ACF

Old college threads.
Locked
User avatar
Mr. Kwalter
Tidus
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

ACF

Post by Mr. Kwalter »

The idea that ACF is facing its not-so-gradual demise seems to be a recurring theme in threads of late. The fact is that the way things are going, this is most likely true. The first to go will be regionals, because nationals is a one-site tournament that is worth it to enough teams to remain viable, while regionals attendance across the country is decreasing every year. In addition to the attendance problem the old guard of editors is finally departing; people like Andrew and Zeke are largely abandoning (with good reason) their previously substantial roles as both editors and coordinators. With this in mind, I am now going to do something previously unheard of on this forum: speak for ACF.

1) We want to hear what you think regionals should be. You can feel free to reference this year's regionals and those of years past, but really, this is about where it should go in the future. We especially want to hear from younger players, since the ivory tower thoughts of more experienced players have yielded limited results.

2) I am putting out a call right now for people interested in editing ACF Fall. I don't care who you are, undergraduate, grad student, freshman, whatever. If you want a part in it email me. Please include a writing sample, 5/5 on whatever subject(s) you want will be fine, and they can be questions you've written for past tournaments. If we think you're ready, you're in. If we don't, we'll tell you why and help you onto the path toward improving your style. My email is ekwartler at gmail dot com. The head editor for next year's fall will most likely be Mike Sorice, who along with others will help you adjust to editing a tournament like Fall. I'm serious people, email me. When you do, also tell me what you'd like to edit and what you would edit if you didn't get your prime choices. If you end up editing you may only get 1/1 or 2/2 to edit, but you'll be part of the tournament.

ACF needs help. There are enough of us to ensure that it ultimately isn't going to die, but if more people don't step up it will keep heading that way. There are a lot of people who enjoy ACF and mACF competition. If you're one of them, and if you think you can help, let us know.

ekwartler at gmail dot com.
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8424
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner »

I'll let the opinions and suggestions for this thread come from younger players as requested, but I think this is a good opportunity to note that the following teams should seriously consider attending ACF nationals:

-any team attending DI ICT
-any team expecting to contend at DII ICT
-any team that likes good questions and/or good competition
-any team that thinks it will be good or wishes to be good in the future and wants to see how they stack up right now
-any team judged to be in the top 20 in the country by the esteemed members of this forum in Eric's forthcoming poll

ACF Nationals is one of the best atmospheres of the year in addition to being a tournament that the editors put a tremendous amount of effort in to make good. It would be really cool if all the decent teams decided to go, and I think some teams who haven't been present the past few years are missing out on a good experience and will enjoy themselves if they can arrange the trip.
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org
User avatar
Mr. Kwalter
Tidus
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Post by Mr. Kwalter »

I completely agree with Matt, of course. ACF nationals is damn fun. Everyone there appreciates the presence of everyone else, even if they become frustrated with their performance. It's a long day to be sure, but it is completely worth it.

That aside, a few of you have emailed me personally with comments about ACF Regionals. All of the emails I have gotten have put forth worthy and intelligent ideas, and I'd like to see them posted in this thread. Please continue to email me if you're interested in helping out with fall, but as to your ideas on the future of ACF, we'd all benefit if you shared them with the public.
User avatar
Skepticism and Animal Feed
Auron
Posts: 3209
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2004 11:47 pm
Location: Arlington, VA

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

I don't think ACF Regionals is "broken" in any major sense. Sure, there are problems with individual tossups and bonuses, but these are problems inherent to tournaments in general, rather than inherent to ACF Regionals in specific.

I'd very much like to see more of the same.
Bruce
Harvard '10 / UChicago '07 / Roycemore School '04
ACF Member emeritus
My guide to using Wikipedia as a question source
vig180
Wakka
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2004 7:59 pm
Location: Athens, GA

Post by vig180 »

Well, I'm reluctant to post this because I'm afraid I'll be hanged, drawn, and quartered by the "ACF cabal" (note: this is sarcasm), get a particularly nasty entry on the qbwiki, or inadvertently start a nuclear flamewar, but here goes:

1. ACF Fall is an excellent tournament. The difficulty of the answer choices is high enough so that it's not simply a continuation of the HS canon, but it is familiar enough so that you don't have to embark on massive studying binges to get up to that level of knowledge. The questions are long, but in this case that helps their pyramidality because then the better players have more difficult clues to ring in on yet the final answers are still accessible. It makes the tournament interesting for all teams involved while still allowing the best teams to rightfully blow out the worst teams.

2. There is an enormous gap between ACF Fall and ACF Regionals in overall difficulty. I felt it at the EFT this year when the difficulty was supposedly just above ACF Fall, yet I barely managed to average 35 PPG with a three-person team and our second-best player not present. In contrast, my average score nearly doubled at ACF Fall, despite the presence of our other player. (And this was not necessarily a factor of playing against good or bad teams- my 2nd best game at Fall came against the runner-up team). On the ACF Regionals tournaments (not just random packets) I've read, I usually get 7-8 answers out of 20 TUs. That's a significant leap in difficulty, in my opinion, and goes beyond what I've covered even in the grad-level classes that I've taken so far.

