Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:You're doing that rationalist thing again where you think you can disprove the proposition "X is true because X has been observed to be true" if you argue against it cleverly/forcefully/deeply enough. You cannot. You can never argue your way into Diels-Alder being answerable in high school quizbowl, or Respighi not being answerable. It is a completely impossible task.
I think I've identified where our break is here. I think that the reason that this happens is because we observe the empirical data point that more high schoolers choose to put the extra effort into going to that extra level deeper for Respighi than they do for Diels-Alder. So while there's no inherent difference in accessibility, there is in fact a difference in how that accessibility is realized in high school (perhaps because, in part, of the pressures of the canon guiding what new and exciting good academic topics high schoolers are exposed to--or perhaps because there's more of a qualitative separation between learning about terrible subject high school chemistry and awesome subject organic chemistry than between some composers and some other composers). So I guess if one wants to use what comes up in quizbowl to guide people to awesome topics, then points are the carrot. Otherwise, you're right: we have to perpetuate the status quo if we want to hit our ideal conversion targets every time. That's fair if that's your goal.
But that's exactly the point! No matter how many times you ask about Diels-Alder, more people won't learn what it is. Hell, people HAVEN'T learned what it is.

Think of the average high school player here. He doesn't read packets, so what he knows is entirely dictated by his studies and his reading. He has deep knowledge in some areas, spotty knowledge in others. He gets the occasional 30 when he knows a lot about a subject.
Imagine this player is interested in classical music, and he's just missed a part on Respighi:
"Hey, I've never heard of this Respighi guy, but he wrote something called The Pines of Rome. I can intuitively understand what's it's about, so I might listen to it later. It'll definitely be enjoyable, and it'll only take a few minutes. Plus, I'll be sure to remember it next time."
Now think of a science player who's just missed a part on Diels-Alder.
"Aromaticity...pericyclic...what the hell does that mean? This is way over my head. And something called "diene synthesis" is named after people named Diels and Alder? I have no idea what this question is even talking about, so it's just going to go in one ear and out the other. Anyway, I have no clue how I'd learn this stuff, since no class teaches it at my school, and I don't want to spend ridiculous amounts of money and time on an O-chem textbook."

On the off-chance that this player learns to associate the word "diene" with the names "Diels" and "Alder", congratulations! This player has learned absolutely no science. The fact is that high schoolers don't know Diels-Alder, and only the teams on this forum will learn it if you stuff it down our throats.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by AlphaQuizBowler »

Journey to the Planets wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:You're doing that rationalist thing again where you think you can disprove the proposition "X is true because X has been observed to be true" if you argue against it cleverly/forcefully/deeply enough. You cannot. You can never argue your way into Diels-Alder being answerable in high school quizbowl, or Respighi not being answerable. It is a completely impossible task.
I think I've identified where our break is here. I think that the reason that this happens is because we observe the empirical data point that more high schoolers choose to put the extra effort into going to that extra level deeper for Respighi than they do for Diels-Alder. So while there's no inherent difference in accessibility, there is in fact a difference in how that accessibility is realized in high school (perhaps because, in part, of the pressures of the canon guiding what new and exciting good academic topics high schoolers are exposed to--or perhaps because there's more of a qualitative separation between learning about terrible subject high school chemistry and awesome subject organic chemistry than between some composers and some other composers). So I guess if one wants to use what comes up in quizbowl to guide people to awesome topics, then points are the carrot. Otherwise, you're right: we have to perpetuate the status quo if we want to hit our ideal conversion targets every time. That's fair if that's your goal.
But that's exactly the point! No matter how many times you ask about Diels-Alder, more people won't learn what it is. Hell, people HAVEN'T learned what it is.

Think of the average high school player here. He doesn't read packets, so what he knows is entirely dictated by his studies and his reading. He has deep knowledge in some areas, spotty knowledge in others. He gets the occasional 30 when he knows a lot about a subject.
Imagine this player is interested in classical music, and he's just missed a part on Respighi:
"Hey, I've never heard of this Respighi guy, but he wrote something called The Pines of Rome. I can intuitively understand what's it's about, so I might listen to it later. It'll definitely be enjoyable, and it'll only take a few minutes. Plus, I'll be sure to remember it next time."
Now think of a science player who's just missed a part on Diels-Alder.
"Aromaticity...pericyclic...what the hell does that mean? This is way over my head. And something called "diene synthesis" is named after people named Diels and Alder? I have no idea what this question is even talking about, so it's just going to go in one ear and out the other. Anyway, I have no clue how I'd learn this stuff, since no class teaches it at my school, and I don't want to spend ridiculous amounts of money and time on an O-chem textbook."

