History Bowl Discussion

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History Bowl Discussion

Postby Mike Bentley » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:32 pm

Creating a thread for discussing the National History Bowl college tournament. I'll have my thoughts on this later.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:26 pm

For the discussors' info:

Mike Bentley wrote 285 questions.
Jerry Vinokurov wrote 208 questions.
I wrote 152 questions and did all the editing/powermarking.

Everyone wrote in all areas of the distro, so it's not the case that all the Middle Eastern history was written by some person or anything like that.

There were about four repeated clues and two (thankfully minor) factual errors that I noticed while reading, as well as some typos, all of which will be fixed for the posted packets.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:28 pm

Probably rather preliminary but does History Bowl intend to be an ongoing event attached to ICT?
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:43 pm

Cheynem wrote:Probably rather preliminary but does History Bowl intend to be an ongoing event attached to ICT?


Yes.

I would like to hear feedback on potential logistics for next year. We used a conservative schedule this time around because we didn't want to bump into flight departures. As it turned out, things like starting at 8 and the half-hour lunch break worked out rather well.

Some things being considered for the future are:
-Realizing that most teams who stay for Sunday will not be booking Sunday evening flights at all and just going as late as we need to in order to run more rounds.
-Chartering a bus from the Hyatt to Northwestern instead of the van/taxi/el plan.
-An open division in the tournament.

If you have thoughts on anything related to this year's logistics, the proposals above, or anything else, please post.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:00 am

In case anyone cares which specific questions I wrote, I tracked my work in a Google spreadsheet which you can see here. I haven't filled in the subcategory columns but I'll do so at some point.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Ringil » Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:11 pm

I felt this tournament was mostly enjoyable and had a lot of cool ideas/clues.

However, I felt like this tournament wasn't edited that well because many tossups had many misplaced clues in leadins/fairly early on that resulted in many buzzer races. It also felt like certain clues weren't described very much and just dropped names.

I'll give some examples:
Round 6, the tossup on the Tang dynasty drops the dynasty of Wu Zetian, which is much more well known than Empress Wei poisoning a pastry, etc. Furthermore, the clues later in the tossup make no sense. Empress Wu wasn't succeeded by Emperor Xuanzong but by her son Ruizong.
Round 9, the tossup on Marius has a leadin that says this guy fought the Cimbrian War, which is much more notable than the following events that were described in the next like 5 lines.
Round 10, the tossup on red has as second clue that a major Vietnamese river valley is named after this...

Also, where did the clue that the state of Chu got rich from salt come from o.o?
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Muriel Axon » Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:24 pm

Round 9, the tossup on Marius has a leadin that says this guy fought the Cimbrian War, which is much more notable than the following events that were described in the next like 5 lines.


I don't know if you're exaggerating when you say "the next like 5 lines," but they dropped the Jugurthine War fairly early, and I think Marius's participation in that conflict is probably better known than whatever involvement he had in the Cimbrian War.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Gonzagapuma1 » Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:31 pm

First, I'd like to say that this tournament was awesome and I'll be happily be playing it again next year. There were a ton of great and interesting tossups and I had a great time playing it. However, I did notice that there seemed to be a paucity of questions in the 1200-1800 AD range for Euro history. This definitely could have been me just not paying enough attention, but I felt like the 476-whenever distribution led to a lot of tossups being written in the 1800-2000 category and not enough on earlier stuff.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Mike Bentley » Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:42 pm

Gonzagapuma1 wrote:First, I'd like to say that this tournament was awesome and I'll be happily be playing it again next year. There were a ton of great and interesting tossups and I had a great time playing it. However, I did notice that there seemed to be a paucity of questions in the 1200-1700 AD range for Euro history. This definitely could have been me just not paying enough attention, but I felt like the 476-whenever distribution led to a lot of tossups being written in the 1800-2000 category and not enough on earlier stuff.


I think part of the problem here is that we didn't create precise enough question assignments in QEMS. American history was divided by time period, but European history was only divided by region (although classics got its own distribution). This led to playing it a bit by ear, which can result in some time periods or regions getting more questions than they probably should. Next year we should create assignments like "4 French History, 1700-1800" to help ensure an even distribution.

Round 6, the tossup on the Tang dynasty drops the dynasty of Wu Zetian, which is much more well known than Empress Wei poisoning a pastry, etc. Furthermore, the clues later in the tossup make no sense. Empress Wu wasn't succeeded by Emperor Xuanzong but by her son Ruizong.


I'll have to go back and look at this one. I was originally trying to write more of a social history tossup on the Tang Dynasty, but ended up mainly giving up on that because it was difficult to find social history clues unique to the Tang dynasty that people would know. I sort-of backed into writing a more standard Tang dynasty tossup and it's quite possible that I just messed up some of the history there. If so, my apologies.

Round 10, the tossup on red has as second clue that a major Vietnamese river valley is named after this...


Yeah, I guess in retrospect that was too early. I'll chalk this up to my bad geography knowledge.

Also, where did the clue that the state of Chu got rich from salt come from o.o?


