Painfully Easy Giveaways

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Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Scaled Flowerpiercer » Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:14 pm

I feel like it is a bit too common for the giveaway of tossups to have a "curved yellow fruit" feel, where pretty much the question becomes not even "do you know anything about this?" but more so "do you know that this is a thing?" Most of the giveaways that come to mind were in uncleared sets, so I skimmed a cleared HSAPQ set for some examples.

Take, for example:

HSAPQ set 16 wrote:For 10 points, name this Egyptian city founded by and named for Alexander the Great.

Even if you know nothing about Alexandria other than the fact that it is a thing, "city named for Alexander the Great" must be a city with "Alexander" in its name, so a give away like this is practically giving away points (especially if one team negs, then the points are essentially "given" to the other team in this case)

compare this to a giveaway (from the same set) like

HSAPQ set 16 wrote:For 10 points, name this home country of Jorge Luis Borges.


You need some sort of actual knowledge about Argentinian writers (either Borges or ones earlier in the question) to be able to answer this question, unlike the last one.

Of course, there are hundreds of examples, but I wanted to know if there is much of a rationale defending such easy give aways, or other people find them to be bad and they just fall through the cracks. I certainly understand that the give-away does have that name, but it should be able to make the question easy while still testing some sort of real knowledge.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby something similarly dumb » Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:20 pm

"Painfully" easy giveaways may not be painfully easy for everyone; the point of a giveaway is to make sure that most teams can convert the tossup, as dead tossups kinda suck. So there's nothing wrong with giveaways like this.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Cheynem » Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:22 pm

This is kind of an interesting point. My general policy for giveaways (for HS questions and most easy college tournaments anyway) is to give the easiest clue without resorting to stupid tricks ('rhymes with..."; "shares his name with...") or literal "say back what I just said" statements (I might have edited the Alexandria question to be "shares its name with a certain 'Great' Macedonian conqueror" or something like that). That said, sometimes it's hard to avoid giveaways that are painfully easy without being annoyingly obtuse and that isn't fun for anyone (for instance, a science tossup on "water," I assume would end with "This is H20").
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Scaled Flowerpiercer » Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:39 pm

Cheynem wrote:This is kind of an interesting point. My general policy for giveaways (for HS questions and most easy college tournaments anyway) is to give the easiest clue without resorting to stupid tricks ('rhymes with..."; "shares his name with...") or literal "say back what I just said" statements (I might have edited the Alexandria question to be "shares its name with a certain 'Great' Macedonian conqueror" or something like that). That said, sometimes it's hard to avoid giveaways that are painfully easy without being annoyingly obtuse and that isn't fun for anyone (for instance, a science tossup on "water," I assume would end with "This is H20").


I think that often times there are issues with a variation on those "stupid tricks," especially something like "often contrasted with..." or "often paired with..." I can think of some real examples that are uncleared, but something like "FTP, identify this genetic material often contrasted with RNA" or something like that. "this is H20" does test knowledge...knowledge everyone should have, but still technically knowledge about what water is. This giveaway for DNA would test that at some point you have heard that DNA is a thing that is not RNA, but you wouldn't need to know a single other thing. Same could be done with "these plants that are often contrasted with dicots," etc.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby No Electricity Required » Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:04 pm

SrgtDonow wrote:
Cheynem wrote:This is kind of an interesting point. My general policy for giveaways (for HS questions and most easy college tournaments anyway) is to give the easiest clue without resorting to stupid tricks ('rhymes with..."; "shares his name with...") or literal "say back what I just said" statements (I might have edited the Alexandria question to be "shares its name with a certain 'Great' Macedonian conqueror" or something like that). That said, sometimes it's hard to avoid giveaways that are painfully easy without being annoyingly obtuse and that isn't fun for anyone (for instance, a science tossup on "water," I assume would end with "This is H20").


I think that often times there are issues with a variation on those "stupid tricks," especially something like "often contrasted with..." or "often paired with..." I can think of some real examples that are uncleared, but something like "FTP, identify this genetic material often contrasted with RNA" or something like that. "this is H20" does test knowledge...knowledge everyone should have, but still technically knowledge about what water is. This giveaway for DNA would test that at some point you have heard that DNA is a thing that is not RNA, but you wouldn't need to know a single other thing. Same could be done with "these plants that are often contrasted with dicots," etc.

