Underwhelmed

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Postby vig180 » Fri Apr 28, 2006 7:55 pm

Results of the survey are in...seems like most people are happy with the way things are overall, EDIT but there are a few questions (i.e. the two-part bonus, the list bonus) that generated a firm majority.

On another note, does anyone know when/if the podcasts will be up?

Edit: sorry for not pointing out which questions.
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Postby First Chairman » Fri Apr 28, 2006 10:57 pm

It's hard to conclude that "the majority want change" when a lot of the answers regarding distribution were clearly "status quo". Which categories require change according to the survey?
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Postby Chris Frankel » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:41 am

E.T. Chuck wrote:It's hard to conclude that "the majority want change" when a lot of the answers regarding distribution were clearly "status quo". Which categories require change according to the survey?


In the every case of category but GK (which baffled me that a noticeable amount of people seem to want more), the big 3 categories (history, lit, science), and foreign language (whatever that is), the sum of people who want change in one direction (e.g. more + lots more for social science) is greater than the number of people voting for the status quo.
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."
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Postby Matt Weiner » Sat Apr 29, 2006 1:27 am

Would anyone who cast a vote on the difficulty of the "foreign language" questions (which was at least 15 people and possibly quite a few more, judging from the results) please give some examples of questions you used to make your decision?
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Postby 96sininep » Sat Apr 29, 2006 2:28 am

Matt Weiner wrote:Would anyone who cast a vote on the difficulty of the "foreign language" questions (which was at least 15 people and possibly quite a few more, judging from the results) please give some examples of questions you used to make your decision?


Arminius.

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Postby Howard » Sat Apr 29, 2006 11:00 am

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Postby First Chairman » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:11 pm

Chris Frankel wrote:
E.T. Chuck wrote:It's hard to conclude that "the majority want change" when a lot of the answers regarding distribution were clearly "status quo". Which categories require change according to the survey?


In the every case of category but GK (which baffled me that a noticeable amount of people seem to want more), the big 3 categories (history, lit, science), and foreign language (whatever that is), the sum of people who want change in one direction (e.g. more + lots more for social science) is greater than the number of people voting for the status quo.


That's fair. It's just hard to deduce the direction of change in terms of "more" or "less." Obviously there are a few cases where there is a tendency to wanting maybe fewer geography questions because the combined number of "fewer, lots fewer" is greater than "more, lots more." Same with pop culture and sports. Philosophy and social science tend to want the same or more questions in those areas (ugh).

Darn it Craig... I wish you guys used pie charts. :wink:

Also, what was the n ?
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Postby yoda4554 » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:13 pm

Not that I'm sure what this indicates, but it's interesting that the only noticeable complaints on difficulty were that 25%-30% of people thought the pop culture and sports were too easy (in contrast to complaints on this board that such questions are markedly more difficult than the rest of the questions), and that there's a fairly signicant disagreement on whether the science skews too easy or too hard (20%-25% on each side).
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Postby First Chairman » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:16 pm

vig180 wrote:EDIT but there are a few questions (i.e. the two-part bonus, the list bonus) that generated a firm majority.


No problem. However, remember that the questions asked what we felt were "the quiz bowl aesthetic," not necessarily how many of these questions should be included in any packet at ICT. Would the masses of players who only compete at SCT or on the invitational/HS sets agree with this notion? That would be interesting to find out.
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Postby First Chairman » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:17 pm

yoda4554 wrote:Not that I'm sure what this indicates, but it's interesting that the only noticeable complaints on difficulty were that 25%-30% of people thought the pop culture and sports were too easy (in contrast to complaints on this board that such questions are markedly more difficult than the rest of the questions), and that there's a fairly signicant disagreement on whether the science skews too easy or too hard (20%-25% on each side).


Of course, I don't know if I trust people's perceptions of "hard" or "easy". I'd rather see the conversion rate of such questions.
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Postby grapesmoker » Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:46 pm

yoda4554 wrote:Not that I'm sure what this indicates, but it's interesting that the only noticeable complaints on difficulty were that 25%-30% of people thought the pop culture and sports were too easy (in contrast to complaints on this board that such questions are markedly more difficult than the rest of the questions), and that there's a fairly signicant disagreement on whether the science skews too easy or too hard (20%-25% on each side).


I assume the number of people voting in this survey includes a significant percentage who don't know anything about science. As such, I can't don't see how their thoughts on the relative difficulty of ICT science questions are comparable to the opinions of actual science players.

The problem with NAQT science isn't its difficulty, it's the fact that they routinely choose to write poorly on boring subjects (at least in physics). Matt Reece once made the suggestion that people should write good questions on interesting things, but apparently that must have been one of the days when NAQT relaxed its hawklike monitoring of this board.

Although I personally think this survey dodges the real issues that people had with this year's ICT by bringing up things that have been resolved years ago (calculation questions? word problem tossups?) I think it's clear that there's a strong push to have more art, more literature (it's aggregated with myth right now), more social science, more philosophy, less pop culture, less sports, and less geography, all of which I view as a positive development. I question the aggregation of results from DI and DII; I think the survey should have been separated by divisions, but that's a minor point.
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Postby mattreece » Sat Apr 29, 2006 7:42 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Matt Reece once made the suggestion that people should write good questions on interesting things


Yes, I'm sure I should get all the credit for that vacuous statement.
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Postby yoda4554 » Sat Apr 29, 2006 8:19 pm

I think the problem (or one of the problems) is not that NAQT writers decide to write poorly on boring topics, but simply that there are very few of them who have enough knowledge to write better questions. Again, based on my peon free-lance-writer access, science questions are usually the ones that get filled last and most slowly, and of the sub-fields, physics goes last. I've ended up writing some physics for high school sets, and I haven't touched the subject in five years. Whether through bad luck or some other cause, I think there are relatively few people writing for ICT who have taken upper-level physics courses, and those who have are fairly removed from them. And without currently studying or recently having studied something in the sciences (particularly college and grad-level physics), it's difficult to intuit what's interesting and/or how well-known it is, contrasted with the relative ease at which someone can browse Spark Notes or a history textbook and cobble together summaries of interesting-looking vignettes into a question. It's a reason why NAQT, I believe, has much larger reserves of edited-but-unused humanities questions than science questions.

That is, most of the people who are decently-qualified to write physics questions that would interest a physics player are current players who study physics. This is a problem for NAQT in a way that it isn't for a packet-submission event like an ACF tournament. And most years when NAQT goes about recruiting writers, it goes out of its way to ask for people who can write good college science questions. Internally, NAQT has even made some tangible efforts to get more people to look into and write more in the science categories. My impression is that their efforts haven't succeeded much.
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Postby fleurdelivre » Sun Apr 30, 2006 3:31 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Would anyone who cast a vote on the difficulty of the "foreign language" questions (which was at least 15 people and possibly quite a few more, judging from the results) please give some examples of questions you used to make your decision?