I don't remember, I'll have to look it up later. Again, this was me trying to write a social history tossup in the world distribution and I don't know if I really succeeded here.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Tees-Exe Line » Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:49 pm

Altogether the event was really fun and, for a first-time endeavor, I thought the quality was high, though I agree with Libo that there were many misplaced clues and uneven bonuses. I also liked that there were some interesting ideas tried out for common links, especially on social history, and that the non-history parts of the distribution were "history-ish," which added some fun elements to those categories (for instance, that I might actually answer the questions).

If the event is to be run in the future, I would support doing it as a closed event. There are other open history tournaments for the many excellent post-graduate history players.

There are several high-stakes instances of, in my opinion, poor moderation and/or writing that I think deserve to be brought up:

1. The answer "Knight" was neither accepted nor prompted for the Supreme Court case E.C. Knight Co. v. United States, whereas I know that it was accepted outright in other rooms. My attorney Michael Arnold charged me $245.78 for the five minutes it took him to find the Northern Illinois University Law Review article "Misreading Knight" by Josh Hess, which I think establishes the given answer as an acceptable reference to the case.

2. In a bonus part on the income tax, the prompt for the Sixteenth Amendment referred to "this law," which caused me to rule out the Sixteenth Amendment as a possible answer and to wonder whether there's some specific enabling legislation for the Sixteenth Amendment. This was not the only instance of misleading prompts in the tournament, but these two instances together decided our regular-play match against Maryland.

3. In the tossup on "Catholics" or "British Catholics," based on clues that I think were related to the provisions of the Penal Laws, I buzzed with "Irish Catholics" and was negged. At the end, the answer "English Catholics in general" was accepted. For one thing, this implies a lack of familiarity with the political organization of the British Isles, but more importantly, the moderator said that "Irish Catholics" was specifically noted not to be accepted or (anti-)prompted. I think that's a bad idea since it punishes knowledge of the clues. I believe there are widely-accepted precedents for the undesirability of that sort of thing.

4. The answer "Xerox labs" was not accepted for Palo Alto Research Center, which began life as an R&D subsidiary of Xerox and was once called "Xerox Palo Alto Research Center." The clues were about research done at that company in the 1970s, I believe, when it was indisputably a subsidiary of Xerox. It seems to me that the question was asking "which company did this research?" and the answer was Xerox. Of course, since the final was decided by five points this effectively determined the winner of the tournament (as did every other question in the round, obviously.)

Otherwise, I might have further comments on questions once I can get a look at the set, but I probably won't have time to post about it soon.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:24 pm

Ringil wrote:Round 9, the tossup on Marius has a leadin that says this guy fought the Cimbrian War, which is much more notable than the following events that were described in the next like 5 lines.


This was one of mine. I didn't think "this guy fought in the Cimbrian War" was a totally famous Marius thing, so if that's the case, feel free to chalk it up to a mistake on my part. For the record, the question did not drop "Jugurthine War" early; rather, it said "this man served with Jugurtha" when Jugurtha was a cadet under Scipio Aemilianus. Maybe this is super-famous too, but I thought it was ok there.

Marshall wrote:1. Knight
2. Catholics


Sorry about "Knight" not being marked acceptable. I guess that's an oversight on my part, but IANAL and I've not seen it referred to simply as "Knight" so I just underlined the whole thing.

As for the Catholics question, I'm confused by your description. The original answer was "British Catholics" (because the question went on to talk about Catholics in places other than Ireland) but the original prompt instructions said "do not prompt on 'the Irish'" not "do not prompt on 'Irish Catholics'." It seems to me that your answer should have been acceptable, and I would have accepted it under protest. Perhaps something got garbled in the final translation to the packet? I certainly did not intend to cheat you of points there.

edit: Looking at the final version of the question, I see that my instructions were preserved as originally intended.
Last edited by grapesmoker on Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:33 pm

Oh, and sorry for the possibly confusing reference to the 16th Amendment as a law; I think it's reasonable to call it that but I should have just said "amendment" to be less confusing.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Tees-Exe Line » Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:50 pm

For the record, the Constitution and its constituent parts are not laws. "This amendment" would obviously be fine; if that makes a question on some amendment transparent in a different context, my choices would be "this document" or "this text."
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:16 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:For the record, the Constitution and its constituent parts are not laws.

Really?
The Supremacy Clause wrote:This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. » Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:35 pm

I'll just chip in to say that this set did a good job of including interesting new material, well-chosen for answerability and importance as well as balanced with plenty of more standard questions. There were a couple questions that dropped famous-ish things kind of early but it wasn't really a huge deal: the Cimbrian War may not be the greatest first clue, but it isn't exactly super famous to non-classicists either. Overall it was a fun set that I'd be happy to play again.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Tees-Exe Line » Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:45 am

The statement that the constitution is "the supreme law of the land" is, in fact, saying that it is not a law. You're being pedantic. Here's a quote from Marbury v. Madison:

"So, if a law [e.g., a statute or treaty] be in opposition to the Constitution, if both the law and the Constitution apply to a particular case, so that the Court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the Constitution, or conformably to the Constitution, disregarding the law, the Court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of judicial duty. If, then, the Courts are to regard the Constitution, and the Constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the Legislature, the Constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply."
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby GymnogypsCalifornianusWKU » Wed Apr 04, 2012 2:10 am

I think Marshall is absolutely correct on this, and I think I've heard amendments referred to as "this law" in such confusing fashion before. Portions of the Constitution (clauses, amendments, etc.) are definitely not individual laws, because the Constitution is always one singular document even after it is amended. Calling the 16th Amendment "this law" is equivalent to calling the third chapter of Moby Dick "this book", which would almost certainly create similar confusion.

