GARBAGE set discussion

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GARBAGE set discussion

Post by AKKOLADE »

With the last event being finalized, feel free to discuss this set in this thread.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Cheynem »

All right then. This was a very fine set, with good answers and clues for the most part. With all due respect, I thought the editing could have been a little stronger, particularly on repeats. I realize after seeing Our Mutual Friend Mr. Weinstein's packet, that the editors had a lot of work elsewhere, but we were starting to say "As we learned earlier..." quite a bit while playing this tourney (the most egregious offender was that figure skating bonus). But this was an accessible, highly enjoyable set that avoided many excesses of previous trash tournaments. For me, it is probably the best trash set I have played this year, at least giving TRASH Regionals a strong challenge.

Specific Comments
-As usual, there are a few things that probably shouldn't have been tossed up. While one of my favorite actors, I am not sure if Zelkjo Ivanek deserves a tossup. Album Titles continue to be the bane of trash tournaments (a Dixie Chicks album that isn't Wide Open Spaces? What?).

-I am not a fan of tossups on TV channels or movie studios that basically just shoot out clues about "TV Show X aired on this channel" or something. The Warner Brothers tossup was actually pretty good because the things it mentioned are important to Warners (so was the FX one), but the NBC one wasn't because after a mention of "The Mike O'Malley Show," it said "Parks and Recreation," which is a heavily promoted new show (plus it tipped you off that it was an existing network).

-I applaud this set for not asking about characters unless they were very well known (titular characters like Max Smart or major characters like Vic Mackey). Similarly, for the most part, non Big Three sports asked about gettable stuff.

-Some Poor Tossups (not to single anyone out, just to suggest room for improvement): Fawlty Towers is an example of tossups I don't like. You begin with a dumb quote, which basically sets up a guessing game and then you vaguely describe a plot from an episode but using too specific words ("guest"). So based on these vague clues, you have the idea that the show is a British program about a mean guy who doesn't like guests. Buzz. I also found The Godfather tossup to be really easy, mentioning Jack Woltz in the lead-in, but perhaps I just like that movie too much.

-Tossups I enjoyed: Auric Goldfinger (well, the idea of it, the actual question turned into a buzzer race a touch too quickly), James Coburn, Lucky Strikes, Oral Sex [I'm told this became pretty easy to figure it out, but I liked having knowledge of the terrible movie Thinner], Megan Fox, Cotton Hill, Speedy Gonzalez, Newman, Predators, Wings, The Final Countdown.

-Worst Neg Ever: Charlie Chan for Yoshi. Figure that one out!
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Overall I enjoyed the set, although it probably wasn't as good as the 2008 CO Trash Tournament.

The packets by teams I expected to write goods packets were for the most part pretty good (for instance, the Minnesota and Sorice packets), but the packets from teams less established on the circuit and even some portions of the editors' packets were often times not all that great.

Some not very good tossups included NBC, Raging Bull, NBA Jam, Octomom, Wimbledon, Queen, World of Warcraft, Goldeneye, Bejeweled Twist, Lacrosse, Fawlty Towers, Little Miss Sunshine, and Table Tennis. We didn't play the OU packet but a tossup on Microsoft Songsmith seems like a bad idea. The quarterbacks question, while seemingly pyramidal, went a bit overboard with the amusing anecdotes, although I agree these are the only things you can really do to make sports questions not be a comlete bore. Bonuses had the expected level of variability, with the UMBC packet being particularly bad in this regard.

I don't have objective numbers to prove this, but this tournament seems to have favored "classic trash" of the '60s-'70s a bit more than some other tournaments I've played recently (notably Penn Bowl Trash and Minnesota Open Trash), which is fine, although my personal inclinations places a higher emphasis on more recent stuff. I also got the feeling that this tournament had a bit more tossups on personalities than the trash tournaments I've played recently, although this could be more due to the fact that I was not playing with people who actually know that stuff. In general, I feel that questions on actors and actresses tend to be a lot harder than films, shows and characters and prefer to see these come up in a more limited fashion, but I could be in the minority here.

Despite these quips, this was an enjoyable tournament.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by BMHight »

Based on playing the questions, noticing the comments posted this week, and the stats from across the country, I think the editors succeeded in producing a very fair and very accessible set of questions. The issues regarding repeats have already been addressed, and Mike already brought up the two tossups that stuck out like sore thumbs when playing this set (NBC and Fawlty Towers).

I give the editing staff credit for taking some of the harder answer selections I originally had in our packet (specifically the Earl Lloyd portion and two parts of the Butler University bonus) and making them fit as clues within the revised questions instead of burying the questions or completely changing the questions.

Two other positives I would like to mention:

1. The staff at Chicago for keeping things moving smoothly.
2. The college basketball questions struck me as having a nice balance between regions and conferences. It's a small thing, but I think that's an important thing to keep in mind for national and nationally-mirrored tournaments.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Oh yeah, what happened to the "Rap/hip-hop/dance/jazz/soul – 2/2" distribution? I don't recall hearing a lot of dance or soul questions, and jazz was limited to maybe 3/3 in the set at the most. Rap and hip-hop didn't seem to take up much of the rest of the space, even when you condense the 5/5 music submissions to the 4/4 that ended up in the packet. I personally don't care very much that this sub-distribution was downgraded, but some of the other people at the tournament were expecting a bit more rap and hip-hop. That being said, I didn't take the time to actually count what ended up making it into the packets, so if I'm wrong feel free to provide evidence saying that's the case.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Cheynem »

Oh yes, Mike's post has caused me to remember a tossup I detested. The Solaris tossup annoyed me to no end because the lead-in mentions it was written by Stanislau Lem. Bad lead-in. I almost buzzed right there with Solaris, but decided to let it play out, and then got beat in the buzzer race that ensued. I'm guessing the question writer was unaware of the mild canon status of Lem within academic quiz bowl, but it still wasn't a good thing to lead off with.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by MichaelKearney »

I noticed quite a few leadins like that in this set. I enjoyed most of the rounds, but they were in serious need of editing for clue placement.