As a French major, I like that foreign language clues appear from time to time, though I can't recall any questions specifically about foreign languages. When I put in my vote that such material was of acceptable difficulty, I was thinking of a tossup on the Badlands where after some basic geological description, it was mentioned that their name was translated from the French term "mauvaise terre" and also a bonus in which the art term "trompe l'oeil" was sought using only a translation of its meaning. (No, neither of these were from this year's tournaments--I believe both are from last year's ICT). When clues in foreign languages are given, I feel they offer a competitive edge to those who speak those languages but still tend to be basic enough that other players will figure them out--especially in tossups with plenty of other clues.
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Postby ezubaric » Mon May 01, 2006 10:45 am

fleurdelivre wrote:When clues in foreign languages are given, I feel they offer a competitive edge to those who speak those languages but still tend to be basic enough that other players will figure them out--especially in tossups with plenty of other clues.


There was one like that this year. The clue was "durchkomponierte Musik" and they wanted "through composition."
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Postby Chris Frankel » Mon May 01, 2006 5:23 pm

As I just observed from Yahoo, a second NAQT survey has been posted here.
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."
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Postby Matt Weiner » Tue May 02, 2006 1:14 am

Looks like more answers to questions no one asked. The first question in particular...why discount a change in tossup length? Jerry's suggestion that each tossup be lengthened by about one line, with the clock increased by one minute per half to compensate, seemed like a very reasonable attempt at compromise. Instead of asking how people feel about that, we get a question about whether the clock is to be dropped entirely (which Eric Hillemann has previously said is never going to happen), a terrible option to make games even shorter, and a not very significant option to make them two minutes longer without changing the questions themselves. I understand that this is the procedures survey, but question length wasn't addressed on the question survey. Surely if NAQT is allegedly considering such a radical change as going to untimed 22-question packets, they could consider making the tossups ten words longer?

The same problem that was rife in the question survey--ignoring the true controversies and asking for opinions about the things NAQT does right, with the best possible outcome being no outcome and all other possibilities being a step backwards--may be observed in the question which opens the door to paper tiebreakers. What is the purpose of that sort of polling? Why doesn't anyone want to talk about question length?

And where is my team's third place trophy, anyway?
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Postby First Chairman » Wed May 03, 2006 7:59 pm

Well, there is a presumption that a policy actually exists. I want to know what is the "policy" on NAQT question-writing? What difference does it make if our opinions really differ INsignificantly with the policy? In short, why do asking these questions really matter?

Is NAQT seriously considering dropping timed matches? Will NAQT actually consider bounceback bonuses? Do people really care about the tiebreaking procedure, or whether graduate students should be banned from competing... or even people who score over 40 points per game at last year's ICT?

Some of the questions are significant on the aspect of business, but I don't know if all business decisions should necessarily be a result of a captive customer pool.
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Postby grapesmoker » Wed May 03, 2006 8:46 pm

E.T. Chuck wrote:Do people really care about the tiebreaking procedure, or whether graduate students should be banned from competing...


People certainly do care about tiebreaking procedure. Personally, I find the half-packet playoff a poor way of deciding ties. For example, imagine the unlikely scenario that Berkeley and I were tied for something: at the half of the match I played against them, I led them. Had that been a "decider", it would result in me being ranked ahead of an obviously better team (they went on to answer most of the questions in the second half to win).

There are also people who look negatively on graduate student participation in QB. Fortunately, none of those people has made their case here yet, but I assume we'll be headed for another flogging of the dead horse once the results are released.

Of course, as already pointed out, NAQT is asking questions no one really cares about, all the while failing to address the real issues at hand, question quality and protest resolution procedures. I fail to understand why that's the case.
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Postby ValenciaQBowl » Thu May 04, 2006 9:55 am

Tom, I'd be interested to know who this "captive customer pool" is. NAQT-run tournaments, like any tournament, are not mandatory for anyone, are they? Perhaps, however, you mean that NAQT is only polling customers; I'm just curious if I'm interpreting your comment correctly.

I've argued here before that the most powerful weapon that those who have problems with NAQT wield is their own attendance. If large numbers of folks who are dissatisfied with their product stop showing up, then NAQT will have to decide whether to address their concerns or accept lower turnouts.

In the past I've said this as "If you don't like it, don't come," which has been interpreted by others as saying, "NAQT shouldn't have to change anything, and you are wrong to suggest they should." This is not what I mean. People in the community have every right to suggest changes, but they should also understand that NAQT is not likely anytime to go to longer, ACF-style questions; to greatly reduce the number of trash/current events questions (or the use of those clues as part of academic questions); or even to get rid of the "cuties." These are part of their identity, I think, and though a vocal number of folks here dislike these aspects of their game, many indeed enjoy the NAQT style (whether this is a "silent majority" or not I don't know, so I won't guess). I do know that a number of my own Valencia players (though indeed not all) prefer NAQT to mACF/ACF, and I'm sure others exist out there who feel similarly.

Thus, if one is truly frustrated by NAQT's current product and feels that they are not sincere in their attempts to survey the community for changes, then it seems to me that one is best off showing NAQT one's displeasure by not playing their tournaments and giving them money. I, however, believe that they are trying to accommodate the concerns raised here while maintaining a style that has become their signature.
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Postby Romero » Thu May 04, 2006 10:39 am

I am a fan of the brand of quizbowl preferred by Weiner and Jerry. I am also a critic of certain aspects of NAQT. However I am starting to turn against the claims of this group of outspoken opponents. The tone of NAQT's surveys could have been improved, but that tone is befitting of the tone of the criticism. NAQT has begun to answer the criticism and these jackasses reply with more criticism.

Matt Weiner suffers from the delusion that his viewpoints are those of the masses. Quiz Bowl neither begins nor ends with your viewpoints, Matt. Do you think it is possible that NAQT has gotten other (silent) feedback that it wishes to consider. They are doing a damned survey. Why not let them do it and see the end result. If it does not satisfy, then you can criticize again. And by the way, my team won ACF Nationals and didn't get a trophy. Would you please get over the fact that you did not receive a cheap piece of plastic to commemorate the fact that you won more matches than you lost.

Jerry objects to the use of the half-match as a tiebreaker. Quiz Bowl, by its nature as a game, is arbitrary. The fact that they use the half-match instead of head-to-head is a better than any other format. No matter the situation or circumstance, there exists an isolated case which can and will be used to attack NAQT. It is a double standard cause no one chooses to point out these type circumstances with ACF.

Guys, back off, will you! Let's let this survey process finish and see what changes are made as a result. I know that we do not always agree with NAQT. However it is not their mission to screw you over. I trust that they are putting forth an honest effort to do the best they can. And though you would rather not believe this, their viewpoints are much closer to popular opinion than yours. If yours were closer, ACF would be much more popular.
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Postby First Chairman » Thu May 04, 2006 11:39 am

ValenciaQBowl wrote:Tom, I'd be interested to know who this "captive customer pool" is. NAQT-run tournaments, like any tournament, are not mandatory for anyone, are they? Perhaps, however, you mean that NAQT is only polling customers; I'm just curious if I'm interpreting your comment correctly.


