The problem William describes isn't really "almanac clues" (highest points usually are, rivers usually aren't, in my experience). It's the suggestion that geography and CE are more likely to have difficulty cliffs (and therefore resolve the tossup on buzzer races) because there are well-known answers that have a paucity of buzzable middle clues. (Or perhaps: because writers are choosing the wrong middle clues.)AlphaQuizBowler wrote:Fair enough. My point was that geography and current events are more prone to questionable answer lines because writers seem very prone to the mindset "I'm going to write a question on Random Country (or State) X and write almanac clues about its rivers and highest points," leading to many geo questions that aren't converted until the question writer mercifully throws in the capital as the last clue. Or "Here are some minor things that an active politician did: you have to wait all the way until I tell you his/her most famous position/action." This happens in NAQT, too, because of the prevalence of CE. In this set, though, some questionable choices on CE and geo, coupled with the more odd lit and science tossups, led to strings of questions where even the best teams were buzzer racing once a real clue finally got dropped or when they finally puzzled out what the question wanted.Charlie wrote:Geography and Current Events are academic topics, they aren't junk!
A look at NAQT's conversion data confirms that this is a real (if relatively small) effect:
2010 HSNCT, all questions:
78.5 conversion, 15.7 power rate
2010 HSNCT, geography only:
80.8 conversion, 10.3 power rate
2010 HSNCT, CE only:
84.3 conversion, 14.7 power rate
(Geography had the lowest power rate of any category except philosophy, which as Charlie noted in the original LIST thread, is notorious for its difficulty at the high school level.)
So, what should we do about this? Is the right answer:
1. Reduce the amount of geography in the distribution?
2. Turn particular answer lines into bonus parts, because they aren't suitable as tossups?
3. Do a better job of selecting middle clues that are buzzable in actual play?
All of the above? Discuss.