3. I appreciate Matt's invitation for newer teams and players to come to ACF Nationals. That said, I just picked a packet at random from the 2004 ACF Nats. tournament and went 2-2 (simulating buzzing in early when I thought I knew it) while having only heard of only 6/20 TU questions. Despite that, were I closer than 7,000 miles to the states right now, I would highly consider going to nationals regardless (though I'm not sure if anyone on my team would want to follow). Sitting there without having a clue on more than half the questions is not fun, but I'm willing to work on preventing that from happening to some extent by studying in-depth the areas I'm interested in so at least I can get some questions. For the majority of players, though, it's simply too much effort with too little reward. Nobody should expect most players to enjoy playing in tournaments far above their ability or want to use their organization's meager funds for those kinds of tournaments when there are many other opportunities these teams to be competitive.

4. I can see how advanced players would get bored with the ACF Fall canon and want to expand on it as their abilities grow. Unlike the HS game, where everyone enters as a freshman and is roughly cut off at an equal time period after their senior year of high school, the college player can really continue studying for quite some time, which leads to an uneven level of knowledge. Plus the college canon is much, much larger, which makes it harder for new players/teams to get up to speed. The solution posted by Jerry on the ACF Reg. discussion thread of a 4 "masters" tournaments sounds like a good idea that could help everyone get what he/she wants out of the game.

5. If ACF wants to increase attendance at Regionals, it should greatly lower the difficulty. It's not a matter of what people think is good quizbowl, it's simply a matter of demand. ACF can still continue to be a stronger, more academic format than NAQT, but there is an average level of playing ability that ACF Fall has found yet Regs. is well above. I suggest a new tournament like "ACF Spring" or something that might be slightly harder than Fall and can introduce a few new topics to the canon or contain more difficult clues, but is still accessible to most teams.

One final thought: Is the purpose of ACF to produce tournaments so difficult most teams won't show up or is it to produce tournaments that allow all kinds of teams to compete on solidly pyramidal academic questions? I would like to think it's the latter.
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by grapesmoker »

vig180 wrote:5. If ACF wants to increase attendance at Regionals, it should greatly lower the difficulty. It's not a matter of what people think is good quizbowl, it's simply a matter of demand. ACF can still continue to be a stronger, more academic format than NAQT, but there is an average level of playing ability that ACF Fall has found yet Regs. is well above. I suggest a new tournament like "ACF Spring" or something that might be slightly harder than Fall and can introduce a few new topics to the canon or contain more difficult clues, but is still accessible to most teams.
I know you didn't say this, but I want to emphasize that there is no contradiction between good quizbowl and accessible questions. We should strive for both.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
User avatar
UERD
Lulu
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 8:31 am
Location: Hanover, Siberia

Post by UERD »

I agree, it seems that there is a tremendous difference in difficulty between NAQT's Division II questions and the ACF Regionals. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, and to an extent the fall tournament does rectify this, but having another 'intermediate' tournament with difficulty somewhere between those two (like the 'Spring' tournament that was proposed) would probably do much to encourage newer players, especially those who found themselves very comfortable at Fall but aren't looking for a large ramp-up in difficulty level just yet.

Just my $0.02
看!别人不懂的汉子!
What if [the chair] was propelled by love, which has manifested itself into the shape of a limb?
- lefsaidfred
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8424
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner »

I will re-iterate that ACF Regionals could certainly come down a step in difficulty (bonus difficulty at least) but I think we're forgetting that there is something in between ACF Fall and ACF Regionals: regular invitationals. The tournaments you've been playing in the last three months should have been that transition.

Now, if I were in charge, Regionals would just be one of those regular tournaments and there would be no "Regionals difficulty," but if you want in-between for the two tournaments as they are right now, it does exist.
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org
User avatar
Mr. Kwalter
Tidus
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Post by Mr. Kwalter »

vig180 wrote:3. I appreciate Matt's invitation for newer teams and players to come to ACF Nationals. That said, I just picked a packet at random from the 2004 ACF Nats. tournament and went 2-2 (simulating buzzing in early when I thought I knew it) while having only heard of only 6/20 TU questions. Despite that, were I closer than 7,000 miles to the states right now, I would highly consider going to nationals regardless (though I'm not sure if anyone on my team would want to follow). Sitting there without having a clue on more than half the questions is not fun, but I'm willing to work on preventing that from happening to some extent by studying in-depth the areas I'm interested in so at least I can get some questions. For the majority of players, though, it's simply too much effort with too little reward. Nobody should expect most players to enjoy playing in tournaments far above their ability or want to use their organization's meager funds for those kinds of tournaments when there are many other opportunities these teams to be competitive.
For what it's worth, dude, ACF nationals has changed a lot since 2004. It's become more accessible, certainly in the prelim rounds, and while it's still hard, it's what a national tournament should be. I would recommend looking at ACF nationals 2006, it might give you a better idea of what nats is really like.
User avatar
nobthehobbit
Rikku
Posts: 293
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2006 1:18 am

Post by nobthehobbit »

grapesmoker wrote:I know you didn't say this, but I want to emphasize that there is no contradiction between good quizbowl and accessible questions. We should strive for both.
I quite like ACF tournaments; I've played Regionals once, and moderated both Fall and Regionals. Unfortunately I didn't get to play either of them this year. When I played Regionals, I was in my first year in university, and I did find it difficult. I don't know how I'd do now, though I think I've improved.

