Ghetto Warz commentary

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canaanbananarama
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Ghetto Warz commentary

Post by canaanbananarama »

Ghetto Warz happened. After a six-game round robin and a bracketed playoff, UCLA A (6-2, 2-1) and UC Irvine A (6-2, 2-1) were tied. No finals match was played to resolve this and UCLA A was awarded the title based on having accumulated a higher points-per-game average.

Yes, it ended in a tie. Granted, the tie worked out favorably for my team, but this is particularly unnerving considering that as in Ghetto Warz past, a superfluous trash round was written by the editors of the tournament. No packets were left available for the final necessitated by the standings. If you don’t have a round ready for a final in the case that it is necessary, it is insulting to throw your idea of a trash round (which is in this case, a highly convoluted trash round with absolutely no regard for standard distributions of trash) in my face. I feel decently bad for Irvine, which to my knowledge hasn’t won any tournament save perhaps some CBI tournament held during a pause in the Marsic Wars, which had the likely hastily written and inevitably idiosyncratic final round been written and played, would have stood a decent chance of coming up with a milestone victory. In addition, our B team and other teams in the bottom bracket only played eight rounds. I played nine. There were ten packets in the tournament. This is not necessarily directed against USC-Tulsa and teams from that tournament, why couldn’t you cobble together a packet or something so that there were a decent number of rounds? It should have been required that the mirror site submit a completely reasonable amount of packets, such as two or three. As it stood, seven of the packets were by the house team, one by UCLA, one by Claremont, and one by UCI.

Thus, blame for the poor packet quality is shared by many. Most of the established teams on the West Coast circuit stayed away from this tournament. That certainly didn’t help matters. No mirror packets or freelance packets were obtained. Also an ominous sign. 70% of the packets were produced by the host team. Given that the host team isn’t Michigan or Chicago or Illinois, this is probably a very bad sign. I’m moderately at a loss to suggest how to improve Ghetto Warz-mostly because my comments would probably fall on deaf ears, my relationship with the USC club being poor from valid complaints about my attitude towards them to silly complaints involving something wacky I’ve tried to do in the past called editing.

I suppose it’s in the end the call of the USC folks as to what they want their tournament to be. They seem to want to have a tournament that’s “laid back” and “fun,” but this kind of attitude is going to and has, I suspect, driven away teams looking for a general standard of quality over a tournament-as mentioned, Stanford, Berkeley, and Caltech did not show up (though, to be fair, they didn’t show up to UCLA’s packet sub tournament either), and in addition, UCSD [who were very much missed, as they seem to be the one team in Southern California with a good handle on how to write questions] didn’t show up. A few players on UCLA stayed away, and on at least one account, I know for a fact that the perceived quality of the tournament was key in that player’s decision.