I have a way of being vague because I'm not always sure exactly what I mean. :cool:

I think the captive pool for the poll is strictly the customers of NAQT's college tournaments. As a person who is not a customer of NAQT, I am not included as a person of interest... though I admit, I wouldn't be very informed to answer a lot of questions. As such, I don't really know if I care about the issues that are presented in that poll myself.

ValenciaQBowl wrote:I've argued here before that the most powerful weapon that those who have problems with NAQT wield is their own attendance. If large numbers of folks who are dissatisfied with their product stop showing up, then NAQT will have to decide whether to address their concerns or accept lower turnouts.


I agree with that. But usually my own reasons why Duke didn't/doesn't attend have nothing to do with our opinion of NAQT's quality. Rather it's more our own logistical challenges (at this time), and usually that overrides any reason for us to go. It has nothing to do with our philosophy of the quiz bowl ideal. I have my opinions after having been around for years, but I can assure you that many of not most of the players out there really don't care about tiebreakers or question-length or -- heaven forbid -- question quality. The proof is a gross decline in question quality in submit-q tournaments like ACF before editing.

But that said, I'm sure that we'd go if we had the chance. Considering the many alternatives out there with the other for-profit companies... in a heartbeat.

ValenciaQBowl wrote:In the past I've said this as "If you don't like it, don't come," which has been interpreted by others as saying, "NAQT shouldn't have to change anything, and you are wrong to suggest they should." This is not what I mean. People in the community have every right to suggest changes, but they should also understand that NAQT is not likely anytime to go to longer, ACF-style questions; to greatly reduce the number of trash/current events questions (or the use of those clues as part of academic questions); or even to get rid of the "cuties." These are part of their identity, I think, and though a vocal number of folks here dislike these aspects of their game, many indeed enjoy the NAQT style (whether this is a "silent majority" or not I don't know, so I won't guess). I do know that a number of my own Valencia players (though indeed not all) prefer NAQT to mACF/ACF, and I'm sure others exist out there who feel similarly.

Thus, if one is truly frustrated by NAQT's current product and feels that they are not sincere in their attempts to survey the community for changes, then it seems to me that one is best off showing NAQT one's displeasure by not playing their tournaments and giving them money. I, however, believe that they are trying to accommodate the concerns raised here while maintaining a style that has become their signature.


I agree: I believe NAQT has the right to protect its product and do whatever it sees fit. Traditionally the Duke team has always preferred mACF/ACF over NAQT for stylistic reasons. We accept that and go with it if we attend NAQT-questioned events. Some people like Coke and others like Pepsi. Some liked timed rounds, some don't.

I don't mind the differences, but what I do wonder is why NAQT would necessarily want to put up a survey in which it asks the customer base to undermine its recognizable brand with these philosophical questions on length of questions and timed rounds. Polling the masses regarding a tournament is normal; polling people to gauge the "quiz bowl aesthetic philosophy" is ... well... odd. Shouldn't they be leading that change rather than pay attention to the squeaky wheel critics? The survey title hints at a "collegiate policy"; well that presumes that such a policy exists, and maybe I'm so far removed from the game to wonder... what is the policy? How does it differ from other policies for high school or invitational series packets? Inquiries to this effect have always resulted in an answer of "it's proprietary"; I'm okay with that, but I really have a hard time knowing how business policy is decided through a survey when no one really knows what that policy is. (I can come up with an aggregate of that policy over the years of many press release posts, but still...)

Again, Romero's point is taken that we need to question our own assumptions about the motivating factors to NAQT's decisions. We also need to recognize that our own opinions don't always reflect the majority opinion or prevailing conventional wisdom... but I also want to caveat and state that I don't know if the majority of people really do care about the topics of that survey in the first place.
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Postby ezubaric » Thu May 04, 2006 11:41 am

At the risk of getting off topic, I really prefer the NAQT practice of playing off all matches rather than deciding it on paper. Any statistic is going to be unfair and no matter what situation you get into, a paper tie breaker will put one team ahead of another team that it has lost a game to.

It seems silly to say that "in this one half game, I would have beaten a better team." At least you're playing that team in question. Going back to NAQT ICT examples, if "head-to-head" were used as a tie-breaker in Princeton's tied record with UCLA, we would have advanced. They were the better team, and we happened to pull off a win. They handed us our asses in a second game, and things (given the funky brackets) were as they should be.
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Postby First Chairman » Thu May 04, 2006 11:46 am

grapesmoker wrote:
E.T. Chuck wrote:Do people really care about the tiebreaking procedure, or whether graduate students should be banned from competing...


People certainly do care about tiebreaking procedure. Personally, I find the half-packet playoff a poor way of deciding ties. For example, imagine the unlikely scenario that Berkeley and I were tied for something: at the half of the match I played against them, I led them. Had that been a "decider", it would result in me being ranked ahead of an obviously better team (they went on to answer most of the questions in the second half to win).


Well, I will slightly disagree with your point. I think what they care most about any tiebreaking procedure is that it is done fairly and not ad hoc. If people know what the procedure is before matches start, and the procedure is followed strictly, there's usually no objection from most people out there. What most people want in a tie-breaking procedure is at least the appearance of fairness. How one gets there (head-to-head results, sudden death tossups, abbreviated periods, full-game repechage matches, BCS computer rankings, or rock-paper-scissors) doesn't matter as much as the integrity of distinguishing the team that moves on in an unarbitrary manner.

Personally, I don't mind minimatches to break playoff ties as long as the games are somewhat reflective of the style of the games played. Ideally we'd want longer matches, but who has time? But do I think minimatches are superior to paper tiebreakers? Well, if one is able to do it for a national tournament, that would be great. But I would have no objection to paper tiebreakers either... and I would suspect so wouldn't a good number of other players out there.
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Postby grapesmoker » Thu May 04, 2006 12:57 pm

Romero wrote:I am a fan of the brand of quizbowl preferred by Weiner and Jerry. I am also a critic of certain aspects of NAQT. However I am starting to turn against the claims of this group of outspoken opponents. The tone of NAQT's surveys could have been improved, but that tone is befitting of the tone of the criticism. NAQT has begun to answer the criticism and these jackasses reply with more criticism.


You miss the point, Chris. NAQT has been answering questions that no one has asked instead of engaging with us in a productive dialogue. The only posts R. has made following ICT have dealt with a situation in which the correct procedure should have been blindingly obvious to everyone. There was not mention of any of the salient points we have addressed, although there was a promise to address those points in future posts. Where are those posts?

If someone disagrees with me, or Matt, or anyone else on any of the claims we have made regarding ICT, present your case. Maybe you are right and we are wrong. But calling us jackasses is an indication that you would rather not debate on the merits. It's quite easy to dismiss critics as those guys that nothing is ever good enough for, despite the fact that we have been pretty thorough in pointing out what we don't like about the current setup.

Jerry objects to the use of the half-match as a tiebreaker. Quiz Bowl, by its nature as a game, is arbitrary. The fact that they use the half-match instead of head-to-head is a better than any other format. No matter the situation or circumstance, there exists an isolated case which can and will be used to attack NAQT. It is a double standard cause no one chooses to point out these type circumstances with ACF.


