General discussion

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General discussion

Post by women, fire and dangerous things »

This is the thread for general discussion of the QUARK set.

First off, thanks to all the Michigan players who helped write this tournament, and thanks to all the people who playtested some of the questions, especially John Lawrence, Jonathan Magin, and Mike Cheyne, although a few others also dropped by the IRC to playtest.

Rather than having a single head editor, we (Libo, Kurtis, Bryan and me) collaboratively looked over all the questions. Personally, I tried to respect the answer choices of the writers as much as possible, but in retrospect, there are some answerlines I should have nixed at the beginning, because some of them ended up being pretty fraudable.

Overall, I'm fairly happy with how things turned out, aside from the aforementioned fraudability issue, a few proofreading errors, and a few top-heavy tossups. Thanks to everyone who came out and played - let us know what you thought in this thread.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Ringil »

I did a lot of editing on the science. So if there's any questions/comments/rage about those question, it should be primarily directed at me.
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Re: General discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Can we get copies of the set?
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Re: General discussion

Post by 1992 in spaceflight »

There were some grumbles about questions on Chicago coming up in 2 straight packets at our site. Also Benny Goodman was mentioned as a clue twice in questions regarding clarinets (I don't think this one is that serious, but I have less than zero music knowledge, so I'll defer to someone else with greater music knowledge).
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Re: General discussion

Post by Ringil »

grapesmoker wrote:Can we get copies of the set?
I want to do make a few edits before distributing it to people who have already played the set.
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Re: General discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Ringil wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:Can we get copies of the set?
I want to do make a few edits before distributing it to people who have already played the set.
Well, there are errors in the set that I want to talk about so I think I'd like to have a copy of the set we played.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Ringil »

grapesmoker wrote:
Ringil wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:Can we get copies of the set?
I want to do make a few edits before distributing it to people who have already played the set.
Well, there are errors in the set that I want to talk about so I think I'd like to have a copy of the set we played.
Alright, I sent you the version that was played yesterday.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Sam »

I thought this set this a much better job of achieving a reasonable difficultly level than MOO and many other tournaments from last year that advertised a difficulty of "regular plus." The biggest weakness was the bonus difficulty: it was pretty variable, with many bonuses that were difficult to 10 and others that were much easier. Obviously this is going to happen in every tournament and for some subjects it's much harder to standardize their difficulty, but this problem seemed worse here than in other tournaments.
Not quite as egregious but related to the topic of bonuses was the habit of making easy parts easy by assuming (very rudimentary) linguistic fraud. The one that first springs to mind was in the first packet, and had as a part the "Jesus Prayer." One of the clues given was something like "named for the son of the Virgin Mary," a phrase whose coyness I guess is meant to lead people to say "Jesus" but only works if the players figure out this riddle.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Unicolored Jay »

Overall, I enjoyed the tournament, but I agree with Sam in that the bonus variability was probably the worst issue the set had. but Some easy parts in those categories were people I had never heard of (although maybe it's my lack of social science/philosophy knowledge), and some middle/hard parts were harder/easier than I expected them to. For example, I'm not sure if "An Image of Africa" is hard enough to be a hard part at this difficulty, while something like the Calvino bonus and the Tuatha de Danaan bonus had a middle part that was rather difficult (I'm not sure which part was meant to be the hard part).

I think I can point out better examples from categories I'm good at if I had the set, though.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Fond du lac operon »

One of the weird things that we noticed was the sheer quantity of tossups with cities as answerlines -- I'm pretty sure there was at least one in every round (or perhaps all but one), and round 2, I think, had 3 such tossups(!). There's nothing inherently wrong with this, of course, especially since the categories of those questions varied (there were, I think, geography, history, and lit TUs, and probably more, on various cities). But it got a little bit tiring by the end of the tournament -- I'd like a little more variation in those sort of semi-common-link tossups.

In general, though, I also liked this tournament a lot, and it's probably my favorite of the (few) housewritten sets I've played. So nice job, Michigan.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Beast Mode »

First time poster, long time fan, everybody.

I’ll begin by voicing some warm and fuzzy feelings. This was my first participation in writing a collegiate tournament outside of packet submissions and NAQT writing. It was a good time; I got to represent “important” topics that I haven’t seen in quizbowl before like the Gastarbeiter, and I learned a lot about topics like the House of Vasa.

Several people deserve my thanks. Will Nediger, Kurtis Droge, and Libo Zeng edited or replaced some of my more terrible questions in addition to being question-writing beasts themselves. John Lawrence provided awesome feedback on the music questions for me to use in trying to fix them, and caught some truly idiotic mistakes that I made in some of my music tossups.

Lastly, I’m sorry for any questions of mine that irked those who heard them. In particular:

-I was the author of the Chicago history tossup. A couple of my fellow writers and Rob Carson noted that the question was pretty transparent, since I gave anecdotes about a mayor. Me and my dad both read Mike Royko’s book over the summer, so I wanted to write a question based on that and Dad’s memories as a Chicago kid during Daley’s tenure. Looking back, probably a bad idea.