Part of me really does hope that the drive to produce a good packet set does win out at USC. There are a few people who have been around long enough there that they should have an appreciation of what is a good question set and what is not. Editing should be done when it is necessary, because I am hurt as validly by a terrible question starting “Hermes, Coyote, Nanabozho, Maui, Bugs Bunny” asking for “trickster” as Joe Novice would be for having it cut or entirely re-written. The Claremont B packet is a good example of something that badly needed editing-I’m guessing that the packet writers were relatively inexperienced and the result is tossups with lead-ins mentioning their relationship to Marcos [sic] Hanna and how they won the 1896 presidential election against W.J. Bryan. I don’t know how much time the editors had to edit this packet, but if it’s anything over eighty-two seconds, the above clue remaining in the packet is inexcusable. A short number of packets were decent-Yogesh’s packet was such a packet, although as a theme packet it was greatly limited in answer space and it featured some clunkers that could be simply avoided [paraphrasing-“Born in 1863 in Madrid, Spain, he studied under William James”]. Many of the house packets’ problems seemed to be due to wildly variable tossups within the packet caused by different writers and (likely) no editing to account for this; clunkers such as “99zeros. Little Green Footballs. Boing Boing. Metafilter” [answer: blogs]. The same writer, whom I will assume to be a novice, wrote a question starting “This author’s popularity waned by the end of his life; his obituary mislabeled him as “Henry.” Early novels such as Typee…” The editor should look at this tossup, edit it, and explain with tact how Typee is way too famous for the first substantive clue. Although I’m sure the writer was happy to hear his tossup made it to the packet unedited, I wasn’t and it seems fruitless to baby somebody in such a fashion. Again, these problems were likely exacerbated by the seven packet output of the USC club. And packet Scorpio (the aforementioned trash packet). Get some help, USC. It would make things a lot easier for you and a lot more enjoyable for teams playing. On the one hand I say that the questions are generally poor, but I don’t think that Berkeley, Stanford, LA, Caltech, or UCSD would have been able to provide a decent tournament with 70% of the tournament riding on their pens. I would suggest soliciting freelance packets, but I’m not sure that anybody’s going to be particularly keen to freelance given that the tournament has now had three incarnations with very little visible instinct towards drastically improving the quality of the tournament. On the other hand, if a USC member genuinely wanted to host an overall well-written tournament and almost start over with this tournament, I expect that the community would gladly donate two or three packets to that worthy cause.

I’ve certainly rambled on enough and managed to keep my reputation as official tournament basher and least liked player in the Southern California circuit. I’ll end with a short list of tossups that I particularly enjoyed at this tournament, both because I got them and because I found them to be well written: The Ka’aba, Menachem Begin, Profumo, James Meredith, United Fruit Company. And one final complaint about how my lead scorer prize shed glitter all over my CBI uniform.

Charles Meigs

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Post by solonqb »

Caltech did not come to due team members having workload issues. We were not motivated by any notional poor question quality.
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Post by compucomp »

Noah's right. Caltech's Quiz Bowl team has all but shut down. We went to ICT's and SCT's but that's about all we've done for the past 6 months (including not practicing).

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Post by canaanbananarama »

I did not suggest that Caltech had not come due to issues with the questions-the mentioning of Caltech was just to note the teams noticeably not in attendance at this tournament and was not an attempt to analyze the motivations of any of those teams. I know that there is a certain element in my own club which has been frustrated by Ghetto Warz past and would likely decline attending the tournament based on question quality, and I'll make a wild guess that some of the same feeling might exist with the Northern California teams, although lately they just don't seem to be going to any tournaments. Apologies for the confusion.

Charles

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Post by mrmaguda »

The worst packet was the one with the 2 comedy central bonuses. That's fine for a trash packet but not an academic one.

I've attended a lot of tournaments in my 4 years playing quiz bowl and have heard hundreds of packets, the aforementioned packet by far had the worst question I have ever heard. It was in the 2nd comedy central bonus. While I don't have the packet in front of me, I think the question was: "Describe the end of Wednesday's episode of South Park." It's not even a question.

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Post by Mike Bentley »

mrmaguda wrote:The worst packet was the one with the 2 comedy central bonuses. That's fine for a trash packet but not an academic one.

I've attended a lot of tournaments in my 4 years playing quiz bowl and have heard hundreds of packets, the aforementioned packet by far had the worst question I have ever heard. It was in the 2nd comedy central bonus. While I don't have the packet in front of me, I think the question was: "Describe the end of Wednesday's episode of South Park." It's not even a question.
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Post by zwtipp »

Your school brought two teams, but submitted one packet? Another packet from your team (even by the people that refused to go because they perceived the quality to be poor) would certainly have helped. On a whole, I didn't think the packets were too bad. The questions you already mentioned were the same ones that came to mind. Don't complain about the trash round just because you performed poorly in it (I recall being told that you stormed out partway through the round).

The fact that the tournament took place on Easter weekend probably didn't help encourage the attendance of teams that were absent.

