NAQT distribution change 2010-11

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NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:20 am

Discussion thread for now; I hope to have an announcement soon.
Kwang the Ninja wrote:I guess since there's no separate thread for it yet I'll talk about it here. I hate the distribution that was used for SCT this year, which I'm fairly certain was very similar to, if not identical to, the one used for IS sets. I understand that NAQT has to market their lower level questions to teams that could really care less about quizbowl, and that it's hard to attract those teams if every round they have to sit through tossups on boring anthropologists and Japanese authors they've never heard of. But for SCT, it really should be about which team knows more, and not which team happened to watch some History Channel documentary on, like, mundane household items. Also, all trash giveaways in academic tossups should be taken from these sets; if teams can't convert tossups on academic answers based on academic information, they shouldn't convert those tossups, period, and they definitely don't deserve a shot at qualifying for ICT because they know (to use a poor made-up example) that beat poet Jack Spicer shares his name with Shaolin Showdown villain Jack Spicer.
PS. It goes without saying that trash lit needs to be eliminated from the SCT set.
I'll start by noting that the 2010 DII SCT used our normal college distribution, not an IS distribution. (Example: the DII SCT contained 10/11 philosophy; IS #95 contained 4/4)
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Mike Bentley » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:45 am

I'd like to see technology and science current events excised. These questions are obnoxious to write and probably end up badly (although I don't recall what questions actually fit into these categories last year).
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by nobthehobbit » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:54 am

For myself, I don't see a problem with trash lit in SCT provided that it's in the PC_Sports section of the distribution (rather than the Literature part) and is scaled accordingly with its top-level category. I don't have a problem with trash lit being in Misc_PC. If it's in Misc_Lit (or any other part of Literature), that's another matter.

Also, why is sports so heavily emphasized over other aspects of popular culture? Just about every trash tournament I've seen puts sports, music, TV, movies and other on a roughly equal weighting. (CULT's distribution does this, for example.)

Two other notes (these apply equally well to the IS and HSNCT distributions with adjustments for specific examples):

1. At the top of the distribution page, there's a note that I find awkward: "The only difference between the actual packet sets' distributions and this template is that in each category (not only the innermost categories) at most one question may be shifted from tossup to bonus (or vice versa). For instance, if a category is listed as 0/1 here, it does not mean that every packet set will have a bonus and no packet set will have a tossup; it will be split approximately 50-50 based on the random number that "salts" the distribution for each packet set." Does this affect only categories listing unequal numbers of questions on tossups and bonuses despite equal weights (such as Classical_Myth and Astronomy), or can this affect any category (that is, could something like Fine_Arts: Visual be any of 17/15, 16/16, or 15/17)? If the former, why not use the x.5/x.5 notation that a number of other tournaments use in their distributions? It would probably be simpler to explain, and teams that go on to play other tournaments (especially packet-sub ones) that use that notation would then already have been exposed to it (well, if they look at NAQT's distribution).

2. One criticism I've seen about NAQT sets is that there is (apparently; I apologize if I'm wrong on this) no guaranteed per-pack distribution. Could NAQT publish such? For instance, a guarantee of 1/1 Bio, 1/1 Chem, 1/1 Phys and 1/1 other Science, and the like, so that there would be a "guaranteed portion" of the packet (ie the stuff you know you'll get in each pack), a part of the pack where it's known what categories will be drawn from for it (ie neither, say, Religious_History nor Misc_Europe_History should get even 1 question per pack, but between them perhaps they should, with a rough 50-50 split?), and then a small "salted" portion (where, for instance, the Foreign_Language question would go)?

Also, the unequal tossups/bonuses weights in the Miscellaneous section seems to throw off everything else (I'm looking at that 44/41 in English_Lit, never mind top-level distributions). Could that at least be reduced so that there aren't more bonuses there than there are tossups (so 8/8 Mixed_Pure_Academic, 6/6 Mixed_Impure_Academic and 3/3 Mixed_or_GK) and bonus distributions elsewhere be correspondingly increased (so that there would be 44/44--or maybe 43.5/43.5--in English_Lit)?
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:09 am

nobthehobbit wrote: 2. One criticism I've seen about NAQT sets is that there is (apparently; I apologize if I'm wrong on this) no guaranteed per-pack distribution. Could NAQT publish such?
I'm not sure I understand; how would this be different from the "per packet" column of the existing distribution page?
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:13 am