I am not using this to attack NAQT. Like I said, I think the half-match is poor, for reasons to follow, but it's not a sticking point for me. For me the questions themselves take precedence over debates regarding tiebreak resolution and the like.

The half-match is poor because it is a statistical aberration. 11 questions is nowhere near enough to distinguish between two teams. I already brought forth one example where this would have resulted in a better team losing the tiebreak. I think the first real tiebreaker has to be total points, since that is the statistic that draws on the largest available sample space (number of questions answered correctly). After that, possibly head-to-head or points-per-bonus, I'm not sure which is more appropriate. I have good reasons for not liking the half-match, though; it's not just aimless carping on my part.

Guys, back off, will you! Let's let this survey process finish and see what changes are made as a result. I know that we do not always agree with NAQT. However it is not their mission to screw you over. I trust that they are putting forth an honest effort to do the best they can. And though you would rather not believe this, their viewpoints are much closer to popular opinion than yours. If yours were closer, ACF would be much more popular.


I didn't expect you, Chris, of all people, to make the argument from popularity. What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Most teams don't care about the things I care about. They will come to ICT because it's a big tournament and because it's a chance to play schools they don't normally play, not because they think they're going to win. So if NAQT decided that the critics were right and adopted our suggestions, it's not as though they would lose any customers. This should be a win-win situation for NAQT: they please us and don't alienate anyone else. They are of course free to continue doing what they are doing, but at the risk of alienating the top teams.

I certainly don't believe that NAQT is trying to screw anyone over. I respect R.'s efforts and I think he's done a lot for quizbowl. However, I also feel that much of that contribution over the course of the last 4 or 5 years (in fact, an overwhelming amount of it) has come at the high school level. That's wonderful, but it's neither here nor there as far as my feelings about ICT are concerned. And the fact remains that people like myself and Matt have put forward our case and have been ignored. I've repeatedly complained about the fact that NAQT doesn't engage us in a constructive discussion on this board (nor, in my case, by email), and as a result, this thread becomes an echo chamber for our grievances. The appearance of complaints being addressed through surveys which are orthogonal to those complaints is insufficient.

This is my biggest gripe. I feel that my opinions are being disregarded and I don't know why. It's certainly within NAQT's rights to do so, but if that's going to be the case, then I'm not going to participate in their events as a player, and I suspect a lot of the other complainants feel similarly.
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Postby Romero » Thu May 04, 2006 2:30 pm

Jerry, you are correct NAQT has not engaged us in a dialogue. Though, how productive would talking be? A small fraction of their audience is represented here. Hypothetically, they could make all the changes that we might want and alienate the other 9/10 of their customers. I think their choice to refrain from dialogue until they can do a survey is a wise move. Even if they are just affirming what they believe to be true, it is probably a good reality check. If everyone hates timed games or powers, maybe they will get rid of them. If everyone loves timed games or powers, maybe ACF should adopt those game aspects. Why is NAQT so popular and ACF not? I would love to see an ACF nationals with more than 30 teams.

As you mentioned NAQT has done a lot for High school and currently are planning to host what may be the largest day of quizbowl EVER (like 640 matches in a single location on a single day). I think this undertaking is an additional reason to give them some additional response time. The reason I called you jackasses is that I feel that your criticism is impatient and too harsh (for now). If there is still silence when August 1st rolls around, then I will probably join your warranted criticism.

I think a lot of things....

I consider powers and time essential aspects of the NAQT game; I think ACF should adopt powers but not time. I think that adding one line to each tossup and 1 minute to each half is a great idea for NAQT. I think that ACF subtrating one line from each tossup is a great idea. I think total points is the worst possible tiebreaker; I think points-per-bonus is the better than points-per-tossup by not as good as a half match or a whole match. I wish ACF would settle ties with a half-match or a whole match. I think quizbowl in general is too graduate student centric. Personally I am inclined to say NAQT should eliminate all graduate students. I think we should be investigating every possible way in which to get new people involved in quizbowl, rather than making changes which are in our self-interest and may serve to lessen wide-spread appeal.

...but, for the record, the ONLY argument I am making right now is that we should be patient.
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Postby grapesmoker » Thu May 04, 2006 6:25 pm

Romero wrote:Jerry, you are correct NAQT has not engaged us in a dialogue. Though, how productive would talking be? A small fraction of their audience is represented here. Hypothetically, they could make all the changes that we might want and alienate the other 9/10 of their customers.


I think it would be very productive. We may be a small fraction but we're the fraction that really cares. I just don't agree with your hypothetical; I contend that NAQT could in fact satisfy us and not lose a single team for ICT. I have seen no evidence to countermand this claim; if anything, the results of the last survey seem to strengthen my position, although admittedly the takers might be a self-selecting group.

The point of dialogue would be to say, "We agree with you" or "we disagree with you" and provide the reasons. As of this point, I have no idea where NAQT stands on anything I've suggested. I don't even mean whether they'll implement it, just what they think of it.

I think their choice to refrain from dialogue until they can do a survey is a wise move. Even if they are just affirming what they believe to be true, it is probably a good reality check.


I just don't understand what the point is of asking questions that no one has worried about for years now. Are we going to bring back calculation questions, seriously? Or get rid of advantaged finals? These things are well-established and I don't understand why we're being asked about them.

The question survey was undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but the tone of the survey says much about what its designers think. "I don't like it because it conflicts with my quizbowl aesthetic" is not what anyone has said; we've been giving specific reasons why we don't like something. Why are those reasons not reflected in the survey questions? This isn't nitpicking, it's a legitimate criticism that has yet to be answered.

If everyone hates timed games or powers, maybe they will get rid of them. If everyone loves timed games or powers, maybe ACF should adopt those game aspects. Why is NAQT so popular and ACF not? I would love to see an ACF nationals with more than 30 teams.


Because ACF suffers from an "ACF is so hard" perception which, whatever justification may have existed for it in bygone times, is just no longer true. Matt's done some good work comparing the ACF Fall statistics to the SCT, and ACF Fall has repeatedly been shown to be more accessible, not to mention better written. Yes, ACF Nationals is a hard tournament, harder than ICT. Maybe not having 3/3 geography and trash in each packet is a turnoff for some people? Maybe ACF doesn't give out fancy trophies to a bunch of people in every category imaginable? I don't know, but if there's anyone on this board who didn't go to ACF Nationals and would care to say why they didn't go and what would make them more likely to do so in the future, let's hear it. I know for a fact that the people involved in next year's Nationals read this board regularly and take this commentary seriously; I'm sure they'd not only read but respond too.

As you mentioned NAQT has done a lot for High school and currently are planning to host what may be the largest day of quizbowl EVER (like 640 matches in a single location on a single day). I think this undertaking is an additional reason to give them some additional response time. The reason I called you jackasses is that I feel that your criticism is impatient and too harsh (for now). If there is still silence when August 1st rolls around, then I will probably join your warranted criticism.


Yeah, I understand that the HSNCT is a huge commitment. Still, it really doesn't take much to type a couple sentences indicating some sort of recognition. In the end, it's not really time critical for me. I can wait for a long, long time.