-I read Round 12 for a scrimmage during the final, and there was some groaning about my Republic of Texas tossup. I feared that that tossup would earn ire, but we had need for a question about U.S. history ca. 1830 and I thought “well, matters were afoot in Texas at that time.”

-Since I wasn’t present for the final, I can only assume that my North Pole tossup was despised because exploration history isn’t very popular. I’ll just say that I personally like exploration history, and that question was under “Academic Other” rather than “History” proper.

I’d love feedback on other questions I wrote.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat »

While I enjoyed this tournament, I was disappointed that round 4 didn't have a tossup on blind Mayan Revivalists in Chicago.

(While I suppose there's nothing wrong with having both lit and history tossups on Chicago, having both of them in the first two rounds seems kind of sketchy. I also seem to recall blindness and Mayan Revivalism coming up multiple times in the first couple of rounds).
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Re: General discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

While I'm still figuring out specifics, here's my general take on this set:

First of all, I thought the tossups were quite accessible in their answer space, which is good. The bonuses shaded a hair too hard at times for a tournament of this advertised difficulty, especially many third parts, which I thought were unnecessarily difficult. Still, I thought the bonuses were mostly decently balanced.

My large problem with this set was the way the tossups were written. Many times I felt like I was hearing information that was basically useless in answering the question (multitudes of historical anecdotes, for example) or was just redescribing the same thing over and over. Especially problematic were questions that just gave really obvious identifying information early on in the question. That made it difficult to know what to do; do you buzz and say the obvious thing, or do you second-guess yourself? It's especially frustrating to get burned a few times with the former strategy and then not have any really clear idea of where any particular question is likely to go.

I'm looking at the set now and will post specifics when I find them.
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Re: General discussion

Post by The Ununtiable Twine »

Just a general suggestion to hit Ctrl+Enter between tossups and bonuses, it would make it easier for people running paper tournaments to run them (by like 2 minutes).
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Re: General discussion

Post by Ringil »

The Ununtiable Twine wrote:Just a general suggestion to hit Ctrl+Enter between tossups and bonuses, it would make it easier for people running paper tournaments to run them (by like 2 minutes).
My bad, I forgot about doing that. Have done it now.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Cheynem »

Regarding the Chicago tossup, since almost all the clues were about Daley or the 1968 Convention, maybe writing with one of those things as the answerline would have made it less transparent. I normally appreciate tossups that try to use easier answerlines for conversion's sake, but both of the alternate things are pretty easy too and would have obviated the need to keep saying "mayor."
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Re: General discussion

Post by bmcke »

My one problem with this tournament, which I think is the same problem I've had with the last three tournaments I've seen, was that I wanted even more directions in the answerlines. Here are some things that "got me" when I was reading round 6:
- When Jan Sobieski went dead, I said it was "Jan III" because that was the first answer written, and learned later that I was supposed to call him something else.
- I wouldn't have known to accept, prompt, or neg on "USSR" for Russia.
- In the "zealots" tossup, someone buzzed on the people-at-Masada clues and just said Jews. I negged them but I wasn't sure about that decision. This might have happened in every room.

Here are some things that helped a lot for reading round 6:
- alternate answers for "phase" so I knew not to prompt on "wavelength"
- "prompt on partial" for "Mary Magdalene"; otherwise I might have just taken "Mary" to imply Virgin Mary
- clear alternate answers for "senescence"

Here are some answer choices I liked from round 6:
- phase
- Mary Magdalene
- JP Morgan
- Polish composers
- senescence / aging
- cuckoos, copulating snakes, swans
- Manichaeism, Augustine, light
- silver, encomienda, patio process
- Brittany, Hundred Years' War, Isabella
- Cortazar, Auto-da-Fe, Peter Shaffer

A tricky question from another pack was the films of Mexico -- in my room, someone buzzed the Pan's Labyrinth clues and said Spain for obvious reasons. The tossup did use the word "from" instead of "about" this country, but I would have loved a "not Spain" warning, either instead of or alongside the "not Gus van Sant" warning.

In another round of the tournament, I think a team basically made the finals because they got the points on two tossups that said "be generous": they answered "resistance" for "resistivity" and "wolves" for "hellhounds."

In general I love common-link tossups: I think they're engaging and add some amount of logic or gameplay to a match without compromising the goal of testing who knows more. But it seems that even in good tournaments, they often end up leading to controversy.

The fact that playtesting has become so common now highlights the inflated expectations of thoroughness that people have from editors. If I were editing something soon, I might spend my scrutiny on answerlines and potential common-link hoses, and I might not worry as much about bad clues, repeats, or inconsistencies in bonus difficulty.