nobthehobbit wrote:Also, the unequal tossups/bonuses weights in the Miscellaneous section seems to throw off everything else (I'm looking at that 44/41 in English_Lit, never mind top-level distributions). Could that at least be reduced so that there aren't more bonuses there than there are tossups (so 8/8 Mixed_Pure_Academic, 6/6 Mixed_Impure_Academic and 3/3 Mixed_or_GK) and bonus distributions elsewhere be correspondingly increased (so that there would be 44/44--or maybe 43.5/43.5--in English_Lit)?
That's there precisely because it's easier to write a Mixed bonus than a Mixed tossup (that is: there are some bonuses that are one part history, one part literature, one part fine arts (or whatever)).
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by nobthehobbit » Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:38 am

bt_green_warbler wrote:
nobthehobbit wrote: 2. One criticism I've seen about NAQT sets is that there is (apparently; I apologize if I'm wrong on this) no guaranteed per-pack distribution. Could NAQT publish such?
I'm not sure I understand; how would this be different from the "per packet" column of the existing distribution page?
It's all the small decimals there that are throwing me off, I suppose. For instance, Literature is listed at 5.2/5.0 (from what I can tell, this is actually 5.25/5.00) in that column. What does this mean? Does it mean that there will be 5/5 Literature guaranteed in each packet, with 1 extra Literature tossup per four packets? Science, on the other hand, has 81/78 in the set. Does this mean that each packet will have 5 Science tossups, with 1 of the 16 packets having an extra Science tossup, and that each packet will have 4 Science bonuses, with all but two having 5?

The same question applies to the various subdistributions: does that 1.1/1.0 in Biology (If I'm getting this right, 1.0625/1.0000) mean that each packet has 1 Bio tossup and 1 Bio bonus, with one packet having 2 Bio tossups (or bonuses, if that 17/16 actually means 16.5/16.5)? Or can there be packets with no Bio bonuses?

What I was getting at was something that would say, unequivocally, that each packet will have some part with a guaranteed distribution (no fractions, except possibly the x.5/x.5 and only when it's clear where the other .5 is coming from), and that packets will then be filled by questions like the Foreign Language question, the 1 extra Bio question (if 1/1 Bio per pack is guaranteed), etc., that is, the "leftovers", along with the current list of the relative weights within the overall distribution.

Also, regarding your Mixed note: Sure, bonuses are easier to mix than tossups. (I actually like mixed-subject bonuses.) That's why I'm not saying "I think you should take 6 of the mixed bonuses and turn them into mixed tossups, so that you have 20/20 Mixed," but rather "I think you should take 12 of the mixed bonuses and turn them into bonuses in other categories, so that you have 14/14 Mixed and more unmixed bonuses."
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:56 am

nobthehobbit wrote: It's all the small decimals there that are throwing me off, I suppose.
Just to take a couple of categories where the math is relatively straightforward:

There's 17/16 physics in the SCT, for 1.1/1.0 per packet.

That's 1/1 physics in each of 15 rounds, and 2/1 physics in the other one.

American literature is 22/21 in the whole set, 1.4/1.3 per packet.

Two rounds have 1/1 American lit, six rounds have 1/2, eight rounds have 2/1.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by nobthehobbit » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:37 am

bt_green_warbler wrote:
nobthehobbit wrote: It's all the small decimals there that are throwing me off, I suppose.
Just to take a couple of categories where the math is relatively straightforward:

There's 17/16 physics in the SCT, for 1.1/1.0 per packet.

That's 1/1 physics in each of 15 rounds, and 2/1 physics in the other one.

American literature is 22/21 in the whole set, 1.4/1.3 per packet.

