General set discussion

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marianna
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General set discussion

Post by marianna » Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:34 pm

We'd love to discuss general trends in the set in this discussion thread. If you want to discuss or see a specific question, please direct your attention to the other question-specific thread.

General trends would include difficulty level or evenness either of the set as a whole or in specific categories, category distribution, length control, and editorial style.
Last edited by marianna on Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Marianna Zhang (she/her)
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Re: General set discussion

Post by marianna » Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:45 pm

To get the discussion started, here are some concerns that have been brought to our attention at our Hunter site. Please feel free to discuss these aspects, as well as any other concerns you have.
- In general, more alternate answers and promptables should be specified in answer-lines.
- Science tossups were generally very difficult in the first 2 or 3 lines. The difficulty slope should be made gentler by using easier lead-ins and adding more middle clues.
- There was some topic clustering in certain packets (eg Japan, Battle of Hastings) that did not disturb gameplay, but should be avoided.

Unlike other regular difficulty tournaments, which have shifted away from social science and philosophy, Prison Bowl this year maintained its 0.75/0.75 philosophy and 1/1 social science distribution. I'm interested in how well the accessibility and convertibility of those categories were executed, so I would particularly like to hear from anyone who has thoughts on those categories.

For reference (and if you want to discuss a particular question, I remind you to shift to our q-specific thread):
Philosophy answer-lines: language, pragmatism, knowledge, causes, Socratic dialogues, Locke, Mill, France (political philosophy), drama (Platonic tradition), existentialism, Pascal evil, Schopenhauer/Germany/Upanishads, CAPTCHA/Turing test/Lovelace, Noh/rock gardens/Zen, hypothesis/falsifiability/Occam's razor, cogito ergo sum/Descartes/Avicenna, Leviathan/Hobbes/survival, categorical imperative/Critiques/Kant, God arguments/Russell/teapot, Analects/Confucius/names, Augustine/Manichaeism/Confessions, God is dead/Nietzsche/Ubermensch

Social Science answer-lines: schizophrenia, Marx, Smith, Keynes, taxes, profit, Chomsky, English (orthography), gender (grammar), Aztecs, democracy, burial, Chinese New Year, Day of the Dead, norms/Milgram/anomie, Durkheim/PTSD/Stroop test, Ricardo/Corn Laws/WTO, GDP/PPP/McDonald's, monetarism/Friedman/inflation, vowels/dipthongs/non-rhotic, literacy/HDI/econ inequality, anarchy/Melos/Machiavelli, freedom of speech/Milton/prior restraint, marshmellow experiment/prisons/Zimbardo, object permanence/Piaget/reflex, glass ceiling/stereotype threat/self-fulfilling prophecy, Rosetta Stone/Ancient Greek/cartouche, public housing/white flight/gentrification, Gibbon/Dark Ages/revisionism

I am also interested in hearing how our interdisciplinary questions fared. Our philosophy behind these questions was to test not just depth of knowledge in a fixed category, but also how one topic, theme, or concept might connect different disciplines in a larger sense. We'd like to encourage players to explore between the very fixed canon categories in quiz bowl. These questions were limited to at most 1/0 or 0/1 a round, and mostly spanned literature and arts, but also reached out to philosophy, social science, mythology, and science. Examples include the democracy tossup, Muse/Eugenides/Milton, the cutting in Japanese aesthetics on Noh/rock gardens/Zen, Waiting for Godot/Beckett/Giacometti tree, x-ray/craquelure/patina, illuminated manuscript/Blake/watercolor, and arabesque/calligraphy/Poe.

EDIT (4/21): some answer-line adjustments in the new set
Last edited by marianna on Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: General set discussion

Post by samus149 » Sat Mar 22, 2014 11:43 pm

Some general comments before I go to sleep:

1) Two of my teammates complained that the visual art was not so great. They mainly bemoaned the lack of Renaissance era artists and a large amount of common link questions on "this country", "this object", "this person", etc. instead of on the actual painters.

2) Holy jazz, Batman! People complained about 3/3 jazz at NSC last year, and you put 3/3 jazz in a high school set, with most rounds with jazz having 1/1. I don't think I can name a single jazz artist that didn't come up in some form, and by the last questions we were mainly struggling to name someone who wasn't mentioned.

