2015 Regionals: "Anti-prompts" redux: Should They Exist?

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2015 Regionals: "Anti-prompts" redux: Should They Exist?

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

There are five instances of the instruction "anti-prompt" (i.e. the moderator asks the answering player to give a less specific answer) on the answer lines of ACF Regionals 2015. I took part in some off-forums discussion today suggesting that their inclusion is a bad practice that ought to be stopped, since they're a mere stopgap measure to reward people for not knowing exact information, or prop up otherwise-unworkable questions which ought to be revised. In case it spurs discussion, either on the topic of whether the "anti-prompt" is worthy of life or on the validity of doing so for the specific answer line choices here, I have pasted all five questions containing said instruction below:
GeorgiaTech wrote:10. In Flory-Huggins theory, the enthalpy change associated with this phenomenon is proportional to the interaction
parameter chi times kT times the lattice volume fraction phi-sub-2. This phenomenon will occur as concentration
increases beyond the Plait point, and does not occur inside the dome on a ternary phase diagram. A paradox named
for this process is related to the Gibbs paradox. The increase in entropy due to this process is equal to negative the
number of moles times R, times the sum over components of mole fraction times log of mole fraction. A magnetized
bar does this process within lab glassware. In an ideal solution, this process evolves no heat. For 10 points, name
this process which is used to make a liquid’s concentration more homogeneous, by adding an impeller or stirrer.
ANSWER: mixing [accept stirring until "stirrer" is read; anti-prompt on "dissolving" or "solvation"]
WUStL+Harvard wrote:10. Upon seeing Little Miss Muffet’s tuffet, a bystander might ask "What are you sitting on?" For 10 points each,
answer the following about how that question works:
[10] Many papers in this subfield of linguistics discuss English questions as a product of "Wh-movement." Linguists
in this field often diagram sentences to analyze or discover grammatical rules.
ANSWER: syntax
[10] Wh-movement is one of these processes from a namesake type of generative grammar. They alter a deep
structure like "you are sitting on what" to make a surface sentence like "What are you sitting on?"
ANSWER: transformations [accept transformational-generative grammar; anti-prompt on "movements" or
"Move alpha"]
[10] Linguists use this symbol to mark the start of unaccepted or ungrammatical utterances, such as the pretransformed
"you are sitting on what." It also marks reconstructed words in historical linguistics.
ANSWER: asterisk [or star; or splat; accept * if someone manages to pronounce that symbol aloud]
DartmouthA wrote:13. This interaction changes the refractive index of a thin gold film on which a molecule is immobilized with a
Biacore sensor chip. Programs like Autodock simulate this interaction, which is screened by fragment-based lead
discovery. Protein-directed dynamic combinatorial chemistry is a method used to optimize the strength of this
interaction for molecules. The major uses of isothermal titration calorimetry and surface plasmon resonance are to
test potential drugs for this non-enzymatic interaction, which is modeled by the MWC and Hill equations if it's
cooperative. Affinity constants quantify the strength of this interaction, which is measured in saturation experiments
that can be visualized on a Scatchard plot. For 10 points, name this physical interaction between a ligand and
its receptor.
ANSWER: ligand binding [or binding to a receptor; prompt on "protein-protein interaction" or "PPI" or similar
answers; anti-prompt on "protein activation" or "inhibition" or specific cases of binding; prompt on "drug activity" or
related answers; do not accept "forming a bond", "bonding", or any answer about covalent bonding]
IllinoisA+Ottawa wrote:13. One common application of the Thorpe-Ingold effect is in the acceleration of these reactions by the addition of a
geminal-dimethyl group to the reactant molecule. Concerted examples of these reactions that also have negative
entropies of activation can have conrotatory or disrotatory transition states. A radical-rearrangement of an enediyne
is one type of this reaction named for Bergmann. All exo-tet and exo-trig varieties of these reactions are favored,
according to Baldwin’s rules. When intramolecular, these reactions are fastest when reacting groups are five carbons
away. One example of this type of reaction is a condensation named for Dieckmann which forms beta-ketoesters.
For 10 points, name these reactions that form rings from carbon chains.
ANSWER: cyclizations [accept ring-forming reaction before mention; accept Bergmann cyclization; anti-prompt
on "lactonization", "electrocyclization", "cycloaddition", or "pericyclic reaction"]
BrownA+Washington+NotreDameA wrote:6. A painter from this country showed his daughter sitting on a fence with her feet dangling above the wild grass in
the painting Dragonfly. Another artist from here showed gulls flying over dark blue waters in front of two Viking
ships in Guests from Overseas. The works of one painter from this country appeals to the peasant because he paints
effect while Picasso paints cause, according to Clement Greenberg’s "Avant-Garde and Kitsch." An artist from this
country depicted a group of semi-nomadic warriors are gathered around a table laughing at the insulting letter they
are drafting for Mehmed IV, and painted eleven disheveled and exhausted men who drag a barge along the banks of
the Volga. For 10 points, name this country home to Nicholas Roerich and Ilya Repin.
ANSWER: Russian empire [or Rossiya; accept any of the following due to the time-span in which Roerich was
alive: Soviet Union; or USSR; or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; or Soyuz Sovietskikh Sotsialisticheskikh
Respublik
; anti-prompt on "Ukraine" since Repin was raised there under Russian rule]
To put my cards on the table: I didn't much care for "anti-prompt"ing when it was first introduced in or around ACF Regionals 2012, and I wouldn't be altogether sorry if it disappeared.
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Re: 2015 Regionals: "Anti-prompts" redux: Should They Exist?