That aside, I have a suggestion on how to make ACF seem less scary to new players. I think that part of the problem with ACF is that a lot of new players have been playing IS sets (or possibly HS-level invitational tournaments) all through high school, and when they see ACF Fall (or Regionals) they realize that they've got a lot of catch-up work to do (something mentioned earlier) and some get discouraged and think, "ACF is hard!"

I think ACF isn't just about a large canon; I think it's also about good, well-written questions. I'm not that good a writer, in my opinion, but I think that this part of what ACF's about may not be getting through to new players who are intimidated by the difficulty of the questions.

I know the ACF editing teams have a lot of work to do, which is why I'm a little reluctant to propose my idea. I think that each year, by mid-September, the ACF Fall editing team (or all the ACF editing teams for that year) should produce a packet written to ACF standards, but based on the current HS canon. This packet could be sent to teams interested in ACF Fall, so that they can show their new players what ACF is like from the question-writing side, while not intimidating them with the difficulty of ACF questions. I grant that even ACF Fall would be a bit of a leap from such a packet, but such a packet, I think, would at least in part show that, as Jerry said, there is no contradiction between good quizbowl and accessible questions. Perhaps one part of each bonus could be on something not in the HS canon, but that might come up at ACF Fall as an easier bonus part, or even a tossup. (I'm not saying there should be answers or clues repeated between this packet and the ACF Fall set, only that those bonus parts should be of comparable difficulty to what would be seen in the ACF Fall set.)

I'd like to know what you think of this idea.
vandyhawk
Tidus
Posts: 584
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2003 3:42 am
Location: Seattle

Post by vandyhawk »

nobthehobbit wrote:I know the ACF editing teams have a lot of work to do, which is why I'm a little reluctant to propose my idea. I think that each year, by mid-September, the ACF Fall editing team (or all the ACF editing teams for that year) should produce a packet written to ACF standards, but based on the current HS canon. This packet could be sent to teams interested in ACF Fall, so that they can show their new players what ACF is like from the question-writing side, while not intimidating them with the difficulty of ACF questions. I grant that even ACF Fall would be a bit of a leap from such a packet, but such a packet, I think, would at least in part show that, as Jerry said, there is no contradiction between good quizbowl and accessible questions. Perhaps one part of each bonus could be on something not in the HS canon, but that might come up at ACF Fall as an easier bonus part, or even a tossup. (I'm not saying there should be answers or clues repeated between this packet and the ACF Fall set, only that those bonus parts should be of comparable difficulty to what would be seen in the ACF Fall set.)
PACE?
vig180 wrote:ACF Fall is an excellent tournament. The difficulty of the answer choices is high enough so that it's not simply a continuation of the HS canon, but it is familiar enough so that you don't have to embark on massive studying binges to get up to that level of knowledge. The questions are long, but in this case that helps their pyramidality because then the better players have more difficult clues to ring in on yet the final answers are still accessible.
It seems that everyone is happy with ACF Fall in its current state, with the exception of tossups being a bit too long the past couple years. It also seems that ACF Nationals is doing fine - it's naturally only going to attract the best teams (for the most part), and people know to expect a difficult tournament. I'm glad the difficulty has scaled back from the 2005 edition though. In my opinion, regionals is the only official ACF tournament currently hurting. Looking at this year's MLK stats, that actually seems like a decent difficulty target for regionals, or maybe even a tad easier still. It might take a couple years to build attendance back up though if a middle ground can indeed be found.
User avatar
aestheteboy
Tidus
Posts: 570
Joined: Sat May 13, 2006 5:07 pm

Post by aestheteboy »

I hope people wouldn't mind a high school player posting. I do intend to play at college level and I do care about the "future" of ACF . . .

Reading through the post made in this thread and the Regionals discussion thread, the question that recurred in my mind was, "Do the best players get upset when they score, say, 25 PPB?" Personally, I wouldn't enjoy a tournament at which I put up 7PPB, but I wouldn't mind scoring 25PPB. I can see why something like 20PPB would be ideal, but I certainly wouldn't consider an easy tournament worthless or irritating or anything. 25PPB means I'm learning at least one thing every two bonus I hear. . .
I really think the difficulty of the question and the strength of the opponent is two totally different issue. I would be ecstatic if I had the opportunity to play TJ05', even if the score ended up being 0-800. In fact, I wouldn't be too happy if the top 12 schools left and created a circuit of their own.