On the off-chance that this player learns to associate the word "diene" with the names "Diels" and "Alder", congratulations! This player has learned absolutely no science. The fact is that high schoolers don't know Diels-Alder, and only the teams on this forum will learn it if you stuff it down our throats.
I think that Matt makes an important point here: creation-creator links are better remembered than science stuff. Someone who hears one question on Respighi without getting it will be able to get the next Respighi questions at least after Pines of Rome (if not earlier, since high school questions tend to reuse clues constantly) without any extra work besides listening to that first question. On the other hand, I can hear 5 questions on stuff like Diels-Alder before I latch onto anything unique and easily identifiable about it. It's just the nature of memory: titles are worded a specific way each time (because they're titles), while reactions, compounds, and structures can and should be described in different ways in different questions.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Also, if you don't know who Respighi is, it's really easy to find his basic works on youtube to listen to.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

AlphaQuizBowler wrote:It's just the nature of memory: titles are worded a specific way each time (because they're titles), while reactions, compounds, and structures can and should be described in different ways in different questions.
Shouldn't our duty as question-writers be to defy the favoritism of things with titles for clues over things with concepts for clues, ceteris paribus?
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:Also, if you don't know who Respighi is, it's really easy to find his basic works on youtube to listen to.
Yeah, I meant this point to come out a lot clearer in my post. You can just type "respighi" into youtube to find some of his works, but you need to take a class or study an expensive o-chem textbook to learn about Diels-Alder. It's just difficult to learn science independently.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

Journey to the Planets wrote:Yeah, I meant this point to come out a lot clearer in my post. You can just type "respighi" into youtube to find some of his works, but you need to take a class or study an expensive o-chem textbook to learn about Diels-Alder. It's just difficult to learn science independently.
http://www.organic-chemistry.org/namedr ... ction.shtm

http://www.chemtube3d.com/Diels-Alder%2 ... 20Exo.html

And, if you must, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diels%E2%8 ... r_reaction
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Charbroil »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote: Shouldn't our duty as question-writers be to defy the favoritism of things with titles for clues over things with concepts for clues, ceteris paribus?
Isn't this kind of missing the point? I don't think anyone is saying that Respighi is easier because you can learn about him via creator-creation, so much as the fact that you need a basic knowledge of organic chemistry to understand the Diels-Alder reaction, while you just need to know that Respighi wrote something called the Pines of Rome (which you can in turn go listen to ) to understand basic Respighi. Obviously, one is more difficult than the other (and thus less plausible to expect high schoolers to do)

Incidentally:
Charlie Dees wrote:I think what Charles is trying to say is that when trying to think about easy types of answers it would be good to think about whether you think non-quizbowl people who are educated might be able to answer the question just off of their own knowledge of the world, even if he may have worded it in a way that opens it up to problems with specific curricula and biases in your friend choice, etc.
Charlie summarizes my argument perfectly, with the disclaimer that I specifically added the comment about having smart friends because if you just write questions on what an average high schooler knows, you're hopelessly limited in what you can ask.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite »

Journey to the Planets wrote:You can just type "respighi" into youtube to find some of his works, but you need to take a class or study an expensive o-chem textbook to learn about Diels-Alder.
Doing that is about the same as showing someone a ball-and-stick model of Alanine. It doesn't help at all unless you already know what's going on.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

Not That Kind of Christian!! wrote:
Journey to the Planets wrote:Yeah, I meant this point to come out a lot clearer in my post. You can just type "respighi" into youtube to find some of his works, but you need to take a class or study an expensive o-chem textbook to learn about Diels-Alder. It's just difficult to learn science independently.
http://www.organic-chemistry.org/namedr ... ction.shtm

http://www.chemtube3d.com/Diels-Alder%2 ... 20Exo.html
Neither of those are useful to me in the least for the exact reasons that have been pointed out. I have no idea what the vocabulary means, and I'd have to do tons of independent work to find out. It's absurd to expect a critical mass of intellectually curious players to go through this kind of work.
Earthquake wrote:
Journey to the Planets wrote:You can just type "respighi" into youtube to find some of his works, but you need to take a class or study an expensive o-chem textbook to learn about Diels-Alder.
Doing that is about the same as showing someone a ball-and-stick model of Alanine. It doesn't help at all unless you already know what's going on.
I assume you're talking about "typing respighi into Youtube," in which case...huh? You don't have to know what's "going on" to convert a bonus part on Respighi. You just have to know he composed the "Pines of Rome." Listening to the piece will fasten the title into your memory, and anyone can understand music on some level. I'm not sure where you're going here at all.

