ACFDB - a new tossup database

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ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by leapfrog314 »

Hey guys,

I know that Jerry already has QBDB, a quizbowl question database with searchable packets. However, I was looking for a good way to study particular categories from packets without actually reading whole packets, and found that none really existed. So I decided to catalog tossups by category.

You can use the database at http://www.carloangiuli.com/acfdb. It currently has all the ACF tossups since 1999 Regionals in it, for a total of 10,703 questions. As I write this, over 9,700 of them have already been categorized by my dutiful slaves. (Many thanks to everyone who helped out, especially Jonah Greenthal and Ben Cohen, who apparently have nothing better to do than categorize thousands of tossups.)

The idea here is to allow people to more effectively study particular subjects. You can search for tossups by text, but you can also find all tossups on a certain category. Tossups are all labeled by their year, level, author, and number, so you can easily find them in the original packets if you're interested. I haven't added bonuses, because this isn't meant as a place to read packets from -- it's just meant as a study tool, and tossups are much more uniform and easier to study off of. ACFDB features a powerful Boolean search tool and can export the results to a text file.

If you have some time, please play around with ACFDB and let me know what you think! You can email me at [email protected] with any suggestions or bug reports, or just leave them here. Enjoy!
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by The Time Keeper »

This looks pretty awesome.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Mike Bentley »

Hey is it possible to get the data from this database so that we can export to scobowl? As long as it's in some sort of consistent format I should be able to change it to the scobowl format.

Edit: Also I was messing around with stuff and it seems you're able to change the num field to be really large for random questions, potentially doing bad things to the server.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by leapfrog314 »

Hey, they're all categorized now! All of 'em.

Mike, if you hit Search without entering anything in the box, you can get a search that returns all the questions. You can then hit "save as text" and get a neatly-organized text file with the entire search results (i.e., the entire database). You can then parse this at your leisure.

I could also give you a copy of the database if you want, but I added the "save as text" thing expressly so that people can fetch the entire results of any search without having to change the num field and then copy-and-pasting (potentially) results thousands of pages long from their browser.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by First Chairman »

This is nice... it's a bit better than just the frequency tables because you can actually see some of the variation in writers' tastes.

I also wanted to know if there were a way to do that for the PACE NSC set.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by leapfrog314 »

ILoveReeses wrote:I also wanted to know if there were a way to do that for the PACE NSC set.
It would just require parsing the PACE sets, and then getting people to categorize all of them. I would be happy to help with the former, but the latter in particular is very time-consuming. But there's no reason it can't be done.

I'll definitely add new ACF tournaments to the database as they happen, but should other college tournaments be added? Should PACE be added? Should there be another copy of the database for certain high school tournaments? (Though I think that, for right now, I need to take a break from coding for quizbowl purposes, and actually start writing questions and studying off the database!)
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by cdcarter »

leapfrog314 wrote:
ILoveReeses wrote:I also wanted to know if there were a way to do that for the PACE NSC set.
It would just require parsing the PACE sets, and then getting people to categorize all of them. I would be happy to help with the former, but the latter in particular is very time-consuming. But there's no reason it can't be done.

I'll definitely add new ACF tournaments to the database as they happen, but should other college tournaments be added? Should PACE be added? Should there be another copy of the database for certain high school tournaments? (Though I think that, for right now, I need to take a break from coding for quizbowl purposes, and actually start writing questions and studying off the database!)
I am quite tempted to start a HS database, starting with the big archive I have now. If people are interested in seeing this happen, I can start soon.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by sunh »

cdcarter wrote:
leapfrog314 wrote:
ILoveReeses wrote:I also wanted to know if there were a way to do that for the PACE NSC set.
It would just require parsing the PACE sets, and then getting people to categorize all of them. I would be happy to help with the former, but the latter in particular is very time-consuming. But there's no reason it can't be done.

I'll definitely add new ACF tournaments to the database as they happen, but should other college tournaments be added? Should PACE be added? Should there be another copy of the database for certain high school tournaments? (Though I think that, for right now, I need to take a break from coding for quizbowl purposes, and actually start writing questions and studying off the database!)
I am quite tempted to start a HS database, starting with the big archive I have now. If people are interested in seeing this happen, I can start soon.
That would be awesome!
What tournaments do you intend to include?
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by cdcarter »

sunh wrote: That would be awesome!
What tournaments do you intend to include?
I would start with everything on quizbowlpackets.com
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Romero »

This is a wonderful idea. I can personally testify to its effectiveness. I had a similar idea circa 2001 and my team used it in the five years leading up to our ACF title in 2006. The categories Carlo chose were essentially the ones I chose (with a couple of minor changes). I had a single category for social science and split religion and mythology. I had additional categories for: computer science, ancient lit, and ancient history. I think particularly with the history and lit it is most efficient to make these ancient categories independent so that patterns are more easily discernible.