In other words, I don't really see why the great players might feel they have to leave to a master's circuit. Do people really get discouraged when 1. the questions are too easy (25PPB) or 2. they play a formidable team?
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8424
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner »

aestheteboy wrote:Personally, I wouldn't enjoy a tournament at which I put up 7PPB, but I wouldn't mind scoring 25PPB.
Yes, I too would enjoy being the best team in the history of collegiate quizbowl. But when you set that as the standard for any "good" team, that causes the competition to be somewhat uninteresting.
Do people really get discouraged when 1. the questions are too easy (25PPB) or 2. they play a formidable team?
As you may have noticed above, even asking high school questions to Mike Sorice, who is one of the five best players active in quizbowl today at any level, will not yield you more than 23 points per bonus. You can literally make every single bonus part insultingly easy and read it to the best teams in the country, and people will not pick up more than 23 because of their lack of exposure to random niche subjects, the difficulties in remembering stuff in 5 seconds, and various other factors. Asking for 25 points per bonus to be standard for the 10 or 12 best teams is basically asking that every single bonus part be noticeably easier than the easiest high school tossups. Yes, that would severely cramp the enjoyment of everyone who wants any sort of challenge in quizbowl or wants discrimination among the various teams.

I assure you that I personally want to see Regionals bonus difficulty come down. Andrew Yaphe is the most important figure in ACF and has said the same in this very thread. Eric Kwartler, Ryan Westbrook, Matt Keller, Jerry Vinokurov--what do all of these people have in common? They are all ACF editors and they have all posted on this board that Regionals bonus difficulty should go down. We agree with your general conclusions. But the specifics are just not realistic. If new difficulty goals are met then you will hopefully see 85% of teams get 10 points per bonus, 50% of teams get 15 points per bonus, and 10% of teams get 20 points per bonus. You will not see everyone get 20, and you will certainly not see more than 1 team every few years get 25. This isn't high school--you are not going to know everything that comes up, not even after playing for years and years on end. The game works differently.
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org
vig180
Wakka
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2004 7:59 pm
Location: Athens, GA

Post by vig180 »

For what it's worth, dude, ACF nationals has changed a lot since 2004. It's become more accessible, certainly in the prelim rounds, and while it's still hard, it's what a national tournament should be. I would recommend looking at ACF nationals 2006, it might give you a better idea of what nats is really like.
Sure, I'd be glad to, but I was just going by what there is available on the ACF website. It might be a good idea to publicly mention on the announcements next time this decrease in difficulty so, as was mentioned in the other thread, teams wouldn't still think that you have to make ACF Reg/National questions insanely obscure.
I know you didn't say this, but I want to emphasize that there is no contradiction between good quizbowl and accessible questions. We should strive for both.
Definitely. That's a very important point.
I will re-iterate that ACF Regionals could certainly come down a step in difficulty (bonus difficulty at least) but I think we're forgetting that there is something in between ACF Fall and ACF Regionals: regular invitationals. The tournaments you've been playing in the last three months should have been that transition.
I would like to see more tournaments between these two levels, but for a good number of teams ACF Fall is a bit of a stretch in the first place. If you start getting too far beyond ACF Fall level, you hit the point where the average team's knowledge can't keep up. It's one thing to say that they should learn more, but whether or not they will actually learn more is a different story.

Also, while there seem to be a good number of tournaments in the midwest/northeast, not all regions have regular access to more difficult tournaments like Parfait, MLK, BoB, or the Illinois Open. I'd be happy to try to get my team to host more of these kinds of tournaments, but I'm not sure if there's that much of a market outside the hotbed areas for harder tournaments. You don't want to host a tournament and have only 4-5 teams show up. I've noticed several of the best southeast teams have gone far north to compete in these harder tournaments- it's a pity, but also a illustration of the fact there's not much demand for them here.

I would be in favor of keeping bonuses slightly more difficult while making the TUs more accessible. Players of all levels simply like buzzing in and writing a gettable TU gives you a captive audience to reveal some interesting/new knowledge on a bonus.
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8424
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner »

vig180 wrote:I would like to see more tournaments between these two levels, but for a good number of teams ACF Fall is a bit of a stretch in the first place.
What teams?
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org
User avatar
Birdofredum Sawin
Rikku
Posts: 400
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2004 11:25 pm
Location: Mountain View

Post by Birdofredum Sawin »

aestheteboy wrote: I really think the difficulty of the question and the strength of the opponent is two totally different issue. I would be ecstatic if I had the opportunity to play TJ05', even if the score ended up being 0-800. In fact, I wouldn't be too happy if the top 12 schools left and created a circuit of their own.

In other words, I don't really see why the great players might feel they have to leave to a master's circuit. Do people really get discouraged when 1. the questions are too easy (25PPB) or 2. they play a formidable team?
Setting the issue of bonus difficulty aside, I think this is actually a very important point. I know that when I was a freshman in college, my teams got beaten down by grad-student-heavy schools at both ACF regionals and nationals. That experience didn't sour me forever on ACF competition; if anything, it was a significant enticement. I was inspired to get better, and I would have felt cheated if I hadn't had an opportunity to measure myself against the very best players, even if they were smacking me around for my first few years on the circuit.