Most giveaways are very easy; the only thing this is doing is allowing teams on the lower end of the spectrum to answer tossups. It's really not hurting anyone; it's actually a good thing for quizbowl when tossups don't go dead. As long as it isn't some awful "FTP name this psychologist whose name also refers to someone who cuts the pelts off of animals" it isn't a real problem.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:05 pm

My philosophy is this: if you object to the question being answered after FTP, buzz in and answer it before it gets there. Otherwise, tough luck. Quizbowl has very little to gain from making giveaways hard. Easy giveaways do nothing to hurt good teams, but hard giveaways do hurt bad teams, and quizbowl needs marginal teams to keep showing up to survive.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:12 pm

I think that these giveaways are an acceptable part of the game. Part of the reason is that sometimes you have a match between two weak teams, and you want to make sure that several tossups get answered without the writer/editor knowing exactly how weak those teams are. If you have two decent teams playing and the question is written decently, then it shouldn't get that far, or it should only get that far on a rebound, and it's not a big deal in that case because your expectation when you neg should be that usually the other team will convert. There cannot be an expectation that all tossups will be the same difficulty level, because that is an unreasonable expectation--the expectation should be that all the tossups are convertible by teams whose ability levels match the announced difficulty levels of the packet, and the convertibility of any given question probably should range from about 60-100%.

It would be a lot of work to get every giveaway in a set to be easy but not painfully easy, and there are many issues when writing and editing that are much more important. Furthermore, if you did that, some low scoring matches would become even lower scoring.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby cvdwightw » Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:43 pm

SrgtDonow wrote:I feel like it is a bit too common for the giveaway of tossups to have a "curved yellow fruit" feel,
Just to clarify, the "curved yellow fruit" giveaway in the strictest and most correct sense of the term is one in which all preceding clues are nigh-impossible to buzz on, making the giveaway the only playable part of the question for the vast majority of the teams. A curved yellow fruit giveaway in the modern game would be something like a high school question on George Washington that contains only clues from that ACF Nationals tossup but ends "FTP name this first president."

Also, remember that many of the "ridiculously easy" giveaways you are citing test "have you heard of this thing before?" and that there will be teams that literally have not heard of that thing. I mean, it takes some knowledge to know that a city named "Alexandria" exists in Egypt as opposed to, e.g., "Alexander City" or "Alexandropolis;" similarly, it takes some knowledge to know that the genetic material that is contrasted with RNA is DNA and not "proteins" or "carbon" or "SNA." To give an example at a somewhat different level, I'm sure that "FTP name this current president of Paraguay" would be "ridiculously easy" in a hypothetical Paraguayan high school quizbowl tournament and quite poorly converted in an American high school quizbowl tournament, despite the giveaway basically asking, "have you heard of the current president of Paraguay?" - the difference being that the vast majority of American high school teams would not be able to name a single Paraguayan leader.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Francis the Talking France » Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:42 pm

The only time I've truly been frustrated with a giveaway is when it goes something like, name this term, the opposite of another term and it's painfully obvious to anyone who has a pulse.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:43 pm

Stop complaining about things being too easy. Quizbowl tossups are not written for solely TOP. TEAMS. and this is a good thing, or tournaments would have even less than 12 schools attending them.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Sniper, No Sniping! » Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:38 pm

Just don't expect to find "painfully easy" giveaways in HFT.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Mewto55555 » Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:00 pm

MattNC wrote:The only time I've truly been frustrated with a giveaway is when it goes something like, name this term, the opposite of another term and it's painfully obvious to anyone who has a pulse.


If hearing these giveaways is so excruciatingly painful for you, then learn enough to get questions earlier/stop negging, or accept the tremendous agony of hearing the most facile of clues as a consequence of your ignorance. Clues like "this is the nucleic acid that isn't RNA" are not-so-terrible for that silent majority of teams who don't know as much as you think and don't post on the forums.

EDIT: Certain people posting in this thread: Have you ever read for a very low-scoring bottom-bracket game? If your answer is "no", then perhaps that would be a valuable experience for you.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:35 pm

Ulster Clay Pigeon Shooting Association wrote:Just don't expect to find "painfully easy" giveaways in HFT.

Depends on your pain tolerance, I suppose, but going to the first packet I opened and looking for the closest to what's mentioned in this thread:
Packet 1 of HFT V wrote:For 10 points, name this chromosome, two of which are found in each somatic cell of a female and which is contrasted with the Y chromosome.
For 10 points, name this Portuguese prince who sent explorers as far as Sierra Leone and whose epithet reflects his interest in seafaring.