As I discovered Carlo's categories are still too few to be MOST efficient. Inevitably my teammates and I further split the categories. For instance, we had separate question sets for American Authors, American Novels, American Poems, American Drama, British Authors, British Novels, European Authors etc. I think it might suffice to simply divide the lit into Authors, Novels, Poems, Dramas, and other. In the real quiz bowl setting it is easy to determine the type of literature being asked about; the country of origin is not always as evident and hence providing the additional meta clue might make study in this method slightly less effective.

The most efficient use of the "splits" is via a division of labor. For instance I never looked at questions on Biology, Chemistry, American History or anything Ancient. My teammates had those covered. I want to caution you guys who are considering using this as a method of study. It is not necessary to have an endless volume of questions in a database from which to work. What is already there is plenty. The key to making this work for you is diligence in your effort with the material. Go through your categories thoroughly and repeatedly. Print them out, highlight the important clues you wish to remember, write them down in a notebook, write notes in the margins about connections you see, look up information with which you are not familiar.

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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Stained Diviner »

I would also love to see this happen for high school questions. I was one of Carlo's slaves, and I am willing to work as somebody else's slave next. He set up a website that would show one tossup at a time and ask you to categorize it, and a small number of us putting in spare time here and there were able to get through everything in less than a month. The difficult part of doing this for lots of tournaments would be scanning in all the questions, which are in different formats. The PACE questions would be a great place to start, since there are a lot of highly regarded questions without a ton of formatting issues.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by evilmonkey »

leapfrog314 wrote:
ILoveReeses wrote:I also wanted to know if there were a way to do that for the PACE NSC set.
It would just require parsing the PACE sets, and then getting people to categorize all of them. I would be happy to help with the former, but the latter in particular is very time-consuming. But there's no reason it can't be done.
I would assist with the categorization
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by vcuEvan »

Personally I would categorize books of the bible as religion instead of literature. I think most of them in this database are under literature.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by marnold »

Adamantium Claws wrote:Personally I would categorize books of the bible as religion instead of literature. I think most of them in this database are under literature.
dude, I hear it belongs in the trash distribution
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by evilmonkey »

marnold wrote:
Adamantium Claws wrote:Personally I would categorize books of the bible as religion instead of literature. I think most of them in this database are under literature.
dude, I hear it belongs in the trash distribution
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No, but really, it does fall under the RM distro

Edit: Also, I neglected to mention, I do get the meta-reference
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by leapfrog314 »

Adamantium Claws wrote:Personally I would categorize books of the bible as religion instead of literature. I think most of them in this database are under literature.
Actually, almost all of them are under religion. The decision was that the tossups on the Bible that treated it as literature were literature, but that most of them were religion. However, I am not responsible for most of the individual categorizations, so I can't really say how things actually turned out. (Also, there were surprisingly many Bible questions!)

Also, if anybody wants to do this with high school questions, I'm willing to host the other database as well. I have like 5 TB of bandwidth a month to burn, and I'm barely using 1 GB. It's tragic.

I also agree with Romero that adding too many questions to any one database would make it too big to be useful.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by JackGlerum »

Just looked at it for the first time. Nice work, Carlo.

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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by evilmonkey »

You need a political science category. Just saying.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Matt Weiner »

evilmonkey wrote:You need a political science category. Just saying.
This is not a category in collegiate quizbowl.

In general, it might be a little more helpful if the distribution you used to categorize things was the ACF one rather than IHSA, but that's a minor quibble.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by evilmonkey »

Matt Weiner wrote:
evilmonkey wrote:You need a political science category. Just saying.
This is not a category in collegiate quizbowl.