When the questions are still being edited at 3 in the morning, I understand that clue placement is the last thing on anyone's mind, but it made quite a few of the questions into one line tossups.

Baccarat tossup mentioned punto banco(Italian for player banker) in the first line, which allows you to fraud the question pretty quick.
Manhattan tossup mentioned similarity to an Old Fashioned in the first line, which is going to go real fast in a room of 21+.
Howie Do It tossup mentions Canadian production and visible cameras, and I can't really think of another hidden camera show currently airing.
Don't give away the author in the first ten words. Paul Gallico(The Poseidon Adventure) and Stanislaw Lem(Solaris) basically have only one famous book to their credit, so this means that the 5-6 clues you wrote after that won't really be heard.
Same for mentioning Phantom Planet in a Rushmore question, or Jim Brown in a Lacrosse question.

There were several clues that were factually incorrect, which led to some grumbling at my site. I'm the comic book/video game guy, so that's mostly what I noticed.
Tossups:
Sorice: Sam and Max wasn't created by Traveller's Tales, but Telltale Games.
White: Megan Fox doesn't play Berta's daughter on Two and a Half Men, Sara Rue does.
Lenzy: Toejam and Earl wasn't a sidescroller, nor was it two-dimensional.
Bonuses:
Bentley: The comic book speedster with the metabolic problems from the 30th Century is Bart Allen, not Wally West.
White: The original Streets of Rage introduced Blaze Fielding, not its sequel.

So for these reasons, I don't think it was exactly up to the level of TRASH regionals, but it was a good first attempt. Obviously the lack of early packets led to late editing, but I think you've got to expect a lack of packets when pairing with ACF Regionals. A lot of trash teams are bastard/masters style teams who wouldn't necessarily be playing in the academic event, and most of the teams that would probably don't want to write two full packets.

If you do it again next year, I'll be there again, but you should probably have a bunch more house-written packets ready.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Cheynem »

Megan Fox was on Two and a Half Men playing Prudence--it's just that she's actually Berta's granddaughter.

Also, there were a few ghastly "list" style tossups that really people need to stop writing. The tossup on "Card Games" was lame, basically just shooting names of fake card games at you. This could have been a fine bonus, but as a tossup, it seemed lazy.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by The Goffman Prophecies »

Cheynem wrote:Fawlty Towers is an example of tossups I don't like. You begin with a dumb quote, which basically sets up a guessing game and then you vaguely describe a plot from an episode but using too specific words ("guest"). So based on these vague clues, you have the idea that the show is a British program about a mean guy who doesn't like guests. Buzz.
Yeah, I'll take responsibility for that one. I've never seen the series, and tried to make some sense of what had already been written, rather than try to re-write it. I don't think I did it any favors though. I was trying hard not to make it clearly about a grumpy old man in a British hotel, but that's still how it came across.

I'd love to see how someone else would have written it.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Captain Sinico »

MichaelKearney wrote:Baccarat tossup mentioned punto banco(Italian for player banker) in the first line, which allows you to fraud the question pretty quick.
I don't know about that. Maybe that wasn't the best clue, though.
MichaelKearney wrote:Manhattan tossup mentioned similarity to an Old Fashioned in the first line, which is going to go real fast in a room of 21+.
It didn't.
MichaelKearney wrote:...Stanislaw Lem(Solaris) basically [has] only one famous book...
Ironically, the fact that Lem has several famous books, at least two of which have been made into important movies, is what kept me from buzzing on that awful, awful question.
MichaelKearney wrote:Sorice: Sam and Max wasn't created by Traveller's Tales, but Telltale Games.
Well... this is almost right. The clue that Traveler's Tales released a game about them is wrong (sorry.) Telltale didn't create them, though, unless some massive acausality happened.

MaS
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

So for these reasons, I don't think it was exactly up to the level of TRASH regionals, but it was a good first attempt.
I don't think TRASH Regionals was anywhere near the quality of GARBAGE. While it's true that this tournament did have some bonuses that weren't perfectly balanced and some really not so great tossups, it generally attempted to adhere to the principles of good quizbowl. Things like answer selection (avoiding questions on albums of no particular importance, random characters who are not well-known in and off themselves, and terrible ideas like actual list tossups), clue selection (avoiding almanac facts, for the most part finding substantive clues and nixing random, unhelpful stuff) and basic quizbowl conventions (avoiding stupid bonus formats, striving for easy-medium-hard) were all high on the list of this tournament's editors, and it showed. I do not believe the same effect is seen in most TRASH sets, and certainly not in this year's regionals set. If one does not believe these things are what really ends up defining a set, I suppose this set may in fact seem inferior to TRASH regionals. In my mind, the fact that more people do not centrally (and competently) aim for these things when writing trash questions is the biggest issue with playing trash (or TRASH) events.
Obviously the lack of early packets led to late editing, but I think you've got to expect a lack of packets when pairing with ACF Regionals. A lot of trash teams are bastard/masters style teams who wouldn't necessarily be playing in the academic event, and most of the teams that would probably don't want to write two full packets
I don't understand this. If a lot of trash teams wouldn't necessarily be playing ACF Regionals, why would they be less inclined to write for GARBAGE? This conflicts with your second point about people being worn out from writing. We paired TRASH regionals with our Illinois Open mirror in the fall and that didn't affect attendance at all amongst the trash regulars who had no interest in the academic event.