Mik did as well as he could given the circumstances. I ended up helping him at 3 in the morning in the library as he did his best to fill all the question holes and finish editing the packets.
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Post by Rothlover »

Chas, old chap, would you happen to have the unedited USC bashes that were submitted in your packet? They have been subject of much discussion, so give the people what they want.
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Post by Bender Bending Fernandez »

mrmaguda wrote:The worst packet was the one with the 2 comedy central bonuses. That's fine for a trash packet but not an academic one.
Nope, that's bad for a trash packet too. :cry:

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Post by Chris Frankel »

First off, I'd like to see/trade for the packets if at all possible so as to see for myself, but assuming Charles' comments are accurate (feel free to correct me if they're not), two quick points stand out:

1. Theme packets of any kind, regardless of how well-crafted, are really a bad idea for any standard academic tournament. It becomes easy to fraud a good portion of the questions off early knowledge of the theme, which screws with the competitiveness of the game. Secondly, the forcibly limited answer space affects players whose legitimate areas of academic expertise (by legitimate im talking about something like "physics" or "philosophy" as opposed to something like "current events" or "sports history") might fall outside a niche range and leave them crippled for no reason other than the writer's whims. I saw the possibility of theme packets was mentioned with fair warning in the early announcements, but still, they should really be avoided outside of a theme-exclusive tournament (like TTGT11 or Kwartler's upcoming project) because they can artifically mess with the results. I hope the theme (what was it?) was at least academic and not trash-based.

2. While there's some point that UCLA's submitting of a second packet might have alleviated the packet crisis, it's pretty silly to get on Charles' case for complaining about the inclusion of a trash packet at the expense of the rest of tournament. He paid money to participate at an academic competition, and if his team and UCI were left in an unresolved tie for the title that needed to be reduced to PPG, that really doesn't create a satisfactory outcome by any tournament's standards. Between the issues of a packet shortage and what was perceived by Charles as a lack of polishing on the existing packets, I don't see how anyone can justify expending effort that could have been used to fix those problems on an extra trash packet. I mean, bonus trash packets can be perfectly fun when the rest of the tournament is run smoothly (at least one of the old Swarthmore QOTC tournaments I went to did this), but get your main job done before putting time into side ventures.

Lastly, just had a question: do people really think that the idea of a thoroughly edited academic tournament and fun are mutually exclusive? As in it's not possible to have fun at a tournament without 3/3 trash a round, theme packets, and a trash packet on the side? Apologies if I'm coming across as harsh, but is there a huge reason I'm missing on why people feel compelled to put unusual novelty tweaks into tournament styles that have pretty much stood the test of time without too much complaint? I think I speak for a lot of people in the circuit when I say I'd just like to go to an academic tournament to play strictly (or very close to strictly) academic content, a trash tournament to play trash, and a two day back-to-back academic/trash event when I'm in the mood for both. Again, this isn't to be mean or anything, but it's just that the most successful and highest-rated tournaments are the ones that avoid that novelty angle and just try to do the basics as well as they can. And while I speak only for myself as a vocal player who wasn't in a geographical position to participate in either GW or its mirrors, I will say that as someone with a long history of playing in and writing for academic tournaments, a tournament that puts an emphasis on trash as a way to say academic content isn't desirable or enjoyable on its own merits is going to drive someone like myself away from playing or freelancing for such events.

[Edit: well damn, looks I just walked into a minefield filled with drama bombs...]
Last edited by Chris Frankel on Mon Apr 17, 2006 5:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by mcalmvp »

Might I note that the UCLA packet at Ghetto Warz was one of the worse packets, if not THE worse packet, in the tournament? Though Claremont's packet was poor (with the giveaway McKinley clue in the middle, as well as the heavy distribution weight to art and literature, while the rest of the packets were fairly even), UCLA's packet was filled with poorly and often long worded bonuses that had some off-color remarks and references to other things not relevant. As well, the UCLA packet had some of the worse poorly worded questions. I respect the UCLA team, especially it's B team (although they did lose to UCI B somehow), but some of the remarks toward USC and UCI are just baseless. Not to mention, UCLA wasn't exactly "clean" this tournament either.