3) A lot of the bonuses followed an easy/easy-medium/" :capybara: you hard" convention (ones that come to mind are that one that went something/7/Sikhism and the Waiting for Godot/Beckett/Giacometti you mentioned), and a lot seemed to be jury rigged to fit around a really hard part (like that art conservation bonus). I understand that this is an above average difficulty set, but some gradation would have been better.

4) In regards to the sciences, I liked the physics and math for the most part, but the chemistry and biology were ridiculous. The first 3 lines of the biology questions were a lot of proteins I doubt any highschooler has ever heard of (e.g. that lysosome question), and the chemistry tossups used far too many obscure reagents that aren't even covered in an organic chemistry textbook (e.g that phosphorus question). I'll post some more specific comments tomorrow.

5) Some of these questions had answerlines that were way too fraudable based on the pronouns ("this type of ship" and "this choreographer" were particularly egregious examples). A couple of pronouns were also questionable, like "this building" for the Berlin Wall, but those were few and far between.

6) I thought that the RMP and social science were well done (and convertible), especially the religion and linguistics questions, which used a lot of new and interesting concepts.

7) In some bonuses, you spent 3 lines or so giving the easy part, when you could have just given the last clue and saved a bit of time. One extra tidbit is OK, three is excessive (e.g. flood bonus part).

8) I don't care what anyone says, Hunter writes the best trash and bonus leadins of any tournament ever. Never change.

One of our readers described this tournament as "very housewritten", and I have to agree. It's got all of the good and bad of a housewrite amplified threefold, but overall it was a great set.
Sean M.
HTHS '14
Cornell University '18
UCSB '23

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Re: General set discussion

Post by atai » Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:22 am

For our arts questions, we tried including more common-link answer lines to reward true in-depth knowledge rather than straight-up memorization of works by so-and-so, but I see why you might've felt gypped about the relative lack of traditional answer lines. We'll try to balance those out a bit more come next year.

As for the apparent abundant of jazz, we tried limiting our "other auditory" section (jazz, opera, and other non-classical topics) to 1/0 or 0/1 per packet, so I don't see how a 1/1 jazz quota would have been possible. Perhaps a cross-category clue in the same packet as a jazz question might've included some stuff about jazz, but we tried preventing that from happening.

I think we've all realized that with some pronouns, you can immediately narrow it down to a few answers. For example, "mineral" is almost always quartz or feldspar, "group" is almost always halogens or noble gasses, and "family" is most likely Medici. In this case, it was the fact that only two choreographers are commonly tossed up in quizbowl: Graham and Nijinsky. Sadly, this is a problem with quizbowl itself, and as housewriters we'll have to find a way to fix that. Someday.

We'll try to augment both accessibility and pyramidality next year. I'm glad you guys enjoyed the questions overall though.
Albert Tai
Hunter College High School '16
Columbia University '20

