2009 HSNCT question discussion

Dormant threads from the high school sections are preserved here.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Ken Jennings »

Cheynem wrote:My kneejerk answer on lit, mainly the American lit, is that a lot of it was too hard
That was part of our post-mortem analysis as well: much lit appears at NCT not because someone thought it would make a great NCT question, but because it was a submitted question that was clearly too hard for an IS set and not hard enough for SCT, so NCT ends up scooping up a lot of these "Twilight Zone" questions. (Rising difficulty at SCT lately, to stay commensurate with circuit events, has widened this gulf.) The end result is too many answer choices that aren't ideal for many high schoolers. Of course, given the caliber of a lot of the NCT players who post here, this audience may not have as many difficulty complaints as the attendees as a whole. Anecdotally, lit conversion didn't look too anemic to me, certainly not in the playoff rounds.
or too borderline academic. A bonus on individual Herman Wouk novels is completely unacceptable on a high school level. I'm now going to play my elitist card again and also sneer that Ellis Peters, Dick Francis, Nero Wolfe, Roger Zelazny, Douglas Adams, James Bond books, the Master and Commander series, and any number of works I'm forgetting are very very loosely academic at best.
Well, no, these are all clearly non-academic. I like this kind of stuff too, and as I was moderating I still felt like it was coming up disproportionately. (Disproportionate to what it will be next year, certainly, when there will be a hard, software-enforced cap.)

Pound (the only question at NCT to include the word "bitch"!):
This man wrote "And I love to see the sun rise blood-crimson" in a poem spoken by Bertrans de Born, "Sestina: Altaforte," and he called Western civilization "an old bitch gone in the teeth" in "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley." The volume "Section: Rock-Drill" contains poems LXXXV to XCV of his (*) major work, which notably includes Chinese characters. For 10 points--name this author of the "Adams," "Italian," and "Pisan" ~Cantos~.

Boll:
This author told of three soldiers discussing war on a trip from Paris to Poland in ~The Train Was on Time~. Another of his novels tells of a housekeeper who shoots T\:otges after helping a bank robber escape. Fifteen years before ~The Lost Honour of (*) Katharina Blum~, he wrote about Nettlinger wanting to see Robert Faehmel in a novel that attacked Nazism. For 10 points--name this German author of ~Billiards at Half-Past Nine~.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Cheynem »

Good hear about the cap for next year.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

Cheynem wrote:My kneejerk answer on lit ... is that a lot of it was too hard or too borderline academic.
Mike's right, especially about that borderline academic thing. Even in the then-absence of a popular lit cap, writers should realize that this is an academic tournament and simply not submit as many pop lit questions and especially not submit questions that mix pop and academic literature. Those annoyed me almost more than the straight trash literature because I had the feeling it enabled the bonus in which pop lit took part to be classified as academic anyway.

As far as too hard goes, it varied depending on the round. I thought the lit was almost too easy in some of them, but the bonuses could get way too difficult. Also, as I mentioned before in the other thread, tossing up people known almost exclusively for one work, at least in high school, is usually a bad idea unless you're creating higher-difficulty finals or playoff packets, which I understand NAQT does not do. The example I used previously was Laurence Sterne.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot »

I'd certainly agree that a lot of the lit was a bit too hard. Lawrence Sterne is one of those things that really good teams will snap up but bad teams will be befuddled by. Same deal with, like, Benet, The Luciads, and Le Cid. Ras the Exhorter seemed a bit unduly hard for the 3rd part of an Invisible Man bonus, but I don't know what you would put there instead (Juneteenth? Battle Royale? Tod Clifton? Sambo?). The Bret Harte tossup probably mentioned Cherokee Sal early. A tossup on Fortunato seemed sort of excessive. I knew exactly what the question was talking about from the leadin, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out which character was which (also, not remembering Fortunato's name didn't help). A tossup on The Cask of Amontillado would do the exact same thing. The tossup on the Ancient Mariner was also like this. Changing it to a tossup on the poem, not the character, would have made life easier for everyone. The Hero of Our Time/Lermontov/Byronic bonus was pretty solid until the 3rd part. It seemed very confusingly written and sort of a bizarre thing to ask about, given the clues. If I remember correctly, it talked entirely about what characteristics a Byronic hero had. I think a clue about Byron himself would have helped that bonus.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Charbroil »

Chris Ray wrote:I can only speak for myself, but I am repelled from writing for NAQT because of the character limits (which seem a needlessly tedious way to limit question length to begin with) and the need to have every question I send perfectly tagged in a completely unique markup language and devoid of even the most minor typo, lest the question be kicked back to me. If these things will no longer be part of the NAQT question writing requirements, it's likely I'd personally sign up to write, and I think plenty of other writers would as well.
I realize this came up a while back, but I did want to comment. While there are any number of solid reasons to not write for NAQT, such as objections to its distribution, etc., I really don't think this is one of them. Even without any sort of comprehensive coding guide on the NAQT admin site, it still takes an hour or two to figure out the system from browsing the various other guides which mention coding.