I think a lot of things....


All of these are important subjects and perhaps we should split that off into a different thread. I'll try some quick replies here.

I consider powers and time essential aspects of the NAQT game; I think ACF should adopt powers but not time.


I have no feeling one way or the other about powers. I enjoyed having powers at MLK, and didn't really notice their absence at Nationals.

I think that adding one line to each tossup and 1 minute to each half is a great idea for NAQT. I think that ACF subtrating one line from each tossup is a great idea.


I don't necessarily oppose trimming ACF questions a little bit, although I'm probably one of the worst offenders where this is concerned. I do like the longer questions because they give you a chance to put in some interesting fact that might not make it in a question style that is more limited in space. I think an average of 7 to 8 lines is pretty good for Nationals, maybe 6 to 7 for Regionals and Fall.

I think total points is the worst possible tiebreaker; I think points-per-bonus is the better than points-per-tossup by not as good as a half match or a whole match.


I'm not necessarily set on total points as the ultimate tiebreaker, but when you consider a statistical tiebreaker, it has to be one with a large sample space. The largest possible space is the space of all questions answered by the team; the space of bonus conversions is a subset of it. Points per bonus is also good, because it's independent of what the other teams do, but I like total points because it's a direct comparison of how you did against the same opponents as other teams.

I wish ACF would settle ties with a half-match or a whole match.


I don't, for the reasons outlined above.

I think quizbowl in general is too graduate student centric. Personally I am inclined to say NAQT should eliminate all graduate students.


That's a pretty bold statement. I won't go into the full debate here, but I think graduate students are absolutely essential to the continuation of programs, since they are players with experience who help create institutional histories at their schools. If NAQT eliminates graduate students, the quality of the competition is going to be drastically reduced.

I think we should be investigating every possible way in which to get new people involved in quizbowl, rather than making changes which are in our self-interest and may serve to lessen wide-spread appeal.


That's a fine sentiment, but I don't think the two ideas expressed above are contradictory in any way. I certainly try my best to encourage participation, but I don't think that things like question-writing standards and the like are incompatible with building new interest.
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Postby Matt Weiner » Thu May 04, 2006 8:32 pm

I don't think I've ever pretended that my points are the majority view. My argument is that NAQT should have less trash, longer/better questions, and a protest procedure not involving a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters--not because this is what everyone wants, but because this is what's more fair and should be implemented regardless of what anyone wants.

Let this be a lesson in why democracy doesn't work. What is the interest of the 90% of teams who have no realistic chance of winning any tournament where the best teams in the country compete on good packets and rules? It's to make the tournament less fair by making questions speed-based and hose-filled, stuffing as much trash in as possible, not letting better teams protest obvious factual errors, et cetera. It would be even better for them if the idea of a fair tournament was dissolved completely, and anyone who asked for any change was denounced and told not to bother coming back. Then Minnesota could win NAQT every year too!

Me, I don't believe in getting what I want through childish threats. I'm almost certainly going to play NAQT next year and it would be dishonest to say otherwise. I don't wish to engage in the melodramatic "do what I say or I'm taking my ball and going home" bullshit. I wish to engage in this process like an adult--i.e., present some fair, not-very-radical, compromise-oriented suggestions to NAQT and have them adopted because it's the right thing to do.

And by the way, I don't really care about the physical trophy, I care about NAQT ceasing the charade on their website that indicates Stanford beat VCU in Round 5, and that VCU thus finished somewhere other than third in the tournament. The reality is that we won that game, and until NAQT does anything to stop the ongoing screw-over that is the continued presence of a false game result on the official statistics, I will have a hard time believing that it is "not their mission to screw [us] over."
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Postby canaanbananarama » Thu May 04, 2006 9:41 pm

Matt Weiner writes:
Let this be a lesson in why democracy doesn't work. What is the interest of the 90% of teams who have no realistic chance of winning any tournament where the best teams in the country compete on good packets and rules? It's to make the tournament less fair by making questions speed-based and hose-filled, stuffing as much trash in as possible, not letting better teams protest obvious factual errors, et cetera. It would be even better for them if the idea of a fair tournament was dissolved completely, and anyone who asked for any change was denounced and told not to bother coming back. Then Minnesota could win NAQT every year too!

As a member of a team in that rather ridiculously high 90% figure [UCLA certainly didn't have a realistic chance of winning ACF or NAQT; not that VCU really did either], I think it is absurd to suggest that we would be much happier playing in an upset-filled monstrosity in which our sanity was sacrificed for a chance at a crapshoot victory. As is, I pulled out my hair enough during the course of the tournament over stuff like "Arctic Monkeys" and "narwhal tusk"; even if it clearly showed me my place, I really liked the sense of utter calm ACF Nationals gave me. If this is in actuality based on some lower mark in the NAQT bracket, I really don't know that many teams personally that would be more satisfied with a tournament as you describe it; there are a lot of mid-level circuit teams that don't like CBI for the same reasons that top teams don't. Therefore, I don't see how your argument that teams in whose interest it is to make NAQT hose bowl are stuffing the ballot box and thus rendering the poll irrelevant is anything short of total exaggeration, and I'm really curious as to who these teams are, as I'm sure in hell confident it's not mine and am moderately indignant that such a belief could be held about my team. It simply is not in our interests to destroy any sense of fairness in quizbowl, and I doubt it is in the interests of anywhere near the majority you claim.

On another topic that has come up, as a current undergraduate, I will chip in and say that I think restricting graduate students from NAQT Nationals is ridiculous. Even though my team may very well have stood to benefit from such a policy and probably would have ended up with a big trophy, it seems kind of hollow to win a tournament at which say, none of the top 20 overall players are present. It would be slightly more meaningful than the NAQT UG title, as schools burdened by talented graduate students would not be forced to sacrifice their chance at the undergrad title in favor of making a run for a high standing, but still, pretty hollow.

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Postby ValenciaQBowl » Thu May 04, 2006 9:46 pm

As Matt's above "take my ball and go home" comment seems directed toward my suggestion that people who strenuously complain about NAQT consider not playing (and I hate using the quote thing on this b/c I'm a tech tard), I would like to briefly respond. I don't think what I'm suggesting is childish. I'll reiterate that NAQT is simply not going to enact many of Matt's hopes (lowering number of trash or geography questions, writing 8-9 line questions, increasing the Manuel de Falla distribution for DII). What seems childish is going to a tournament that one knows (knows!!!) is going to be a certain way (certain tie-breaker rules, past distribution expectations) and then being outraged about it. I don't have a take on the protest situation, which indeed doesn't seem good, but the other things could all have been predicted.

I'd love to play on an exhibition team at ACF Nats some time, but I do find those questions a little long (not to try to start another thread). However, I wouldn't go and then come back and complain that ACF Nats tosses are too long and the first two lines don't differentiate enough teams, etc (or at least not with the epic certitude and contemptuousness of those who disagree often utilized here, and certainly not just (or always) by Matt). I'd know what I was going to play. I expect the logical fallacy police to jump that analogy, but that's as close as I can come on short notice.