Post by Matt Weiner »

I think all of these questions and, by extension (or perhaps by antiprompting on "ACF Regionals 2015") all questions that use "antiprompts" have a more elegant solution to alternate answers than the perilous "antiprompt":

In the "transformation" bonus part, you've specifically given the definition of "transformation" to rule out alternate answers that the other clues might apply to, so you don't need to accept or prompt on other answers. Doing what you in fact did in the question text (provide clues that unambiguously specify the one correct answer) is the job of the editor; providing prompts or accepts for people who are only able to spit out terms "associated with" arbitrary parts of the clue is not your job (sorry, members of the 2011 Michigan team).

The "Russia" tossup can avoid all the convolutions and ridiculous "well, TECHNICALLY..." potential answers (who would ever buzz in and say Ukraine on this question??) by simply starting off with "this modern-day country" instead of "this country," which is generally a good practice unless you are dealing with a very recent set of events in a country with very stable borders, and then saying something like "an artist who worked chiefly in this modern-day country" before the Repin clues.

If all the clues in the "mixing" tossup apply to the much more traditional and thus more likely to be given answer "dissolution," then just accept it. Yes, it's exciting to come up with tossups on accessible and not overly used answers like "mixing," but you shouldn't force the player to participate in your plan for novelty by making him give the exciting answer if other answers are also correct.

With "ligand binding" and "cyclization" we're getting beyond my ability to understand the specific science content at issue, but it seems like, if it's not possible to write this "cyclization" tossup without causing players to buzz in with other plausible Regionals-level answers on specific clues (I guess "cycloaddition" could be a tossup at Regionals, right?) then either those answers should just be accepted, or it should be radically rewritten.

Basically, the philosophy of the last two points is -- either it's reasonable for a player who knows what the clue is talking about to buzz in with some answer, or it isn't. if it is, then that answer should simply be accepted. If it's not, then it should not be accepted. "Antiprompt" seems like an excuse to avoid either making this call or just writing questions that don't create these kinds of ambiguities.

Globally, I don't see "antiprompt" as accomplishing anything positive. It lets people write ambiguous questions and often results in people who buzzed in with total knowledge of a leadin being flummoxed because it requires them to figure out what the rest of the question that they haven't heard was going to add to the clues they buzzed on. These are big negatives. The only potential positive is to allow a little more flexibility on questions like "cyclization" where it's very difficult to write the question without opening up to correct-for-some-clue buzzes with a subcategory of the answer. But, in those cases, I think the writer should first consider whether writing a question where literally every pre-FTP clue could correctly be said to describe some other answer is a good idea and, if determined to proceed, simply ACCEPT the alternate answers outright rather than making people figure out what level of the classes-of-reactions hierarchy is desired on an "antiprompt."

It should also be said, more generally, that "prompt" is such a commonly used and intuitive term that HSAPQ and NAQT can put it in sets read by once-a-year high school volunteers with no other connection to quizbowl and there is almost never any problem with implementing it in a game. "Antiprompt" is a new, artificial concept that will require a huge learning curve to make it work, and it seems like it has to be tremendously worth it to make that push, as opposed to just "maybe more good than bad" which I'm not convinced it is.
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Re: 2015 Regionals: "Anti-prompts" redux: Should They Exist?

