The Anti-Prompt. Look guys, its time has come. We need to all hop on board this train, quickly and openly, so we stop boning people out of good, deep knowledge. Especially considering we're all expecting a (much-needed) reeling in of overall difficulty this year, which means that the frequency of perhaps atypical common link questions is probably going to increase. I think the best way to see this point is in case studies, so here you go:
Ex. (transcribed from my unreliable memory of the 2008 NSC finals):
The illustrious Shantanu Jha, if memory serves, buzzed in on the Shamshir clue and answered "scimitar." Now, Heaven's Well and that weird Norse thing aren't scimitars (though really I'm not sure how you'd prove Heaven's Sword couldn't be characterized that way, it's not like you can get on the phone and call Le Loi's consulate in DC). But this seems to me such an overwhelmingly clear display of precise knowledge (indeed, even more precise than the question strictly requires) that negging it, which is just inconsistent with the spirit of good quizbowl. The point of a prompt is to allow someone who demonstrated clear but incomplete knowledge to expand their answer to include the required information. That shouldn't at all exclude generalizing your statement, you're still adding information to make the answer "more complete."NSC08 Packet 14, tossup 20 wrote:One of these, known as Heaven’s Will, was retrieved by a golden-shelled turtle from the Vietnamese king Le Loi for the dragon king Long Vuong. The souls of twelve berserkers were contained in Skofnung, the one owned by Hrolf Kraki. Amir Arsalan exploited the weakness of Fulad-zereh to one called Shamshir, while Susanowo took one from the body of Orochi called Kusanagi. For 10 points, Sigurd’s Gram, Roland’s Durandal, and Beowulf’s Hrunting are all what type of object, as is King Arthur’s Excalibur?
I'd also like address briefly the argument that answers like "scimitar" have to be wrong, since they don't work for the earlier clues. This just doesn't make logical sense. The whole idea of a common link question (or, indeed, any tossup at all) is that people will buzz on X clue only as a result of not knowing (or sufficiently knowing) the clues preceding X. When you write a 10-line common link on "cattle" in myth, I sincerely doubt you expect more than like one person to get the first clue. How is it fair to punish someone who buzzes in on, say, an Apis Bull clue and says "Bull?" It makes no sense, you're requiring the player to do unrealistic mind-reading and, much worse, you're enticing the person who knows more to buzz in, but making it likely they'll get it wrong. This is in my opinion the single worst outcome of a tossup - it's the very antithesis of what pyramidal quizbowl seeks to do.
Now, in the cattle example, the writer should just be diligent enough to note in the answerline that one should accept either "cow" or "bull." But there are situations where the possible specific answers are a bit more numerous/impractical to list out. And let's face it, writers are not always going to be on the ball with this, even good ones - sometimes you just overlook something that only comes out when people actually play a tossup. If the answer was "mare" and somebody said "horse," but there was no prompt, even the least cavalier of competent readers wouldn't hesitate to prompt. I've seen a few situations this year already where a reader encountered an antiprompt situation, but just didn't know how to antiprompt/didn't think it was established convention. And, well, it isn't. So let's fix that.
Proposal: "Anti-prompt" shall enter the quizbowl vernacular as merely another form of prompting, to be used as freely and naturally. I'd encourage NAQT and ACF to make official provisions for this, but in the meantime I'd like to get just a community consensus here in this thread, to help get the word out. Specific terminology that seems appropriate would be "anti-prompt" or, to quote Matt Weiner, "can you be less specific?" Other suggestions are welcome.
I intend to include anti-prompts in all my questions from this point foward, and encourage all writers to do the same; I also encourage readers to consider using the antiprompt in appropriate situations, just as they would prompt if an equally obvious classical prompt situation arose but the answerline was lacking.
Of course, I guess people could disagree, so this thread seems the natural platform to do that as well.