Whether or not the Constitution as a whole can be referred to as a law (it is the supreme law of the land, although it's not merely a law) may be more debatable. But I've never heard it referred to as simply a law, and would hope nobody would do so in a quizbowl question. Using the terms document or text should apply when discussing either a constitution or a portion of one.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Wed Apr 04, 2012 8:58 am

The Hub (Gainesville, Florida) wrote:Whether or not the Constitution as a whole can be referred to as a law (it is the supreme law of the land, although it's not merely a law) may be more debatable. But I've never heard it referred to as simply a law, and would hope nobody would do so in a quizbowl question. Using the terms document or text should apply when discussing either a constitution or a portion of one.

To be ultra-pedantic (though it seems thematic, since we're talking about definitions to begin with) it seems pretty clear from the phrase that "the law of the land" (supreme or otherwise) is a descriptor. In many frats, "bros before hos" is the supreme law of the land--that doesn't make it "a law." It's a descriptor, and maybe it's specifically a category into which legally relevant documents may fall (i.e. this law and that executive order and this statute fall into the "law of the land" bin; that repealed law and this bill and that document from Romania legally binding to Romanians in Romania do not).

EDIT:
To be perfectly clear, this isn't supposed to be an argument as to whether or not the Constitution is a law--I've got no clue, but apparently at least one law student in this thread knows the answer--but as to whether that quote from the Constitution is good evidence in support of the notion that it's a law.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Birdofredum Sawin » Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:17 am

Tees-Exe Line wrote:For the record, the Constitution and its constituent parts are not laws. "This amendment" would obviously be fine; if that makes a question on some amendment transparent in a different context, my choices would be "this document" or "this text."


I don't know why I'm bothering to weigh in on this, but this is actually not true. (Unless, of course, you are assuming some particularly idiosyncratic or Pickwickan definition of the term "law.") For instance, the standard legal dictionary offers, as a definition of "law," the following: "The aggregate of legislation, judicial precedents, and accepted legal principles; the body of authoritative grounds of judicial and administrative action." Certainly "the 16th Amendment" would constitute one of those "authoritative grounds of judicial and administrative action," and thus would be "a law," as are statutes, executive orders, treaties, and Supreme Court decisions. (Indeed, when you study for the bar exam, one of the many trivial things you learn is a "hierarchy of laws" telling you, e.g, that an executive order trumps a treaty.)
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Apr 04, 2012 9:50 am

This discussion wouldn't be happening if they had said "this provision".
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Tees-Exe Line » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:41 am

Thank you Bruce. The point is that we zeroed a critical bonus because "this law" caused me to rule out the correct answer. I hope that those of you who are pedagogues don't employ a similarly "gotcha" approach with your students. Those of you who are lawyers, on the other hand, are paid for that kind of thing but it has no role in quizbowl.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Wed Apr 04, 2012 1:17 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:Thank you Bruce. The point is that we zeroed a critical bonus because "this law" caused me to rule out the correct answer. I hope that those of you who are pedagogues don't employ a similarly "gotcha" approach with your students. Those of you who are lawyers, on the other hand, are paid for that kind of thing but it has no role in quizbowl.


I'm sorry this happened and for quizbowl purposes I'm willing to admit it was a mistake. Can we move on now?
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Lightinfa » Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:07 pm

Has this set been posted yet?
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Sun Devil Student » Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:20 pm

I have the impression that military history was deliberately avoided at this tournament (I only saw 3 or 4 total military questions over the 10 rounds, whereas ACF distribution is normally capped at up to 40% military). Is this true? For me that's my favorite part of history so I would have liked to see more of it, but that's just me. I'm sure all the political/non-military history people loved this tournament.

My team was disappointed that many of the "history of science" or "history of literature" etc, turned out to be pure science/literature/etc, often without even pretending to qualify as ACF-defined "history." We signed up for this tournament with our four history specialists because we wanted to find out how good we are at history, and it's somewhat deflating to get knocked down by other subjects.

Also, I thought it was interesting that in the playoff stats, there's a huge break in the bonus conversion between the bottom of the second bracket and the top of the third bracket, in contrast to the smooth drop from the top bracket to the second bracket - this makes me wonder if 1) the questions weren't good at differentiating mid-to-lower-ranked teams (but did a great job on the top teams), or 2) the prelims were seeded poorly, or 3) the bonus difficulty was not uniform between prelims and playoffs, or maybe some combination of the above. (This isn't necessarily anyone's fault, as it was the first-ever History Bowl and not much information was available about some of these teams. Just an observation, and I assume future History Bowls will be better seeded as more such information comes out.)

Tossups seemed much more difficult than bonuses, a couple bonuses here and there seemed a bit out of line with the average bonus difficulty. The set was quite fun overall, though.