The former is obviously part of the class that the OP is trying to define; the latter is certainly the easiest possible clue and throws in information about his epithet that allows you to figure things out, but isn't quite "it's not Y, but" level.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:21 am

Mewto55555 wrote:
MattNC wrote:The only time I've truly been frustrated with a giveaway is when it goes something like, name this term, the opposite of another term and it's painfully obvious to anyone who has a pulse.


If hearing these giveaways is so excruciatingly painful for you, then learn enough to get questions earlier/stop negging, or accept the tremendous agony of hearing the most facile of clues as a consequence of your ignorance. Clues like "this is the nucleic acid that isn't RNA" are not-so-terrible for that silent majority of teams who don't know as much as you think and don't post on the forums.

EDIT: Certain people posting in this thread: Have you ever read for a very low-scoring bottom-bracket game? If your answer is "no", then perhaps that would be a valuable experience for you.


As someone who has, I agree completely with what Max is implying here. Quite frankly, some of these "painfully easy" giveaways are the only way some bottom bracket teams can get points. Quiz bowl becoming harder will solve nothing, and like Mr. Chrzanowski said, questions are not written solely for the top 100 teams in the country. If they were, many places in areas like Northeastern Missouri would be unable to host tournaments at all.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:27 am

If they were, many places in areas like Northeastern Missouri would be unable to host tournaments at all.

They still are...
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Auroni » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:42 am

Just to be clear, cute giveaways that try to get you to answer the question despite its lack of any clues that people might know are bad. An example might be "name this Byzantine emperor whose name might suggest he was missing a male sexual organ" for a tossup on Romanos I Lekapenos. That's not what the question the opening post is citing is, though. The fact that Alexandria is named after Alexander the Great is historically significant and not instantly gettable by people who have never heard of Alexandria and/or Alexander the Great.

Sometimes, the threshold of knowledge needed to get a question is quite low, particularly in high school quizbowl. This is a reality that I am grateful for whenever I am moderating a match between bottom bracket teams at a moderate-difficult or difficult tournament.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby theMoMA » Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:40 am

When the giveaway is actually the most famous thing about the answer, it's fine. When it's not (for example, "rhymes with" or "sounds like" or in some cases "with the same name as"), it may not be. (A related problem at higher levels is the "Preface to Cromwell" issue, where the giveaway basically tells you the structure of the answer and gives you contextual clues to fill in the blanks.) Giving the most famous clue that actually describes the answer is never wrong. Wading into the territory where a player can pretty easily answer the question without really knowing anything about the answer is almost always less than optimal.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby conquerer7 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:40 am

On a tangent, does anybody else think that ridiculous giveaways are way more common for science tossups than in any other field? Let me quote the science giveaways for HFT round 1:

...which is contrasted with the Y chromosome.
...for two by two matrices, is equal to the difference of the products of the values on the diagonals.
...name these...charged... species.
...identify this quantity symbolized “q,” which can be positive or negative and causes objects to attract or repel each other.


This is stuff that's commonly covered in middle school; a team just needs one member who doesn't sleep in every science class to answer these. And it gets much more extreme than that; for math, IMSA resorted to "this number is 11*2 + 1", for instance.

Lit giveaways:

...name this novel about Stephen Kumalo’s search for his son in South Africa, by Alan Paton.
...name this author of “La Belle Dame sans Merci” and “Ode on a Grecian Urn.”
...identify this abolitionist novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
...name this protagonist of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.


I'm no lit player, but I've never heard of any of these besides the third outside of quizbowl. When we practice with freshmen, lit goes dead all the time. It even goes dead when we practice with everybody, if our two lit players are reading or absent. If there's so much effort expended on making science convertible, why not do the same with lit?
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Dr. Loki Skylizard, Thoracic Surgeon » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:32 am

Only the first of those sciences ones would be considered "ridiculous," and only in that case if you think it's ridiculous to think that people may not know about X & Y chromosomes (spoilers: they very well couldn't).

If you have to rely on an overly cute giveaway for conversion, chances are the question's too hard. That said, I don't think any of those ones you cited qualifies as overly cute.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Auroni » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:38 am

Like I said, sometimes the most basic fact of common science answerlines is _that_ commonly known. Also determinants are common middle school knowledge now?
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby conquerer7 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:47 am

Alright, I realize I was talking about something different- I'm talking more about the answers themselves than the ten point lines. The ten point lines for those science tossups are totally reasonable given what the answers are.