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Re: General set discussion

Post by marianna » Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:47 pm

Thanks for the detailed comments, Sean!
samus149 wrote: 1) Two of my teammates complained that the visual art was not so great. They mainly bemoaned the lack of Renaissance era artists and a large amount of common link questions on "this country", "this object", "this person", etc. instead of on the actual painters.
We had a tossup on the Sistine Chapel (paintings in), which was all Renaissance. We also had bonus about Hunters in the Snow and Titian's Olympia. One reason we didn't have an additional tossup on a Renaissance artist and instead incorporated Renaissance clues for into common-link tossups was that we were worried about convertibility, though this is something we'll think about in the future.
samus149 wrote: 2) Holy jazz, Batman! People complained about 3/3 jazz at NSC last year, and you put 3/3 jazz in a high school set, with most rounds with jazz having 1/1. I don't think I can name a single jazz artist that didn't come up in some form, and by the last questions we were mainly struggling to name someone who wasn't mentioned.
Which round do you recall having 1/1 jazz? I've checked through the packet doc, and other auditory (which jazz fell under) was limited to 1/0 or 0/1 in every round. I do notice jazz clustering around packets 6 to 8 and pushing some opera and musicals to rounds 12 to 15, a cluster we'll break up for future editions of this set.
samus149 wrote: 3) A lot of the bonuses followed an easy/easy-medium/" :capybara: you hard" convention (ones that come to mind are that one that went something/7/Sikhism and the Waiting for Godot/Beckett/Giacometti you mentioned), and a lot seemed to be jury rigged to fit around a really hard part (like that art conservation bonus). I understand that this is an above average difficulty set, but some gradation would have been better.
Thanks for pointing out some egregrious hard parts. The first part of the numbers in religion bonus was gematria, the Jewish system of assigning numbers to words. I'll alert the subject editors of those categories of your concerns. I was the literature editor, which the Beckett bonus fell under, so I'll address that one. I think the difficulty gradation between Godot and Beckett is fine, but I'll replace Giacometti with tree.
samus149 wrote: 4) In regards to the sciences, I liked the physics and math for the most part, but the chemistry and biology were ridiculous. The first 3 lines of the biology questions were a lot of proteins I doubt any highschooler has ever heard of (e.g. that lysosome question), and the chemistry tossups used far too many obscure reagents that aren't even covered in an organic chemistry textbook (e.g that phosphorus question). I'll post some more specific comments tomorrow.
Thanks for these comments! I'll defer to Sarah, our science editor, to address your concerns.
samus149 wrote: 5) Some of these questions had answerlines that were way too fraudable based on the pronouns ("this type of ship" and "this choreographer" were particularly egregious examples). A couple of pronouns were also questionable, like "this building" for the Berlin Wall, but those were few and far between.
In general, we were trying to avoid quizbowlese of "this object" and "this entity", which I'll discuss with the other subject editors. As for those specific questions, we'll replace Graham with "this person" for the first couple lines. When I wrote that question, I had considered Isadora Duncan as enough wiggle room, but yeah in retrospect, "this choreographer" was not a good idea. As for Berlin Wall, I had personally pointed out that pronoun a while ago to the editor in question, but the comment must have gotten lost for the pronoun to fall through in the end. Sorry.
samus149 wrote:6) I thought that the RMP and social science were well done (and convertible), especially the religion and linguistics questions, which used a lot of new and interesting concepts.
Great thanks! Especially in those categories, it was our goal to break out of the usual canon answer-lines by common-linking important and real knowledge things.
samus149 wrote: 7) In some bonuses, you spent 3 lines or so giving the easy part, when you could have just given the last clue and saved a bit of time. One extra tidbit is OK, three is excessive (e.g. flood bonus part).
Length control is a recognized problem. We'll trim the bonuses for future editions.
samus149 wrote: 8) I don't care what anyone says, Hunter writes the best trash and bonus leadins of any tournament ever. Never change.
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Re: General set discussion

Post by tnalfalfa » Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:33 pm

samus149 wrote: 4) In regards to the sciences, I liked the physics and math for the most part, but the chemistry and biology were ridiculous. The first 3 lines of the biology questions were a lot of proteins I doubt any highschooler has ever heard of (e.g. that lysosome question), and the chemistry tossups used far too many obscure reagents that aren't even covered in an organic chemistry textbook (e.g that phosphorus question). I'll post some more specific comments tomorrow.
First of all, thank you for your insightful and balanced commentary; I think I speak for the editorial staff when I say that we will certainly do our best to address your concerns before the next run of our set.

As science editor, I'll attempt to speak to some of the specific problems you've brought up (that in these cases, in retrospect, I agree with).

The wonky difficulty in chemistry and biology primarily stems from what may be two cardinal sins of question writing/editing: difficulty based on overexposure to the topic (the lysosome tossup is pretty representative of this: I conflated my sense of difficulty, i.e. that of someone who does autophagy research, with what can be reasonably expected of a high school student) and imperfect editing due to an unexpectedly contracted editorial working period (the phosphorus tossup would fall under this category).

I'm deeply apologetic that these types of questions have slipped through the cracks; I'll be going through the entire section and restructuring for difficulty for future editions.
samus149 wrote: 6) I thought that the RMP and social science were well done (and convertible), especially the religion and linguistics questions, which used a lot of new and interesting concepts.
Thanks! As Marianna said, we were trying with this set to ask for well-known topics somewhat outside the canon, especially given recent shifts away from philosophy and social science. This was the motivation for answer lines in socsci on holidays (Chinese New Year, Day of the Dead), more commonplace linguistic or grammatical concepts (English orthography, gender), and relevant modern sociology (urban decay, stereotype threat). I was also the social sciences editor, so I'm glad to hear that this seems to have worked out.
Sarah Hamerling
Hunter '15

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