I wouldn't want to assume that my reaction as a younger player was the standard one. But it often seems that people are quick to assume the opposite: that the normal response to being outclassed by older and better players is to abandon the game in despair. I think it's good that there are novice tournaments and things like ACF fall to help break newer players into the game, but I also think it's important that there be a unified circuit in which a wide range of competitors, from starry-eyed first-years to grizzled veterans, compete. I think that with a bit of tweaking, ACF regionals can be an important part of that circuit. It should be harder than ACF fall, which ideally should be a tournament which would bore most competent veterans. It should be somewhat easier than this year's incarnation of regionals, which would make it accessible to newcomers and still of sufficient interest to established players. I'm not sure that anything more drastic needs to be said or done.
jollyjew
Lulu
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 2:51 am
Location: Chicago, formerly Northfield

Post by jollyjew »

I imagine there's already been a thread or two on this somewhere, but I'm not enough of a troll to find it/them. My teammate Max just made the very good point to me that one of the major reasons younger teams in particular are reluctant to attend things like ACF Regionals is the lack of an undergraduate or rookie division. Maybe this was never an issue for those top-tier players who are now in graduate school and who post here regularly. But playing you guys is difficult enough; tournaments begin to approach the pointless for the vast majority of undergraduate (who pretty much by definition have an experience handicap) and inexperienced teams when we have to get through (for example) Chicago A-C (or however many teams they choose to field for the day), Illinois, and Berkeley to have a hope at the podium. Very few of us are lucky enough to have teammates who can give us a fighting chance at these sorts of tournaments. Granted, there are a strong core of teams out there who love the game enough to go out and get smacked around by the Sorices of the world with smiles on their faces. But I think ACF would do well to consider regularly giving out undergraduate or division two awards at all tournaments. Regionals bonus difficulty aside, this move might make it less of an issue that ACF is seen as a more difficult format across the board. If less experienced teams have the opportunity to be rewarded for sitting through questions the answers to which they've never heard, they might just stick around long enough to recognize those answers the next time.
NoahMinkCHS
Yuna
Posts: 827
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2003 1:46 pm
Location: Athens, GA / Macon, GA
Contact:

Post by NoahMinkCHS »

Matt Weiner wrote:
vig180 wrote:I would like to see more tournaments between these two levels, but for a good number of teams ACF Fall is a bit of a stretch in the first place.
What teams?
Really, what teams do you mean? At the ACF Fall we went to (in the Southeast, no less, where we apparently lack good tournaments ;-), only 3 teams finished below 100 ppg/10ppb (pick your accessibility stat of choice) and all but one got at least 5 TUs per game. The latter team was a C team from a program that (AFAIK) did not exist before this year, and another of the 3 was a B team from a school whose A-team lost 1 game. So I don't think Fall is a problem for... well, anyone.

Beyond that, I think most of what's been said about lowering Regionals difficulty at least a little would be good for the circuit. I'm sure Chris would agree that our team enjoyed Fall because it had good questions (not because it was super-easy, which it wasn't, and not because we played crappy teams, because we didn't); there's no reason we would rule out going to Regionals. After all, I think we all like good, challenging (but not impossible) questions, and (other than me) I don't think anybody prefers timed to untimed. So I would welcome larger, more accessible, and still good Regionals.
vig180
Wakka
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2004 7:59 pm
Location: Athens, GA

Post by vig180 »

What teams?
From a brief overview of the stats, maybe 20-25% of teams who played averaged around 150 or less PPG. while the best teams were well into the upper 300s/lower 400s. This is probably an ideal situation since getting easier would make things too easy. So I admittedly overstated the effect of that point, but there's still a lack of some lower to middle level teams at ACF Fall tournaments, which I think has something to do with the difficulty or, at least, the perceived difficulty.

Teams have different reasons for coming or not coming to tournaments, but I've noticed that some of the lower to middle tier teams at the more expensive NAQT SCT (i.e. Berry, Penn, GWU, UTK, St. Olaf, OSU, BGSU, Cincinnati, etc.) didn't come to ACF Fall. While I think they probably would've enjoyed it and done fine, the perception of ACF as too hard may have influenced their choice of tournaments to attend. I'm not pretending to speak for these teams, but I would hope that if ACF's "difficulty" is their reason for not coming that they come for the 2007 Fall edition since almost every tournament featured a wide range of abilities and enjoyable questions.
Last edited by vig180 on Wed Feb 21, 2007 2:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8424
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner »

jollyjew wrote:But I think ACF would do well to consider regularly giving out undergraduate or division two awards at all tournaments.
This is an excellent idea and I'd like to encourage all ACF site TDs as well as TDs of any tournament to give out trophies for the highest-finishing all-UG and all-D2 teams, while still playing everyone in the same field in order to create the best possible competition.
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org
User avatar
Zip Zap Rap Pants
Yuna
Posts: 780
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 12:55 am
Location: Richmond/Williamsburg, VA
Contact:

Post by Zip Zap Rap Pants »

Matt Weiner wrote:
jollyjew wrote:But I think ACF would do well to consider regularly giving out undergraduate or division two awards at all tournaments.
This is an excellent idea and I'd like to encourage all ACF site TDs as well as TDs of any tournament to give out trophies for the highest-finishing all-UG and all-D2 teams, while still playing everyone in the same field in order to create the best possible competition.
The problem is DII wouldn't mean much if you don't have enough teams to reasonably separate the field, though maybe if you had say 7 DI teams and 4 DII teams in a field you could do a full round robin and then a separate DII playoff bracket RR (as well as a group of 4 and a group of 3 RR for DI). Of course, that would get screwed up if a DII team was actually a contender for the overall title, but that would rarely happen.
Matt Morrison, William & Mary '10, Tour Guide &c., MA in History '12?