Anyway, I'm loving the influx of collegiate science players saying that high schoolers should know O-chem. NEWSFLASH: We don't. We just don't, and no matter what you do, we won't.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Huang »

Journey to the Planets wrote: Neither of those are useful to me in the least for the exact reasons that have been pointed out. I have no idea what the vocabulary means, and I'd have to do tons of independent work to find out. It's absurd to expect a critical mass of intellectually curious players to go through this kind of work.
Journey to the Planets wrote: Anyway, I'm loving the influx of collegiate science players saying that high schoolers should know O-chem. NEWSFLASH: We don't. We just don't, and no matter what you do, we won't.
Wait, aren't basic organic chemistry terms, such as the names of the various organic compounds and the IUPAC nomenclature for organic compounds, reviewed over by all AP Chemistry classes in all high schools? Once you know those, it should be relatively easy to figure out what the heck clues are talking about for questions on the Diels-Adler reaction.

I agree science's slightly more esoteric nature makes it harder to learn than creator-creation list memorization (which is honestly just child's play when compared to understanding scientific concepts). But I don't agree that high schoolers shouldn't know organic chemistry at some level of competency to answer a third part bonus. However, I will agree tossups on such things are a bit too inaccessible to a majority of teams.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Captain Sinico »

Even if the argument can be made that some people in high school will learn some things about an organic reaction if you keep asking about, what they can really understand about it will be severely limited because most high school players (precocious as they are) will never have the background necessary to understand such a reaction. Therefore, questions on them are always going to be testing small differences in superficial knowledge and therefor be poor questions. I suppose the same cannot be said for all composers: a lot of high school players know a good deal about music and probably everyone knows some. Therefore, high school players are at least potentially able to answer good questions on it.
Further, we can't avoid the stricture on asking about things about which people have real knowledge and understanding (either as the result of study or effectively so) by saying "Well, make it a third bonus part, then." If anything that stricture should apply more to third bonus parts, because those are probably the second most important differentiators for better teams (behind only the types of tossups that come up.)
Finally, as usual, this debate has devolved into one on the fitness of single answers, which is really too bad. I'd say that probably neither the Diels-Alder reaction not Ottorino Rhespeghi is suitable for most high school tournaments, though the latter is certainly easier by any good measure. However that's just my judgment and, while I'll not-so-humbly note that it means more than most of yours', that's not what's important here. What is important is the fact that there are no organic reactions I can think of, including the recently called-for common link tossups on "additions" and the like, that is suitable for high school, whereas, even though most high school students don't take any kind of proper music class, there are many, many composers that ought to and can come up.

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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by kayli »

Considering Pines of Rome is on Fantasia 2000, I don't really consider Pines of Rome or Respighi to be that difficult of an answer; and I believe some one of my friend's high school orchestra was playing a rendition of it as a part of a concert. Organic chemical reactions on the other hand are a quite a bit more esoteric. The jargon itself is enough to drive people away from learning anything about it; and it's doubtful that people who try to learn it will actually understand what's going on.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I think it's silly to say that googling a composer's name and listening to their important works somehow means you still have artificial understanding of them. The whole point of music is that you listen to it - while it's great if you can buzz off clues about theoretical stuff, those should be limited to mostly early clues anyway, and if you are someone who doesn't have musical training but listens to good classical music, you should still be rewarded on some higher level than just associating some words for a science buzz. The buzz based on listening to a piece of music (doing what you are supposed to do to learn about it) and based on superficially browsing a science article and picking out some facts but not really understanding what they mean is completely different.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

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Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:I think it's silly to say that googling a composer's name and listening to their important works somehow means you still have artificial understanding of them. The whole point of music is that you listen to it - while it's great if you can buzz off clues about theoretical stuff, those should be limited to mostly early clues anyway, and if you are someone who doesn't have musical training but listens to good classical music, you should still be rewarded on some higher level than just associating some words for a science buzz. The buzz based on listening to a piece of music (doing what you are supposed to do to learn about it) and based on superficially browsing a science article and picking out some facts but not really understanding what they mean is completely different.
I'm genuinely curious about this--what's the type of clue i (as a complete novice to issues of music theory, but someone who enjoys listening to good music) would be able to buzz off of that would still privilege me over someone who learned the title of and some facts about a work on the internet? If these exist, I don't think I've played on many of them recently. I see your point about how that's different than superficially browsing a science article; I should clarify what I said--that level was meant to be about having real primary experience of a thing (listening to a piece, or seeing how the connectivity of atoms changes in a reaction from being able to read the diagrams on organic-chemistry.org or something) without having a second-level understanding of it.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