A big thank you to all the staffers, writers, and our opponents for turning out to put on this tournament.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby mhayes » Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:25 pm

Sun Devil Student wrote:there's a huge break in the bonus conversion between the bottom of the second bracket and the top of the third bracket, in contrast to the smooth drop from the top bracket to the second bracket


As one of the teams in the second bracket, I can say with confidence that we are not better than many of the 3rd bracket teams. Without a surefire way of seeding teams beforehand, I think this phenomenon is unavoidable.

A possible solution would be to (somehow) incorporate prelim seeding from the ICT. This would only be an approximation, however.

EDIT: I meant to say "seeding teams", not "seeing teams"
Last edited by mhayes on Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:45 pm

Sun Devil Student wrote:I have the impression that military history was deliberately avoided at this tournament (I only saw 3 or 4 total military questions over the 10 rounds, whereas ACF distribution is normally capped at up to 40% military). Is this true? For me that's my favorite part of history so I would have liked to see more of it, but that's just me. I'm sure all the political/non-military history people loved this tournament.


That's a cap though, and as far as I know we were under no compulsion to follow any ACF-related rules. We wrote some military history questions; I know I wrote a few (which you can see in the spreadsheet) but I would imagine they were less than 10% of my total. This seems fine to me; I wanted to write on some other stuff, especially more interesting answers that don't really come up a lot.

My team was disappointed that many of the "history of science" or "history of literature" etc, turned out to be pure science/literature/etc, often without even pretending to qualify as ACF-defined "history." We signed up for this tournament with our four history specialists because we wanted to find out how good we are at history, and it's somewhat deflating to get knocked down by other subjects.


I wrote most of the science history questions and this is just not true. I wrote questions that were about certain historically relevant scientific events (e.g. the discovery of Neptune) and which did not rely very heavily on actual science clues. Likewise, the literature questions (which I wrote about half of) were intended to be literature with a historical bent, rather than "history of literature." I'm not even sure how I'd separate the two. Regardless, this was something like 20/20 over the course of the whole tournament.

Also, I thought it was interesting that in the playoff stats, there's a huge break in the bonus conversion between the bottom of the second bracket and the top of the third bracket, in contrast to the smooth drop from the top bracket to the second bracket - this makes me wonder if 1) the questions weren't good at differentiating mid-to-lower-ranked teams (but did a great job on the top teams), or 2) the prelims were seeded poorly, or 3) the bonus difficulty was not uniform between prelims and playoffs, or maybe some combination of the above. (This isn't necessarily anyone's fault, as it was the first-ever History Bowl and not much information was available about some of these teams. Just an observation, and I assume future History Bowls will be better seeded as more such information comes out.)


I'm not sure how the packets were combined, but I didn't think there was any special logic to the packet arrangement. Matt should know the right answer since he actually did the combination. I'm guessing a lot of the seeding was mostly guesswork anyway.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Mike Bentley » Fri Apr 06, 2012 4:00 pm

grapesmoker wrote:I'm not sure how the packets were combined, but I didn't think there was any special logic to the packet arrangement. Matt should know the right answer since he actually did the combination. I'm guessing a lot of the seeding was mostly guesswork anyway.


The packets were essentially randomly created from the pool of questions, with some work done to fix repeats. There was no distinct break between prelim/playoff questions unless I've been misinformed.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Sat Apr 07, 2012 2:56 pm

I'm thrilled that this tournament existed and thought Matt did an excellent job, particularly given the dearth of available writing capital available for an event like this one. Consider the factors working against the production of this set. . . you've already narrowed the pool down to people who can write history well (obviously a subset of "good writers"), and on top of that you have the two major nationals preferentially drawing resources (to say nothing of the accelerating NSC/HSNCT/HS History Bowl work schedules). I've got a lot of appreciation for the work Matt, Mike, and Jerry were able to do here, including some really great tossups (The Stab in the Back Legend!) that you don't get to see at regular tournaments and/or would play disastrously if attempted by less competent writers.

Critiques:

-I really liked that this tournament didn't even remotely become vanity-bowl, the eternal bane of subject tournaments. However, I did feel like there was a bit more room to amp up difficulty, though I won't say this with certainty until reviewing the set. But I did get the distinct impression that something around 10-15% of the tossups each round felt a little stale, and ended with earlyish buzzerraces on clues you might have heard at MAGNI or MOO or other regular-difficulty events. This effect wasn't anywhere close to major, but anticipating the field quality increase associated with Collegiate History Bowl becoming a permanent national event, it seems like there's some room on this front.

-Much more importantly, the non-western history in this set clearly felt like its weakest link, and I was pretty disappointed by the Asian history in particular. It felt like there was really no attempt to write this portion of the set with anything approaching the creativity and energy evident in the other categories. The question on the Song dynasty seemed like it could have been ripped from ACF Fall; I'm pretty sure the tossup's second clue was on Zhu Xi, who is goofily famous and someone you will talk about in any Asian history class for inventing Neo-Confucianism (sorry, Wang Yangming, but you know it's true). As someone presumably from Michigan noted above, there was a similarly bizarre early clue about the Second Zhou in the Tang tossup, which you'd more expect to see in a high school question (and I certainly wouldn't put that clue there at NSC).