Bleah, done with this now.
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Postby cvdwightw » Thu May 04, 2006 9:55 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Because ACF suffers from an "ACF is so hard" perception which, whatever justification may have existed for it in bygone times, is just no longer true. Matt's done some good work comparing the ACF Fall statistics to the SCT, and ACF Fall has repeatedly been shown to be more accessible, not to mention better written. Yes, ACF Nationals is a hard tournament, harder than ICT. Maybe not having 3/3 geography and trash in each packet is a turnoff for some people? Maybe ACF doesn't give out fancy trophies to a bunch of people in every category imaginable? I don't know, but if there's anyone on this board who didn't go to ACF Nationals and would care to say why they didn't go and what would make them more likely to do so in the future, let's hear it.


I don't currently plan on going to ACF Nationals next year, precisely because it is too hard for my taste (although I do want to go to Fall and Regionals). I think this is by design, and shouldn't be changed. ACF Nationals is supposed to be an elitist tournament, and without any sort of qualification system, the difficulty is exactly what keeps mediocre teams from coming out. I'll be the first to say that UCLA will be nothing short of mediocre next year at ACF Nationals level questions, and I'm not going to buy the "dilute the talent level" argument, because nationals should be about the most talented teams. Maybe if Ray can convince me otherwise, I might show up.

The difference I see with ICT is that NAQT already makes their cuts for the tournament with their S-Value ratings, so they don't need to up the difficulty to keep mediocre teams out (although arguably this has not worked so well with the bottom few teams over the years). They just need to make the tournament difficult enough that it can and will differentiate the top teams from the rest of the field and each other. Now, you can make an argument that this does or doesn't actually happen, but either way, I see a fundamentally different procedure to "weed out" the teams that wouldn't do well, and this in turn sets the difficulty level at either a more or less accessible level. As for the geography/trash content, I have no opinion as long as it's consistent with the rest of the tournament difficulty.
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Postby grapesmoker » Thu May 04, 2006 10:26 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Let this be a lesson in why democracy doesn't work. What is the interest of the 90% of teams who have no realistic chance of winning any tournament where the best teams in the country compete on good packets and rules? It's to make the tournament less fair by making questions speed-based and hose-filled, stuffing as much trash in as possible, not letting better teams protest obvious factual errors, et cetera. It would be even better for them if the idea of a fair tournament was dissolved completely, and anyone who asked for any change was denounced and told not to bother coming back. Then Minnesota could win NAQT every year too!


I can't believe that this is actually in the interest of most teams. I don't think anyone seriously goes, "I want more trash because it helps me beat better teams." I do think people like having that in there because even when they get shellacked by Illinois or Berkeley, they can go, "Well, at least we got some questions on [insert trash answer here]." And it's understandable that they would enjoy that, because otherwise they might go a whole round without answering a question against a top team.

Me, I don't believe in getting what I want through childish threats. I'm almost certainly going to play NAQT next year and it would be dishonest to say otherwise. I don't wish to engage in the melodramatic "do what I say or I'm taking my ball and going home" bullshit. I wish to engage in this process like an adult--i.e., present some fair, not-very-radical, compromise-oriented suggestions to NAQT and have them adopted because it's the right thing to do.


Too bad taking the ball only works when the ball is yours. I don't find such tactics "melodramatic" at all; that's my intention, and unless things change, why would I play? In fact, I would say that by admitting the fact that you're still going to play next year helps NAQT ignore you. Basically, if noted NAQT critic Matt Weiner is still going to come despite all his bitching, why should they change? They are then perfectly justified in their assumption that you will show up because ICT is a national tournament, and then nothing has to be done to appease you.

And by the way, I don't really care about the physical trophy, I care about NAQT ceasing the charade on their website that indicates Stanford beat VCU in Round 5, and that VCU thus finished somewhere other than third in the tournament. The reality is that we won that game, and until NAQT does anything to stop the ongoing screw-over that is the continued presence of a false game result on the official statistics, I will have a hard time believing that it is "not their mission to screw [us] over."


This is one of the protests that R. said he would address and hasn't yet. I'm certainly curious about why the protest went as it did.
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Postby grapesmoker » Thu May 04, 2006 10:35 pm

cvdwightw wrote: I don't currently plan on going to ACF Nationals next year, precisely because it is too hard for my taste (although I do want to go to Fall and Regionals). I think this is by design, and shouldn't be changed. ACF Nationals is supposed to be an elitist tournament, and without any sort of qualification system, the difficulty is exactly what keeps mediocre teams from coming out. I'll be the first to say that UCLA will be nothing short of mediocre next year at ACF Nationals level questions, and I'm not going to buy the "dilute the talent level" argument, because nationals should be about the most talented teams. Maybe if Ray can convince me otherwise, I might show up.


With all respect, Dwight, I just don't understand this view. ACF Nationals isn't some sort of elitist competition to which only top members of the secret cabal are invited. Keep in mind that Michigan's team that took A&M down to the last tossup in the final had two undergrads on it who had only started playing quizbowl recently and acquitted themselves superbly. With the exception of a very few teams, you come to a tournament like that not to win the whole thing but to hear some really well-written questions on some interesting stuff, and learn a little something along the way. This whole "nationals should be about the most talented teams" business is total nonsense; nationals is obviously a tournament that has a winner, but it's also a really great quizbowl event. No one dilutes the talent pool by showing up.

The difference I see with ICT is that NAQT already makes their cuts for the tournament with their S-Value ratings, so they don't need to up the difficulty to keep mediocre teams out (although arguably this has not worked so well with the bottom few teams over the years). They just need to make the tournament difficult enough that it can and will differentiate the top teams from the rest of the field and each other. Now, you can make an argument that this does or doesn't actually happen, but either way, I see a fundamentally different procedure to "weed out" the teams that wouldn't do well, and this in turn sets the difficulty level at either a more or less accessible level. As for the geography/trash content, I have no opinion as long as it's consistent with the rest of the tournament difficulty.


It isn't in NAQT's interest to keep out mediocre teams (although I think that a smaller tournament would require fewer readers and might actually make NAQT money, but that's beside the point). After all, most teams are mediocre teams by definition; only a few are very good or superlative. If this discussion has demonstrated anything, it's that mediocre teams are NAQT's first priority.
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Postby NoahMinkCHS » Thu May 04, 2006 11:21 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Because ACF suffers from an "ACF is so hard" perception which, whatever justification may have existed for it in bygone times, is just no longer true. Matt's done some good work comparing the ACF Fall statistics to the SCT, and ACF Fall has repeatedly been shown to be more accessible, not to mention better written. Yes, ACF Nationals is a hard tournament, harder than ICT. Maybe not having 3/3 geography and trash in each packet is a turnoff for some people? Maybe ACF doesn't give out fancy trophies to a bunch of people in every category imaginable? I don't know, but if there's anyone on this board who didn't go to ACF Nationals and would care to say why they didn't go and what would make them more likely to do so in the future, let's hear it. I know for a fact that the people involved in next year's Nationals read this board regularly and take this commentary seriously; I'm sure they'd not only read but respond too.