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Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I'm genuinely curious about this--what's the type of clue i (as a complete novice to issues of music theory, but someone who enjoys listening to good music) would be able to buzz off of that would still privilege me over someone who learned the title of and some facts about a work on the internet? If these exist, I don't think I've played on many of them recently. I see your point about how that's different than superficially browsing a science article; I should clarify what I said--that level was meant to be about having real primary experience of a thing (listening to a piece, or seeing how the connectivity of atoms changes in a reaction from being able to read the diagrams on organic-chemistry.org or something) without having a second-level understanding of it.
Harvard T-Party 2008 Editors wrote:This composer leaves the instruction “strike each note sharply” for the opening four note “row” that introduces the theme in the first of his twenty Piano Variations, while his Clarinet Concerto was commissioned by Benny Goodman. He wrote a work in which the trombones depict a fight between two drunks, and subsequently, the title character knifes his mother's murderer but is ultimately killed by Pat Garrett. The symphonic version of one of his most famous works omits the section "Ranch House Party," though it retains "Hoedown", while his best known ballet uses the tune of the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts," for 10 points, identify this American composer of Rodeo and Appalachian Spring.
There's three before the second buzzable* name clue.

*Admittedly, while the opening line seems to imply that it ain't Mozart, this could be (unless your moderator can pronounce capital letters) practically anyone. Heck, John Adams even has the awesomely-named Gnarly Buttons, so you really shouldn't be buzzing on Clarinet Concerto.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

I guess if I have a really good ear, I should be able to tell if a piece was commissioned by Benny Goodman or not and hear what markings are on the sheet music?
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

It makes it easier to buzz when you hear a general description of what a work sounds like, and also the more you listen to classical music the more you can figure out what is being asked for. Even if it is theoretically possible for someone to memorize titles, the way the circuit currently is with music, I think the people who are most likely to buzz off of titles are those who listen to the music, especially because someone who is regularly listening to music will be able to figure out things much more quickly like "this sounds like a concerto" or "these sound like 20th century composers" than someone who only studies lists.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

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Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I guess if I have a really good ear, I should be able to tell if a piece was commissioned by Benny Goodman or not and hear what markings are on the sheet music?
A four note row of notes being struck sharply in opening the first movement? Quite possibly.
A jazz clarinetist playing his clarinet concerto? It helps.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:It makes it easier to buzz when you hear a general description of what a work sounds like, and also the more you listen to classical music the more you can figure out what is being asked for. Even if it is theoretically possible for someone to memorize titles, the way the circuit currently is with music, I think the people who are most likely to buzz off of titles are those who listen to the music, especially because someone who is regularly listening to music will be able to figure out things much more quickly like "this sounds like a concerto" or "these sound like 20th century composers" than someone who only studies lists.
I really do want to say that this is damn close to the advantage of someone who casually looks at organic chemistry, but I guess that only in my sick, sick dreams do people casually do chemistry.

And Greg--amusingly, I wrote about half of the tossup you cite.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

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Crazy Andy Watkins wrote: but I guess that only in my sick, sick dreams do people casually do chemistry.
You should have seen my first semester exams.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by cvdwightw »

Why the heck are we arguing about chemistry or music or what have you? The point here is that canon expansion at the high school level is ridiculously out of control at all levels and in all categories. This thread would be better served searching out reasons why this ridiculous canon expansion is occurring and what we can do about it.

Here are some reasons why I think canon expansion is getting out of control:

1) The top teams are really, really good. Like, they'd be competitive on ACF Regionals and above questions. This is obviously a good thing. Reconciling this with the 90+% of teams at any given tournament that aren't national contenders is difficult. Do we care that State College is rarely being challenged by the hard part of the bonus? Should we? What about a team in the middle to bottom of the Morlan Preseason Top 50? How far down do we need to go such that "these teams can somewhat regularly convert the hard part of the bonus" is acceptable? Right now I think that cutoff is far lower than we're writing to.

2) Many questions are written by people with little to no direct experience with the current high school circuit, and question writers with a good handle on "what high schoolers actually know" often have problems with difficulty judgments. This is obviously a big problem with bad question writers, who put whatever the heck they want in their sets because they can, but it's also a problem with the three main sources of good questions - HSAPQ, NAQT, and high schools themselves. It's not like I'm immune to this phenomenon either. The biggest problem I see here is that, as Matt Weiner would say, people are writing ACF Regionals questions on high school answers. I'd like to think that this stems from two issues - first, that writers have some perverse impulse to include things they don't know at the beginning of the question, and second, that people continually reject good, easy clues as "too easy for anything but the giveaway."

