VETO discussion

Old college threads.
tarkvara
Kimahri
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:44 pm

VETO discussion

Post by tarkvara »

Unfortunately VETO was cancelled this year and ACF Summer was held instead... which is unfortunate because there are only 3 players in Canada who actually enjoy ACF (and 2 of them weren't there). The rest of us were expecting to have a good time, and were sorely disappointed.

This is the first time I've been at a tournament where the field loses 3 teams by lunch-time due to the quality of the questions. When we finally ran into a packet which had escaped the heavy hand of the editors, it was like a breath of fresh air... suddenly we had interesting tossups, multimedia bonuses, innovative questions... actual fun! Too bad we had to sit through 7 rounds of tedium first.

I won't try to explain all the things which were wrong with this pseudo-VETO, because this forum is clearly unsympathetic to my position. All I will say is that the tournament's fundamental problem was simple: it was boring. Which is no reflection on Jay and his crew, who did a great job of running the McMaster mirror in the face of adversity.

I understand that Canadian quiz bowl club leaders will be meeting later this summer to plan for the future, and to make sure a disaster like this never happens again.

Eric Smith
University of Toronto
Eric Smith
University of Toronto
User avatar
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Chairman of Anti-Music Mafia Committee
Posts: 5640
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:46 pm
Location: Columbia, MO

Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: VETO 7/18/2009 in Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Too bad Canada "VETOed" the amazing job that someone volunteered to do out of the kindness of their heart to make a set that actually was playable, had lots of accessible answers, and was well put together!
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White
User avatar
AKKOLADE
Sin
Posts: 15614
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 8:08 am

Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: VETO 7/18/2009 in Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa

Post by AKKOLADE »

tarkvara wrote:I won't try to explain all the things which were wrong with this pseudo-VETO, because this forum is clearly unsympathetic to my position.
I won't tell you why I disliked this tournament; instead, I'll just throw a tizzy about it and refuse to actually discuss it with people.

Seriously, maybe if you said what your problems were, a productive discussion would follow. But that post you made isn't going to do anyone any good.
Fred Morlan
University of Kentucky CoP, 2017
International Quiz Bowl Tournaments, co-owner
PACE
former (?) hsqbrank manager, former NAQT writer & subject editor, former hsqb Administrator/Chief Administrator
User avatar
bmcke
Wakka
Posts: 237
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 1:47 pm

Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: VETO 7/18/2009 in Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa

Post by bmcke »

I think it's mostly a matter that longer tossups make the tournament feel harder? Because people spend a lot of time thinking, "I don't know this." When I left the tournament I sort of thought the questions were impossible, but looking back over the stats the point scores are not that low.

I think some people were in over their heads because they showed up expecting an easy tournament. I don't know whose job that is, to line the questions up with player skill or else just to warn the players about question difficulty. Mostly it's just an accident. Everyone I met was pretty classy about it.
Brendan McKendy
University of Ottawa 2011
Ontario QBA 2019
User avatar
adosreme
Rikku
Posts: 327
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:14 pm

Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: VETO 7/18/2009 in Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa

Post by adosreme »

Hi...my name is Aaron and I played in the Hamilton mirror of VETO for the University of Waterloo.

I have registered this account to discuss this tournament as I believe that it will benefit us to talk about this with the intent to try and understand the viewpoints of all sides. Personally, I did not enjoy VETO this year. My problem with the tournament is that was at a difficulty level far too high for me. It made me feel extremely stupid and useless as I sat there while I figured out early in the tossup that there was no way that I would get it. Combined with the length of the questions, which were longer than I am used to seeing, made the rounds seem to last forever. This just made the day drag on and it was no fun for me. As an analogy, I would liken it to someone who goes to NAQT Sectionals then attends The Experiment (this analogy is exaggerated, but serves to describe the general idea).

Overall, I think that we, As Canadians, have a different idea of "the kind of Quiz Bowl we like" than what you, as Americans, feel constitutes "good quizbowl." Personally, I prefer something like NAQT Sectionals in terms of format and difficulty while many here prefer something harder and more academically rich, similar to what I've heard referred to as "normal difficulty" stuff on the Stanford Archive like TIT. And I think this difference between "what Canadians like" and what you thought was "correct" that made the tournament so unenjoyable for a lot of us. Perhaps I am wrong in thinking this, and if so I would definitely like to get that cleared up in my own head.