As for Regionals teams not wanting to write, it's my impression that most of the packets came from people who played ACF regionals anyway. The fact that some of these packets came in late is probably not due to the fact that these teams played ACF regionals specifically, but rather attributable to the fact that they had been playing/writing for academic events quite a bit during the brutal January-February tournament stretch this year. I don't see how this tournament inherently being paired with regionals affects this.

I was surprised that more of the mid-atlantic trash regulars did not attend GARBAGE - was there a particular reason for this? Was there concern that it would skew "too young" or something silly like that? I would hope not - rather, I think it may be that many of these teams don't really read the board very much, and just surface for TRASH regionals/nationals. I certainly hope these teams choose to make an appearance at GARBAGE next year.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by WellTraveledSalesman »

Captain Scipio wrote:
MichaelKearney wrote:Sorice: Sam and Max wasn't created by Traveller's Tales, but Telltale Games.
Well... this is almost right. The clue that Traveler's Tales released a game about them is wrong (sorry.) Telltale didn't create them, though, unless some massive acausality happened.

MaS
Yeah, I didn't notice I wrote "Telltale Games" as "Traveller's Tales" at any point when I was writing that question / reviewing our packet and I'm not sure how or why I did that.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by pray for elves »

I'll address a few of the specific criticisms in the morning when I can actually think, as I've just finished driving back from Atlanta.

I appreciate the positive comments and the constructive criticism that most of you have been giving us through the discussion of this event; it's good to hear that people enjoyed the questions.

I don't think that I would run another packet submission event. People didn't turn in their packets in any reasonable amount of time, leading to us scrambling to edit packets that were submitted at the last minute. Some people who did not submit packets but were required to by our rules were allowed to play by various hosts, which was supposed to be forbidden.

However, the fact that packets were submitted late does not absolve us as editors of blame for the handful of bad tossups and misplaced clues, the punctuation errors that I ran out of time to clean up in some packets, and especially the repeats. These issues were all a side effect of poor time management on our part, and had I had sufficient time to do a close reading of each packet, the repeats and punctuation errors would have been resolved and some of the bad tossups and misplaced clues would have been replaced or edited. I'd like to think that with better time management this set could have been close to the best effort we as editors could have put forth.

Basically, thanks to the people who wrote packets, but I think I'd rather just write more questions on my own next time.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Until more high quality teams start writing for packet submission events, I agree with Evan that packet submission trash can be a big pain in the ass. There are several reasons for this:

Trash events tend to get a higher number of repeats. I'd wager that GARBAGE got a handful of different questions about Lost, Heroes, 24, Futurama, Slumdog Millionare, 50 Cent, Kanye West, Douglass Adams, and a handful of topics that seem to be included in practically every trash packet submission. This is a problem in academic tournaments as well, but from my experience it's generally less severe.

Trash events tend to get packets from teams very much out of touch with the standards of contemporary quizbowl writing. I received a few of these for Chris McCray, and it essentially was the same amount of effort to rewrite them as to write entirely new questions, and the teams were paying less to do so.

The lack of a well defined trash canon (and oftentimes the lack of a well defined difficulty target) results in a lot of questions being submitted that are above or below the target difficulty. I think teams have a reasonably good idea what is the target difficulty for an event like ACF Fall or ACF Nationals, but the differences between Chris McCray, GARBAGE, Penn Bowl Trash, TRASH Regionals, TRASHionals and the CO Trash Tournament are probably much less clear.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Jeaton1 »

In reference to the card games question, call me crazy but isn't Sphere Break from FFX-2 played with coins instead of cards? (I negged with 'coin games' which was probably bad in its own right). There are plenty of other card games in the Final Fantasy series such as Triple Triad or Tetra Master so think this was a poor choice in picking a clue.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by MichaelKearney »

I'm not trying to make anybody unwilling to try this again. I'm attempting constructive criticism.
DumbJaques wrote: it generally attempted to adhere to the principles of good quizbowl. Things like answer selection (avoiding questions on albums of no particular importance, random characters who are not well-known in and off themselves, and terrible ideas like actual list tossups),
Random characters like Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, or actors known for pretty much one thing like Zjelko Ivanek or Jack Haley?
Albums like the Final Countdown(known for...The Final Countdown and nothing else. I own this album, and it's not important at all) or 69 Love Songs(a concept album with zero charting singles? I like the Magnetic Fields, but dang.)
Or list tossups like Card Games/quarterbacks/characters named Michael?
It's cool that you didn't like TRASH regs as much, but don't pretend that this was leaps and bounds better than most trash tournaments. I'll give you the consistent 10/10/10 bonus thing, but not the easy/medium/hard. There were the same amount of "Here's 30 points" and "easy/medium/Screw you" bonuses as any other trash tournament. I think it was a good attempt, it needed work, and I'm looking forward to its continual evolution. Anything that gets ACF and trash together without animosity is cool with me.
If a lot of trash teams wouldn't necessarily be playing ACF Regionals, why would they be less inclined to write for GARBAGE? We paired TRASH regionals with our Illinois Open mirror in the fall and that didn't affect attendance at all amongst the trash regulars who had no interest in the academic event.
When you paired something with TRASH Regionals, it was clear what teams were going to get, good and bad. You know it might be a little older, there are going to be 15 packets, finals, and it's totally going to get run.