In general, it might be a little more helpful if the distribution you used to categorize things was the ACF one rather than IHSA, but that's a minor quibble.
I meant sub-category. And I know it IS one of those
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Matt Weiner »

evilmonkey wrote:I meant sub-category. And I know it IS one of those
I've never seen it in an ACF distribution. Is this part of the NAQT distribution? If so, what goes there that isn't really philosophy or current events?
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by evilmonkey »

Matt Weiner wrote:
evilmonkey wrote:I meant sub-category. And I know it IS one of those
I've never seen it in an ACF distribution. Is this part of the NAQT distribution? If so, what goes there that isn't really philosophy or current events?
ACF Social Science Sub-Distribution wrote:Possible topics for this category include economics, psychology, sociology, linguistics, anthropology, political science, and social criticism.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Matt Weiner »

Alright, allow me to clarify: Yes, that one tossup on Condorcet every year is "political science." No, you should not be going out of your way to write additional "political science" questions. If you do, they go in social science, but you will waste your time looking for some sort of vein of "political science" questions in the ACF database.

I jumped on this because I'm worried that people think tossups on "John Locke" are "political science." They are philosophy (by both normal quizbowl practice, and by the way things are taught at most universities).
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by evilmonkey »

Matt Weiner wrote: I jumped on this because I'm worried that people think tossups on "John Locke" are "political science." They are philosophy (by both normal quizbowl practice, and by the way things are taught at most universities).
I guess I can understand that (although I read Hobbes, Rosseau, and others in a political theory class).

However, I think that the realm of International Relations has been thus far largely ignored, and probably should receive the same attention (or around there) that the other social sciences do. Also, I think that there are certain ways to write questions about political ideologies and such that would fit in here. Comparative Government might also have questions that could be asked, although not nearly as many as in other areas.

I was just noting that if you're going to go ahead and classify things, you might as well add a political science sub-distro to the site as well.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Uh, unless Carlo is willing to go through and categorize every single subcategory I think it would be just stupid to dedicate an entire portion of the site to nothing but a very slight part of the canon.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Especially because you know that, consistently, polisci is going to show up as philosophy (or I guess maybe sociology, but I don't think that's a subcategory, is it?). So you can just recategorize it for your personal consumption if your idea of how knowledge works separates it--which is a legitimate perspective.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by evilmonkey »

Deesy Does It wrote:Uh, unless Carlo is willing to go through and categorize every single subcategory I think it would be just stupid to dedicate an entire portion of the site to nothing but a very slight part of the canon.
But he already does that for most of the questions.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Ok, but I'm saying it would be akin to them going through and arbitrarily deciding to label all the jazz tossups. That doesn't make sense unless they do it for every single other subdistribution.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by BuzzerZen »

Deesy Does It wrote:Ok, but I'm saying it would be akin to them going through and arbitrarily deciding to label all the jazz tossups. That doesn't make sense unless they do it for every single other subdistribution.
The solution here is to implement a freeform tagging system.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by evilmonkey »

Deesy Does It wrote:Ok, but I'm saying it would be akin to them going through and arbitrarily deciding to label all the jazz tossups. That doesn't make sense unless they do it for every single other subdistribution.
False, because Jazz is a type of music, i.e. a sub-sub-distro. Political Science is only a sub-distro, which are in fact already part of the categorization system at ACFDB.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Pilgrim »

evilmonkey wrote:
Deesy Does It wrote:Ok, but I'm saying it would be akin to them going through and arbitrarily deciding to label all the jazz tossups. That doesn't make sense unless they do it for every single other subdistribution.
False, because Jazz is a type of music, i.e. a sub-sub-distro. Political Science is only a sub-distro, which are in fact already part of the categorization system at ACFDB.
Jazz, like opera, is generally considered a separate subdistribution of fine arts than classical music.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

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Pilgrim wrote:
evilmonkey wrote:
Deesy Does It wrote:Ok, but I'm saying it would be akin to them going through and arbitrarily deciding to label all the jazz tossups. That doesn't make sense unless they do it for every single other subdistribution.
False, because Jazz is a type of music, i.e. a sub-sub-distro. Political Science is only a sub-distro, which are in fact already part of the categorization system at ACFDB.
Jazz, like opera, is generally considered a separate subdistribution of fine arts than classical music.
My bad, you're right...
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by evilmonkey »

evilmonkey wrote:
Pilgrim wrote: Jazz, like opera, is generally considered a separate subdistribution of fine arts than classical music.
My bad, you're right...
Although you could conceivably classify all non-classical musical under the category "Non-Classical Music" and all non-painting visual art under the category "Non-Painting Visual Art"
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Matt Weiner »