I apologize if what I have just said was a lot of rambling with not too much content. For a tournament that I so decidedly didn't enjoy, I am finding it difficult to put into words exactly what I didn't like about it. Hopefully this gives you some insight to my perspective on this tournament.
Aaron Dos Remedios
Formerly of the Waterloo School of Abstruse Canadian Inside Jokes (University of Waterloo)
User avatar
women, fire and dangerous things
Tidus
Posts: 655
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:34 pm
Location: Örkko, Cimmeria

Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: VETO 7/18/2009 in Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa

Post by women, fire and dangerous things »

Eric exaggerates slightly in saying there are only three Canadians who enjoy ACF, of course, but the sentiment at the Hamilton mirror pretty much echoed what Eric has said. There was a prevailing atmosphere that the packets were too hard, and not fun enough, and as I mentioned, this led three teams to actually drop out at the lunch break. I can understand how people felt this way - I imagine people were going into this expecting something of the difficulty level of an SCT, which I think was the level which the original announcement suggested the writers shoot for. So yeah, even if there wasn't a specifically advertised difficulty, the difficulty of this set is a legitimate issue. My pack was one of the harder ones, which is my fault - I should've reined in the difficulty of things like the third part of the French literature bonus (I can't imagine the sets aren't cleared for discussion, but just to be safe I won't mention specifics).

On the flip side, the fact that some teams chose not to finish playing this tournament is also an issue. As I said, I can understand how they feel, but when you're expecting a 10-game round robin, it's a bit disappointing to end up playing seven games, not to mention the logistical hassle of rebracketing and finding moderators. (In this case, it wasn't so bad, because had we actually played 11 rounds the tournament would have gone way too long. But in principle, my point stands.)

Playing on good questions and having fun aren't mutually exclusive, and it's unfortunate that a lot of Canadians seem not to enjoy playing ACF-style questions. I'm sure this tournament would have been improved if some sort of happy medium could have been found, but it's hard to blame the editors for this, since they did it voluntarily and on short notice. In any case, we need to look to the future of Canadian Quizbowl. I do think Canadians can learn to enjoy fairly difficult, ACF-style questions; it's overwhelming at first, but eventually you learn the ropes, and hey, you'll probably learn a few things. And you can have fun at the same time. It won't be an immediate process, which is why this year's VETO came as such a shock to many players, but I think it's worth it. (If there are any Scrabble players reading: it's pretty much analogous to the debate over the adoption of SOWPODS/Collins in North America, in many ways.)

As regards the questions: there were a few issues (such as repeats, which Bruce mentioned), but I enjoyed the set overall. And yes, I did find it quite difficult.
Will Nediger
-Proud member of the cult of Urcuchillay-
University of Western Ontario 2011, University of Michigan 2017
Member, ACF
High-volume writer, NAQT
User avatar
magin
Yuna
Posts: 975
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 5:50 pm
Location: College Park, MD

Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: VETO 7/18/2009 in Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa

Post by magin »

I wrote the tossups on Pearl (the medieval poem), Arthur Miller, William Blake, the Shahnameh, Measure for Measure, In Search of Lost Time, Obasan, Areopagitica, "The Purloined Letter," the fundamental attribution error, and Marshall McLuhan, and edited the tossups on Leonard Cohen, Julius Caesar, David Foster Wallace, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," and Alice Munro. I did some research into Canadian literature to write Obasan; it seemed fairly well-known (Canadians, is this true?) Otherwise, I don't think these questions were unreasonably difficult for this tournament (especially since many of them replaced very hard tossups on, say, Cleanness or Conn Iggulden).
Jonathan Magin
Montgomery Blair HS '04, University of Maryland '08
Editor: ACF

"noted difficulty controller"
User avatar
women, fire and dangerous things
Tidus
Posts: 655
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:34 pm
Location: Örkko, Cimmeria

Re: VETO discussion

Post by women, fire and dangerous things »

I get the impression that Obasan is well-known in Canada, but maybe this is just because I'm half-Japanese. I didn't get it until the giveaway, but that doesn't mean much.
Will Nediger
-Proud member of the cult of Urcuchillay-
University of Western Ontario 2011, University of Michigan 2017
Member, ACF
High-volume writer, NAQT
User avatar
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Chairman of Anti-Music Mafia Committee
Posts: 5640
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:46 pm
Location: Columbia, MO