I quite detest cataloging misplaced clues, but my intention here is to show that there clearly was a disconnect between the overall quality of the Asian (and to a less-extent, Non-Western) questions and the rest of the set. More importantly, I hardly ever noticed any of the freshness and creativity in these categories that we were all hoping for from this tournament (and which other categories did not fail to deliver). I can't speak to why this happened, but perhaps Mike could expand on his comment that:

I was originally trying to write more of a social history tossup on the Tang Dynasty, but ended up mainly giving up on that because it was difficult to find social history clues unique to the Tang dynasty that people would know. I sort-of backed into writing a more standard Tang dynasty tossup


I'd be interested to hear what exactly we're talking about here. While I don't think it's necessary (or even desirable, really) to have social history tossups on the Tang, there are a whole lot of askable things from the Tang dynasty that you could draw from to meet the dual goals of "people will know this" and "do something different."

Basically, my impression was that the writing team for this particular tournament either wasn't that interested/comparatively well-versed in Asian history, or made a conscious effort to write those questions using a pretty stale mold (or some combination of these factors). If the former, the solution is presumably just to find someone to add that perspective for next year. If the latter, I really don't see the logic; in the top bracket, it seemed like most teams had at least one person who was pretty competent at that stuff, and I think that's what you'd expect as this tournament goes forward. Hopefully with the tournament more established and a year to do the prepwork, the editing team can incorporate a few questions from a whole lot of people to create the variety of flavor that really makes these events exemplary.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:29 pm

Oh, as Matt requested, logistics feedback:

We happened to have a car this year, but any other year and it probably would have been a real hassle. I'd suggest investigating more easily-accessible options next year (UIC? I can't remember what happened with that, perhaps there was a logistical reason that was scrubbed as well). Depending on the price increase, a charter bus seems like a workable enough idea, as a voluntary and super-well coordinated thing. Of course as we all know, if there's one thing quizbowlers excel at, it's coordinating things super-well and far in advance. The easiest solution would be to keep it at the Hyatt (or another nearby hotel, I guess), but I suspect costs might be an issue there. I do think actually having it at the Hyatt would increase attendance, for what it's worth.

I am 100% in favor of the "play more rounds, accept nobody should be trying for a Sunday night flight" plan. I know people did, but here are only a few flights leaving late enough Sunday that it would be remotely sane to try to catch anyway. And I think there has to be a point at which a serious national tournament doesn't sacrifice a good schedule to make it incrementally more palatable to fringe attendees.

The schedule at this tournament really did leave something to be desired; it seemed like the organizers were aware that the schedule was pretty light, and chose to replay rather than carry over your one prelim game against the team in your playoff bracket. We ended up on the short end of that this year, but in general I think there's pretty clearly a reason why all tournaments seek to avoid it, and when the set is entirely house-written it's really just not warranted. If relaxing the time constraints makes for a better schedule on this front, all the better.

In theory I'm intrigued by the prospect of an open tournament, but I feel like that's a big discussion. I'd really like to see it, actually, as sort of a natural extension of all the great marketing Dave's done with NHBB. One big question I'd have is how those teams would work; would current students be free to play on open teams? If you allow that, I presume it's just going to end up in a CO-type situation (and I can PROMISE that it will if winning this tournament ever lets me go to the French Riviera). The result there, though, is that you've basically gutted the collegiate portion of this tournament. I don't like that idea at all.

On the other hand, there are some issues with just having an "open" division apart from the rest of the field (that is, students are ineligible). What about dudes like Trevor Davis, who played this tournament solo and would presumably have far preferred to join up with an open team? And does that mean that if you happen to be taking classes somewhere, you can't play the open division, even if your school has no team/you aren't on it/you smell too bad to be allowed near them? These are inevitable questions that are going to crop up. Still though, I think the good outweighs the bad here - my vote would be to set up an open division (which students are ineligible for, perhaps with a special exemption committee to make rulings in cases where teams didn't exist anyway or whatever) to run parallel to the collegiate division. You could even have a one-game match between the respective winners at the end of the tournament, with the college teams vying for the chance to get an object lesson in Stolypin Neckties from Jeff Hoppes. That's probably my ideal version of this tournament, though I think it's probably a couple years away.


EDIT:

Oh, yeah, this:

Sun Devil Student wrote:My team was disappointed that many of the "history of science" or "history of literature" etc, turned out to be pure science/literature/etc, often without even pretending to qualify as ACF-defined "history." We signed up for this tournament with our four history specialists because we wanted to find out how good we are at history, and it's somewhat deflating to get knocked down by other subjects.


This is just wrong. Most of the science questions at this tournament would NEVER have gotten past the editors of a normal set (at least not as "science" questions). I think that's a failing in how we treat the science distribution, but the point is that these questions were very much the kind of science you'd expect to see at this kind of tournament. You had tossups on things like the synthesis of urea, which was a groundbreaking moment in science history and had major implications for Western intellectual development, as more of a "history of science" kind of thing. You also had the utterly amazing question on the AC/DC controversy, which was more of a scientific issue that had a considerable role in "regular" history. I couldn't disagree more with Kenneth's assertion, and would like to see him cite the questions he's thinking of, because I can think of a single one.