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Post by NotBhan »

mcalmvp wrote:Not to mention, UCLA wasn't exactly "clean" this tournament either.
Not sure how you long you've been around the college game, but if you're hoping for cleanliness amongst quizbowlers, you're going to be sorely disappointed. :smile: And on a grammatical note, use "worst" instead of "worse" when saying that a packet is the crappiest amongst more than two.

Sorry for the interruption -- now back to your regularly scheduled drama ...

--Raj Dhuwalia

(P.S. In the course of a quick but unsuccessful Google search to find the answer to the Taco Bell soap-related question a couple of posts below, I ran across this ... http://www.my3cents.com/showReview.cgi?id=4345 . Grammarians beware.)
Last edited by NotBhan on Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by canaanbananarama »

zwtipp wrote:
Your school brought two teams, but submitted one packet? Another packet from your team (even by the people that refused to go because they perceived the quality to be poor) would certainly have helped.
The organization for the UCLA teams for this tournament was very shoddy-the novices were only told about the tournament on Monday and I asked Mik if they could play without a packet, which he consented to. This all isn't particularly my responsibility.

zwtipp wrote:
Don't complain about the trash round just because you performed poorly in it (I recall being told that you stormed out partway through the round).
See, you clearly didn't read my post. I complained about the trash packet on the grounds that given that there was no final, it is inexcusable that writing efforts were made towards a frivolous packet. And I believe I "stormed" out after a full twenty tossups had been read-like hell I was going to suffer through the remnant of what we didn't pick up on the tossups end. Some people are going to inevitably be turned off when you ignore major categories such as sports and mainstream cinema and television and devote huge amounts of questions to sci-fi/fantasy and the culture of the Internet. Regardless of these minor contentions, there's no way you can justify having that packet and not a final.

Some random dude writes:
Might I note that the UCLA packet at Ghetto Warz was one of the worse packets, if not THE worse packet, in the tournament? Though Claremont's packet was poor (with the giveaway McKinley clue in the middle, as well as the heavy distribution weight to art and literature, while the rest of the packets were fairly even), UCLA's packet was filled with poorly and often long worded bonuses that had some off-color remarks and references to other things not relevant. As well, the UCLA packet had some of the worse poorly worded questions. I respect the UCLA team, especially it's B team (although they did lose to UCI B somehow), but some of the remarks toward USC and UCI are just baseless. Not to mention, UCLA wasn't exactly "clean" this tournament either.
All right, so first off, sign your posts when you're making comments. I have no idea who you are and I therefore can't give any sort of merit to your thoughts. Some minor things: your comment "on the remarks toward USC and UCI are just baseless" is also quite baseless. Through any of this, have I made any comment about UCI? No. I haven't really made that many about USC, either. We weren't "clean"? Are you talking about our use of some ribald material in our questions? Are you suggesting that Steve should bathe more? Are you accusing my team of steroid use? What the hell is going on here? It seems to be in reference to something in discussion, but I don't recall having made any attacks on somebody's hygiene during my post. Should I have?

I encourage you to post specific examples of bad questions in my packet-I'm well aware of the existence of a couple, but I am hardly convinced that my packet was worse than a good deal of the ones heard on Saturday. I know it didn't have anything that was as giveaway-tastic as questions in several other packets. I realize there were several bonus lead-ins that weren't of the "name some stuff, FTPE," variety, but looking at them, none of them seem terribly long. Again, specific examples would be appreciated, as I'm interested in commentary about my questions. Feel free to e-mail this or post it here.

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Post by zwtipp »

Specific example of a question you wrote:

It the the brand of soap in some Taco Bell restaurant...