Two rounds have 1/1 American lit, six rounds have 1/2, eight rounds have 2/1.
Okay, so the floors of (set total/packets) are guarantees, and the rest are as uniformly distributed as possible? If so, that clears up my confusion: thank you.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Kwang the Ninja » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:00 am

The trash/miscellaneous distribution for SCT is unbelievable. There is less than no reason to have 2/2, let alone 3/3, trash in any packet that is not an actual trash packet. I'm fine with 1/1 or even 2/2 current events as long as it comes at the expense of the trash distribution, but having upwards of 5(!!) trash/ce tossups or bonuses in a given round just seems insane to me. Also, I would like to echo the call from the other thread for mythology to be moved back to its home with religion and philosophy, but for literature to stay 5/5. As it stands now, literature is essentially 4/4, with the possibility of one of those 4 being miscellaneous lit (I don't know what this is, but I have a sneaking suspicion it is way funn). Unless NAQT has some sort of contract with the Popular Culture bureau to stuff these trash questions into academic tournaments, I plead with you to heavily decrease trash (or better, eliminate it all together) and destroy the miscellaneous category, increase the RP from 1 to 2, increase actual literature from 4 to 5, and increase fine arts from 2 to 3. Having 3/3 current events and geography would not bother me at all if those other distributional quirks were dealt with.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:08 am

Kwang the Ninja wrote:The trash/miscellaneous distribution for SCT is unbelievable. There is less than no reason to have 2/2, let alone 3/3, trash in any packet that is not an actual trash packet. I'm fine with 1/1 or even 2/2 current events as long as it comes at the expense of the trash distribution, but having upwards of 5(!!) trash/ce tossups or bonuses in a given round just seems insane to me. Also, I would like to echo the call from the other thread for mythology to be moved back to its home with religion and philosophy, but for literature to stay 5/5.
Well, there's 2.3/2.2 trash, so at least there'll never be 3/3. (You should be seeing a mix of 3/2 and 2/3 and 2/2.) And there's 1.6/1.6 CE, so you should see a combination of 1/2, 2/1, and (very rarely) 2/2. I don't deny that that's too much: I just deny that it's 5/5 (or upwards of that, certainly not).
Kwang the Ninja wrote:As it stands now, literature is essentially 4/4, with the possibility of one of those 4 being miscellaneous lit (I don't know what this is, but I have a sneaking suspicion it is way funn).
Well, lit is 4.3/4.1 and 0.4/0.5 of it is misc lit, so that's not too inaccurate. Misc lit is separate from whatever the trash lit ceiling is, though--Jeff, what's the trash lit ceiling? There's 7/8 total misc lit, and I certainly don't remember that much (or close to it) being trash lit when I did some editing work on SCT.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by The Moviegoer » Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:22 am

1/1 trash per packet at the very most would be great.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:27 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
Kwang the Ninja wrote:As it stands now, literature is essentially 4/4, with the possibility of one of those 4 being miscellaneous lit (I don't know what this is, but I have a sneaking suspicion it is way funn).
Well, lit is 4.3/4.1 and 0.4/0.5 of it is misc lit, so that's not too inaccurate. Misc lit is separate from whatever the trash lit ceiling is, though--Jeff, what's the trash lit ceiling? There's 7/8 total misc lit, and I certainly don't remember that much (or close to it) being trash lit when I did some editing work on SCT.
Actually, the present amount of "miscellaneous literature" is the cap on trash lit. That being said, no tournament that we've produced since instituting the cap has come close to hitting it. (For instance: the 2010 DII SCT had 4/3 miscellaneous lit, of which only 2/2 fell into the "trash lit" categories.)
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Bananaquit » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:50 pm

What was the original rationale for having so much trash in college packets? Are there college teams that will stop playing if there's no trash to make NAQT accessible? That seems even less likely in college than in HS.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by MicroEStudent » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:55 pm

Bananaquit wrote:What was the original rationale for having so much trash in college packets? Are there college teams that will stop playing if there's no trash to make NAQT accessible? That seems even less likely in college than in HS.
I know that RIT is in the minority, but I'd likely have to go to SCT by myself if trash was reduced. I have several theories why this is the case, but they are beyond the scope of this thread.

I agree with Mike Bentley in that the Tech and Science Current Events don't work well as questions.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Windows ME » Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:13 pm

Now that NAQT is starting to become well established in Canada and has branched out in the U.K., I do believe the questions in current U.S. Politics need to be toned down quite a bit.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by nobthehobbit » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:20 am

MicroEStudent wrote:
Bananaquit wrote:What was the original rationale for having so much trash in college packets? Are there college teams that will stop playing if there's no trash to make NAQT accessible? That seems even less likely in college than in HS.
I know that RIT is in the minority, but I'd likely have to go to SCT by myself if trash was reduced. I have several theories why this is the case, but they are beyond the scope of this thread.