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I was responsible for the content of the Mendelssohn, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Stabat Mater, and Rose For Emily/Faulkner/Reivers questions. I know that all of those tosups were submitted answers (and 2 of them are basically high school difficulty). I'd like any comments on them as well.
I do want to comment though that when I was looking through the unedited packets, I thought the answer selection was very much out of control as opposed to the finalized packets (and I think the stats bear out from the Ottowa site that they were of a playable difficulty by the end). There is a big difference between tossups being long and having hard leadins, and questions being unplayably hard. To think from the very beginning of a tossup that because you haven't heard of the clues there, that you won't be able to answer it by the end, or whatever that complaint was, is a misguided way to play the game - I've heard all kinds of hard clues as leadins that I've never heard of in my life that I end up answering tossups on by the end. It seems like a lot of the complaints are confusing the issues, and given what I saw of what the original submissions would have had, and moreover, what previous VETO scores have been, you are all not being fair to the editors in claiming that they made this set too hard - the answers are far easier than what would have resulted if VETO were left untouched.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White
User avatar
Sir Thopas
Auron
Posts: 1330
Joined: Tue Mar 28, 2006 10:10 pm
Location: Hunter, NYC
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Sir Thopas »

Harper v. Canada (Attorney General) wrote:moreover, what previous VETO scores have been, you are all not being fair to the editors in claiming that they made this set too hard - the answers are far easier than what would have resulted if VETO were left untouched.
This. I'm entirely unsympathetic to any claims of difficulty when nobody seemed to have a problem when the teams in the finals combined for under 200 points. That's a pretty good benchmark for "far too difficult", and I doubt that this set hit that.
Guy Tabachnick
Hunter '09
Brown '13

http://memoryofthisimpertinence.blogspot.com/
User avatar
Not That Kind of Christian!!
Yuna
Posts: 847
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:36 pm
Location: Manhattan

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

Harper v. Canada (Attorney General) wrote:I was responsible for the content of the Mendelssohn, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Stabat Mater, and Rose For Emily/Faulkner/Reivers questions.
Actually, I wrote the Stabat Mater (well, rewrote) tossup. Did you re-rewrite it?

Anyway, as one of the people who worked on this set (fine arts and biology, although I did a couple lit questions as well), I would like to know what the ppg and ppb were like this year as opposed to last year.
Hannah Kirsch
Brandeis University 2010
NYU School of Medicine 2014

"Wow, those Scandinavians completely thorbjorned my hard-earned political capital."
User avatar
AKKOLADE
Sin
Posts: 15614
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 8:08 am

Re: VETO discussion

Post by AKKOLADE »

Since I think it's important for all discussion of this tournament to at least be seen here, here is a message posted by Zhan Huan Zhou over on the Yahoo! Canada group.
Back in 1999, VETO was conceived as a laid back summer tournament. It was held
on the rooftop at SFU with mountains in the background. See the photo at
http://caql.org/results/veto99.html. Over the years, VETO has evolved to become
the highlight of the Canadian summer quiz bowl circuit. I have had the honour of
playing in every VETO since inception at both the BC and Ontario sites.
Virtually all participants have described this as a very fun tournament.

However, something happened to this year's tournament. With central editing, the
packets lost the charm and fun associated with the tournament. Questions were
edited beyond recognition or quite often thrown out entirely. I find this
extremely insulting to all the people who put in their time researching material
for quality questions. Moreover, it seems that the editors had little regard for
the question writing guidelines. Tossup questions were routinely over 10 lines
long and the distribution seemed to consist of literature, history and
biochemistry. There was not a single multimedia bonus which is a staple of VETO.
It was so bad that three teams dropped out after lunch at the McMaster mirror.
Luckily, one packet from SFU was left unscathed from central editing because it
had been submitted late. It was the last pack played at our site and served to
remind us of the charming spirit of VETO. The tossups were short and interesting
while the multimedia bonuses were entertaining. In short, it embodied the fun
that is fundamental to VETO. Let's bring this back for the whole tournament next
year, not just for one pack.