I believe I qualify to answer this. I can tell you that the perception you mentioned is certainly a big issue, or has been in the past... but, to be fair, I don't base my opinion of ACF solely on these half-heard remarks. Some of my teammates and I have looked over some recent Nats, Regs, and Fall packets, and at least for Nationals, have come to the same conclusion cvdwightw did -- it's "too hard" for our tastes. We like to think of ourselves as an up and coming team with good, improving players, and we feel our decent (though not great) finish in NAQT D-II is indicative of that. Even so, we haven't -- and most likely won't -- put in the hours upon hours of prep work needed to succeed at ACF Nationals questions, and I know I wouldn't have nearly as much fun at a tournament where I didn't expect to at least be competitive. Hell, even when my team was "competitive" at our Yale BoB mirror, the questions were so inaccessible to me that I just didn't enjoy the experience.

In NAQT, on the other hand, I always feel in the game. Part of that is the shorter questions -- even if it's something I don't know, I don't have to sit through eight lines of it if the other team doesn't either. I do think NAQT's answer space could probably be expanded some, and I wouldn't freak out if the average question length edged up; IIRC, looking at some "ancient" ICTs from the late 90s, that's been a constant evolution anyway. And maybe that much geography/trash/GK/current events is a problem in an academic tournament, though I do think a majority of players do like to have those categories represented, and not because it "helps the worse team win"; my guess is people just like to have a little variety.

(As an aside, I think the methodology of comparing ACF Fall to SCT isn't really fair; wouldn't the logical comparison be ACF Regionals?)

Now with all that said, I'm willing to give ACF a chance. I'm not philosophically opposed to the idea of ACF, so don't be surprised to see us at a Fall tournament one day. Do be surprised if I show up at any other level of ACF, because unless something changes, I'm not going to spend money (mine or the team's) going to a tournament I don't expect to do well at or have fun playing. I don't know that I think ACF should be easier -- most of the posters here like it as it is, and more power to them; if that many elite teams go to a national tournament, I take no issue with it. But I also won't go. So, in long and rambling fashion, I guess that's my answer -- ACF Nationals questions (and more importantly, answers) are largely outside my knowledge base, generally longer than I prefer, and not as enjoyable for me to play on. If this year's Nationals came closer to my level, I would go; at the same time, of course, pissing everyone else around here off. Otherwise, my preference remains NAQT.
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Postby Mr. Kwalter » Fri May 05, 2006 1:32 am

So, a brief response, Noah. You did well this year at D2 ICT. You finished 9th at ICT in D2, winning out the second bracket with a 10-3 record and a bonus conversion of 12.90. Now, I'd like to call your attention to statistics from the year before. D2 ICT 2005 - 9th place, UT-Austin. Record 9-4. Bonus Conversion 13.05. Yes, that was my team, last year. That year we also went to noted tournament of horrors ACF Nationals, where we placed second among D2 teams and 12th overall. It was hard, and we ate shit on a lot of questions, but we got a lot of tossups and we didn't finish anywhere near dead last. That was last year; this year's ACF nationals was significantly less difficult. I was a sophomore then, I believe you are a freshman now. You have a good start, I urge you not to squander it. I hope that in the end you decide to strive to get better and learn things instead of writing entire tournaments off, whether they be invitationals, ACF Regionals, ACF Nationals, whatever, because they're "too hard." Lots of us did it, so can you.
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Postby Matt Weiner » Fri May 05, 2006 1:34 am

NoahMinkCHS wrote:(As an aside, I think the methodology of comparing ACF Fall to SCT isn't really fair; wouldn't the logical comparison be ACF Regionals?)


It depends on the purpose. The reason I made the comparison was to question why certain teams who play NAQT Sectionals find ACF Fall too hard. Given that ACF Fall is markedly easier than Sectionals, there's absolutely no reason for anyone who isn't up in arms about SCT difficulty to have issues with the overall difficulty of ACF Fall.

Anyway I don't know why ACF, or question difficulty at all, came up here. I don't think the ICT difficulty needs to be changed and I haven't heard many people calling for that. I just want primarily the questions themselves, and, less importantly, the distribution, to change. Difficulty can stay right where it is.
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Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Fri May 05, 2006 11:17 am

NoahMinkCHS wrote:I believe I qualify to answer this. I can tell you that the perception you mentioned is certainly a big issue, or has been in the past... but, to be fair, I don't base my opinion of ACF solely on these half-heard remarks. Some of my teammates and I have looked over some recent Nats, Regs, and Fall packets, and at least for Nationals, have come to the same conclusion cvdwightw did -- it's "too hard" for our tastes. We like to think of ourselves as an up and coming team with good, improving players, and we feel our decent (though not great) finish in NAQT D-II is indicative of that. Even so, we haven't -- and most likely won't -- put in the hours upon hours of prep work needed to succeed at ACF Nationals questions, and I know I wouldn't have nearly as much fun at a tournament where I didn't expect to at least be competitive. Hell, even when my team was "competitive" at our Yale BoB mirror, the questions were so inaccessible to me that I just didn't enjoy the experience.


The way to cure that is not to skip higher-level tournaments, but to attend every one of them that you can. Higher-level quizbowl especially is very cannonical; after you've heard your nth tossup or bonus on something, it will no longer seem inaccessible at all.
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Postby First Chairman » Fri May 05, 2006 11:27 am

Yep yep... improving primarily comes from two major sources: playing more games and writing more questions. One cannot significantly improve without doing that in the college circuit. Or even high school for that matter.
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Postby Chris Frankel » Fri May 05, 2006 11:49 am

I'm pretty sure Noah's a sophomore, though he can speak for himself.

And Noah, whether you meant it to or not, your post comes off as saying, "I want to eat my cake and have it too." Is it honestly your opinion that a tournament or format is not worthwhile for you if your team, just by virtue of showing up, is not able to place in the top of the field or compete closely against teams who have studied intensively? If you lose heavily to a team like, say, Michigan, because the latter's players studied dedicatedly, does that mean the format is flawed and the players who studied are unfairly being rewarded for their efforts? I mean, if I'm taking your words out of context, let me know, but upon reading your post I feel like a professor being confronted about the fairness of his exam by a student who only crammed the textbook glossary for the half hour beforehand and feels indignant that he didn't do as well as the kid who took detailed notes and spent the past few weeks coming to office hours.

To move beyond your post, I think what Weiner is complaining about is the very real existence of an anti-intellectual undercurrent in the circuit. It baffles me because quiz bowl is supposed to be the refuge of the "smart kids" looking for a way to pursue academic interests that are conventionally seen as unworthwhile. So it baffles me that so many people are hostile to the idea of studying and object to the idea that other players might want to do so and be rewarded for success in doing so. I mean, we're talking about a high level competitive intercollegiate activity... why is it so suprising and objectionable to see rigorous academic material and talented/dedicated players?