You could do a lot of things. I guess the question is, what would make the most sense in terms of people using the database to study, get potential things to write on, or otherwise use it for what people would ideally be using it for? I would argue that people wanting to study what jazz topics have come up before, or write on them, or see what has come up before so they can study or write about what has NOT come up, could benefit greatly from having jazz questions labeled, since there have probably been about 30 to 40 jazz questions in the sets used in the database. People who want "political science" would not benefit as much, since there are probably less than 10 questions optimally categorized as "political science" in those tournaments.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Matt Weiner wrote:You could do a lot of things. I guess the question is, what would make the most sense in terms of people using the database to study, get potential things to write on, or otherwise use it for what people would ideally be using it for? I would argue that people wanting to study what jazz topics have come up before, or write on them, or see what has come up before so they can study or write about what has NOT come up, could benefit greatly from having jazz questions labeled, since there have probably been about 30 to 40 jazz questions in the sets used in the database. People who want "political science" would not benefit as much, since there are probably less than 10 questions optimally categorized as "political science" in those tournaments.
I think Evan's free tagging system works best here, especially because someone who wants to write political science, being the only one to benefit, would want to be able to create that tag. Also, a free tagging system means that questions can have multiple tags, so the fuzzy arena around sociology, polisci, political philosophy, philosophy, whatever can be 40% sociology, 10% polisci, 30% political philosophy, and 40% philosophy. Categories can overlap. And that's a better representation of actual knowledge, anyway.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by theMoMA »

I don't know about you, but when I'm going through a list of like 40,000 tossups trying to get a database off the ground, I love putting in like 300 free-floating tags.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by AKKOLADE »

Suggesting community tags?
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

theMoMA wrote:I don't know about you, but when I'm going through a list of like 40,000 tossups trying to get a database off the ground, I love putting in like 300 free-floating tags.
Which is why Carlo's system allowed anyone to categorize tossups, and why at this point people could simply add a set of tags if they wanted to. If I think there should be a separate tag for organic chemistry (and I could put that under chemistry, naturally; we can have a heirarchy when it seems legitimate), then I can tag 200 organic chemistry tossups if I want to. And if someone else thinks that biochemistry is a meaningful tag, then it can get that, too, particularly if it applies to both.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by evilmonkey »

everyday847 wrote:
theMoMA wrote:I don't know about you, but when I'm going through a list of like 40,000 tossups trying to get a database off the ground, I love putting in like 300 free-floating tags.
Which is why Carlo's system allowed anyone to categorize tossups
Wait, I can help categorize things? How?
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by leapfrog314 »

everyday847 wrote:
theMoMA wrote:I don't know about you, but when I'm going through a list of like 40,000 tossups trying to get a database off the ground, I love putting in like 300 free-floating tags.
Which is why Carlo's system allowed anyone to categorize tossups, and why at this point people could simply add a set of tags if they wanted to. If I think there should be a separate tag for organic chemistry (and I could put that under chemistry, naturally; we can have a heirarchy when it seems legitimate), then I can tag 200 organic chemistry tossups if I want to. And if someone else thinks that biochemistry is a meaningful tag, then it can get that, too, particularly if it applies to both.
Well, it definitely made sense at first to force every tossup to have a single category -- that way, we can roughly categorize all of them in a mostly-indisputable fashion. Of course there will be errors, and there are plenty of ambiguous cases, but for the vast majority of tossups, the vast majority of players would agree on the given categorization.

As Matt said earlier in this thread, where to draw the lines between categories depends on how useful the distinction is. Although political science and philosophy are distinct, the first is so minor in the distribution that it's not worth (in my mind) creating another subcategory. There have to be manageably few categories for the database to be useful at all.

The problem with adding tags is that they get increasingly unreliable as more get added. I can essentially ensure that the Music subcategory contains all classical music, but it would be harder to ensure that, for instance, a community-enforced "minimalist" tag would contain all tossups on minimalist music. I feel that, if you want to find all tossups related to minimalism, the database lets you instantly narrow your search down to all music tossups (which is, mind you, a massive benefit) and you should be willing to quickly scan the tossups and find the relevant ones.

In other words, turning a benevolently-dictatorial categorization scheme into a WIKI-CATEGORIZATION would probably result in the community tags being fairly unreliable. (In terms of how many questions they exclude, not what they include.)