I would also like to add that Jay deserves credit for running a fine tournament
despite the surprises.

Zhan
Fred Morlan
University of Kentucky CoP, 2017
International Quiz Bowl Tournaments, co-owner
PACE
former (?) hsqbrank manager, former NAQT writer & subject editor, former hsqb Administrator/Chief Administrator
User avatar
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Chairman of Anti-Music Mafia Committee
Posts: 5640
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:46 pm
Location: Columbia, MO

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Actually, I wrote the Stabat Mater (well, rewrote) tossup. Did you re-rewrite it?
I added the clues about Pergolesi's, since it's probably the most famous Stabat Mater, and a couple textual clues since liturgical music is kind of a specialty.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White
User avatar
at your pleasure
Auron
Posts: 1713
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:56 pm

Re: VETO discussion

Post by at your pleasure »

And I think this difference between "what Canadians like" and what you thought was "correct" that made the tournament so unenjoyable for a lot of us. Perhaps I am wrong in thinking this, and if so I would definitely like to get that cleared up in my own head.
Before people start making sarcastic comments along the lines of "Oh Noes! The evil american imperialists", I'll say that it's probably more that a bunch of teams are sufficently used to "bizzare" tournaments that that's what they've come to expect. When they go to a better tournament, they are bothered not because it fails specific, reasonable, and measurable criteria but because it's not what they expected. For instance, Charlie's statement in his post is something that would seem self-evident to people used to pyramidal questions but would not be obvious to a team fresh off :chip: playing a set written by HSAPQ. If you think that sort of feeling is uniqe to (a specific subset of) canadian quizbowler playing ACF, I suggest you read the disasterous HFT thread or any number of threads from the Illinois section of the boards to see the same thing happening in the US.
Incidentally, all the answers posted like pretty reasonable things to ask about. Also, Jonathan, could you post the Shanameh question?
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
"... imagination acts upon man as really as does gravitation, and may kill him as certainly as a dose of prussic acid."-Sir James Frazer,The Golden Bough

http://avorticistking.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Not That Kind of Christian!!
Yuna
Posts: 847
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:36 pm
Location: Manhattan

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

Harper v. Canada (Attorney General) wrote:
Actually, I wrote the Stabat Mater (well, rewrote) tossup. Did you re-rewrite it?
I added the clues about Pergolesi's, since it's probably the most famous Stabat Mater, and a couple textual clues since liturgical music is kind of a specialty.
Yeah, that was an improvement. I sort of ignored Pergolesi in my version, which in retrospect was quite a bad idea.

So, here's how I feel. I guess I understand why some people are upset. They expected short, vaguely apyramidal questions, and they got long, pyramidal questions with tough first clues. I even sort of expected this reaction, despite the fact that I'm disappointed to see it. But I would like to point out that these questions were voluntarily submitted to us for editing, and I find it hard to believe that the people who knew this was happening would not predict the kind of packet that would result. I'd also like to point out that some of the packets we received were, in fact, what a lot of ACF editors would consider a decent submitted packet. If those had been played unedited, would they have received the same excoriation?

As far as the emphasis on literature, history, and biology/chemistry goes... aren't those the three major subjects that people who play quizbowl enjoy learning about and answering questions about?
Hannah Kirsch
Brandeis University 2010
NYU School of Medicine 2014

"Wow, those Scandinavians completely thorbjorned my hard-earned political capital."
User avatar
Mechanical Beasts
Banned Cheater
Posts: 5673
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:50 pm

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

It's very possible that part of the perceived increase in difficulty came in the sciences, since a lot of material that is generally dismissed as bad topics for questions nowadays (a mostly history tossup on carrots, among other things) were removed in favor of... well, SCT-appropriate science. (If the editors had been told to edit to some other difficulty target, I bet we happily would have. But we were told SCT, and I wouldn't have been surprised at any of the material on the docs coming up at SCT.)

I welcome questions and comments about the chemistry; while most submitted packets didn't contain any chemistry, the tossups on Grignards, on azides, and on acid anhydrides came from submitted packets (perhaps others did, too, but I don't recall), and they required really little work. I'm excited that people are writing good chemistry. I wrote, so far as I can remember, the rest. Identifiable problems include my tendency to shade towards organic chemistry; this is largely because there are lots of accessible topics at that difficulty level from organic chemistry, which contain lots of buzzable clues. (I was trying to make sure that people could buzz early as well as late, so that my questions didn't play too long; I thought this important enough considering the audience that I skewed my subdistribution towards getting people to buzz.)