Also, if the veneer of "the science history was too science-y" is dropped and we read this simply as "we didn't know things about science and it made us sad," well, I still think it's nonsense. You need to know things about science to answer questions on people electrocuting elephants? I'm sorry if ASU no longer offers "ENGR102A: Don't Tase Me, Bro,"* but I'm not sure what you want Jerry to do about that.

*Clearly the Ira C. Fulton School of Engineering is a shadow of its former self.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:21 pm

Ok, some general thoughts:

First of all, I would agree with Chris' point about 10-15% of questions having a somewhat stale feel (at least with regards to my questions) in the sense that they were not particularly inventive. I think more than anything that's a consequence of just having to write so many questions. Consider that, say, the total classical distribution is 30/30. That's a lot of classical history to go through and write, and not all the things that seem like good ideas are going to actually end up being good ideas. So you end up with a lot of "Oh, this really is just a tossup on Marius" or things like that. Because the final reality is that it's hard to cover that much ground and not end up with some non-novel material. As for the difficulty, we went for something like ACF Regionals level to keep things accessible. I think that was the correct decision, considering that 18 teams of potentially wildly differing history skill-sets were playing this.

I hope more people sign up to write for this event if it happens next year. Writing on the order of 200 questions is pretty rough and having 5 or 6 people working on it would certainly ease the pain.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby RyuAqua » Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:28 pm

I've now read through the entirety of this tournament set on my own. I really liked it, and I'm really excited for a chance at playing it next year. I really liked the expanded use of direct quotes ("I'm Spartacus!" "What did the President know and when did he know it?", etc.) as answer lines. The singular issue I noticed when reading it, which a huge bulk of questions avoided heartily, was that some answer lines could have been a little more specific, such as "ANSWER: the Schleswig-Holstein question". Is "German unification" promptable there? Is "Schleswig ownership dispute"? The word "Holstein" alone? Similarly, the bonus part on Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus correctly said "Do not accept Fabian", but if someone said "Fabius Cunctator" in a room with an unknowing moderator, they might have to argue for points (or just "Cunctator" for a prompt).

One factual error: I did notice that the Pankhurst question seemed to claim she threw herself under a horse. As far as I know, the activist who did that was Emily Davison, with Pankhurst's support.

Re: an open division: It seems evident to me that the goals of "have an event with an expanded number of writers and readers" and "have an open division, so the class of people who are eligible writers or readers can instead play" are at odds.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:35 pm

RyuAqua wrote:The singular issue I noticed when reading it, which a huge bulk of questions avoided heartily, was that some answer lines could have been a little more specific, such as "ANSWER: the Schleswig-Holstein question". Is "German unification" promptable there?


I would say no. The Schleswig-Holstein problem is a pretty discrete issue of specifically who (Denmark, Prussia, or Austria) would own those territories, not the larger issue of German unification as such.

Is "Schleswig ownership dispute"? The word "Holstein" alone?


The dispute is over the ownership of both territories. I would prompt on one, yes, but you have to give both of them to get points.

One factual error: I did notice that the Pankhurst question seemed to claim she threw herself under a horse. As far as I know, the activist who did that was Emily Davison, with Pankhurst's support.


Mea culpa. I should have done a better job of verifying that.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Lightinfa » Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:12 am

grapesmoker wrote:
RyuAqua wrote:The singular issue I noticed when reading it, which a huge bulk of questions avoided heartily, was that some answer lines could have been a little more specific, such as "ANSWER: the Schleswig-Holstein question". Is "German unification" promptable there?


I would say no. The Schleswig-Holstein problem is a pretty discrete issue of specifically who (Denmark, Prussia, or Austria) would own those territories, not the larger issue of German unification as such.

Is "Schleswig ownership dispute"? The word "Holstein" alone?


The dispute is over the ownership of both territories. I would prompt on one, yes, but you have to give both of them to get points.

One factual error: I did notice that the Pankhurst question seemed to claim she threw herself under a horse. As far as I know, the activist who did that was Emily Davison, with Pankhurst's support.


Mea culpa. I should have done a better job of verifying that.


I answered the Slesvig-Holstein question with German unification- I don't know it seems like it should be promptable given that the war is usually classified as one of the Wars of German Unification along with Seven Weeks War and the Franco-Prussian War. The war was largely bound up in the emotions of the larger German national movement, and on a purely basic level it was a war which secured German territory for German states from a non-German state hence leading to the unification of more Germans under the banner of German states.

EDIT: And not at least getting prompted when answering German unification a second time on the German reunification tossup was somewhat miffing as well.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Sun Devil Student » Wed May 16, 2012 10:30 pm

DumbJaques wrote:
Sun Devil Student wrote:My team was disappointed that many of the "history of science" or "history of literature" etc, turned out to be pure science/literature/etc, often without even pretending to qualify as ACF-defined "history." We signed up for this tournament with our four history specialists because we wanted to find out how good we are at history, and it's somewhat deflating to get knocked down by other subjects.


This is just wrong. Most of the science questions at this tournament would NEVER have gotten past the editors of a normal set (at least not as "science" questions). I think that's a failing in how we treat the science distribution, but the point is that these questions were very much the kind of science you'd expect to see at this kind of tournament. You had tossups on things like the synthesis of urea, which was a groundbreaking moment in science history and had major implications for Western intellectual development, as more of a "history of science" kind of thing. You also had the utterly amazing question on the AC/DC controversy, which was more of a scientific issue that had a considerable role in "regular" history. I couldn't disagree more with Kenneth's assertion, and would like to see him cite the questions he's thinking of, because I can think of a single one.