"All the cool people eat mangoes while they smoke blunts and do cannonballs off a trampoline into my hot tub..."
-Matt Weiner

“In beer there is strength,
In wine is wisdom,
In water is germs.”
-Unknown

new email: mpmorr at email dot wm dot edu
jollyjew
Lulu
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 2:51 am
Location: Chicago, formerly Northfield

Post by jollyjew »

Admittedly, the logistics of having ACF Div II titles seem awkward. In particular, as ACF Nationals is not a qualification-only tournament, there wouldn't be a clear-cut way (like the NAQT model) to determine when a team is no longer Div II eligible. Maybe a better system would be to just have TDs offer book awards (or whatever the awards at the tournament are) to the highest placing team of freshmen or first-year players. I'm just really hoping to see more incentives for younger players to come out. Carleton alone can field 4 Div II teams on the best days, usually two at the worst. Extra teams of that number would really help bolster numbers at ACF tournaments. But they don't want to come because the tournaments seem pointless/too hard.
User avatar
DumbJaques
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 3085
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2004 6:21 pm
Location: Columbus, OH

Post by DumbJaques »

Suggested: Breaking things into Grad/undergrad divisions seems impractical, because not all grad students are on par with the top grad students and plenty of juniors and seniors can play at that level and really add to a top team. On the other hand, Div II as it exists by NAQT doctrine is awfully limited; once you qualify for the ICT, so long. I personally think it takes more than a year to get good at ACF if you're starting from the mean. Would there be a reason why, since we're pretty much all in agreement that acf fall = good and acf regionals and like tournaments need to come down, we couldn't establish a slightly expanded definition of div II for those and like tournaments? For example, maybe say all undergrad players at their first or second year attending said event are Div II eligible? That way you're restricted either to freshman and sophomores or to players without a ridiculous amount of experience. I think ACF fall would see the same amount of business from better teams, but the younger teams could fully appreciate ACF questions (and hear more clues they might actually be able to add to their knowledge base, let alone buzz off of) without getting wailed on by the best players in the country. I also think more teams would give ACF fall a shot, since I know for a fact some team presidents are hesitant to send certain players to anything but juniorbirds for fear that Mike Sorice will eat them or something. For Regionals, if the difficulty comes down like we're all proposing it should, I think more teams are going to come just for that reason, and definitely more teams will show up there's a separate lower division. Even if the score is like 150-80, and some tossups bore the crap out of the worse teams, the fact that quizbowl is supposed to be competitive isn't effectively ruined for 80% of games.

I'm interested in what people think of this idea, both theoretically and practically. I'd very much like to see boosted attendance at ACF and mACF, because ultimately it's going to make everything about the circuit better (with the probable exception of collective hygiene on regional host campuses).
User avatar
Important Bird Area
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 5679
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 3:33 pm
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Contact:

Post by Important Bird Area »

If new difficulty goals are met then you will hopefully see 85% of teams get 10 points per bonus, 50% of teams get 15 points per bonus, and 10% of teams get 20 points per bonus.
Is ACF actually planning to write questions in accordance with these goals? Such questions would be not just easier than this year's regionals, but dramatically easier. For reference, NAQT ICT has not met any of these goals since 2002. (Roughly 80% of their teams get 10 ppb, which strikes me as fine.) Only once in seven years (2001) has 50% of the field cleared 15 ppb. Of the 240 teams that have attended Division I ICT from 2000-2006, only four of them have ever reached 20 points per bonus.

I'm all for reducing the difficulty of some bonuses, but I find it hard to picture an ACF tournament with substantially easier bonuses than its NAQT equivalent.
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8424
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner »

ICT isn't the equivalent to Regionals, though. It's the equivalent to Nationals. And for what it's worth, ACF Nationals was pretty comparable in the early 2000s--only about 10% harder than ICT if you look at mean PP20TH and discount powers. Paul Litvak's theory about how ICT seems easier since dead questions go by so quickly definitely accounts for the gap between objective realities and psychological impressions about NAQT somehow being inherently easier when of course format and difficulty are unrelated.