In any case, like Jeff mentioned, writers just have to put in the top level codes for subjects.
la2pgh wrote: The Hero of Our Time/Lermontov/Byronic bonus was pretty solid until the 3rd part. It seemed very confusingly written and sort of a bizarre thing to ask about, given the clues. If I remember correctly, it talked entirely about what characteristics a Byronic hero had. I think a clue about Byron himself would have helped that bonus.
I think one of the moderators (Andy & Hannah?) also made a comment about how Byron is hardly a "contemporary poet," though I think the question meant "poet contemporary to the works mentioned in parts 1 & 2. While unlikely, it's possible someone could get confused as to what definition of contemporary the question was going for.
Last edited by Charbroil on Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by The Atom Strikes! »

I think that the archetype that Pechorin fits is usually referred to as the "superfluous man"-- while he is a Byronic hero, superfluous man was the first thing that came to mind.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Sir Thopas »

Oh snap, there was a Laurence Sterne question? Awesome, can I see? Thanks.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by ieppler »

A.B.C.D E.F. Godthaab wrote:I think that the archetype that Pechorin fits is usually referred to as the "superfluous man"-- while he is a Byronic hero, superfluous man was the first thing that came to mind.
I, too, considered answering in the middle of the bonus part (we were down in the second half when we heard this bonus, if I remember correctly) with "superfluous man" before hearing the "contemporary poet" clue. I haven't had any academic experience with A Hero of Our Time, but Pechorin is frequently mentioned as a "superfluous man" in a quizbowl context.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by at your pleasure »

NAQT wrote: Pound (the only question at NCT to include the word "bitch"!):
This man wrote "And I love to see the sun rise blood-crimson" in a poem spoken by Bertrans de Born, "Sestina: Altaforte," and he called Western civilization "an old bitch gone in the teeth" in "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley." The volume "Section: Rock-Drill" contains poems LXXXV to XCV of his (*) major work, which notably includes Chinese characters. For 10 points--name this author of the "Adams," "Italian," and "Pisan" ~Cantos~.
Looking at this question, the biggest issue is that the clues order is a bit backwards. "Hugh Selwyn Mauberly" is probably better known than Section:Rock-Drill, since it's more frequently anthologized(of course, I could be wrong about this). If you want to use Cantos knowledge as a late middle clue, it would probably have been better to include something about the Pisan Cantos. That said, it's still nice to hear Pound come up as a tossup.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

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John the Parish-Clerk and Trim the Sexton argue over a Watch Coat in this man's satire of ecclesiastical York, A Plitical Romance. Another Trim, a corporal whose real name is James Butler, appears in his best-known novel as the servant of a man pursued by the (*) Widow Wadman, though he prefers to recreate the battle in which he was injured in the groin. Uncle Toby appears in FTP what man's Tristram Shandy?
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by ClemsonQB »

Sir Thopas wrote:Oh snap, there was a Laurence Sterne question? Awesome, can I see? Thanks.
Same for me, but sub in The Lusiads for Sterne.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Auroni »

Os Lusiades is a pretty hard literature answer choice at this level, as is Asturias.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

Charbroil wrote:I think one of the moderators (Andy & Hannah?) also made a comment about how Byron is hardly a "contemporary poet," though I think the question meant "poet contemporary to the works mentioned in parts 1 & 2. While unlikely, it's possible someone could get confused as to what definition of contemporary the question was going for.
That was in fact us. Sorry about the snarkfest, but if readers can get confused with the words in front of them, I can see how players would get confused hearing the word "contemporary" used to describe a poet and thinking that a 20th-century appellation had been attached to Pechorin.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Kaisuopai »

Regarding the literature discussion in this tournament:

I'm our team's ostensible lit player, and the only thing I took away from this tournament was the fact that I missed the only decent lit tossup (the Ancient Mariner) because my team had a bye that round, and that roughly every other round I played either ignored academic lit, tossed in something about James Bond, or had questions about authors that went completely over my head. Perhaps my perception is skewed by the fact that I had played a HSAPQ PACE-themed packet two weeks earlier, but I felt that this HSNCT particularly ignored literature and the fine arts for, instead, an overabundance of sports and pop TV culture.