Also, if the veneer of "the science history was too science-y" is dropped and we read this simply as "we didn't know things about science and it made us sad," well, I still think it's nonsense. You need to know things about science to answer questions on people electrocuting elephants? I'm sorry if ASU no longer offers "ENGR102A: Don't Tase Me, Bro,"* but I'm not sure what you want Jerry to do about that.

*Clearly the Ira C. Fulton School of Engineering is a shadow of its former self.


What I meant here is that if we're told this is a history tournament, we should not have to know anything about science to answer any of the questions. Actually, the science didn't hurt my team too much because I'm a biology specialist and thus a portion of those questions actually helped us. But there were definitely some literature and other humanities questions that required knowledge of the literature itself and would absolutely not have been accepted as "history" in an ACF submission. I can't find the set posted anywhere so I can't give any examples right now, but those questions were rather painful for my historians.

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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Dr. Loki Skylizard, Thoracic Surgeon » Wed May 16, 2012 10:40 pm

Sun Devil Student wrote:*As I understand it, the Ira C. Fulton School of Engineering was defeated and annexed by their more powerful rivals, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, by the time I started as a student. Guess I missed out on a pretty cool class then.


AW SNAP THINGS JUST GOT REAL IN HERE
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Ukonvasara » Wed May 16, 2012 10:45 pm

Sun Devil Student wrote:What I meant here is that if we're told this is a history tournament, we should not have to know anything about science to answer any of the questions. Actually, the science didn't hurt my team too much because I'm a biology specialist and thus a portion of those questions actually helped us. But there were definitely some literature and other humanities questions that required knowledge of the literature itself and would absolutely not have been accepted as "history" in an ACF submission. I can't find the set posted anywhere so I can't give any examples right now, but those questions were rather painful for my historians.

As per http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=238241#p238241, you were told that this would be a tournament with the following per-packet distribution:
Matt Weiner wrote:32 pure history, divided in the previously announced ratio of 35% American, 30% Europe 476-present, 25% world, 10% classical.
2 arts
1 literature
1 history of science
1 social science or philosophy
1 geography
1 trash
1 current events

If you were distressed or displeased by the tournament having the distribution it was announced as having, it is because you chose to adjust your expectations otherwise.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed May 16, 2012 10:56 pm

And, honestly, having read 13 rounds of this set, i think that just about every single science or literature or art (or anything else that wasn't history) question was clearly still "historically important." There weren't tossups about Junichiro Tanizaki or chromatography here.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Thu May 17, 2012 6:45 am

Down and out in Quintana Roo wrote:And, honestly, having read 13 rounds of this set, i think that just about every single science or literature or art (or anything else that wasn't history) question was clearly still "historically important." There weren't tossups about Junichiro Tanizaki or chromatography here.

Not to get huffy about chemistry (oh, hell, of course that's exactly what I'm doing here) but it's not about the choice of topic but the presentation. Chromatography's enormously historically important because prior methods for separating substances were hilariously limited. If you don't have a big boiling point difference or solubility difference, you were boned--and chromatography, starting with basic paper chromatography (the first (multicomponent, at least) separation of plant pigments!) is an enormously clever and general technique to exploit just about any relative affinity you know of. The typical chemist does at least one form at least twice a day. I don't know if there's any other technique for which that's true save "extraction," "workup," "weighing stuff," or "cleaning glassware." I could very easily write a pure history tossup on chromatography, one that doesn't actually require science knowledge.

Tanizaki, though, screw that guy.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Thu May 17, 2012 8:53 am

Sun Devil Student wrote:What I meant here is that if we're told this is a history tournament, we should not have to know anything about science to answer any of the questions. Actually, the science didn't hurt my team too much because I'm a biology specialist and thus a portion of those questions actually helped us. But there were definitely some literature and other humanities questions that required knowledge of the literature itself and would absolutely not have been accepted as "history" in an ACF submission. I can't find the set posted anywhere so I can't give any examples right now, but those questions were rather painful for my historians.


Goddamn, do you ever do anything besides complain? The distribution was, as Rob points out, given in the announcement. Regardless, as I have already pointed out, the questions you're complaining about mostly focused on historical aspects of the topic. Thus, "the discovery of Neptune" is an important historical event in the history of science. Sorry if that isn't historical enough for you! Just don't play the tournament next time and save us all the trouble of having this idiotic discussion.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby DumbJaques » Thu May 17, 2012 3:28 pm

What I meant here is that if we're told this is a history tournament, we should not have to know anything about science to answer any of the questions.

Well, I'd recommend reviewing your notes on the wheel for the tournament's post-Hittite distribution.

Also, Jesus, even if everything you said weren't wrong, what is the big honking deal? Nothing about this dynamic of "asking a couple questions you weren't quite expecting" seems to be a departure from "quizbowl" to me, but for some reason you sound like someone just murdered your puppy.

Actually, the science didn't hurt my team too much because I'm a biology specialist and thus a portion of those questions actually helped us.


I have nothing to add to this.