I don't understand why a character in a book the typical high schooler will never even hear of is tossed up along with things like "electric charge" and "ions" at a tournament. If the goal is accessibility, shouldn't other subjects be given the same treatment? As it stands, weak teams simply don't convert lit.

Looking at fall novice answer lines, "pi" is convertible (and the "this is 3.14" clue is totally reasonable), but "Jack Kerouac" is not, without resorting to ridiculous tricks.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:58 am

Lit and fine arts tend to go dead more often than other subjects in matches between novice teams because novice teams sometimes have no knowledge at all about some of the most important writers, artists, and composers ever. This is a problem that cannot be solved. You cannot ask about an African novel better known than Cry the Beloved Country or an English poet not named Shakespeare (or maybe Chaucer) better known than Keats, so questions get written about them. (We can argue about whether Things Fall Apart or Milton are better known, but even if they are, it's not by much and you can't ask about the same things every round.)
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Sniper, No Sniping! » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:01 pm

conqueror7 wrote:I'm no lit player, but I've never heard of any of these besides the third outside of quizbowl. When we practice with freshmen, lit goes dead all the time. It even goes dead when we practice with everybody, if our two lit players are reading or absent. If there's so much effort expended on making science convertible, why not do the same with lit?


Categories don't need to be made easier because no one is willing to learn about it. If you don't know literature, then you don't know literature. The category doesn't need to be made easier for you.

BTW, I'm pretty sure Cry, the Beloved Country is a common read in world literature courses in high schools across the nation. John Keats is a pretty famous writer. Of course, everyone has heard of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The last one, Nora Helmer yes is a bit tough. Keep in mind you're citing the Harvard Fall Tournament, which is generally considered to be one of the toughest high school level sets produced every year. You are less likely to find questions on Nora Helmer in your regular NAQT IS set.
conqueror7 wrote: I'm no lit player

Then I don't think you can't accurately judge the difficulty of said category.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby An Intergalactic Puzzlepalooza » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:12 pm

Blanford's Fringe-fingered Lizard wrote:Also determinants are common middle school knowledge now?


I learned them in 8th grade Geometry Math Team, so I wouldn't think common but certainly not implausible.

As for the Lit answer lines, I read Ode on a Grecian Urn, Cry the Beloved Country, and A Doll's House in high school, so I don't see those as particularly difficult. And I'm equally certainly not a Lit player.

Also, it's seeming like a majority of the problems here reduce to either problems in difficulty between answerlines rather than an issue with the giveaway, or the giveaway ends up with that whole "curved yellow fruit" thing, with answerlines conducive to "Here are 5 clues you don't reasonably know at your level, and here's the one that everyone knows, possibly phrased in a ridiculous manner." Obviously there's some gimmicks that fall through, but gimmicks generally seem apparent in editing.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby conquerer7 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:25 pm

Ulster Clay Pigeon Shooting Association wrote:Categories don't need to be made easier because no one is willing to learn about it. If you don't know literature, then you don't know literature. The category doesn't need to be made easier for you.

Then I don't think you can't accurately judge the difficulty of said category.


But this discussion isn't about me, or how hard I think things are; it's about accessibility for newbie teams. Again, freshmen in my school with no prior experience can get science tossups. They can't get literature, and for them fine arts has a conversion rate of about 0%. I'm only bringing up how hard I feel things are because my lit/fine arts/RMP knowledge is around the same level as a new team's (if not a bit better after going to a few tournaments).

Leucippe and Clitophon wrote:Lit and fine arts tend to go dead more often than other subjects in matches between novice teams because novice teams sometimes have no knowledge at all about some of the most important writers, artists, and composers ever. This is a problem that cannot be solved.


If novice teams know so little about these subjects, why isn't the distro changed in novice tournaments? Or answer lines changed to match their ignorance? I mean, the only shapes that can be tossed up in HS math are circles and triangles, but that doesn't stop many good questions on them from being written.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby something similarly dumb » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:32 pm

conquerer7 wrote:But this discussion isn't about me, or how hard I think things are; it's about accessibility for newbie teams. Again, freshmen in my school with no prior experience can get science tossups. They can't get literature, and for them fine arts has a conversion rate of about 0%. I'm only bringing up how hard I feel things are because my lit/fine arts/RMP knowledge is around the same level as a new team's (if not a bit better after going to a few tournaments)

Right, this discussion isn't about you, or even your team; at my high school, newbies could get lit and history with reasonable frequency, but science uniformly baffled us. [And still baffles me. I'm sort of surprised that determinants in matrices are considered an OMG SO EASY answerline.]
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:04 pm

conquerer7 wrote:
Leucippe and Clitophon wrote:Lit and fine arts tend to go dead more often than other subjects in matches between novice teams because novice teams sometimes have no knowledge at all about some of the most important writers, artists, and composers ever. This is a problem that cannot be solved.