3) Continued negative reinforcement on the boards. Other than a few comments on ridiculous questions in IS-A sets, I have yet to see a non-HFT tournament be derided on the boards for being "too hard." I have seen all sorts of criticisms of NAQT or HSAPQ questions that the early clues are too easy. What we don't get is the criticisms from random terrible teams in the middle of nowhere that the questions are too hard - apparently, only R. Hentzel gets those. What does this mean? It's not like we're rational people here. If we're being told our questions are too easy, well dammit, we're going to make those questions harder.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

3) Continued negative reinforcement on the boards. Other than a few comments on ridiculous questions in IS-A sets, I have yet to see a non-HFT tournament be derided on the boards for being "too hard." I have seen all sorts of criticisms of NAQT or HSAPQ questions that the early clues are too easy. What we don't get is the criticisms from random terrible teams in the middle of nowhere that the questions are too hard - apparently, only R. Hentzel gets those. What does this mean? It's not like we're rational people here. If we're being told our questions are too easy, well dammit, we're going to make those questions harder.
I couldn't agree more. I think one of the most damaging things imaginable is that top 25-type teams are seemingly completely unable to understand that they are good and should be buzzing in early on questions, and thus people like Matt Jackson get on the board complaining about how easy the leadins from some HSAPQ set when the reality is that the vast majority of teams would never ever be buzzing on the things he knows. Similarly frustrating, the only people who actually seem to be able to recognize the flaws in recent NAQT writing (or at least IS 86) are me and Bill Tressler, because all I hear about from the top players are that the set was immensely improved etc. In reality, the set, at least as it was in October, was full of tossups that had completely unbuzzable first halves that apparently new NAQT editing policy allows because they think they are appropriate to take up so much space so they distinguish between State College and Maggie Walker. To think this is an appropriate use of tossup space for a set with such a small maximum character limit, and in questions that are going to be played by mostly teams that would probably get zeroed by State College, is ludicrous. However, that didn't stop top high school players from being completely unable to understand that this was the case for the set, and that it is a problem, and I think the first post I heard to actually discuss it was the one where Tressler completely accurately labeled these Eiffel questions. Top high school players, unless you stop being so self centered, quizbowl is going to be driving out worse teams by the absurdly ramped up difficulty of sets that are supposed to be played across the country. If you want awesome differentiation, go to ACF Winter or Regionals or some other college event, and wait until nationals when there is actually a good reason to write questions that cater to you. Until then, please shut up about sets that are supposed to appeal to much worse teams than you being "too easy."
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Cheynem »

I think high school quizbowl writing would be vastly improved if people stopped a second and realized that the high school players posting on the boards are not representative examples of high school quizbowlers. Even those who balk at being labeled "good high school players" are for the most part really, really good high school players. I'd argue that for every regular season high school set (with a few, perhaps modest exceptions like Weekend of Quizbowl), these players should not be the target audience at all.

Also, I agree with Charlie that the the self-flagellating "these questions are too easy" threads or posts that appear after various high school tournaments, full of grumbling about "stock clues," "easy powers," etc. is very, very unproductive for high school question writing.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Yeah, and for those who need me to logically connect the dots for them, the only reason NAQT has adopted this new policy of writing to distinguish between top teams is because the top teams wouldn't shut up on the boards about how easy their questions in the past have been. So it's your fault if these sets now moving into the realm of unusable for teams that aren't in the top 100 start driving off players who we might otherwise be able to convince to play and enjoy good quizbowl.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Matt Weiner »

Yeah, there has to be a happy medium here. The old approach of deriding any complaints from good players about games on such-and-such questions being meaningless buzzer races as the product of "elites" was obviously unsatisfactory; the other side of the pendulum, where people who don't understand the difference between difficulty and quality are placated by writing overly hard questions, is just as unacceptable. It's entirely possible to write good high school questions that provide real games for all levels of teams, but it requires, among other things, that good high school teams realize that "getting a lot of early buzzes and 30s on bonuses" is how good high school teams are supposed to play high school quizbowl, that this has always been the case, and this is the way it must be, for all sorts of reasons. Grow some self-esteem and stop assuming that any set you can do well on is too easy.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Yeah, this can be looked at as trying to stretch the field of high school teams across more score-space. I was happy when State College got all the science points available on the finals packet, for example.