I was quite happy with how this set played in Ottawa, and with how our (somewhat low-scoring) field was able to handle it. Someone said that easy bonus parts allowed for "linguistic fraud," which I think was true, but which enabled teams to avoid 0'ing bonuses and thereby fill the gaps between their pockets of real knowledge. McGill is not really famous for practicing good quizbowl, but their team clearly won because they knew a lot of things, even if they made some terrible buzzes or they didn't know about Haldor Laxness.

Low-scoring games led to a little bit of randomness, such as team with the lowest PPB making the finals, but the players seemed relatively comfortable with harder-than-usual questions. Since our readers were fast enough and clear enough, people adjusted to things and presumably recognized that points being rarer also made them more meaningful. There were a few "jackpot" bonuses that changed game outcomes, but more often a 20 or 30 meant that someone got a bonus on something they knew about. I was skeptical when Jordan said he wanted to mirror this, but now that it's happened I think it went pretty well.
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Re: General discussion

Post by nurgles_herald »

As a quizbowler, I thought that these questions were pretty generally very-well edited. I think I saw a moderator stumble only once or twice throughout the day due to a formatting/spelling/grammar error, which puts ACF tournaments and the like to shame (yeah, Penn State hasn't *been* at an ACF tournament in a year or two, but we play the questions all the time at practice and some of the packets are a train wreck). That said, it seemed as if the content tested throughout the tournament as a whole could have been better streamlined- Chicago, Clarinets, Brazil, and Bulgaria (all off the top of my head) showed up several times throughout the day, and Jan III and Poland were both tossup answers in the first half of one packet. Seems a little silly considering the general dearth of World history (Muslim and Chinese history got especially shafted, from my admittedly super-biased perspective). But I think all of the Penn State teams enjoyed the heck out of this tournament, even if Penn State A was the only team capable of comprehending some of the bonuses, and we all agreed that this was more of the difficulty we expected out of a fall tournament.
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Re: General discussion

Post by Ringil »

nurgles_herald wrote:As a quizbowler, I thought that these questions were pretty generally very-well edited. I think I saw a moderator stumble only once or twice throughout the day due to a formatting/spelling/grammar error, which puts ACF tournaments and the like to shame (yeah, Penn State hasn't *been* at an ACF tournament in a year or two, but we play the questions all the time at practice and some of the packets are a train wreck). That said, it seemed as if the content tested throughout the tournament as a whole could have been better streamlined- Chicago, Clarinets, Brazil, and Bulgaria (all off the top of my head) showed up several times throughout the day, and Jan III and Poland were both tossup answers in the first half of one packet. Seems a little silly considering the general dearth of World history (Muslim and Chinese history got especially shafted, from my admittedly super-biased perspective). But I think all of the Penn State teams enjoyed the heck out of this tournament, even if Penn State A was the only team capable of comprehending some of the bonuses, and we all agreed that this was more of the difficulty we expected out of a fall tournament.
Uhh... I think there was a lot of Asian/Middle East World History. While sure, there wasn't specifically a Chinese history tossup, but there was lots of Chinese content (tossups on silk and elephants and the bonuses on Tang/Sunga/Pol Pot, East India Companies/Batavia/Chinese, and Kublai Khan/Ogedei/Borte). Although there wasn't as much Muslim content, there was plenty of Middle East content in this tournament.

Tossups:
silk (Libo)
Ferdinand Marcos (Libo)
Ethiopia (Libo)
Zealots (Libo)
elephants (KD)
Mali Empire (Will)
Hyksos (KD)
Non-Aligned Movement (KD)
Calcutta (KD)
South Korea (Libo)

Bonuses:
bushido/samurai/Hagakure (Libo)
Salt March / Gandhi / Round Table Talks (KD)
Cyrus / Persia / Tomyris (KD)
Wangchuk, GNH, Bhutan (BF)
Nzinga / Ranavalona / Nefertiti (BF)
Tang/Sunga/Pol Pot (Libo)
East India Companies / Batavia / Chinese (KD)
Inca, Ashanti, Great Zimbabwe (BF)
Kublai Khan, Ogedei, Borte (pj)
First Intifada / Gaza Strip / PFLP (Will)
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Re: General discussion

Post by Excelsior (smack) »

I got the impression that there was a little bit of Wikipedia abuse in the writing of the science in this tournament (and possibly other areas, but I'm not qualified to comment on those). Examples: "isothermal THIS calorimetry" in the leadin to "titration"; "pole of geographic inaccessibility" (not science but still); there was something on penguin diagrams somewhere; and a couple other things I'm not remembering at the moment. It wasn't horrible or egregious or anything, but I think that writing on things just because they have a wikipedia article is a pretty bad idea, seeing as it benefits people who are aware of the existence of wikipedia articles (e.g. me) over people who know actual things. (Of course, if it's just a coincidence that you wrote on things that happen to also be wikipedia things, my apologies for making an unfounded assumption.)

Aside from that, I was generally quite pleased with the science, and with the tournament in general (though I agree with Walker's mention of a bunch of things repeating a bit too much [Brazil, Chicago, etc]). If I come into possession of a copy of the set, I might have some specific comments.
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