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Looking at the "transformations" answerline again, it seems to me that the anti-prompts there are indeed unnecessary; they were were left in from an earlier version of the question, which was later edited to be more exact so as to exclude "movements" and "Move alpha" as potential answers outright. I didn't end up catching the fact that those instructions were no longer wanted/needed during my final proofread. Sorry about that. [They will be excised or replaced with "Do not accept"s in the version of the set which is publicly posted.] As far as the mixing and Russia tossups go, I would also have been happy to change those as you suggest, and can do so before the set is reused at tryouts or cleared.

I too am sort of out of my depth on "ligand binding" and "cyclization," and once again defer to Sriram (or to other players with knowledge of the subject area) with his thoughts on what else could have been done there. I will say for the record that both of these tossups were flagged for potential replacement due to the potential for answer line ambiguity, and the cyclizations tossup actually was extensively rewritten once so as to try and make it minimally diffuse and exclude related answers such as "cycloaddition" after lots of back-and-forth on whether it was a workable idea at all.
Last edited by Adventure Temple Trail on Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2015 Regionals: "Anti-prompts" redux: Should They Exist?

Post by Victor Prieto »

I’ll try to break this cyclization topic down in a straightforward manner. In organic chemistry, there are a number of different mechanisms that can potentially form rings.

[chemistry]

Cycloadditions and electrocyclizations, two classes of reactions which form rings, both fall under a class of reactions called pericyclic reactions. The third kind of pericyclic reaction, sigmatropic rearrangements, do not form rings. The pericyclic reactions are grouped together because none of the intermediates along the pathway have charges or free radicals, and the mechanisms involve electron pairs moving in a circular fashion. To clarify, the second sentence is the one that points at the mechanism for electrocyclizations.

The Bergman cyclization (which has an extraneous "n" in the tossup) is an example of a radical mechanism, which means there are intermediates with free radicals along the mechanism pathway (the dots next to the structures in this diagram of the mechanism represent radicals).

Finally, the Dieckmann condensation is a base-catalyzed reaction (grouped under acid-base catalyzed reactions), which means the first step generally consists of a base removing a hydrogen from the starting compound, and every intermediate until the last one has a negative charge on it (seen here as the minus sign in red).

[/chemistry]

So, while it’s true that all of these reactions form rings, the prompts in the answerline are kind of odd. I understood that prompts mean "more specific" and antiprompts mean "less specific," but if I was asked to get less specific than "pericyclic reactions," I would have been pretty confused. I was moderating, so I didn’t play this question, but I would have buzzed on the conrotatory/disrotatory clue and said "electrocyclizations," been anti-prompted, "pericyclic reactions," and then probably would have given up. I don’t really know what would be the best way to fix the answerline, but I’ll defer to people who have a better grasp of the rules and now hopefully a clear outline of the topic.
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Re: 2015 Regionals: "Anti-prompts" redux: Should They Exist?

Post by t-bar »

If the common link between all of these reactions is that they form rings, rather than any specific mechanistic similarity, would this question be better as a tossup on the process of "ring-formation" or "ring-closing", as opposed to the reaction class of "cyclizations"? It's kind of a moot point in this particular case, since people shouldn't be selecting NASAT teams based on the ability to answer organic chemistry tossups in the first place. More generally, though, some potentially problematic questions can be fixed using this strategy--rather than asking people to intuit which of several nested classes of things you're looking for, you can ask for a closely related piece of information or descriptive term that tests the same knowledge.
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Re: 2015 Regionals: "Anti-prompts" redux: Should They Exist?

Post by Nabonidus »

I'm a bit confused about why something like Ukraine would be antipromptable for a question including clues about Roerich whereas - for example - several of us in Canada were straight-up negged for answering Samos to the Ionia question, on the basis that it included clues from elsewhere in the region.
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Re: 2015 Regionals: "Anti-prompts" redux: Should They Exist?

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Nabonidus wrote:I'm a bit confused about why something like Ukraine would be antipromptable for a question including clues about Roerich whereas - for example - several of us in Canada were straight-up negged for answering Samos to the Ionia question, on the basis that it included clues from elsewhere in the region.
This is an eminently fair criticism, and I should have done more to establish a general policy / guideline for "anti-prompt"s across the set instead of just keeping it in when some co-editors did it and leaving it out when other editors did not. An absolute ban in favor of careful "accept ____ until"s is one option for such a general policy, and even without anti-prompts the Ionia question could have been finessed/redone so as to outright accept Samos for a while.
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