Outside of the State College context, if a team is the best in the nation at a thing, then it's no crime for them to buzz on all your first clues and get all your bonus parts about that thing, because indeed a fair question set has them beating everyone else at that thing. If that's quizbowl, if that's quizbowl science, or whatever, it doesn't matter. You don't need to determine games among top high school teams by who gets 17ppb and who gets 5ppb; that's crazy talk.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:
3) Continued negative reinforcement on the boards. Other than a few comments on ridiculous questions in IS-A sets, I have yet to see a non-HFT tournament be derided on the boards for being "too hard." I have seen all sorts of criticisms of NAQT or HSAPQ questions that the early clues are too easy. What we don't get is the criticisms from random terrible teams in the middle of nowhere that the questions are too hard - apparently, only R. Hentzel gets those. What does this mean? It's not like we're rational people here. If we're being told our questions are too easy, well dammit, we're going to make those questions harder.
I couldn't agree more. I think one of the most damaging things imaginable is that top 25-type teams are seemingly completely unable to understand that they are good and should be buzzing in early on questions, and thus people like Matt Jackson get on the board complaining about how easy the leadins from some HSAPQ set when the reality is that the vast majority of teams would never ever be buzzing on the things he knows
This doesn't detract from your main point, which I wholeheartedly agree with, but Matt Jackson has done no such thing. Actually, people should follow the example he sets on this forum. Here's what he said about HSAPQ set #8:
Matt Jackson wrote:I disagree entirely with Aidan's earlier posts about powers - the powers were accessible to good players without being too stingy or nonresponsive to good buzzes (as they seemed to be in ACF-3 last year)
People should follow his example and not censure every clue they know as "stock". Honestly, we should just delete that list of stock clues on the qbwiki. Stuff like Carson McCullers losing her money to go to Juilliard, fine. That's a stock clue because it's trivial and has nothing to do with literature in addition to being reused ad nauseam. In other words, a player who buzzes off of that clue is earning points based on trivial knowledge important only in quizbowl. But De Gaulle writing The Army of the Future? That's actually important! Sure, don't make it an early clue in every single question, but if you get an early buzz off of it, you deserve that buzz. You know something about De Gaulle that the other team likely doesn't. Don't sweat it. Go to college tournaments if you want to be challenged by early clues and third parts; go to HSAPQ tournaments to play high school quizbowl.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

You don't know what you're talking about Matt Bollinger. This has in fact been a real problem in the past with Matt Jackson, so I don't just make up things out of thin air.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Also, the names of players that do it is kind of irrelevant, I'll again simply post that this situation sucks and any good player who cares about the future of quizbowl should take up difficulty complaints privately to find out whether they have any validity before posting on the boards.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by aestheteboy »

Chuq mentioned something about being self-centered, but as human beings we have all the reasons to be self-centered. If I were as good as State College or Gov, and all the sets that I could play were ones that I get 27 ppb on, I would certainly be pissed that the questions are so easy - I don't learn much playing sets like that. The reason that I wouldn't (and any good HS players shouldn't) complain is not because I care about teams that can't break 13ppb on HSAPQ sets, most of which probably could care less about improving anyway, but rather because the premise is false. There are, in fact, sets that I could play that would challenge me, and they are called college sets. High school players, if you think the set you played is too easy, it probably is. Don't complain about it, go to college tournaments. They are fun.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Daichi, you still say in there that the sets are "too easy." What I'm saying is that they are in fact not too easy for high school. They provide appropriate gradation between many diverse tiers of teams. The top teams still get to play games that are fairly well determined, since there are still leadins and hard parts of bonuses to do some degree of differentiating. On top of that, every other level of team gets a good degree of differentiation as you move downward in skill, which means that the set is perfectly appropriate for high school play. To have high school teams boycott HS-level events because they are above them is somewhat ridiculous, since there are lots of good teams who can and should be playing these kinds of events. I refuse to believe that there are literally no clues in any given packet that a player doesn't already know, because if that were so there would be oodles of individuals scoring 800 points on each game. This is obviously not the case.
Yes, if you want to improve, playing some college events is good. I did it in high school, and it helped me immensely. But I don't think it is productive for us to just say "if you're a good high schooler you should ignore high school tournaments." There's a reason there is a high school circuit - it's because high school teams should play tournaments. Your team has some degree of responsibility to help out the high school circuit by funneling money into it, and providing other people with the chance to play competitive games. I know complaining about people being elite is silly for the most part, but I do think if we produce a circuit of high school teams who are too cool to be bothered by the little people that want to play well written high school sets, that would be unbearable. Other problems this presents if your team only cares about college quizbowl is what to do if you want to attract new members - I'm sure any team that only goes to college tournaments in high school will have some problems staying around very long. All the best high school players who like college stuff not got good first on high school sets, so obviously this model of high school retention works.
Also, I have noticed more and more of this lately, but I feel like a lot of posters on this board are kind of spoiled as far as quizbowl goes. If you think it's possible for good teams to just play college tournaments and somehow keep that up as a competitive season of events, you must have grown up in a very lucky location or are not thinking this through. In the vast majority of the country, teams do not have the ability to travel more than 2 hours from where they are, and thus don't have more than 3 or so good college tournaments in their vicinity. In places like Missouri, teams have all kinds of threats leveled at them if they think about doing something like playing in college tournaments. In lots of places, good quizbowl in high school in the first place - good sets first, then add on competitive teams and well run tournaments, are rarities to begin with, so I can't imagine how a top notch team happening to pop up in one of those places would be in the wrong for thinking those events are still meaningful. There are all kinds of factors like this that make your idea pretty stupid for lots of competitive teams. If I had taken your approach in high school, I would have gotten my football team banned (and probably beaten up) and all I could have played were events I could save up the money to fly to because I didn't have a car or administrative backing. Similarly, the closest college tournament run to me was in Kirksville, a 3 hour drive away.
It is clear that the only reason anyone could possibly think that suggestion is sane is that they are from the mid-Atlantic where there are lots of tournaments they can get to within a couple hours, and they play lots of competitive games routinely, and are lulled into somehow thinking the teams they see a couple times a month are so magically special that they are beyond deigning to play everyone else on these lowly questions (that are immensely better on average than anywhere else in the country). This is not a good mentality. Promoting any environment where high school players are encouraged to not go to tournaments they are eligible for is horrible and contrary to everything that the spread of good quizbowl is about.
Last edited by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) on Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by AKKOLADE »