I feel, after experiencing both PACE-themed and NAQT tournaments, as if NAQT is drifting further away from academic questions and closer to the range of random trivia - if questions about purring and Sea World are anything to go by. I live in San Diego; we have one of those right next door, but how many other quizbowl players would actually care about the Clyde and Seamore show? Meanwhile, practically every sports bonus that found its way into our hands went dead, and there were far too many of them. I acknowledge that I am not the most knowledgeable sports player, but I think it excessive for an "academic" tournament to have so many questions about a field where only sports buffs would be able to answer more than the bare minimum of questions.

I can say that I was turned off of NAQT by this HSNCT, and would prefer more academic tournaments in the future, but it's good to know that NAQT does actually listen to those who have issues with its distribution.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Auroni »

You seriously thought that the Ancient Mariner was the only decent lit tossup in this set?
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Cheynem »

Okay, I've said my piece against NAQT's lit tossups, but I really disagree that there was (1) good lit tossup. There were a good number of them and at least one question per packet definitely was a solid literature tossup or bonus. As far as I was counting too, I only noticed one James Bond mention in the whole tournament in a tossup #26 in some packet.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by TheKingInYellow »

Easily the most exciting round was the one with Asturias and Pound
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

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everyday847 wrote:This set of a dozen symphonies includes the ~Miracle~ and ~Drumroll~. For 10 points each--

A. Identify this group of compositions named for the city their composer was visiting during their composition.

answer: ~_London_ symphonies~

B. Name that composer, also known for pieces like the ~Philosopher~ and ~Surprise~ symphonies.

answer: (Franz) Joseph _Haydn_

C. The original performance of this Haydn symphony saw each musician in turn blow out his candle during the final adagio, leaving only two muted violins, to let Haydn's patron know that the musicians wanted to see their families.

answer: ~_Farewell_ Symphony~ or Symphony No. _45_ in F-sharp minor or ~_Abschieds_-symphonie~
I very much liked this bonus, although I defer to others on whether the last part should have been harder for HSNCT level. What I liked most about it, though, was how the last phrase of part C taught me something new without extending the length much and without being the only clue for that part (which would have made it pretty unanswerable). A good example of how a new clue can be introduced without making a tossup or bonus part impossible.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Kaisuopai »

Perhaps I should be more clear; the Ancient Mariner lit question was the only one that stood out to me, because I was not playing that round and could remember the questions better. I'm certain I got more Lit tossups than that one I missed, and that they were good literature, but they were obscured by the mass of trash and pop culture that I had to sort through in regular rounds.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by ihavenoidea »

Aaron,

Maybe this is me grumbling because I could not pull imines during a crucial match, but isn't that as a third part for your organic functional groups bonus too hard?
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

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ihavenoidea wrote:Aaron,

Maybe this is me grumbling because I could not pull imines during a crucial match, but isn't that as a third part for your organic functional groups bonus too hard?
I learned about it in Organic Chemistry, so I don't think it was too hard, and it is important for it represents Carbon double bonded with Nitrogen.

But it definitely is one that doesn't come up that often.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

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JelloBiafra wrote:pretty hard literature answer choice ... Asturias.
When I picked up the packet and saw that Asturias tossup, I thought for just a second "that's way too hard, better off saving it for SCT." Then State College showed up in my room and Graham buzzed on the first clue for a well-deserved 15.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by master15625 »

Can someone post the Lusiads tossup and the Asturias tossup?
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

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"This work's introduction praises Viriathus and Sertorius, and its 1,102 ottava rima stanzas are dedicated to King Sebastian. It contains a lengthy history told to the king of Melinde in modern-day Kenya and a personification of the Cape of Good Hope named Adamastor. The (*) 1497 voyage to India of Vasco da Gama is the backdrop for--for 10 points--what national epic by Luis de Camoes about the greatness of Portugal?"

I'm not thrilled with the "number of stanzas" clue here.

This went dead in round 8 (I don't remember which teams).

"While living in exile in Genoa, this author wrote of the sorceries practiced by Yumi and Catalina to control the title moon spirit in the novel Mulata de tal. His Banana Trilogy dealt with the exploitation of native peoples, a theme he would revisit in a novel about Gaspar Ilom and (*) Nicho. For 10 points--name this author of El Senor Presidente and Men of Maize, a 1967 Nobel laureate from Guatemala."