I agree with Mike Bentley in that the Tech and Science Current Events don't work well as questions.
What if trash was brought to the (proportionate) level it has in IS sets? (That would bring it from 36.5/36.5 per D1 SCT set to 30/30 per D1 SCT set.)

As for Science Current Events... even the VETO distribution gets that one right. (Or more right.)
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Kwang the Ninja » Fri Jun 18, 2010 1:17 pm

I disagree with any trash distribution in college sets above the level of ACF distribution (which is to say, 1/1 if nobody uses that space for current events or your choice).
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Captain Sinico » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:11 pm

Echoing every player's consensus that there's too much trash. Please reduce to at most 1/1 for general use and eliminate completely for Nationals (ICT/HSNCT.) Of course, this is hardly the first time I've asked for this, but it is the first time in this thread. I don't have any new arguments and will assume people are sufficiently versed in my old ones - let me know if that's not the case.

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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:39 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:Echoing every player's consensus that there's too much trash. Please reduce to at most 1/1 for general use and eliminate completely for Nationals (ICT/HSNCT.) Of course, this is hardly the first time I've asked for this, but it is the first time in this thread. I don't have any new arguments and will assume people are sufficiently versed in my old ones - let me know if that's not the case.

M
It strikes me as questionable, if not outright unfair, to play Nationals on a different distribution from its qualifying and affiliated tournaments.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by jonah » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:41 pm

Terrible Shorts Depot wrote:It strikes me as questionable, if not outright unfair, to play Nationals on a different distribution from its qualifying and affiliated tournaments.
Would you also apply that to HSNCT vs. IS sets, and even more problematically, to NSC vs. all its qualifying tournaments?
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:48 pm

jonah wrote:
Terrible Shorts Depot wrote:It strikes me as questionable, if not outright unfair, to play Nationals on a different distribution from its qualifying and affiliated tournaments.
Would you also apply that to HSNCT vs. IS sets, and even more problematically, to NSC vs. all its qualifying tournaments?
PACE is fundamentally different than NAQT and ACF, in that PACE produces no regular season sets. My contention is that IS sets should have the same distribution as HSNCT, much as SCT should have the same distribution as ICT and Fall, Winter, and Regionals should be distributed the same as Nationals.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:56 pm

We're quite convinced that SCT and ICT should have the same distribution.

So whatever we do to the ICT distribution will happen to the SCT as well.

HSNCT/IS is a different argument, so I will once again start a new thread.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Kwang the Ninja » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:43 pm

The idea that 2/2 trash is deciding who qualifies for and/or wins at a national championship event is heartbreaking. If we can't simply eliminate trash from ICT and leave 1/1 in SCT, I move that NAQT takes all trash out of all future SCT/ICT sets.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by MicroEStudent » Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:36 pm

nobthehobbit wrote: What if trash was brought to the (proportionate) level it has in IS sets? (That would bring it from 36.5/36.5 per D1 SCT set to 30/30 per D1 SCT set.)
I don't know. However, looking at my team's SCT performance, of the ten correct tossups not answered by me, exactly one was not trash, so I wouldn't be too optimistic. Without going into many details, I believe that the curriculum at RIT is part of the issue in that you can graduate from here without a history, or English literature or most of the social sciences and humanities classes.

I happen to like the trash amount that's in the packets, but I realize what the "A" means in NAQT and that I probably enjoy the level of trash because I'm good at it and I score points on it, but because there's entire tournaments dedicated to it, I would personally be okay with a reduction. Whether or not this would negatively impact my whole team is another story.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Cheynem » Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:44 pm

ACF Nationals this year had a different distribution--it omitted trash which was present in Fall, Winter, and Regionals. I was a big fan of this move. That said, I honestly have mixed feelings about the trash in SCT/ICT. I like the different "feel" that NAQT tournaments have as compared to ACF tournaments and I personally do not want to see trash completely removed from the distribution, only to see it and other much derided topics (current events, geography, general knowledge, etc.) written better. That said, I am sympathetic to arguments like Mike, which asserts that for some topics like trash, it is difficult to objectively say "write it better." Thus, if it were to be eliminated, I'd like more room for it to slip in borderline Your Choice topics.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by vandyhawk » Fri Jun 18, 2010 11:34 pm