When should a question EVER lead off with something like that?
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Post by grapesmoker »

zwtipp wrote:Specific example of a question you wrote:

It the the brand of soap in some Taco Bell restaurant...

When should a question EVER lead off with something like that?
Is the answer "Japan"?
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Post by canaanbananarama »

It the the brand of soap in some Taco Bell restaurant...
Yes, this tossup was terrible. Few things about this tossup [thank Dwight for it], though-it was in its original context part of the insult theme of our packet, and was thus intended to be completely crappy. I expected it fully to be cut from the packet. It's obviously a parody of questions with ridiculously stupid lead-ins, questions which award points based on Scrabble knowledge, etc. Obviously, this doesn't justify that question, you're right, it's total garbage, and we admittedly just took a tossup-writing mulligan on that one. The Babur tossup (also a total joke and parody) was bad-but it never should have been translated back into English [this was part of our 1/1 other distribution and was almost fully copied from Wikipedia en Espanol] or put in the packet, as was the obscure sci-fi tossup (tossup 21), but our 1/1 sci-fi lit distribution was again an admitted knock on your club-to your club's credit, you've learned how to not make every literature tossup in a packet on obscure science fiction.

Perhaps these three tossups and a bonus or two intentionally sucking means that I have forfeited my right to complain about other bad questions, I'm not really sure.

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Post by cvdwightw »

Dwight actually wrote:A Taco Bell on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Merced uses this brand of hand soap.
I make no apology for the terribleness of the question. I do apologize that we submitted this under "literature" when it clearly should not have been, and for submitting the entire packet very late.
zwtipp wrote:Mik did as well as he could given the circumstances
I have no doubt about this; the problem is that the circumstances were that:

1) You did not have enough packets for the tournament you tried to run. Seven were house packets written by players with widely varying abilities, one was a Claremont packet that clearly needed work, one was a UCLA packet that despite being "THE worse packet in the tournament" had a fair amount of questions that were, in my opinion, actually good, but obviously needed work, and one was a UCI packet which, not actually having seen or heard about yet, I will reserve judgment on.

2) If the state of West Coast quiz bowl (and quiz bowl in general) is anything like I think it is, you received all of the aforementioned packets less than two weeks before the tournament, likely a week or less.

3) Correct me if I'm wrong, but from your post it sounds like Mik was the only one doing any substantial editing until less than 24 hours before the tournament. I don't care how good Mik is, trying to edit an entire tournament by yourself is ludicrous. You mean to tell me there was no one at either USC or Tulsa he could have had help from, in any capacity?

With the demands on question quality and inability for most teams to actually meet those or submit a packet in a timely manner, running a tournament with a one-man editing crew is an almost surefire way to get the questions dissed on this board, in chat rooms, via private e-mail, etc. Anymore a tournament needs several editors; heck, if you've got some novice who doesn't have a clue what he's doing but wants to help, put him in charge of compiling the edited packets and checking for repeats.

Also, to whoever wrote about our packet having "references to things not relevant", here is a by-no-means-all-inclusive list of things that were referenced; whether or not you think they are relevant is up to you: people who copy questions entirely out of Wikipedia, USC's amazing inability to discover the date and time of Round 1 of this year's ICT, blatant science biography, a COTKU 2005 Florida State A Classic starting "Your question writer recently forgot the natural log symbol in this equation and received no credit on a quiz", and some UCLA team in-jokes that probably should not have made it into the packet.

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Post by wd4gdz »

It's one thing if you don't know any better, but intentionally writing bad questions? Seriously?!