...whereas State College was able to buzz on the first sentence of this one.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by The Atom Strikes! »

I don't really like either of those tossups, because both seem like easy powers for teams that know what they are (I hear that Guatemalan authors would write about issues for bannana farmers and that Portugal had a King named Sebastian), but not gettable at all for people who don't know what they are. In short, they're both transparent and overly difficult.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Ondes Martenot »

Aaron,

Maybe this is me grumbling because I could not pull imines during a crucial match, but isn't that as a third part for your organic functional groups bonus too hard?
I don't think imines is inappropriate for a hard part at HSNCT. I remember it being tossed up at DII ICT (I'm not sure if this is the greatest justification) and it appears to come up a lot on the college level.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by kayli »

By the way, has anyone noticed the seeming plethora of Laplace based clues?
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot »

kldaace wrote:By the way, has anyone noticed the seeming plethora of Laplace based clues?
This reminds me. This tournament had 150000 questions on Chicago or Chicago things. Haymarket Square was referenced at least 3 times. I realize that Chicago is damn important, but it's not that important and it got frustrating and stupid. It was not cute, clever, or funny. One question on Chicago is good. Maybe 2 if you are feeling frisky. 10 is not.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Cheynem »

Eh, I'm not sure if that was intentional or not. I mean, Chicago comes up a lot in all sorts of disciplines and it wasn't like there were tossups on individual Chicago landmarks or stuff. Also, I was amused that all four of Detroit's sports teams were answers either as a tossup or a bonus part.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by matt979 »

grapesmoker wrote:
DumbJaques wrote:Was there really a tossup on Keyboard Cat at this tournament?
I think the writer of this question owes it to all the teams that played this tournament to come forward and apologize.
It was me; I hereby come forward and apologize. (The Freakonomics Blog and Fark.com tossups were also mine, but Pure Pwnage was not.)

While we're here: I neither wrote nor edited the purring question, but bear some responsibility for its staying in the set: as the last person to read through the packet it was in, I sent it out for a quality check but didn't have the cojones to bounce it outright.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by fleurdelivre »

Cheynem wrote:Eh, I'm not sure if that was intentional or not. I mean, Chicago comes up a lot in all sorts of disciplines and it wasn't like there were tossups on individual Chicago landmarks or stuff. Also, I was amused that all four of Detroit's sports teams were answers either as a tossup or a bonus part.
Yeah, there are occasionally quirky things like this in NAQT. Not at HSNCT, but over the course of several SCTs/ITCs, I've found a consistent 0/1 or 1/0 "geography of the Missouri bootheel" distribution per tournament (a tossup on "the bootheel of Missouri" at either SCT or ICT '05, a bonus part on MO at SCT '06 used the bootheel as it's only clue, there was something on New Madrid at SCT '08, apparently, and now a bonus involving rivers of the Missouri bootheel in playoff rounds?) I'm guessing it has to do with a smaller writing pool generating these questions, the the odd vanity inclusion stands out more.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

Cheynem wrote:...and it wasn't like there were tossups on individual Chicago landmarks or stuff.
Well, there was the Sears Tower tossup.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

This reminds me: In the semifinals, there was a comp math question asking for the interval over which a function is negative. Both teams (Dorman and State College) gave the answer [-3,-2], and both were counted wrong; the correct answer was said to be [-2,-3]. Could someone who knows more about math than I do explain why for an interval the order matters? Obviously, if it were a point, (-2,-3) and (-3,-2) would be quite different things, but it seems to me like either of the above answers should have been acceptable.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite »

HKirsch wrote:This reminds me: In the semifinals, there was a comp math question asking for the interval over which a function is negative. Both teams (Dorman and State College) gave the answer [-3,-2], and both were counted wrong; the correct answer was said to be [-2,-3]. Could someone who knows more about math than I do explain why for an interval the order matters? Obviously, if it were a point, (-2,-3) and (-3,-2) would be quite different things, but it seems to me like either of the above answers should have been acceptable.
If I remember the definition of the interval correctly, [-2,-3] would mean the set of numbers n such that -2≤n≤-3, which would be the empty set. So not only does order matter, but NAQT had it in the wrong order.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by New York Undercover »

what was the question? [-3,-2] should be the only correct answer- [-2, -3] is just not proper interval notation

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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Ondes Martenot »

Wasn't the answer [-2, 3]?
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

fleurdelivre wrote:I've found a consistent 0/1 or 1/0 "geography of the Missouri bootheel" distribution
Here's the list:

HSNCT 2009 (bonus with related things)
SCT 2008 (tossup mentioning the Bootheel)
SCT 2006 (bonus part)
ICT 2005 (tossup)

That's 2/2 "mentions the Missouri Bootheel" over five years of tournaments, which might be one question too many but I don't think is ridiculously excessive. Furthermore, these four questions were written by three different writers. (So it's a matter of different people all writing on the same minor topic over a lengthy period of time, not one person sitting down one day and saying "let's write four questions about the Missouri Bootheel!" Granted, it is certainly possible for writers with an agenda to submit lots of questions on one topic, but it's my impression that in the past 3-4 years our editors have gotten better about either rejecting some of them or spacing them out appropriately.)
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

klebian wrote:what was the question? [-3,-2] should be the only correct answer- [-2, -3] is just not proper interval notation
Having also made this neg, I surmised it was wrong because -3 is more negative than -2 and intervals are "read" from "left to right", or from least positive to most positive. Intervals like [0, 4] or [-1, 7] aren't usually written backwards as [7, -1] or [4, 0], though it's technically the same distance...
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