If novice teams know so little about these subjects, why isn't the distro changed in novice tournaments? Or answer lines changed to match their ignorance? I mean, the only shapes that can be tossed up in HS math are circles and triangles, but that doesn't stop many good questions on them from being written.


The distro sometimes is changed a little bit, such as replacing some of the Lit with Juvenile Lit, or decreasing the Fine Arts a little. You don't want to change it too much, because if you do then novice players don't develop into knowledgeable players.

Writers try to use answer lines that match students' ignorance, but this is balanced by the fact that writers also want to use answers that are academically significant. If you look through answers of decent novice sets, you should see a mix of answers that almost all teams can answer (eg Twain, Romeo & Juliet) and answers that go dead in some novice matches (eg Keats). When you combine those question with the history, science, pop culture, and geography that are converted a lot even by novice teams when the right answer lines are used, you get matches where a few hundred points are scored, which gives the match a meaningful result and which doesn't make the students and coaches believe that good quizbowl is impossible.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Sniper, No Sniping! » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:09 pm

conquerer7 wrote:
Ulster Clay Pigeon Shooting Association wrote:Categories don't need to be made easier because no one is willing to learn about it. If you don't know literature, then you don't know literature. The category doesn't need to be made easier for you.

Then I don't think you can't accurately judge the difficulty of said category.


But this discussion isn't about me, or how hard I think things are; it's about accessibility for newbie teams. Again, freshmen in my school with no prior experience can get science tossups. They can't get literature, and for them fine arts has a conversion rate of about 0%. I'm only bringing up how hard I feel things are because my lit/fine arts/RMP knowledge is around the same level as a new team's (if not a bit better after going to a few tournaments).

Freshmen in my school can't get science tossups with or without prior experience unless the answer is "gravity". Not just freshmen, but my whole team really is abysmal at science because my school has a huge black hole (no pun intended) in the science department due to several reasons.

conquerer7 wrote:
Leucippe and Clitophon wrote:Lit and fine arts tend to go dead more often than other subjects in matches between novice teams because novice teams sometimes have no knowledge at all about some of the most important writers, artists, and composers ever. This is a problem that cannot be solved.


If novice teams know so little about these subjects, why isn't the distro changed in novice tournaments? Or answer lines changed to match their ignorance? I mean, the only shapes that can be tossed up in HS math are circles and triangles, but that doesn't stop many good questions on them from being written.

The distribution probably doesn't deviate from the norm because the topics are still important to learn about not only for high school but regular high school quiz bowl at the "varsity" level. That's one mission behind quiz bowl, to inspire learning and reward it. I think it would be somewhat asinine to have the novice tournaments have questions that are 75%-100% juvenile literature and then bring those kids to regular tournaments and then their first experience at the regular tournament is "oh crap, why hasn't Superfudge come up yet but Keats, Shelley et al comes up?".

I don't consider myself to be pro, semi-pro or even MLG pro at quiz bowl, I'm a sophomore, but I don't think Fine Arts is a hard subject to learn and cover. It might be easy to learn because a lot of the people that come up in the Fine Arts spectrum are people you probably heard of before quiz bowl (i.e. J.S. Bach, Mozart, Van Gogh). What I think baffles a lot of new players when it comes to Fine Arts is the that its generally thought of as "ew classical music" and in some if not most cases, the arts are not adequately covered in school to the extent where you could be good at Fine Arts in quiz bowl.

The distribution in my opinion is fine as is. Your typical novice player might not be able to identify all twenty answer lines if they were just given the clues that follow "FTP", or they might not have heard of all twenty answer lines. They're novice for a reason. And they have team mates too that can fill in the gaps.

I don't think it'd be easy to write the answer lines easier in a particular category to match the presumed "ignorance" of the players who'll play it. I mean, do you think you could write forty-eight literature tossups (four literature tossups per packet, in a twelve packet set) that were as easy as "Uncle Tom's Cabin" without overlap?