As far as Regionals bonus conversion goes: I'm always surprised by what people don't know so I'm not going to be greatly shocked if what I think are really easy questions don't get answered by some teams, but I will say that I am going to be working on Regionals next year and I am intending to bring difficulty down, and specifically bring the second parts of bonuses way down. That 15PPB total conversion and median-team conversion will be the goal I have in mind, but if it ends up more like 13 or 14 that will still be a major improvement.
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org
User avatar
Important Bird Area
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 5679
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 3:33 pm
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Contact:

Post by Important Bird Area »

ICT isn't the equivalent to Regionals, though. It's the equivalent to Nationals.
I didn't mean to imply that it was. I just wanted to note that 1. ICT bonuses are harder than the proposed standard and 2. ICT bonuses are becoming more difficult. Yet we rarely (ever?) hear complaints that excessive bonus difficulty is driving teams away from the tournament.
I am intending to bring difficulty down, and specifically bring the second parts of bonuses way down.
I strongly agree that this is the proper solution. Easier second parts will allow teams to score some points without being frustrated, while (correctly) leaving the third part of the ACF bonus as the domain of the difficult question.
Jeff Hoppes
President, Northern California Quiz Bowl Alliance
former HSQB Chief Admin (2012-13)
VP for Communication and history subject editor, NAQT
Editor emeritus, ACF

"I wish to make some kind of joke about Jeff's love of birds, but I always fear he'll turn them on me Hitchcock-style." -Fred
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8424
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner »

By the way, for reference in this discussion, here are the crucial numbers from the three ACF Regionals that posted usable stats so far this year:

Total bonus conversion: 11.77
Mean bonus conversion: 10.15
Median bonus conversion: 8.84

Number of teams (out of 28) in these ranges:
0.0-4.9: 1 (4%)
5.0-9.9: 16 (57%)
10.0-14.9: 6 (21%)
15.0-19.9: 4 (14%)
20.0-24.9: 1 (4%)
25.0-30.0: 0 (0%)
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org
vandyhawk
Tidus
Posts: 584
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2003 3:42 am
Location: Seattle

Post by vandyhawk »

Matt Weiner wrote:By the way, for reference in this discussion, here are the crucial numbers from the three ACF Regionals that posted usable stats so far this year:

Total bonus conversion: 11.77
Mean bonus conversion: 10.15
Median bonus conversion: 8.84

Number of teams (out of 28) in these ranges:
0.0-4.9: 1 (4%)
5.0-9.9: 16 (57%)
10.0-14.9: 6 (21%)
15.0-19.9: 4 (14%)
20.0-24.9: 1 (4%)
25.0-30.0: 0 (0%)
In the southeast, I believe at least 3 of us were in the 10-14.9 category, with the others in the 5-9.9 category, though we might have had 4 in the first category pending the outcome of the last game.
User avatar
No Rules Westbrook
Auron
Posts: 1232
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 1:04 pm
Contact:

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

I feel like being Scrooge, I guess. Now, noone is arguing that regionals difficulty shouldn't sink, because it has to, and weiner/jerry/others have set reasonable parameters for that sinkage.

The question not being asked, of course, is: will this really "encourage" people? A veritable parade of newer players can spend all day announcing that they really wanna like acf, and really wish all the best for it, and "gee willikers, if it weren't so gall darn hard, why we'd all grow into beautiful ACF tulips...you'd win our hearts and minds, you see, and the quizbowl waters would overflow with talent that has at last been realized!" I have always and continue to believe that this is utter horsecrap. Prove me wrong.

Sure, more people may show up at tourneys, and that's something. But, prove to me that the fire of hope will kindle in these players' hearts and that they'll be tempted to pour energy into qb. Maybe I'm missing something - maybe players look at difficulty today and declare "Look upon Matt Weiner's face and despair, for I shall never be that good - surely these ACFites must be wizards to have attained such heights...I can never comprehend their ways!"

Seriously, in response to someone above, it can't take more than a year of decently directed studying to become a very effective ACF player no matter what the difficulty level is, especially given the talent pool existing now in most regions of the qb world. And, as for this "there's just not enough reward in qb" argument (which, in addition to being used to lower difficulty, is also used to argue for trophies etc.) - really?...whole squadrons of people spend umpteen hours a day at all kinds of hobbies with no reward whatsoever - only the sheer joy of knowing that they are the most skillful frisbee jai alai player in Montana.

But, seriously, show me I'm wrong and that a new qb day is about to dawn.
jollyjew
Lulu
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 2:51 am
Location: Chicago, formerly Northfield

Post by jollyjew »

I can't be sure, but I assume that "the "not enough reward in quizbowl"" argument Ryan referenced is related to my call for undergraduate and rookie divisions at ACF tournaments. To be perfectly honest, yes, it is an argument for trophies. I like winning. I prefer it over losing. But "arguments for trophies" don't really necessitate the sort of pejorative tone I got from Ryan's post, do they? ACF is very concerned about dropping attendance figures, right? Well, maybe in order to pull those numbers up, it would be smart to be harshly realistic about things. Yes, people do all kinds of crazy hobbies all the time just for the fun of it and for the sake of personal satisfaction. But it strikes me that maybe the case is just that the number of people who participate in quiz bowl under such a mindset is smaller than it used to be. If ACF is content to take an idealistic "quizbowl for quizbowl's sake" stance, fine. But if so, tournaments may continue to be small or become even smaller. And yes, there are a lot of conditionals in here, but who can know the future? Why the run the risk when it really wouldn't cost you much to offer a few incentives? Introducing undergraduate and rookie divisions as a regular feature at ACF tournaments has the potential to bring new teams to the field without requiring the question sets to be dumbed down. And if the worry is that expanding tournament fields won't necessarily instill "quizbowl fever" in attendees, fine, granted. But I think it has a better chance of doing just that than continuing to throw newbies to the wolves.
User avatar
No Rules Westbrook
Auron
Posts: 1232
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 1:04 pm
Contact:

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

To be clear, I wasn't arguing for or against any of those things...and yes, as I said, getting more people to come to tourneys is something. I was just pointing out that I tend to be highly skeptical that anything more than that will result.