A lot of the Southern circuit(My usual teammates included) stayed away from GARBAGE because they had planned for it last year, and figured that it would get cancelled again this year.(which was very close to happening) There were only a few locations(MSU had one team signed up, and I was on it), which usually means that the editors are pretty much stuck with using whatever they get, because they can't afford to throw out the worst packets.

So you're essentially asking teams to submit packets for a tournament of unknown quantity, that might get cancelled anyway. And if it gets cancelled, you obviously can't reuse the packet at a different event, so a lot of people waited to find out if it was going to be run or not, which is exactly the opposite of what's needed.

The second problem that I've personally heard was the line in the original announcement.
"Please follow the subdistributions in your packet. If you do not, you can be charged a penalty of as much as $50 or face an outright rejection of your packet. The more you abandon the subdistribution, the higher your penalty will be."

No one wants to write an unbalanced packet for a trash tournament, but they also don't want to pay extra for missing the required soul/dance questions. (As I've heard, no one was ACTUALLY penalized, but it's a little unfriendly sounding. Ann B. Davis had this same problem.)
Bentley wrote: Trash events tend to get a higher number of repeats. This is a problem in academic tournaments as well, but from my experience it's generally less severe.
Yeah, but the repeats here were about Tara Lipinski, Ringo Starr, and NWA. Not really pulled-from-the-headlines.
The lack of a well defined trash canon (and oftentimes the lack of a well defined difficulty target) results in a lot of questions being submitted that are above or below the target difficulty. I think teams have a reasonably good idea what is the target difficulty for an event like ACF Fall or ACF Nationals, but the differences between Chris McCray, GARBAGE, Penn Bowl Trash, TRASH Regionals, TRASHionals and the CO Trash Tournament are probably much less clear.
This is why writing and editing trash questions is a whole hell of a lot harder than people think. You've got to age-balance things so the geezers and the whippersnappers don't cry foul, search through a lot more potentially apocryphal/falsified information, and you can't ever play the "you should just know this" card.
On top of that, it's still really difficult to judge what's too hard/easy, because trash is mostly about the stuff you and your friends like, and everyone's got a different set of friends.

I'd say, for the next people who want to try this, have more freelance packets ready, make your standards less specific(because you're still going to get packets that ignore them, but you're going to scare off the newbies), and budget twice the amount of time you think you need, or twice the amount of people.
So, GARBAGE people, Doooon't stop belieeeeevin'! (But also don't expect packets for a trash tournament to ever come in on time, or in the number you need. People are mostly lazy jerks like me.) (Also, if any of your editors wants to see what a total hypocrite I am, and take a swing at my questions, please feel free to come to/mirror the RC Cola Trash Tournament at UTC, March 29th)
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Didn't play the set but I have to defend the Magnetic Fields; a tossup on 69 Love Songs is just fine. It's the kind of indie stuff that yeah, doesn't chart but is pretty popular among college students (especially nerds).
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Cheynem »

Final Countdown was also fine--all the clues were about the titular song except like maybe one. And that song is both a classic and famous.

I agree that it that Earl McGraw tossup was terrible (should have accepted the law enforcement dude from Kill Bill) and it was eccentric to tossup Jack Haley and Zelkjo Ivanek.

There is nothing wrong with list tossups if they tell interesting facts and don't just plop stuff at you. While it may have been a bit unwieldly, the quarterback one wasn't a list, it was basically a disguised tebow/warner tossup, while the characters from Michael at least gave you information about the characters.

I actually thought this year's TRASH Regionals seemed like overall a pretty good set, and I think GARBAGE was at least on par with it. I don't really know or care which one was "better."
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Captain Sinico »

I mean, I don't know about all that. Some of your points have merit, but I really disagree with your premise that trash submission will just always be late and rampantly ignore distribution. We got our packet in on time (and we really suck at that) and to distribution; I don't see any reason anyone else shouldn't have been able to. I also think that, if anything, the fact that people tend to not consider stuff outside their own interests when writing trash (for reasons I've never understood) means that editors should re-double their efforts to demand writing to a distribution and just reject packets that don't follow it.