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Post by jazzerpoet »

There were ten packets in the tournament. This is not necessarily directed against USC-Tulsa and teams from that tournament, why couldn’t you cobble together a packet or something so that there were a decent number of rounds? It should have been required that the mirror site submit a completely reasonable amount of packets, such as two or three.
The original deal that Mik and I made was to swap the Ghetto Warz set for our trash tournament set. Unfortunately, due to certain circumstances (some under my control, some not), we were not able to produce said trash set. I should have considered alternate strategies, such as writing an academic packet or two, or possibly requiring teams at our mirror to submit some questions, but I did not do that nor, in hindsight, do I think it would have helped either of our situations; it could have possibly scared off some teams from participating, had they been required to write a packet on such short notice.

Moreover, until about a week from the actual tournament date, I was intending on cancelling our mirror. There was not much interest at the time, what with finals looming around the corner and this being Easter weekend.
3) Correct me if I'm wrong, but from your post it sounds like Mik was the only one doing any substantial editing until less than 24 hours before the tournament. I don't care how good Mik is, trying to edit an entire tournament by yourself is ludicrous. You mean to tell me there was no one at either USC or Tulsa he could have had help from, in any capacity?
I would have definitely helped in the editing process, had I been asked to do so. But Mik never contacted me about it, nor did he state to me that they were overwhelmed with the process.

However, I should have guessed that something was amiss when I did not receive the first two packets until Thursday night/Friday morning, and then the next four on Friday night/Saturday morning, and then the last four at 9:30am on Saturday morning.

I want to finish this post by saying that although the questions were not of the caliber to be expected from hardcore ACF lovers, they were not totally awful; there were some decent questions in each packet. Question writers, both on the West Coast specifically and in the whole circuit in general, could learn from this experience. I hope that Mik decides to post these online for all to see, so that we could have some constructive discussion from non-West Coast players, who seem to be divided on the direction of quizbowl on the West Coast.

Thanks.
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Post by miamiqb »

wd4gdz wrote:It's one thing if you don't know any better, but intentionally writing bad questions? Seriously?!
I agree with this sentiment...if you are going to do something do the best job you can regardless of other people. By writing bad questions purposefully you are actually hurting the quality of future questions...newer players from other teams don't get the chance to see the best you can offer.
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Post by recfreq »

I took the liberty of posting UCLA's Ghetto Warz packet at:
http://quizbowl.bol.ucla.edu/results/
specifically, at:
http://quizbowl.bol.ucla.edu/results/Gh ... 6_UCLA.doc

Although I personally was not involved in writing this packet, I play tested it, and I'm confident that there were many good questions in it. Of course, there were also the stuff poking fun at USC that was inappropriate, but I think the authors wrote them in a spirit of jest with our friendly rivals, and most likely expected them to be removed. I don't think there were enough of them to cause the entire packet to be bad, and there were enough good questions to make a decent packet. What was there as a parody was pretty funny, actually, once you realize that they were inspired by certain habits in the QB community in general, not necessarily just USC. I don't think anything was there just to be derogatory. I'm sorry to the UCLA folks if you don't want this posted, but I think the demand was there.

Edit: apparently one of the authors wants to take a look at it 1st, so I'm taking the packet down for now--soon to be release, however.

Edit of edit: So it looks like people from both USC and UCLA would have an issue with releasing these questions, so people of the QB community will have to wait patiently while things work themselves out, sorry to deprive you of this monstrosity.
Last edited by recfreq on Tue Apr 18, 2006 6:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by recfreq »

wd4gdz wrote:It's one thing if you don't know any better, but intentionally writing bad questions? Seriously?!
I'm not defending it (too much), and I haven't personally done this, but the reason you'd write intentionally bad questions is the same reason, say, that Jonathan Swift wrote satires. Also, if the UCLA questions are intentionally bad, then what about the questions that were parodied? They were intentionally bad as well (e.g. see the UCLA parody of the UCI packet from Ghetto Warz 2005, on the same web page.), bad enough to be parodied. Just pointing things out once in a while. Oh, and also having fun. Of course, if you want to see the good questions we've written in the past, I refer you to this page:
http://rayluo.bol.ucla.edu/opinions/quizbowl/packets/
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