But there were definitely some literature and other humanities questions that required knowledge of the literature itself and would absolutely not have been accepted as "history" in an ACF submission.


Well, who knows, because nobody (including the editors) has any idea which questions you're talking about. In the deeply unlikely event that you're right about this, again, things that were written down have often been fairly important in history, so not necessarily a problem at all. I will also note that you, Kenneth Lan, are now making assertions about how ACF submissions "absolutely" work to at least three different people who have actually edited those tournaments and keep telling you that you're wrong.

I can't find the set posted anywhere so I can't give any examples right now, but those questions were rather painful for my historians.

I'm assuming this phrase refers to an army of PhD candidates in gimp suits you've got locked up in the basement of Coor; if in fact you're referring to your teammates at College History Bowl, well, I hope they're not actually "historians," almost as much as I hope they're not your personal body slaves. An actual historian should be abjectly horrified to be associated with the kind of knowledge-phobia you're parading around here, and further would probably have precluded this whole absurd saga by answering the questions on "discovering Neptune" or "the Manhattan Project," given that they were about things you learn in elementary school.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Charbroil » Thu May 17, 2012 6:43 pm

Does anyone know when the packets will actually be posted?
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Sun Devil Student » Thu May 17, 2012 7:23 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Sun Devil Student wrote:What I meant here is that if we're told this is a history tournament, we should not have to know anything about science to answer any of the questions. Actually, the science didn't hurt my team too much because I'm a biology specialist and thus a portion of those questions actually helped us. But there were definitely some literature and other humanities questions that required knowledge of the literature itself and would absolutely not have been accepted as "history" in an ACF submission. I can't find the set posted anywhere so I can't give any examples right now, but those questions were rather painful for my historians.

Goddamn, do you ever do anything besides complain? The distribution was, as Rob points out, given in the announcement. Regardless, as I have already pointed out, the questions you're complaining about mostly focused on historical aspects of the topic. Thus, "the discovery of Neptune" is an important historical event in the history of science. Sorry if that isn't historical enough for you! Just don't play the tournament next time and save us all the trouble of having this idiotic discussion.

Actually, I was mainly responding to Chris challenging me to give examples of questions I didn't like (from earlier in the thread) and hoping someone would tell me where the set was posted in order to be able to respond to that. In hindsight, I should have just asked that directly; I do apologize for not being clearer about that. In the meantime,

Charbroil wrote:Does anyone know when the packets will actually be posted?
I was about to ask exactly that, thanks.

DumbJaques wrote:
But there were definitely some literature and other humanities questions that required knowledge of the literature itself and would absolutely not have been accepted as "history" in an ACF submission.

Well, who knows, because nobody (including the editors) has any idea which questions you're talking about. In the deeply unlikely event that you're right about this, again, things that were written down have often been fairly important in history, so not necessarily a problem at all. I will also note that you, Kenneth Lan, are now making assertions about how ACF submissions "absolutely" work to at least three different people who have actually edited those tournaments and keep telling you that you're wrong.

Wait, we can submit questions on historically important authors/scientific discoveries/etc as "history" in ACF packets? I guess I didn't realize this because I've seen it so rarely in the few tournaments I've played. I'll definitely keep that in mind for next time I contribute to any ACF packets.

I should have been more careful with my language, though. For some reason this tournament was harder on me than previous tournaments were (maybe partly because of some trouble my team encountered on the way over), and I was in a hurry when I wrote that post, but that's no excuse. But the editors have cleared up my misconception and that's important, so thanks editors.

DumbJaques wrote:
I can't find the set posted anywhere so I can't give any examples right now, but those questions were rather painful for my historians.

I'm assuming this phrase refers to an army of PhD candidates in gimp suits you've got locked up in the basement of Coor; if in fact you're referring to your teammates at College History Bowl, well, I hope they're not actually "historians," almost as much as I hope they're not your personal body slaves. An actual historian should be abjectly horrified to be associated with the kind of knowledge-phobia you're parading around here, and further would probably have precluded this whole absurd saga by answering the questions on "discovering Neptune" or "the Manhattan Project," given that they were about things you learn in elementary school.

Sorry, bad choice of words on my part. I apologize to any actual historians who were offended; I should have clarified that I was talking about my team the whole time.

grapesmoker wrote:Goddamn, do you ever do anything besides complain?

Nowadays, unfortunately, no. In the past I also did some non-complaining things on the forums (e.g. posting tournament announcements, doing administrative stuff for ASU Quizbowl), but not anymore. In the future I might like to help write for SCT/ICT, but I haven't yet. (I do currently try to staff for local and national tournaments as much as I can, but I assume that doesn't count here :party: )
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Thu May 17, 2012 9:30 pm

If you submitted a science history question in the "other thought" category to an ACF tournament I was editing, I would be fine with that. This wasn't an ACF tournament; it was a tournament with a set distribution and nothing about that distribution should be held to imply anything whatsoever about any other tournament. We shouldn't have to belabor these blindingly obvious points.
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Re: History Bowl Discussion

Postby Matt Weiner » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:14 pm

Matt Weiner
VCU / ACF / PACE / HSAPQ / Owner & founder of hsquizbowl.org
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Matt Weiner
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