MaS
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

Random characters like Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, or actors known for pretty much one thing like Zjelko Ivanek or Jack Haley?
Albums like the Final Countdown(known for...The Final Countdown and nothing else. I own this album, and it's not important at all) or 69 Love Songs(a concept album with zero charting singles? I like the Magnetic Fields, but dang.)
Or list tossups like Card Games/quarterbacks/characters named Michael?
The Final Countdown seems to have spawned some other hits despite the seemingly unassailable assertion of the album's worthlessness, "I own it and it isn't notable." Even if those other songs aren't notable, there's nothing extremely dumb about writing a tossup on the album because it's named after a song that people have definitely heard of; in some cases, crafting a question like this allows you to add clues about other worthwhile works by a band without making it obscure. Problematic album questions (like 69 Love Songs) are on obscure albums, or are even on relatively non-obscure albums and just end up being annoying because a whole lot of people don't really listen to music off of albums anymore. If you're going to ask about an album, it should be very well known, or should have a title track that's well known enough to be a tossup answer. The Final Countdown is not a bad album question. Similarly, I don't think Zeljko Ivanek is such a ridiculous question - certainly one of the harder ones of the set, but he's been in about 6 shows that lots of people watch and know well, and he's considered to be one of the finer character actors, perhaps the best among people currently active in television. It was a hard answer, but it wasn't a ridiculous, known for one thing answer that flaunts common quizbowl sense. Also, you seem to lack an understanding of what a list tossup is; the tossups you listed were common link questions, a type of question where various, often unrelated sources are used for clues pertaining to a common name, subject, etc. Quarterbacks and Michael seemed just fine to me. A "list" tossup is a tossup that fails to adhere to basic quizbowl conventions like constructing sentences and clearly pointing players towards the answer, and in almost every case are simply the result of lazy/ignorant writers failing to consider what it's like to actually play on those questions.

Earl McGraw and Jack Haley (and 69 Love Songs) are just entirely too obscure and were very bad tossup choice - certainly among the very poorest of the set. That doesn't change the fact that they represented a very small portion of the set and were hardly characteristic of it; the stuff I mentioned is undeniably endemic in most trash tournaments whereas it comprised but a small fraction of GARBAGE. When you consider the small pool of packets the editors had to work with, the fact that these questions stand out so sharply from the rest of the set is even more indicative of the amount of work that went into it.
It's cool that you didn't like TRASH regs as much, but don't pretend that this was leaps and bounds better than most trash tournaments. I'll give you the consistent 10/10/10 bonus thing, but not the easy/medium/hard. There were the same amount of "Here's 30 points" and "easy/medium/Screw you" bonuses as any other trash tournament.
I'm not pretending so much as recognizing the overwhelming reality of that fact. This tournament had some clunker tossups with misplaced clues, which popped up anywhere from 0-4 times in a packet. That still means that even at minimum about 80% of the packet adhered to the principles of good quizbowl. I don't think it's possible to have an understanding of those principles and think that TRASH regionals this year - or most trash tournaments in general - hit this mark with regularity.

Perhaps this tournament had the same number of easy 30s and impossible hard parts as all other trash tournaments; certainly there were more impossible hard parts than their should have been (read:zero), but I still think it fared slightly better in these categories than is usual. Even if it did not, it certainly avoided the plentitude of bonuses without a real easy part or with two hard parts or three medium parts or " hey this is a 40-30-20-10-1 bonus that took me 20 seconds to write" that ends up characterizing most trash tournaments (and all TRASH sets I've seen). This tournament did a decent job of balancing its question coverage, hit a pretty solid median of accessibility, and adhered to the principles of good question writing in a vast majority of instances - and did all three of those things better than TRASH regionals did. In this respect it was leaps and bounds better than this year's regionals, and I don't know in what other respect you'd really measure.
So you're essentially asking teams to submit packets for a tournament of unknown quantity, that might get cancelled anyway. And if it gets cancelled, you obviously can't reuse the packet at a different event, so a lot of people waited to find out if it was going to be run or not, which is exactly the opposite of what's needed.
I think you have quite a good point about this. I hope the tournament's successful run this year will assuage these concerns in the event that it runs next year.
No one wants to write an unbalanced packet for a trash tournament, but they also don't want to pay extra for missing the required soul/dance questions. (As I've heard, no one was ACTUALLY penalized, but it's a little unfriendly sounding. Ann B. Davis had this same problem.)
I don't understand this at all, though. There are really teams out there that read that provision and say "man, I am unwilling to exert the attention and extra 10 minutes of effort to follow this instruction, but I will eagerly allow this relatively commonplace warning to alter the entire scope of my behavior and plans for a weekend, and will forgo doing this activity I otherwise would have wished to engage in?" That seems rather silly to me, and I don't recall any academic packet submission tournament having this problem (I don't have knowledge of the Ann B. Davis situation). How hard is it to adhere to a distribution? It's not like the editors are just mining through your packet looking to gouge you, they just want you to write your packet correctly rather than submit 10 questions on the same thing like. . . certain people.

EDIT:
Yeah, but the repeats here were about Tara Lipinski, Ringo Starr, and NWA. Not really pulled-from-the-headlines.
Eh, I don't know, The Beatles and NWA seem exactly like the kind of things that lots of people are going to send in questions on. Lots of people really like both of those groups and they have a rich body of work/significance to culture. However, I certainly share your distress that multiple people submitted questions on Tara Lipinski.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask »

DumbJaques wrote:Problematic album questions (like 69 Love Songs) are on obscure albums
I'm actually going to second Jerry here and say that 69 Love Songs is not that hard if you keep up with music. I didn't get to play GARBAGE, but looking at a couple of the packets I would have pegged that as being right around the median difficulty of the set. (Granted, my TV knowledge=zero, so that's probably a confounding factor.)

I mean, I guess I personally would have written it as a Magnetic Fields tossup instead, just in case that increased conversion, but 69 Love Songs is more famous than any individual song of theirs, and would've been the giveaway.
DumbJaques wrote:However, I certainly share your distress that multiple people submitted questions on Tara Lipinski.
Yikes. That is distressing.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by pray for elves »

In terms of things that were actually repeated in submissions, the most egregious things were getting roughly 10 submissions on the X-men in various forms (seriously, guys? This wasn't the Eric Mukherjee Memorial Trash Open), about five submissions on Kanye West, three on Blink 182 (really?) and maybe three or four on NWA. Also, a whole assload of submitted clues mentioned things that were answers to bonus prompts or tossups. However, Kearney's assertion that editing a trash tournament is really hard is somewhat of a canard; it's not somehow harder to edit a trash tournament than it is an academic tournament, because you're not going to know every answer in either case. I fully expected to not know much about many (if not most) of the answers; that's part of why you have a diverse team of editors.