The only argument I can find on why there's actually any difference besides notational gimmickry between the two is that if the integral of a function on [-2, -3] is x, its integral on [-3, -2] is -x. Granted, there was no integration involved, so who knows. The problem would have been as easily stated as "Three answers required: find this function's roots and its sign between them."
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by matt979 »

HKirsch wrote:This reminds me: In the semifinals, there was a comp math question asking for the interval over which a function is negative. Both teams (Dorman and State College) gave the answer [-3,-2], and both were counted wrong; the correct answer was said to be [-2,-3]. Could someone who knows more about math than I do explain why for an interval the order matters? Obviously, if it were a point, (-2,-3) and (-3,-2) would be quite different things, but it seems to me like either of the above answers should have been acceptable.
(Sunday round immediately after lunch: Charter and Dorman on bye, four teams playing, rest of the overall field eliminated)
Packet 22 wrote: Pencil and paper ready. Baldwin wants to know the open interval on which the polynomial ~x~ squared plus 5~x~ plus 6 is less than zero; he knows that he can figure this out by factoring the polynomial and seeing which values of ~x~ make exactly one of those factors negative. He can then express that range of ~x~ values as an interval. (*) For 10 points--on what interval is ~x~ squared plus 5~x~ plus 6 negative?

answer: _(-3, -2)_ ["negative 3 comma negative 2"] or _x greater than -3 and x less than -2_ (accept equivalents, including _between -3 and -2_)
[The polynomial factors as (~x~ + 3)(~x~ + 2); for this to be negative, ~x~ + 2 would have to be negative but ~x~ + 3 positive, and thus ~x~ is between -3 and -2.]
The post below Hannah's is correct that "(-2, -3)" would imply x is greater than -2 and x is less than -3, which would be wrong.

As far as I can tell, the answer line above is correct. So I hope that the question was printed out the same way it currently appears in our DB (i.e. via our admin site).
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by matt979 »

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:
Cheynem wrote:...and it wasn't like there were tossups on individual Chicago landmarks or stuff.
Well, there was the Sears Tower tossup.
Packet 17 wrote:Complete destruction of this entity was allegedly the goal of one leader of the Moorish Science Temple. Naming rights to this entity are now held by a British insurance broker, while its original owner has long since moved to (*) Hoffman Estates. The May 2009 conviction of five of the Liberty Six, and a glass-bottomed Skydeck on the 103rd floor, are recent news stories involving--for 10 points--what Chicago landmark?

answer: _Sears Tower_ (accept _Willis Tower_)
I wrote this the evening the convictions were announced, as "these guys were convicted of trying to blow up the Sears Tower" seemed to be pretty newsworthy, and searching Google News also turned out stories about how the place might be renamed as early as June. In hindsight there's a lot more (non-academic) pseudo-geographic and business/GK content than would be in the ideal CE question, though it certainly wasn't intended to be "hey we're in Chicago! Local flavor!" If the Liberty Six had been accused of plotting to blow up the Space Needle...

Matt

(P.S. I did not write the (-3, -2) question mentioned above.)
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by matt979 »

Kaisuopai wrote:if questions about purring and Sea World are anything to go by.
Packet 11 wrote:This chain's Ohio property closed in 2001, but its remaining sites continue to operate roller coasters like the ~Kraken~ and shows featuring Clyde and Seamore doing things like "taking Pirate Island." It has plans to open a fourth facility in Dubai to parallel its operations in San Antonio, (*) Orlando, and San Diego. inBev now owns--for 10 points--what chain of marine mammal-based amusement parks whose logo is the {orca} Shamu?

answer: _SeaWorld_
I don't think the point of the Clyde and Seamore clue was that people would recognize the names so much as that they'd recognize that first-name-basis performers are probably animals, "taking Pirate Island" implies marine animals, etc. (Even ~Kraken~ and Seamore seem almost too obvious in writing, though out loud I imagine they'd be parsed as crackin' and Seymour.) This was a General Knowledge (probably should have been Pop Culture) question written by someone who has no San Diego connection that I know of.
Packet 8 wrote:Larger organisms that exhibit this behavior can only do so while exhaling. It has a species-dependent frequency of 25 to 150 hertz and can stimulate bone growth and healing; it may be an adaptation to maintain health despite long periods of rest or sleep. It appears to occur without vibrating the (*) {vocal cords} due to a rapid twitching in the larynx. For 10 points--name this sound associated with contented cats.

answer: _purr_ing
I think HSQB sharply underestimates the actual quality of this question. For one thing, someone claimed that it was unbuzzable before "vocal cords," but 'while exhaling' implies something vaguely respiratory and '25 to 150 hertz' implies a range of low pitches. Every clue in this question is zoological (admittedly it's more kid-friendly "discovery museum" science than lecture/lab science); the part about bone growth and healing I did find genuinely interesting (and new to me); and the "despite long periods of rest or sleep" should point you to creatures who veg out a lot (definitely felines; maybe some other creatures I'm not thinking of also fit the bill).