That said, the real source of frustration is that "National Academic Quiz Tournaments" just doesn't seem to be all that academic. Our complaint has never been that the questions were too easy and accessible (if you look at the survey results, it's actually the trash players making those claims, shock, shock), it's that the question structure and the distribution don't reward players well for having deep academic knowledge and studying. As Susan from A&M pointed out in this thread, it is legitimately frustrating for a team to invest great time studying various academic disciplines in the hopes of improving its performance, only to get shut out in a game and find out that major university level academic areas like philosophy and fine arts are relegated to novelty topics while trash topics like sports and television and high school relics like geography and current events are made the bread and butter of the format.

I think Weiner broadly mischaracterized the problem, but it might be an accurate rephrasing to say that the interests of a "just for fun" team and a team that takes the game seriously do conflict at some point. It's not the former should be disregarded, but if we devised the game to favor casual players (which no other competitive collegiate activity, even a club level sport, does) and allow them to remain in contention without having to work at the game, you do have to design the format to cripple the ability of the more dedicated teams to succeed, and you effectively get something that's more like NTN than quiz bowl. Again, I'm absolutely not suggesting we tweak the game to be inaccessible to all but the top 2-3 teams, but I'm honestly wondering what enjoyment the UGA team finds in quiz bowl at all, if they really do consider reading and studying to be tedious and any unfamiliar academic knowledge to be worthless facts.

When many people like Matt, Jerry, and myself started playing, we knew we weren't able to come right in and compete at the top, and played for love of the game and a desire to learn more. That same love inspired us to work and get better, treating the unfamiliar information presented to us as something interesting to learn about, and not surprisingly, that attitude helped us improve substantially to the point where we can be competitive with top teams. That emphasis on academic learning, to me, is the point of quiz bowl and is the reason why we're not just another bar trivia game. I don't resent players who don't share that enthusiasm, but I do expect them to respect the higher purpose of the game and not try to dictate policy in a way to frustrate it.

To close my rambling I'll throw out a tangential point on the topic: are the so-called silent majority of casual teams really interested in dictating policy or have they just made up their mind on NAQT regardless of whereever it takes them? I hope NAQT's next survey takes account of the "questions" poll results and asks how players would respond to changes in the directions suggested by the survey results. I'm willing to bet that most laymen wouldn't have a problem seeing philosophy and arts get their due representation and current events and geography scaled back to reasonable levels, and that this whole debate could be resolved a lot more easily than it seems like.
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."
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Postby NoahMinkCHS » Fri May 05, 2006 1:30 pm

Yes, I'm a sophomore. I hesitate to reply now but I think I probably should. To ekwartler, I greatly appreciate your post and I know it gives me something to think about. Matt, I didn't realize that was the purpose of the comparison but if it was, then it makes a lot more sense (and honestly, I can't believe people think Fall is harder, on average, than SCT...). Bruce/ETC, I know what you're saying but I guess what I'm saying is that spending x Saturdays waking up early and being bored to death aren't worth sitting through just so on Saturday x+1 I might get a tossup on something. I'm certainly not opposed to learning more or working to get better, but I have a lot of other things I can be doing with my life; despite the amount of time I spend on this message board, I actually have a lot else going on.

Now, Chris. First of all, I'm sorry if that's how my post came off; I didn't mean it to be that way at all. I was trying to answer grapesmoker's question about why a team would not go to ACF, which came from the earlier discussion of why NAQT was more popular than ACF. It is probably off-topic now, but I felt like it was relevant then. For what it's worth, I think it's been established that the best teams tend to win at both NAQT and ACF; we didn't play Stanford at ICT but I doubt we would have won -- they're a better team and that's fine. What I was saying was that I found NAQT's format more enjoyable -- if a team is better than mine, they should win, but at least I'll hear question styles that I enjoy and on topics from a broad range of fields (including stuff like current events). (Note that I tend to agree that NAQT could stand to increase its distribution of things like RMP; I'm just saying that not all trash/CE are bad.)

I want to assure you that, while I don't speak for my team (and haven't been during this thread) and only for myself, my team does take the game seriously. (Serious, here, meaning "significantly more than bar trivia" but also "not obsessive".) I think you do mischaracterize our point of view, as we do enjoy learning new things and we do work at the game. But we don't live the game. Those that do probably deserve to win; those of us who don't, but who do take it seriously enough to compete, should still be able to get a product we enjoy. That doesn't mean not having academic disciplines represented; that doesn't mean I should be able to walk in unprepared and win a national tournament. All I'm saying is, don't alienate the non-elite yet still decent teams; that's how you run the life out of the game. NAQT does a good job at making things interesting and fun for all but maybe the lowest-rung teams. I think having a small amount of spice (trash, CE, NACuties) goes a long way towards doing that.
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Postby cvdwightw » Fri May 05, 2006 9:07 pm

Bruce wrote:The way to cure that is not to skip higher-level tournaments, but to attend every one of them that you can. Higher-level quizbowl especially is very cannonical; after you've heard your nth tossup or bonus on something, it will no longer seem inaccessible at all.


Please tell me where I can find these higher-level tournaments in a place somewhere other than halfway across the country. Right now the only place I hear them is in practice, and that's no substitute for game experience.

grapesmoker wrote:With all respect, Dwight, I just don't understand this view. ACF Nationals isn't some sort of elitist competition to which only top members of the secret cabal are invited. Keep in mind that Michigan's team that took A&M down to the last tossup in the final had two undergrads on it who had only started playing quizbowl recently and acquitted themselves superbly. With the exception of a very few teams, you come to a tournament like that not to win the whole thing but to hear some really well-written questions on some interesting stuff, and learn a little something along the way. This whole "nationals should be about the most talented teams" business is total nonsense; nationals is obviously a tournament that has a winner, but it's also a really great quizbowl event. No one dilutes the talent pool by showing up.

The only reason I've convinced myself this is a better idea is that looking back on some of my feedback e-mails to R. I decided that I suck at NAQT too. So I guess it's kind of hypocritical for me to stay with one and not the other. That said, UCLA was one of those teams that decided ACF was too hard after a particularly disastrous 2000 trip, so maybe it's the old club stigma sticking around. I'll make my decision next February.
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Postby Important Bird Area » Fri May 05, 2006 9:53 pm

I find myself disagreeing with a number of points made here recently.

Chris just dismissed geography and current events as "high school relics." I've made my argument about geography elsewhere here, but just what is it that bothers people about pyramidal, well-written current events? I've always assumed that the comparative lack of such questions in ACF derives from the difficulties of packet submission, rather than any antipathy towards current events knowledge on the part of the players.

Higher-level quizbowl especially is very canonical; after you've heard your nth tossup or bonus on something, it will no longer seem inaccessible at all.


I could not disagree more with this statement. One of the attractions ACF nationals holds for me is precisely that the answer space is significantly wider than at a regionals-level tournament. (This has been described somewhere else around here as "Asian history with answers other than dynasties and shogunates.") Acheiving familiarity with something from hearing previous questions on it, rather than applying knowledge learned outside of the game itself, seems directly contradictory to the emphasis placed above on philosophy and fine arts as academic disciplines which deserve greater prominence at the expense of NAQT's traditional answer space.
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