas." My protest was denied because "All the previous clues pointed to Wisconsin and the moderator already said Tommy." I think according to the rules it should have been thrown out and replayed, which would have altered the outcome of the match.


The text of the tossup read:

In this state’s largest city, Victor Berger led the so-called Sewer Socialism movement. In the late 19th century, it was the site of the deadliest fire in American history, the Peshtigo Fire. One politician from this state joined George Norris in filibustering the Armed Ship Bill, much to the chagrin of Woodrow Wilson, and later ran for president with Burton K. Wheeler as his running mate. The current US Secretary of Health and Human Services, (*) Tommy Thompson, was once its governor. Another governor worked with university professors to push for legislation like primary elections and the country’s first state income tax, a policy which became known as this state’s namesake “idea”. For 10 points, name this Midwestern state home to Progressive leader Robert LaFollette, Sr.
ANSWER: Wisconsin


The relevant rules states:

Two or more clues within the question uniquely describe different
answers or one clue definitely does not refer to the same answer as the
other clues—hence, there is no correct answer to the question. This
protest may be lodged by either team at the end of a question
converted by neither team or by the team that did not get the question
after a question is converted by one team. However, if this situation
arises on a tossup that the other team converted before the first clue
creating a contradiction was read, there may be no protest because the
team that missed the question was necessarily not misled.


We determined that the clue, though factually incorrect, did not "uniquely describe different answers" and the clue buzzed on could not be said to "definitely...not refer to the same answer as the other clues." This is for two reasons: the player (as we understood it) had heard the word "Tommy," but more importantly, the phrase that led to the buzz did not refer back to the answer. If the question had said "The current secretary of HHS, Kate Sebelius, once lived in this state before moving to Kansas," with the player buzzing after "Kate" with "Kansas," the issue would be essentially the same, and the protest would also be denied (assuming for this example that Sebelius actually did live in Wisconsin at one point). The rule in question confines its application to two very narrow circumstances, neither of which is present here. Both the actual question and the hypothetical above are misleading questions, but there is no recourse in any of the protest rules for this situation.

I hope this all makes sense. If the full logic of the protest resolution did not get back to the teams in question, I apologize.

I don't agree with this reasoning at all. The clue that Joe buzzed on was deep enough into the question that it was obvious the answer was a state. Thus when one hears "the current secretary of HHS," one can assume it is asking for that person's home state (and, in fact, it was asking for the home state of the person the question writer mistakenly thought was current HHS secretary). An equivalent situation would be if it were a geography question on Oregon and it contained a clue saying "The site of Yosemite National Park (*) is this state's neighbor, California." Who wouldn't buzz after Yosemite and say California if they knew where Yosemite was? The fact that he heard "Tommy" is irrelevant because he had also already heard the clue describing a different answer. By any reasonable interpretation of the rules, the question should've been thrown out and replaced.
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