On the other hand, ACF is now reaching out to involve more people in the actual question-writing/editing process, so maybe that will give them a stake and do something more.
User avatar
The Ununtiable Twine
Auron
Posts: 1001
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:09 pm
Location: Lafayette, LA

Post by The Ununtiable Twine »

Personally, I think that ACF Regionals needs to get a little easier also. ACF Fall has no problem attracting teams because there are more teams out there that are capable of playing decently enough to want to attend. Teams are looking for a product that is not, in their opinions, ridiculously difficult enough to not be able to play "well" on. I'm not saying the dropoff in difficulty needs to be tremendous, but making the questions a little more accessible to teams should make for a significant increase in attendance.

There seems to be a tremendous difference in the difficulty levels of Fall and Regionals. I have a suggestion that may require more work by the editors, but at the same time may in fact increase attendance.

1. Keep ACF Fall and ACF Nationals at the same difficulty level as they are right now. From what I see, most of the incarnations of the Fall tournament attract quite a few teams, as well as Nationals. So there really isn't much of an attendance problem there.

2. I believe that it would be quite difficult to gauge exactly how much easier Regionals should be. So there's a really good chance that it there is no magic solution to this problem. Here's something that may work: consider holding an ACF Spring tournament sometime early in the year, perhaps late January / early February, with a difficulty level somewhat tougher than Fall but not quite as difficult as Regionals -- in fact, somewhere in the middle of these two, difficulty-wise. These questions should be more accessible to more teams. How difficult should these "Spring" questions be? Well, it may be best to optimize in this situation. Perhaps the increase in difficulty level from the Fall to Spring could be the same as the increase in difficulty level from Spring to Regionals, which could be the same increase in difficulty level from Regionals to Nationals. In this way, you have sort of a nice ladder to climb (with evenly spaced rungs, mind you), from the bottom (Fall) to the top (Nationals). Teams would then be more interested in attending ACF tournaments because the increase in difficulty is clear and more teams are willing / capable to prepare for the increase in difficulty in some sort of linear fashion instead of what seems to be more of a quadratic increase in difficulty for most teams. Most teams don't improve quadratically within a year, hence Regionals seems like a turnoff.


3. The juxtaposition of the date of regionals with NAQT Sectionals may be an inconvenience for those teams that are significantly far enough away from both sites that they cannot attend both on consecutive weekends. I know this was the case for our team (ULL) as the closest Regionals sites to our campus were in Tulsa and Knoxville, respectively. Of course, not every team is as unfortunate as we are travel-wise as we are almost exactly in the middle of nowhere as far as quiz bowl is concerned, which is why we don't play more than 5-6 more tournaments per year, but there have to be other teams with this problem. If, somehow, the dates of Regionals and Sectionals weren't so close to each other, then maybe there would be one or two more teams per regional that would pop up and play. With the addition of the proposed Spring tournament, you could push Regionals back to perhaps very late February / early March and so all of the ACF tournaments are evenly spaced. You can keep Nationals on the same date as 20-ish teams full of quiz bowl aficionados are willing to attend Nationals no matter how close it is to ICT. However, in addition to making the increase in difficulty more linear, the dates of the tournaments also become more linear.

Just a thought.

--
Jake Sundberg
Louisiana Quiz Bowl
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8424
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner »

Thanks for that post, Jake. Everyone else should look at it as an example of constructive and thoughtful discussion.

In response, I can say that I am working to assemble the editing team for ACF Regionals 2008 right now, and we have already begun to discuss some of those points. First off, I agree with what Ezequiel recently re-posted and in fact will take it to a further absolute: there should be no such thing as "Regionals difficulty." Fall is the ACF-format tournament that is noticeably easier than most quizbowl tournaments; Nationals is the ACF-format tournament that is noticeably harder than most quizbowl tournaments. My belief is that Regionals should be a superb-quality exemplar of what a normal quizbowl tournament should be--it is not a "hardcore" tournament. I was serious about my plan to see total and median bonus conversion approaching 15, and I'm also going to try to keep tossups at around 6 lines (10 point TNR) and see more pre-FTP buzzes by middling teams than we have lately.

On your third point, I have some good news: the date for Regionals 2008 is tentatively set as February 23, the last Saturday in February. This could change based on whether the host schools can accomodate it, but it is my personal preference to move the tournament back a week or two, for the reason you described.

I will also have some information on potential "transition" tournaments soon. Whether such events will carry the ACF label is not my decision, but I think there will be some sort of tournament in January that you can reasonably look at as an in-between event if you wanted to.

--MLW, not speaking for ACF in general, but most certainly speaking for ACF Regionals 2008
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org
Locked