NAQT policy on "Description acceptable"

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NAQT policy on "Description acceptable"

Post by setht »

Hi all,

I wanted to alert you all to a policy change we are considering for NAQT questions: namely, to refrain from all prefatory "Description acceptable" warnings. I'm bringing this to your attention because it seems that there's a move toward including these warnings regularly in other sets, and we want as much as possible for players not to be surprised by their lack in our sets.

Here's a (very condensed) paraphrase of our thinking:

1. It's incumbent on the writer and editor to produce a tossup that points clearly toward a unique answer, whether that answer is a "conventional" proper name (e.g., "Roger Federer") or a somewhat more "unconventional" thing, event, or whatever (e.g. "winning tennis's Grand Slam"). It is also incumbent on the writer and editor to produce an answer line that gives clear directions on what to do with various alternate answers.

2. It is incumbent on the player to know the names of things, whether those names are "conventional" or more "descriptive."

3. The warning takes up time that we'd rather spend giving more clues pointing at the specific answer, rather than signaling something about the general class of answer being sought.

I welcome commentary here. I think we reached a fairly solid consensus after internal discussion, but I suppose someone might come up with an argument we hadn't thought of that would prompt us to reconsider—not that any comments here have to aim at that.

Seth Teitler
Formerly UC Berkeley and U. Chicago
President and Chief Editor, NAQT
Emeritus member, ACF

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Ben Dillon
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Re: NAQT policy on "Description acceptable"

Post by Ben Dillon »

Sounds good to me. After all, the answer line can have an "accept equivalents" if it's really necessary, and a well-written tossup will make it clear that a description is being called for anyway.

To take your "winning tennis' Grand Slam" as an example...

Don Budge was the first man and Maureen Connolly was the first woman to achieve this rare feat, and it has happened only seventeen times. Sports columnist Alan Gould applied the term for this achievement to the sport from contract bridge, and, in recent years, variations were introduced such as "career", "non-calendar", and "golden". That last version, which includes the Olympics, has been achieved by only one player, Steffi Graf. For ten points, name this achievement, which consists of winning all the major yearly tournaments at four sites, including Wimbledon.

(I wrote this in about ten minutes, so it's probably not an exemplar. However, I don't really think it needs a "description acceptable" tagline.)
Ben Dillon, Saint Joseph HS

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as
six impossible things before breakfast!"

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naan/steak-holding toll
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Re: NAQT policy on "Description acceptable"

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

I fully understand the rationale behind this policy if NAQT seems intent on sticking to its character limits. However, if NAQT intends on sticking to this policy, then I feel that answerline monitoring should be stricter in NAQT's questions. I can't post about ICT 2014's questions since there are no podcasts up, but there were several questions where I was afraid of being negged if I didn't know the right thing to say, even if I understood exactly what the question was referring to. A "description acceptable" tagline removes peoples' fear of getting screwed in this manner and helps people actually buzz when they know an answer that isn't a "named thing" as illustrated by the "comfort women" vs. "hibakusha" contrast brought up in the ACF Nationals 2013 discussion.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor

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