Getting newer players to write good questions

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Getting newer players to write good questions

Post by suds1000 »

Jerry's sarcasm was humorous, but this most recent post and others he has made have me thinking about what the veteran members of the circuit can do to get newer players to write better questions.

Of the 18-19 people I can think of that have edited ACF questions for the last two years (I'm not sure how much editing Frankel did for Fall), 13 have spent at least some time at the powerhouse programs of Berkeley, Chicago, Illinois, or Michigan. All of these individuals have become better writers either by writing a TON of questions (in a couple people's cases) or learning from our teammates (the vast majority of us). It was easier for us because we had lots of grad students and/or experienced players in our programs.

What it comes down to is that, as has been pointed out, you don't know what a good question is until you've been told specifically what constitutes one and what does not. My teammates had to tell me about a whole host of things that were wrong with my questions before I could improve my writing.

While Dr. Chuck may be onto something with offering significant financial incentives to teams to write better submitted packets, I feel like more veterans of established programs need to start requiring their younger players to write questions on a regular basis (like 1/1 or 2/2 a week at least that we older people can critique and give comments on)'ll help retain membership because they'll know more things and get better, and these better players will be more willing to put more effort into helping the circuit stay alive because they enjoy the game more...let's face it, any game is a lot more fun if you're better at it. I think this is something I'm going to have our novices start doing after spring break.

If we at least get the newer players at established programs to write questions, they will eventually become interested and/or good enough to take over editing responsibilities when the older people have moved on.

Then, the real challenge is getting the newer players in other programs to write 1/1 or 2/2 a week to wean them off playing on NAQT IS questions...the only way I can think of to do this is the possibility of critiquing the editing of other packet-sub tournaments...maybe if some less-established program house-writes or edits a tournament, they could give it to one of us for further editing and explanation with what they may have done wrong, for a small fee that simultaneously makes the task worthwhile for us but does not cut into their profits too significantly.

Okay, I've said enough for now. If you guys have any other ideas, please chime in.


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Mr. Kwalter
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Post by Mr. Kwalter »

The idea has been proposed informally before to form some sort of group that would assist newer programs/writers that want to hold and edit packet submission tournaments. Basically, 1-3 people get the finished product from the editor, polish it, and provide constructive criticism on what the novice editor could do better. Thoughts?

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Matt Weiner
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Post by Matt Weiner »

In addition to the live feedback idea, which is great and should be implemented ASAP, it's also the case that the existing guides to writing are woefully out of date and sparse. We need an exhaustive document that can bring writers from tabula rasa to competence in accordance with today's standards.
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Post by fleurdelivre »

As an approximately third-year quizbowl participant at Vanderbilt, I'd like to encourage someone to write that guide. My freshman year, I did submit a packet for our high-school tournament and wasn't asked to contribute beyond that (looking back, it was a fairly terrible round). We don't ask freshmen to contribute unless they choose to do so. Since then, I've written quite a few rounds for ABC, helped in the editing process, and gotten comfortable with high-school level question writing, but there's still a twinge of dread every time Matt requests questions for packet-submission tournaments...even now I'm not always sure about difficulty level, appropriate clues, and good balance. There are times I've totally blown off question-writing duties and other times I've given him crap because when I did sit down to write, it took forever. This is the first year I remember having any fun writing college questions because I'm finally getting the hang of it. Which is too bad, because I graduate in least for us, I'm going to push for making people write more earlier on, and not for actual pressure situations like tournament deadlines, which only make it harder. Still, some sort of springboard reference would have been helpful rather than simply the stuff up on the acf site and a lot of self-education.