Perceived quality, on the other hand: It was utterly predictable that so many people would despise this question, and so if I had a do-over on my reading through that packet I would have bounced the question simply for customer service reasons.

(That same "perceived quality"/"customer service" issue is why, in internal discussion, I'm going to call for a sharp drop in HSNCT trash, and also why I'd previously been an outspoken computation apologist but now perfectly willing to throw HSNCT computation under the bus if that really does bring in the top-notch new writers/editors.)
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

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Packet 11 wrote:
This chain's Ohio property closed in 2001, but its remaining sites continue to operate roller coasters like the ~Kraken~ and shows featuring Clyde and Seamore doing things like "taking Pirate Island." It has plans to open a fourth facility in Dubai to parallel its operations in San Antonio, (*) Orlando, and San Diego. inBev now owns--for 10 points--what chain of marine mammal-based amusement parks whose logo is the {orca} Shamu?

answer: _SeaWorld_


I don't think the point of the Clyde and Seamore clue was that people would recognize the names so much as that they'd recognize that first-name-basis performers are probably animals, "taking Pirate Island" implies marine animals, etc. (Even ~Kraken~ and Seamore seem almost too obvious in writing, though out loud I imagine they'd be parsed as crackin' and Seymour.) This was a General Knowledge (probably should have been Pop Culture) question written by someone who has no San Diego connection that I know of.

Packet 8 wrote:
Larger organisms that exhibit this behavior can only do so while exhaling. It has a species-dependent frequency of 25 to 150 hertz and can stimulate bone growth and healing; it may be an adaptation to maintain health despite long periods of rest or sleep. It appears to occur without vibrating the (*) {vocal cords} due to a rapid twitching in the larynx. For 10 points--name this sound associated with contented cats.

answer: _purr_ing


I think HSQB sharply underestimates the actual quality of this question. For one thing, someone claimed that it was unbuzzable before "vocal cords," but 'while exhaling' implies something vaguely respiratory and '25 to 150 hertz' implies a range of low pitches. Every clue in this question is zoological (admittedly it's more kid-friendly "discovery museum" science than lecture/lab science); the part about bone growth and healing I did find genuinely interesting (and new to me); and the "despite long periods of rest or sleep" should point you to creatures who veg out a lot (definitely felines; maybe some other creatures I'm not thinking of also fit the bill).
No, that question is terrible. You cannot seriously submit that the clues in that question belong in the biology distribution. If I received a packet submission with this as a science tossup, I would send it back. If anything, I guess it's general knowledge but really it's just stupid.

You also seem to have a fundamental problem with understanding a very key aspect of good quizbowl. A lot of your previous post was spent justifying clues that "should point you" to certain conclusions, or should allow you to lateral and figure out the answer. Guess what dude? These clues are bad! There a freaking articles written about why these clues are bad. You do not want people to be pointed to conclusions that, given some brainwork, they can thus use to fraud out the answer. You want people to KNOW the clues you use and buzz, or not know them and not buzz. This principle is such a basic part of good quizbowl that I cannot understand how you can be in a position of final quality editing for the NAQT NATIONALS set and not get it.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by fleurdelivre »

bt_green_warbler wrote:
fleurdelivre wrote:I've found a consistent 0/1 or 1/0 "geography of the Missouri bootheel" distribution
That's 2/2 "mentions the Missouri Bootheel" over five years of tournaments, which might be one question too many but I don't think is ridiculously excessive. Furthermore, these four questions were written by three different writers. (So it's a matter of different people all writing on the same minor topic over a lengthy period of time, not one person sitting down one day and saying "let's write four questions about the Missouri Bootheel!" Granted, it is certainly possible for writers with an agenda to submit lots of questions on one topic, but it's my impression that in the past 3-4 years our editors have gotten better about either rejecting some of them or spacing them out appropriately.)
True enough. Still, I don't remember anything on, say, the Ozarks or other MO geography, so that pattern had always struck me as odd (also, it would appear that I've just happened to be at/hear about every instance of it - you have to realize I've only attended perhaps 6 NAQT tournaments in all my quiz bowl days). Nice to confirm it's only a slight statistical oddity.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by setht »