I'm not trying to argue one subject is easier to learn than the other, however I would like to make the point that your teams' strengths and weaknesses probably do not resonate that of every other team/novice team in the nation.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Scaled Flowerpiercer » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:33 pm

It's always hard to say "subject area X is harder than Y" because blah blah blah, as, especially in High School, this depends upon the school's own strengths. For example, my team is great at history and ok at science, but absolutely atrocious at Lit. (The fact that we were assigned only 1 work to read in AP Lang which could ever possibly come up in quizbowl contributes somewhat to that (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, if anyone cares))

However, there is some legitimacy to the claim that Lit certainly has fewer universally convertible answer lines, and perhaps there should be attempt to make it "less impossible" at times. Tossups on characters for example are especially hard to answer without real knowledge of the book, where as even hard authors are more well known and are more of a signal to a team that "oh, I should learn who Garcia Marquez is" <- I have that feeling after about 90% of lit tossups, and the ones on characters just make me feel terrible, but then again, I am an atrocious lit player.

While claiming "omg everyone knows science" is wrong, I think it is safe to assume that water, gravity, photosynthesis, and rocks are much more likely to be converted than Keats, Achebe, Mishima, and Poe.

Also because a lot of people have commented on it, I learned how to calculate a determinant around sophomore year because it was a thing that came up in quizbowl, but I didn't formally learn how to calculate them in a class until Multivariable Calculus and I didn't learn any real properties or significance of them until Linear Algebra.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Matthew Jackson » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:12 pm

Though science and math tracks, and the efficacy of teaching therein, vary from school to school, they are largely more uniform and cover specific ground if one is to have an underpinning of the basics. Many people learn to compute determinants in Algebra II or Precalculus, while others might have an experience like Sam's and not learn it till way later - I myself didn't realize dot products weren't impossible until I was doing them for linear algebra homework next to some HS sophomores doing them for precalculus. The point still stands, though, that given the way science works, there is a "core" of information that just is at the bottom of the high school science curriculum in basically all circumstances, and that HS science questions must draw on over and over to fill a bulk of answers.

Instruction in literature is often more varied, and the twenty or so books a given high schooler might have to read in English class might be only twenty among the hundreds of books that are askable in a given high school tournament. That's to say nothing of different excerpts of literary works people might be given in their foreign language classes, famous award-winning books people might read on their own, plays a high school theater or acting class might put on, or books taught in historical, rather than literary, context (i.e. The Jungle). Though basics such as Twain and Shakespeare are actually everywhere, the world of askable literature is wider, and therefore the number of subjects in lit tossups also wider, due to the difference in how widely and differently lit knowledge is acquired from place to place. As such, writers should make a conscious effort to fill their sets with gettable answers, but be aware that exposure varies.
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Re: Painfully Easy Giveaways

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:14 pm

RyuAqua wrote:Though science and math tracks, and the efficacy of teaching therein, vary from school to school, they are largely more uniform and cover specific ground if one is to have an underpinning of the basics. Many people learn to compute determinants in Algebra II or Precalculus, while others might have an experience like Sam's and not learn it till way later - I myself didn't realize dot products weren't impossible until I was doing them for linear algebra homework next to some HS sophomores doing them for precalculus. The point still stands, though, that given the way science works, there is a "core" of information that just is at the bottom of the high school science curriculum in basically all circumstances, and that HS science questions must draw on over and over to fill a bulk of answers.

Instruction in literature is often more varied, and the twenty or so books a given high schooler might have to read in English class might be only twenty among the hundreds of books that are askable in a given high school tournament. That's to say nothing of different excerpts of literary works people might be given in their foreign language classes, famous award-winning books people might read on their own, plays a high school theater or acting class might put on, or books taught in historical, rather than literary, context (i.e. The Jungle). Though basics such as Twain and Shakespeare are actually everywhere, the world of askable literature is wider, and therefore the number of subjects in lit tossups also wider, due to the difference in how widely and differently lit knowledge is acquired from place to place. As such, writers should make a conscious effort to fill their sets with gettable answers, but be aware that exposure varies.


This is, in my opinion, one of the best posts ever made on this forum. It succinctly synthesizes years of discussion on this subject without getting into the ideology that often pervades the discussion. Every writer, editor, or person who aspires to be a writer or an editor should read it and take it to heart.
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