aestheteboy wrote:High school players, if you think the set you played is too easy, it probably is.
I think you forgot the key phrase "for you," as in, "if you think the set you played is too easy, it probably is for you."
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Monk »

Huang wrote: Wait, aren't basic organic chemistry terms, such as the names of the various organic compounds and the IUPAC nomenclature for organic compounds, reviewed over by all AP Chemistry classes in all high schools? Once you know those, it should be relatively easy to figure out what the heck clues are talking about for questions on the Diels-Adler reaction.

I agree science's slightly more esoteric nature makes it harder to learn than creator-creation list memorization (which is honestly just child's play when compared to understanding scientific concepts). But I don't agree that high schoolers shouldn't know organic chemistry at some level of competency to answer a third part bonus. However, I will agree tossups on such things are a bit too inaccessible to a majority of teams.

As an actual high-schooler, from a not-particularly-exemplary school, I can say that our Chemistry 1 class covered no organic chemistry at all, but our A.P. Chemistry class had chapters on alkenes, alkynes, alcohols, ethers, etc. I've never heard of Diels-Adler.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Important Bird Area »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:the only reason NAQT has adopted this new policy of writing to distinguish between top teams is because the top teams wouldn't shut up on the boards about how easy their questions in the past have been.
The Scylla and Charybdis of writing good quizbowl: transparent/fraudulent leadin vs. difficulty cliff.

It's entirely possible that too many of our questions have fallen victim to the latter this year, but I want to emphasize that any such result is not the result of policy change on our part. In particular, most of the writers and editors for IS #86 and #88 are the same people who produced last year's sets. We don't write IS sets whose primary objective is to distinguish between the two best teams in the country. Of course we believe that an IS set will offer a fair game between, say, Maggie Walker and State College, but it's fine if that game features 25 ppb and lots of power tossups. When we write questions meant to provide the best possible resolution to that kind of match, the result is of course HSNCT, not an IS set. At the IS level the first order of business is of course to provide a set that is difficulty-appropriate for a broad range of high school teams nationwide.

I may start a new thread about this later tonight after I look up some stats. But I haven't seen a lot of feedback that "IS #86 and IS #88 were as hard as the 2009 HSNCT."
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I know I talked you through 9 rounds or so of these questions and the responses I was hearing at first were often that you didn't mind these absurdly hard clues being used because they are there to differentiate between Maggie Walker and State College. As I said, the reason you aren't hearing complaints about this problem from good high schoolers is because they have made it abundantly clear many of them are completely unable to think about anything other than their preferences to not have leadins they know and realize that they are good teams that should be buzzing early and often on most tossups, and letting the last 3/4th of the question differentiate the rest of the populace. Having a whole sentence that is probably unbuzzable for State College and Southside or whoever else is good in an NAQT tossup will lead to those particular teams not noticing, but also to the tossup being reduced to a 3 line tossup for everyone, which makes it less playable for high school. Hopefully my input has improved IS-86 some and this is not a current problem for the set now being played, but when I directed MU fall is was a huge concern, and I am not alone in thinking that, since experienced coach Bill Tressler pointed out the exact same problem.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by aestheteboy »

Well yeah, "for you" is implied. Obviously I'm only talking about top 10 teams or so. I'm also not denying that there are some things you can learn and some level of differentiation at HS events. I'm only saying that you learn more, have better differention, face better competition, etc. at college tournaments. Thus, for the top teams, college tournaments are better than HS tournaments, and HS tournaments are better than no tournaments. Whether or not they attend HS tournaments is not the point here, and I'm certainly not advocating that they boycott those events.