There were only two submissions that realistically ignored the bounds which we had set: one of them was submitted with 1/1 purely on The Simpsons and four other tossups having significant clues taken from The Simpsons, plus things like 40-30-20-10-1 bonuses and other hallmarks of TRASH and other trash tournaments. The bad bonuses also popped up in the other. (Remember, people, you should try to help out the editors by doing a little pre-editing before submission to clean up grammar and spelling and deal with appropriately obvious problems. The job of the editors is to correctly order the clues, replace bad clues with good ones, and replace repeats [which this tournament clearly failed to do, but so be it]. It should not be to fix your spelling and grammar in every question.)

An important difference between this tournament and other trash tournaments that Michael Kearney neglected to notice was the more consistent (and longer) tossup length. I just opened up a random packet from RC Cola 2007, and the tossups (once changed to 10-point Times New Roman, which is what GARBAGE used) range from three lines to five and a half lines. A random 2008 TRASH Regionals that I opened up had tossups ranging from just over four lines to just over six lines using what seems to be 11-point TNR, so the tossups would be a shade under four lines to right at six lines. The tossups in this tournament aimed for six lines, and with very little exception were between five and a half and six and a half lines. There were a few outliers at five and a little over seven lines.

As far as jazz in this tournament was concerned, I wasn't anticipating having a jazz question in every packet. That was more thrown in as one more genre of music which people could consider without thought to how much we actually wanted in the tournament; however, most of the submissions that included jazz were in bonus form, and of those, most overlapped in at least one (and sometimes two) answer choices.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by answerguy »

Hilarius Bookbinder wrote: However, Kearney's assertion that editing a trash tournament is really hard is somewhat of a canard; it's not somehow harder to edit a trash tournament than it is an academic tournament, because you're not going to know every answer in either case. I fully expected to not know much about many (if not most) of the answers; that's part of why you have a diverse team of editors.
Your point is correct as far as it goes insofar as no one editor is likely to know every answer in either an academic or a trash packet and whether every clue in those questions is accurate.

But there seems to be a lot more, um, garbage information out there on pop culture of questionable accuracy to watch out for than there is for purely academic question material. It can be hard to tell rumors and gossip from verifiable and verified facts when it comes to source materials, which is somewhat less of a problem if your subject is an enzyme or a 200-year old novel than some in-the-news celebrity.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by lasercats »

I'm sorry that everyone hated the Jack Haley question so much.

I thought that this set was great with the exception of the repeats. I have no opinion on the video games, comic books, or sports areas, but my areas of expertise were well-written and fun to play.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Cheynem »

I didn't really hate the Jack Haley question--I mean, if you're going to write a Jack Haley question, it's fine, it was pyramidal and it referenced important stuff in Jack Haley's life. It's just that Jack Haley, if people know his name at all, is remembered for one thing--playing the Tin Man. In typical games, you are either going to get a buzzer race when it starts talking about the Wizard of Oz (or in my room, a double incorrect guess on Bert Lahr/Ray Bolger) or people are going to not remember the dude's name. I mean, I like old-timey film, but I couldn't remember the other films of Jack Haley nor could I remember Jack Haley Jr.'s significance in film history. It's just probably a little too hard for this set.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Captain Sinico »

answerguy wrote:But there seems to be a lot more, um, garbage information out there on pop culture of questionable accuracy to watch out for than there is for purely academic question material. It can be hard to tell rumors and gossip from verifiable and verified facts when it comes to source materials, which is somewhat less of a problem if your subject is an enzyme or a 200-year old novel than some in-the-news celebrity.
I don't know; I haven't found that to be exactly true. It seems to me that, if anything, there are more errors per se in academic submissions on average. If there are actually more in trash, it's not by a whole lot.

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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by MichaelKearney »

Sorice wrote: I really disagree with your premise that trash submission will just always be late and rampantly ignore distribution. We got our packet in on time (and we really suck at that) and to distribution; I don't see any reason anyone else shouldn't have been able to. I also think that, if anything, the fact that people tend to not consider stuff outside their own interests when writing trash (for reasons I've never understood) means that editors should re-double their efforts to demand writing to a distribution and just reject packets that don't follow it.
I don't think there's any reason that trash submissions should show up later, either. But they do, seemingly at even the best tournaments. It's like that old dispute about why trash rounds tend to run longer. It shouldn't happen, but it does, and you can't really pin down why. I'm not saying that editors should just deal with it, but be aware of it and prepare for it anyway. As far as writing to your own interests, it's simply because those questions are easier to write and judge difficulty with. If you reject packets outright for not following distribution, this tournament wouldn't have run. I've noticed that when a tournament has a very structured distribution, the lesser categories tend to suffer anyway. You get a really crappy 3 line hiphop question, or a video game tossup on Mario. So you end up replacing those tossups with your own, which is what you wanted to do anyway.
Evan wrote: An important difference between this tournament and other trash tournaments that Michael Kearney neglected to notice was the more consistent (and longer) tossup length. The tossups in this tournament aimed for six lines, and with very little exception were between five and a half and six and a half lines. There were a few outliers at five and a little over seven lines.
I didn't notice the consistency while I was playing, because most of those lines weren't read. I don't think length is a measure of quality. I think it's a good idea to aim for six lines, but if clue placement turns the question into a buzzer race by word 5, then those other lines were rather pointless. It's more important to focus on interesting information and pyramidality rather than force extra clues into a question. I think that most players aren't going to notice the length of a tossup, so it belongs farther down the list of things to worry about.