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:I'd like to see technology and science current events excised. These questions are obnoxious to write and probably end up badly (although I don't recall what questions actually fit into these categories last year).
Yeah, Seth and I both pushed for those exact changes as the primary ones for science, and I imagine they'll go through. I think the result (assuming things get approved) is that there will be an additional 1/1 each of bio/chem/physics and 1/0 or 0/1 more math, plus a couple miscellaneous science.
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Excelsior (smack) » Sat Jun 19, 2010 12:15 am

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:I'd like to see technology and science current events excised. These questions are obnoxious to write and probably end up badly (although I don't recall what questions actually fit into these categories last year).
Speaking from inexperience here, I don't see what is inherently troublesome about science current events. Could someone provide an example of an bad science current events questions that was used in a packet recently? (I definitely see why technology can suck, though.)
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by setht » Sat Jun 19, 2010 11:05 am

Anarch wrote:
Bentley Like Beckham wrote:I'd like to see technology and science current events excised. These questions are obnoxious to write and probably end up badly (although I don't recall what questions actually fit into these categories last year).
Speaking from inexperience here, I don't see what is inherently troublesome about science current events. Could someone provide an example of an bad science current events questions that was used in a packet recently? (I definitely see why technology can suck, though.)
My take on this is that science current events are fine in principle, but in practice it works best to spread out current material in the form of a few clues in several questions rather than trying to come up with a handful of questions that mostly or entirely use clues from recent work. As an example, the 2009 SCT set had tossups on abscisic acid and extrasolar planets, both of which had clues rooted in ongoing research and clues referring to older work; I'd like to think both of those questions were good, but I think the balance should be shifted toward fewer current clues per question and more questions with some current clues, to make it easier to produce good questions.

In the past people complained about NASA missions showing up disproportionately often in the science current events. I think part of the reason that happened is that NASA missions offer lots of associated clue material. The problem is that too many people don't know much about the James Webb Space Telescope or New Horizons mission, so it's still hard to find good mid-level and giveaway clues for those questions. Once again, I think that changing the focus from "produce some true science current events questions" to "sprinkle science current events clues through a bunch of science questions, when it's natural to do so" will help deal with that--if someone wants to write a tossup on Pluto or the Kuiper belt they can have a clue or two about New Horizons and then move on to other non-current stuff.

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

Brian Ulrich
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Re: NAQT distribution change 2010-11

Post by Brian Ulrich » Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:49 pm

setht wrote:
Anarch wrote:
Bentley Like Beckham wrote:I'd like to see technology and science current events excised. These questions are obnoxious to write and probably end up badly (although I don't recall what questions actually fit into these categories last year).
Speaking from inexperience here, I don't see what is inherently troublesome about science current events. Could someone provide an example of an bad science current events questions that was used in a packet recently? (I definitely see why technology can suck, though.)
My take on this is that science current events are fine in principle, but in practice it works best to spread out current material in the form of a few clues in several questions rather than trying to come up with a handful of questions that mostly or entirely use clues from recent work. As an example, the 2009 SCT set had tossups on abscisic acid and extrasolar planets, both of which had clues rooted in ongoing research and clues referring to older work; I'd like to think both of those questions were good, but I think the balance should be shifted toward fewer current clues per question and more questions with some current clues, to make it easier to produce good questions.

In the past people complained about NASA missions showing up disproportionately often in the science current events. I think part of the reason that happened is that NASA missions offer lots of associated clue material. The problem is that too many people don't know much about the James Webb Space Telescope or New Horizons mission, so it's still hard to find good mid-level and giveaway clues for those questions. Once again, I think that changing the focus from "produce some true science current events questions" to "sprinkle science current events clues through a bunch of science questions, when it's natural to do so" will help deal with that--if someone wants to write a tossup on Pluto or the Kuiper belt they can have a clue or two about New Horizons and then move on to other non-current stuff.

-Seth
Science CE's original niche was space explorations, diseases, cloning/DNA stuff that was big years ago, and random scientific studies that made news. I've tried to excise the random studies, and there isn't really enough of the other stuff to fill our distribution, at least as far as I can tell.

Brian
Brian Ulrich
NAQT Current Events Editor, 2005-
University of Wisconsin 1999-2003
Quincy University 1995-1999

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