Also, Bryce, regarding categorization -- it's finished for the time being. If we end up adding more tournaments, it may open up again, but I feel that adding a bazillion tournaments would just make search results too large to be useful. (I will, of course, be adding future ACF tournaments as they occur.)
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

leapfrog314 wrote:The problem with adding tags is that they get increasingly unreliable as more get added. I can essentially ensure that the Music subcategory contains all classical music, but it would be harder to ensure that, for instance, a community-enforced "minimalist" tag would contain all tossups on minimalist music. I feel that, if you want to find all tossups related to minimalism, the database lets you instantly narrow your search down to all music tossups (which is, mind you, a massive benefit) and you should be willing to quickly scan the tossups and find the relevant ones.

In other words, turning a benevolently-dictatorial categorization scheme into a WIKI-CATEGORIZATION would probably result in the community tags being fairly unreliable. (In terms of how many questions they exclude, not what they include.)
Well, sure, which is why you shouldn't count on the perfection of the minimalist tag that I create, or whatever. If you quickly need to understand what's out there in the minimalist canon, you can get a dozen names. The fact that false positives aren't an issue is great, so that when NAQT hands me a "FTPE name the minimalist composer" and I don't know the third part, I don't guess R. Strauss. And though it's not a perfect system--it's true, one guy might slip through the cracks--a system with community tags is AT LEAST as functional as one without. That is, you can use them if you want to see possibly overlapping, possibly incomplete categories of Russian poetry and Moroccan psychology. Or you can decide not to, if all you want are the current tags.

(The current system isn't perfect yet, anyway. I've caught maybe a dozen miscategorized tossups, and since tossups are only in one category, if they were classified in the category I was looking at, then they were missing from the category that deserved them. So there's no reason to select inertia with it.)
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by leapfrog314 »

How would you want this to work? Would you want a list of tags somewhere to choose from? Would this work in addition to the search tool, or as a different way of viewing questions?
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

leapfrog314 wrote:How would you want this to work? Would you want a list of tags somewhere to choose from? Would this work in addition to the search tool, or as a different way of viewing questions?
So, this was what I was thinking: every tossup MUST be categorized according to the distro that you already have set up. It's not ideal, but I don't think any finite number of categories can precisely subdivide human knowledge, so it's all good. It couldn't reasonably be expected to be any better in that respect. So that's cool.

Then, perhaps custom tags could be searched separately--you can apply a year filter, a standard tag filter, a difficulty level filter, or finally a custom tag filter. And those custom tag filters can be anything from biochemistry to "does Charles Meigs approve of the number of Azeris referenced." (You can also apply both a custom tag filter and a standard tag filter, so that you could filter for tossups in social studies : mythology that are adequately Central Asian.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

Since each question can only be listed in one category, are you interested in misfiled ones? I've been going through all the lit questions, and I've found two history toss-ups, one from 1999 and one from 2000. I can post the specific questions if you're interested/have time to fix them.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by johnboy81918 »

MLWGS-Gir wrote:Since each question can only be listed in one category, are you interested in misfiled ones? I've been going through all the lit questions, and I've found two history toss-ups, one from 1999 and one from 2000. I can post the specific questions if you're interested/have time to fix them.
I think that's what the "report this tossup" is about - at least, that's what I've been using it for!
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

johnboy81918 wrote:
MLWGS-Gir wrote:Since each question can only be listed in one category, are you interested in misfiled ones? I've been going through all the lit questions, and I've found two history toss-ups, one from 1999 and one from 2000. I can post the specific questions if you're interested/have time to fix them.
I think that's what the "report this tossup" is about - at least, that's what I've been using it for!
:oops: I saved them as a text file and haven't actually looked that closely at the site itself... Thanks!
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

If this database expanded to include reputable mACF tournaments, I for one would be ready to grab the robes and scepter and crown it King of QB Databases.
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Why don't you let The King do that Bruce?
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by leapfrog314 »

Bruce, my only concern with adding lots of mACF tournaments is that, as Chris pointed out earlier, having a database that's TOO big might actually make it harder to use?

At any rate, this would not be difficult to do, especially if I'm not the one doing the categorizing (as actually getting them in the database requires work, too) but I'm not sure where the balance between "large 'n useful" and "too large to be useful" lies. Ideas? (Also, which mACF tournaments would people like to see in this?)
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Re: ACFDB - a new tossup database

Post by jonah »

How about assigning tournaments to (broad) categories and allowing filtering by those too?
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