I know what list tossups are, but I can also see a thinly veiled list tossup masquerading as a common link. Certainly, they're not as badly written, but they can be equally lazy. These types of questions are really just repurposed bonuses with extra words between them. There's no real structure, just some descriptions that jump around confusingly, forcing the player to buzz and say "Really? It's X?" I saw a lot of these at this year's Chicago Open, and I wonder if there's anyone who really enjoys common link tossups? All that "as a noun, it comes after the word blue in a 1974 album" "a song about one of these of a specific color" stuff just frustrates me, because it's more about parsing sentences faster, rather than remembering facts.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Captain Sinico »

I mean, that's crap. People need to try harder than that. I think anyone should be consistently able to at least attempt (3 lines is just not even trying) a good question on something they're not interested in. I do it all the time.
As for common link tossups, I agree with you about those: they by-and-large suck and are just veiled list questions reflective of lazy writing (c.f. above.)

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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

MichaelKearney wrote:I know what list tossups are, but I can also see a thinly veiled list tossup masquerading as a common link. Certainly, they're not as badly written, but they can be equally lazy. These types of questions are really just repurposed bonuses with extra words between them. There's no real structure, just some descriptions that jump around confusingly, forcing the player to buzz and say "Really? It's X?" I saw a lot of these at this year's Chicago Open, and I wonder if there's anyone who really enjoys common link tossups? All that "as a noun, it comes after the word blue in a 1974 album" "a song about one of these of a specific color" stuff just frustrates me, because it's more about parsing sentences faster, rather than remembering facts.
This has no special relevance to trash so I'll just comment to say that yes, people write and enjoy common link tossups, and they are entirely not the same as list tossups. I don't think there's anything lazy about such questions at all, provided they're written correctly. I also find it hard to believe that phrases like "this adjective" are in any way difficult to parse.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Cheynem »

Well, the examples you cited are all different forms of common link/list tossups.

"Card games" is egregious, as it is basically just a list with no real interesting information.

"Michael" is a little different. It's not my cup of tea for toss-ups, but the Michaels they were describing are reasonable characters to note. This wasn't like "name this random word," it was in effect testing your knowledge of increasingly less obscure television characters.

"Quarterbacks" is not really a common link or list tossup at all. It is basically a tossup on Kurt Warner (and/or) Tim Tebow, using all religious-oriented clues. While I think it might have been a little too cute at times, the only common link aspect about it was to realize that both Warner and Tebow play quarterback, which is hardly earth-shattering knowledge.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by marnold »

Cheynem wrote:"Quarterbacks" is not really a common link or list tossup at all. It is basically a tossup on Kurt Warner (and/or) Tim Tebow, using all religious-oriented clues. While I think it might have been a little too cute at times, the only common link aspect about it was to realize that both Warner and Tebow play quarterback, which is hardly earth-shattering knowledge.
I think common-link tossups are great in trash (I wrote a fair amount for CO Trash last year), but this tossup was pretty bad. I recognized the Warner drawing clues and was poised to buzz with "Cardinals QB" at the first hint of a Josh McCown, Jake Plummer, or - god willing! - Neil Lomax clue, but then was baffled when they started describing Tebow. It seems this sort of two-link common-link question was particularly likely to induce a "wait, so... you just want X?!" reaction and would have been better suited as a bonus.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Cheynem »

It was a little tricky to figure out what the question wanted (I'm sure you can guess the identity of the author of this question based on what packet it was found in [HINT: NOT TRYGVE MEADE]). Perhaps if the question could have found two conservative, super-intense Christian athletes who both played for the same team or something.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by BMHight »

Cheynem wrote:It was a little tricky to figure out what the question wanted (I'm sure you can guess the identity of the author of this question based on what packet it was found in [HINT: NOT TRYGVE MEADE]). Perhaps if the question could have found two conservative, super-intense Christian athletes who both played for the same team or something.
Having missed the Warner connection to the drawing, I took a neg with "Heisman Trophy Winners" after relex-buzzing on hearing "missionary parents" and thinking Tebow and thinking maybe Danny Wuerffel was the subject of the first clue.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Demonic Leftovers »