If you can go to college tournaments, by all means go to them, and go to them over HS tournaments. If other people think that's "irresponsible" and "unbearable" that's their perogative - whatever; it's pretty stupid to say that you are looking down on other teams if you choose to attend an event that is difficulty appropriate for you instead of one that is not. If you can't for whatever reason (unwilling teammates, location, stupid regulations, etc.), then . . . don't go. It's always been true that you can only go to tournaments to that you can go to. There's nothing insane about getting to play only one tournament a semester (I'm talking about myself); it's just unfortunate.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by nobthehobbit »

To sum up all of the above with which I agree:

Regular difficulty != able to reliably and consistently distinguish between teams likely to meet in a nationals final.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Important Bird Area »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:Similarly frustrating, the only people who actually seem to be able to recognize the flaws in recent NAQT writing (or at least IS 86) are me and Bill Tressler, because all I hear about from the top players are that the set was immensely improved etc. In reality, the set, at least as it was in October, was full of tossups that had completely unbuzzable first halves that apparently new NAQT editing policy allows because they think they are appropriate to take up so much space so they distinguish between State College and Maggie Walker.
As I said above, this doesn't reflect any kind of actual policy choice on NAQT's part.

But I think Charlie is on to something anyway. I just ran through some stats from naqt.com, selecting all of the teams from the UCLA and DAR tournaments that met the following criteria:

-played the tournament in both 2008 and 2009
-put up at least 10 ppb at the 2008 event

(The second one is there because teams under 10 ppb are scoring most of their points from giveaways and easy parts, and the canon of those easiest answers at the high school level is something close to static. We need to look at the top half of the field to figure out how buzzable the earlier clues are.)

That generated 13 teams, which isn't a huge sample. Still, the result was striking: power numbers on IS #86 were only 77% of what they were on the 2008 sets. It might be possible to attribute this to graduations: perhaps disproportionately many of these teams were dominated by seniors and had a tough recruiting year? I checked up on bonus conversion, too, though, and #86 had bonuses that were actually easier (105% as many points scored as the same teams had a year before). That means the simplest explanation is exactly the one Charlie provides: that we responded to criticism about transparency and buzzer races by overshooting the mark and producing sets with too many difficulty cliffs late in the question.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote: I think one of the most damaging things imaginable is that top 25-type teams are seemingly completely unable to understand that they are good and should be buzzing in early on questions, and thus people like Matt Jackson get on the board complaining about how easy the leadins from some HSAPQ set when the reality is that the vast majority of teams would never ever be buzzing on the things he knows.
I don't actually do this! Nor do I remember actually having been a problem in the past - above all else, I've complained more about the difficulty of questions I've done well on, precisely because they weren't accessible enough to a general audience.

Perhaps you've mixed me up with Neil Gurram or another player who did do lots of "i know this so its easy" type complaining last year, which would be a forgivable mistake. As far as I know, that's not the type of complaint I've made any time in the recent past.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by cornfused »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:And Greg--amusingly, I wrote about half of the tossup you cite.
That's why I cited it.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Ondes Martenot »

power numbers on IS #86 were only 77% of what they were on the 2008 sets. It might be possible to attribute this to graduations: perhaps disproportionately many of these teams were dominated by seniors and had a tough recruiting year?
Jeff, do you think it's possible that the writers have become more stringent with their power marks but the questions themselves haven't gotten any more difficult? As in, some fact they felt deserved 15 points a year or two ago now they feel only deserves 10 points...
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Important Bird Area »

aarcoh wrote:Jeff, do you think it's possible that the writers have become more stringent with their power marks but the questions themselves haven't gotten any more difficult? As in, some fact they felt deserved 15 points a year or two ago now they feel only deserves 10 points...
That might be possible, and if so the blame lands on my own doorstep, because I did a lot of the power-marking for IS #86 myself. Let me spot-check some of the history and geography and see I what I think.
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Re: Canon Expansion, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and You

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Our version of the packets has power marks that extend 2-3 lines into each tossup for the most part, which is par for the course for old NAQT packets from what I remember.
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