DumbJaques wrote:You also seem to have a fundamental problem with understanding a very key aspect of good quizbowl. A lot of your previous post was spent justifying clues that "should point you" to certain conclusions, or should allow you to lateral and figure out the answer. Guess what dude? These clues are bad! There a freaking articles written about why these clues are bad. You do not want people to be pointed to conclusions that, given some brainwork, they can thus use to fraud out the answer. You want people to KNOW the clues you use and buzz, or not know them and not buzz. This principle is such a basic part of good quizbowl that I cannot understand how you can be in a position of final quality editing for the NAQT NATIONALS set and not get it.
Chris, I think you've gone overboard in your response here; I guess that fits in with a lot of the other posts in this thread. Anyway, what you've written makes it sound like you disagree with, say, Andrew Yaphe's description of how the game is played. I agree with Andrew's claim that good quizbowlers playing on good questions do often get help figuring out answers (even to the point of buzzing) from clues they don't completely recognize. Do you disagree?

If you want to argue that the clues in the purring tossup and in Andrew's The New Science example are of drastically different quality (e.g. stuff people might learn in classes/from reading books vs. stuff about purring), I think that sort of distinction is a useful one. Suggesting that every clue should either be 100% useful (leads to a buzz) or 0% useful (no buzz, no narrowing down of the answer space, no pointing to certain conclusions) does not seem useful, not to mention impossible to implement.

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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

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matt979 wrote:I think HSQB sharply underestimates the actual quality of this question. For one thing, someone claimed that it was unbuzzable before "vocal cords," but 'while exhaling' implies something vaguely respiratory and '25 to 150 hertz' implies a range of low pitches. Every clue in this question is zoological (admittedly it's more kid-friendly "discovery museum" science than lecture/lab science); the part about bone growth and healing I did find genuinely interesting (and new to me); and the "despite long periods of rest or sleep" should point you to creatures who veg out a lot (definitely felines; maybe some other creatures I'm not thinking of also fit the bill).
To paraphrase The Dude: In the parlance of our times, YOUR ARE WRONG.

Seriously, this is an awful question for various reasons. First of all, the idea that someone is going to reconstruct "purring" from what amounts to "a low-pitched noise made by animals" is absurd. There's no obvious way to make that leap, since lots of animals make lots of noises and I have no idea what 25 to 150 Hz even corresponds to. The fact that you find various facts about purring interesting doesn't make for a good question; whatever the biological function of purring may be, there's just no way that clue is useful to anyone who doesn't have a Ph.D. in Cat Sciences or whatever. In fact none of the clues in the question with the exception of "this noise made by cats" are at all useful for figuring out what's going on.

In my opinion, which I'll post in the follow-up to this post, some people have made what I think are incorrect criticisms of the questions (e.g. Guy Tabachnik flipping out for no apparent reason over what looks like a perfectly normal bio question, as well as others). However, everything bad that people have had to say about this tossup is spot-on. The very fact that anyone from NAQT is on here trying to justify this question rather than meekly apologizing and moving on is very problematic and doesn't augur at all well for the continued quality of HSNCT. When your opinion is in wide divergence with the opinion of virtually everyone on HSQB, perhaps it is you who are overestimating the quality of this question.
Perceived quality, on the other hand: It was utterly predictable that so many people would despise this question, and so if I had a do-over on my reading through that packet I would have bounced the question simply for customer service reasons.
This is just insulting. This question is objectively bad; that's why it should have been booted, not because uppity people who think they know what's what are going to complain. This is a wrong, and frankly unacceptable attitude to have towards people who compete in your tournaments.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

setht wrote:Chris, I think you've gone overboard in your response here; I guess that fits in with a lot of the other posts in this thread. Anyway, what you've written makes it sound like you disagree with, say, Andrew Yaphe's description of how the game is played. I agree with Andrew's claim that good quizbowlers playing on good questions do often get help figuring out answers (even to the point of buzzing) from clues they don't completely recognize. Do you disagree?