Thanks for the comments everyone.
So I'll respond to some comments on questions I wrote or edited.
As the author of the NBC tossup I'll say that Parks and Recreation was too early. I wasn't sure how many people would be aware of upcoming shows but I should have realized that since it had been associated with a popular show like the office it was too easy for where it was placed. I don't think network tossups are inherently bad, although they should be rare.
The Final Countdown question was mine and it was primarily about the song. The album clues were meant to reward people with deep Europe knowledge but by the end I think it was accessible to people with just a little knowledge about the song.
Some of the early giveaways were just a product of us editing too late. For example I had meant to cut the Jim Brown clue in the lacrosse question but forgot it in my haste to edit things. I think some were just a product of the fact that we had a pretty easy answer selection.
Repeats across packets was a problem that we didn't do a good job of dealing with, and some packets did have repeats within themselves.
As for penalizing people for not following distribution, I think that is plenty reasonable. I would have actually taken it further and said we will penalize for other problems in packets, as that might have prevented some of the more egregious problems we encountered.
I think the basic problem we had was the editing structure we chose. It was basically just first come first serve on claiming what questions you had to edit. This led to a lot of times where the last person to claim things had to edit things we had no interest in or couldn't properly determine what was reasonable to use as clues. It also led to lots of repeats as we wouldn't get a close look at what other people claimed. We should have changed it so that we had subject editors and if I were to wok on this again I would make that a requirement. I also would have made us finish the tournament a couple days early so we could find all repeats and playtest it, which would have hopefully allowed us to spot some of the early giveaways.
I also do believe that house written is superior to packet submission. Having edited Trash tournaments of both kinds I found that house written makes for a more consistent and easier editing process. It avoids the submissions that are near unusable without heavy editing (which took up a huge amount of our editing time). I also don't think that Trash packets are a good way to learn about good packet writing practices. It's too tempting to just write about what interests you and what you know (a trap that I fall into at times too).
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Eh, I arguably learned a lot about good question writing by writing and editing trash questions.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Coelacanth »

dseal wrote:clues were meant to reward people with deep Europe knowledge
ITT fun phrases you hear only in discussions of trash tournaments

Just some thoughts on the house-written/submission issue...I don't think one is inherently better than another. If you have a fairly deep team of experienced writers and editors (a la TRASH), maybe house-written is the way to go. If you don't have that, then packet submission is probably going to benefit you from a workload perspective if nothing else.

I do think that for submission events, having a fairly well-defined sub-distribution is critical. In an academic round, I think people know not to write all the science about physics and all the history about Canada or whatever. I think with trash people have more of a tendency to default to their own personal niche areas unless you give them an explicit structure to work from.

I didn't get to play this set, but from the one or two rounds I've looked at the editors did a pretty decent job.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by fizzball »

As someone who derived his HSQB handle from the Freelance Police, I must commend (or damn, not sure which) Team Sorice for writing a Sam & Max question which I probably would have been beaten to, as it ignored the comics and cartoon series. It's clear after "little buddy," but the Hit the Road clue is pretty vague.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Cheynem »

Eh, maybe I loved playing Hit the Road so much as a youngster, but on paper, it seems pretty clear who it's looking for. I mean, which one of Sam and Max do you "use" on items to achieve comical results? (Note: I didn't get this question because I couldn't remember which was which for a second.)
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by fizzball »

Cheynem wrote:Eh, maybe I loved playing Hit the Road so much as a youngster, but on paper, it seems pretty clear who it's looking for. I mean, which one of Sam and Max do you "use" on items to achieve comical results? (Note: I didn't get this question because I couldn't remember which was which for a second.)
Yeah, I was also thrown by "using him to get a piece." I had to recheck the hint book to see what you actually use Max for at the twine ball.

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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Cheynem »

Heh, instead of an Earl McGraw question, there should have been one on Conroy Bumpus.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

I don't know if this is one of those secrets that hasn't gotten out to everybody, but I'll restate it so that it's in public: When you're writing for submission tournaments, it's a great idea to NOT write on anything that you particularly like. It's in your self-interest, because it means that instead of asking that question on your favorite band in your own packet, you are more likely to hear it in a round you are playing. It's also good writing practice, since it forces you to do proper research and put yourself in the shoes of the average player, and thus structure the difficulty of your question appropriately. If you're running the Buffy Universe Fan Site, there's just no way you have any clue what's actually hard, medium, or easy about a Joss Whedon question, and any attempt to write one will end poorly. I believe most people take this guideline seriously when writing academic packets; if a similar approach hasn't yet made it out to the mass of trash packet writers, then consider this your cue.
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

Matt Weiner wrote:there's just no way you have any clue what's actually hard, medium, or easy about a Joss Whedon question, and any attempt to write one will end poorly.
Why, I do believe such a thing happened in this very tournament!
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by MichaelKearney »

fizzball wrote:As someone who derived his HSQB handle from the Freelance Police, I must commend (or damn, not sure which) Team Sorice for writing a Sam & Max question which I probably would have been beaten to, as it ignored the comics and cartoon series. It's clear after "little buddy," but the Hit the Road clue is pretty vague.
I got it after Abe Lincoln Must Die! "Are you a bad enough president to rescue the dude?"
I might've re-framed it using the Surfin' The Highway collection of strips, Hamster King, Glazed MacGuffins, The Adventurer, then turning toward the videogame. Also, Max isn't actually a rabbit. He's a "Rabbity Thing". Just like how Sam is a "Canine Shamus". Yay for obscenely pathetic knowledge! I'm going to go get a pecan log at Snuckey's now.
Michael Kearney, Vanderbilt '02
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Re: GARBAGE set discussion

Post by cvdwightw »

MichaelKearney wrote:Abe Lincoln Must Die!
This game is freely downloadable and, as a quality game you can obtain for no money, highly encouraged for anyone who has several free hours to play through it.
Dwight Wynne
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UC Irvine 2008-2013; UCLA 2004-2007; Capistrano Valley High School 2000-2003

"It's a competition, but it's not a sport. On a scale, if football is a 10, then rowing would be a two. One would be Quiz Bowl." --Matt Birk on rowing, SI On Campus, 10/21/03

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