If you want to argue that the clues in the purring tossup and in Andrew's The New Science example are of drastically different quality (e.g. stuff people might learn in classes/from reading books vs. stuff about purring), I think that sort of distinction is a useful one. Suggesting that every clue should either be 100% useful (leads to a buzz) or 0% useful (no buzz, no narrowing down of the answer space, no pointing to certain conclusions) does not seem useful, not to mention impossible to implement.
Seth, no one that I've ever spoken to has taken the position that you seem to think Chris espouses (i.e. that Andrew's method of "figuring things out" is somehow wrong or illegitimate and clues shouldn't enable that), including Chris himself. I'm going to assume that you don't actually intend to defend this indefensible tossup and just point out that these are obviously different situations. Andrew's example of a tossup on The New Science relies on giving you facts that, if you don't recognize the answer from those facts straight away, enable you to successively narrow down the list of possible answers. Obviously the purring tossup doesn't do anything of the sort; it just tells you "this is a noise made by animals" then blathers for a little bit, and ends with "NOISE CATS MAKE." That's awful and dumb and in no way like the example in your link.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

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grapesmoker wrote:
Perceived quality, on the other hand: It was utterly predictable that so many people would despise this question, and so if I had a do-over on my reading through that packet I would have bounced the question simply for customer service reasons.
This is just insulting. This question is objectively bad; that's why it should have been booted, not because uppity people who think they know what's what are going to complain. This is a wrong, and frankly unacceptable attitude to have towards people who compete in your tournaments.
Moreover, the principles by which we determine question quality are a function of the audience, right? Like, if you went back in time and showed this to a room of 1991 quizbowlers, they'd maybe be tickled. So the fact that everyone on the boards will perceive it as bad means that it actually is bad because they're evaluating it by our common community principles and finding it wanting.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

la2pgh wrote:I'd certainly agree that a lot of the lit was a bit too hard. Lawrence Sterne is one of those things that really good teams will snap up but bad teams will be befuddled by. Same deal with, like, Benet, The Luciads, and Le Cid. Ras the Exhorter seemed a bit unduly hard for the 3rd part of an Invisible Man bonus, but I don't know what you would put there instead (Juneteenth? Battle Royale? Tod Clifton? Sambo?). The Bret Harte tossup probably mentioned Cherokee Sal early. A tossup on Fortunato seemed sort of excessive. I knew exactly what the question was talking about from the leadin, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out which character was which (also, not remembering Fortunato's name didn't help). A tossup on The Cask of Amontillado would do the exact same thing. The tossup on the Ancient Mariner was also like this. Changing it to a tossup on the poem, not the character, would have made life easier for everyone. The Hero of Our Time/Lermontov/Byronic bonus was pretty solid until the 3rd part. It seemed very confusingly written and sort of a bizarre thing to ask about, given the clues. If I remember correctly, it talked entirely about what characteristics a Byronic hero had. I think a clue about Byron himself would have helped that bonus.
Hey, I just wanted to make a sort of meta-criticism of this thread. It seems to me that a lot of people are arguing about the wrong things, and while I don't want to pick on Charlie, I think he provides an example that I can use to make my point. I'm a little confused about criticism of questions on Lawrence Sterne, the Luciads, Benet, etc. From my perspective even as an old dude, these were things that were to one extent or another elements of my high school education. Granted, it probably wasn't entirely typical, but nothing so far has convinced me that these are unacceptable topics for a tournament ostensibly intended to crown the best team in high school quizbowl. None of these are illegitimate topics at this level of play. (Parenthetically, let me suggest that the real problem is the fact that HSNCT has 192 teams of whom the bottom two-thirds are pretty uncompetitive on these questions). Also, I don't see why there's a problem with tossups on literary characters; surely if you know something about the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, it isn't any harder to give the Ancient Mariner himself as the answer. Tossups on characters aren't always great but if done right they often mix up the answer space in a nice way. Finally, the criticism of the question on Asturias also strikes me as incorrect. I'm not sure how you can possibly jump from "bananas" to "Asturias" without knowing anything about his Banana Trilogy; it's not like Guatemala is the only Latin American country that grows bananas. If you knew it from that clue, good for you, but I find it pretty unlikely that this is giving away the question.

From perusing various questions that have been posted here and hearing about dubious answer selection, it's obvious to me that this tournament was not nearly as good as it could, or should have been. However, I caution against spending excessive energy picking nits on generally decent questions and in particular from making the "I knew it therefore it was easy and stupid" generalization, flavors of which I'm seeing here. I think this undermines the overall thrust of legitimate criticism and distracts from things that are actually problematic with the tournament.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

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everyday847 wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:
Perceived quality, on the other hand: It was utterly predictable that so many people would despise this question, and so if I had a do-over on my reading through that packet I would have bounced the question simply for customer service reasons.
This is just insulting. This question is objectively bad; that's why it should have been booted, not because uppity people who think they know what's what are going to complain. This is a wrong, and frankly unacceptable attitude to have towards people who compete in your tournaments.
Moreover, the principles by which we determine question quality are a function of the audience, right? Like, if you went back in time and showed this to a room of 1991 quizbowlers, they'd maybe be tickled. So the fact that everyone on the boards will perceive it as bad means that it actually is bad because they're evaluating it by our common community principles and finding it wanting.
Andy Watkins is the Potter Stewart of quizbowl.
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