In sum: American editors are not devils who give you a tournament harder than the one you asked for. I think these questions were pretty close to, if not on, SCT difficulty. Please prove me wrong.
Andrew Watkins
User avatar
magin
Yuna
Posts: 975
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 5:50 pm
Location: College Park, MD

Re: VETO discussion

Post by magin »

Russian dance music wrote:Also, Jonathan, could you post the Shanameh question?
Sure. Here it is; I think it could have been better, but I was pressed for time when I wrote it.

One character in this poem is murdered by his brothers Salm and Tur, who are later killed in revenge by Manuchehr. Another character in this poem, Siyavash, rides unharmed through fire to prove his innocence after being falsely accused by his stepmother Sudabeh. In this poem, Sam abandons his son for being born with white hair; that son, Zal, helps his wife Rudabeh give birth by summoning the Simurgh. After the White Demon blinds and imprisons the entire army of Kay Kavus, this poem's hero embarks on seven labors to rescue him. That hero later kills his son Sohrab, and is named Rustam. Tracing the history of Zoroastrianism and the rulers of Iran, for 10 points, name this medieval Persian epic poem written by Ferdowsi.
ANSWER: Shahnameh [or Book of Kings or Epic of Kings]
Jonathan Magin
Montgomery Blair HS '04, University of Maryland '08
Editor: ACF

"noted difficulty controller"
User avatar
women, fire and dangerous things
Tidus
Posts: 655
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:34 pm
Location: Örkko, Cimmeria

Re: VETO discussion

Post by women, fire and dangerous things »

Having pondered this for a little while, I'm inclined to agree that the perceived difficulty of VETO came largely from question length. I certainly sat through the beginnings of many a question absolutely mystified (lead-ins are supposed to be hard, after all), but the questions were generally quite accessible by the end. The Hamilton stats aren't available yet, but I'm sure they'll bear that out. I noticed some good conversation rates, and in the games my team won, we typically ended up with 250-300 points.

It was certainly different than playing the unedited SFU packet, where a tossup opened with the clue "This poem begins, 'Of man's first disobedience etc etc'," and I sat incredulously for a while before buzzing with Paradise Lost.
Will Nediger
-Proud member of the cult of Urcuchillay-
University of Western Ontario 2011, University of Michigan 2017
Member, ACF
High-volume writer, NAQT
User avatar
Mechanical Beasts
Banned Cheater
Posts: 5673
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:50 pm

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

women, fire and dangerous things wrote:It was certainly different than playing the unedited SFU packet, where a tossup opened with the clue "This poem begins, 'Of man's first disobedience etc etc'," and I sat incredulously for a while before buzzing with Paradise Lost.
You don't seem to understand how "charming" that is!
Andrew Watkins
User avatar
at your pleasure
Auron
Posts: 1713
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:56 pm

Re: VETO discussion

Post by at your pleasure »

The tossup's okay. It should have been filled out with stuff from the historical sections of the poem, though; having three-quarters of the question be on major episodes in the most famous storyline(s) of the epic(the house of Nariman's history and the life of Rostam) seems and the lead-in be a fairly early episode that gets referred to over and over again seems a bit excessive. A leadin on Bahram Chubineh or Kay Kavus, followed by a clue on Kay Quobad, in leiu of the first few clues(with one of the clues about the house of Nariman excised) would greatly improve the tossup.
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
"... imagination acts upon man as really as does gravitation, and may kill him as certainly as a dose of prussic acid."-Sir James Frazer,The Golden Bough

http://avorticistking.wordpress.com/
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: VETO 7/18/2009 in Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa

Post by grapesmoker »

adosreme wrote:Overall, I think that we, As Canadians, have a different idea of "the kind of Quiz Bowl we like" than what you, as Americans, feel constitutes "good quizbowl." Personally, I prefer something like NAQT Sectionals in terms of format and difficulty while many here prefer something harder and more academically rich, similar to what I've heard referred to as "normal difficulty" stuff on the Stanford Archive like TIT.
I'm going to write up a detailed reply to the posts here, but I just want to note the following: I volunteered to do this without any guile or intend to deceive. Indeed, I have never made any secret of what I (and the vast majority of other quizbowl players) consider to be good quizbowl. There was no obligation to send me any packets, and anyone who felt that their vision of VETO was incompatible with my vision of quizbowl had only to abstain from doing so. I would have had 3 relatively decent packets and been done in less than a week, instead of spending an unbelievable amount of time fixing 11 packets, and you could have played the usual bilge that passes for quizbowl in Canada. But no, you couldn't possibly do the rational thing and just turn down my offer, you had to do a thing for which you could not rationally expect results that were different from what you got, and then you had to go and take a shit on the untold hours of effort I (and a relatively large team of other good writers) put in.

I can't possibly convey in so few words as I am currently inclined to write how insulted I am by your response and the responses of several other Canadian players, both on this board and on qb-canada. No one forced you to do anything if you wanted to keep VETO looking the way it always looked, and your self-righteous condemnation of my work is not only factually wrong, as any competent player will attest to, but deeply offensive to everyone who volunteered their time and effort for this project.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
User avatar
Important Bird Area
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 5671
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 3:33 pm
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:But we were told SCT, and I wouldn't have been surprised at any of the material on the docs coming up at SCT.
I was just wondering how hard recent VETOs had been, compared to SCT and events around the same difficulty such as ACF Regionals.

So I took a look at the handy VETO answer grid and snap-classified the tossups.

For all of this, assume a definition of "normal difficulty" to be "would not be out of place at DI SCT or ACF regionals" (since this seems to be the expectation of both players and editors going in to the tournament).

As follows:

Group 1. Canadian history. I didn't try to classify these systematically, because I have no real idea how hard they are to a Canadian audience. They are however in rough order, starting at the top with "this answer would obviously be converted by nearly all American teams" proceeding through "as an American with an interest in Canadian history, I could answer this if it came up at a national-level tournament" to the bottom 40% of "I learned something new about Canadian history from reading this packet."

Canadian dollar
Alexander Mackenzie
Pierre Trudeau
Governor General
Great Upheaval
Wilfrid Laurier
Charlottetown Accord
Comte de Frontenac
Andrew Bonar Law
John Turner
Filles du Roi
Tommy Douglas
PPCLI
Robert Borden
Seven Oaks
Alexander Galt
November 22nd
Expo 86
Crow's Nest Pass freight rate
C.D. Howe
Robert Stanfield
Grey Owl
Bomarc
Reciprocity Treaty
R. v. Big M Drug Mart
Thomas Bata
Katimavik

Group 2. Answers harder than normal difficulty.

Soyuz 11
Mohacs
Louis XVII
Otto Skorzeny
Council of Basel
Malmedy Massacre
Zinoviev Letter
Oscar Romero
Sigurd I
Death Railway
Frederick Jackson Turner

Group 3. Normal difficulty

Mir
Operation Market-Garden
Leopold II
Second Crusade
Praetorian Guard
Mithridates
Equatorial Guinea
Kurt Waldheim
United Fruit Company
Procopius
Pale of Settlement
Zheng He
Fenians
Martin Niemoller
Cixi
War of Jenkins' Ear
Five-Year Plan
Syngman Rhee
Pierre de Coubertin
Willy Brandt

Group 4. Easier than normal difficulty

King Philip's War
Nebuchadnezzar
Robespierre
U-2
Pizarro
Bonn
Seljuk Turks
Andrew Jackson
Battle of Salamis
Sputnik
Louis XVI
Henry IV
Nineveh
Manifest Destiny
Julian the Apostate
Montenegro
Lord Palmerston
Tiananmen Square
Boston Tea Party
Tito
Tenochtitlan
Maginot Line
Chester Arthur
Gladstone
Winston Churchill
Treaty of Utrecht
Ramses II
buffalo soldiers
Croatia
Prince Albert
Khrushchev
apartheid
Yorktown
Earl Warren
Calvin Coolidge
Indianapolis
St. Bartholomew's Day
Thermopylae
Richard I
Elbridge Gerry
My Lai
Cyrus the Great

Now, per recent threads about hard tossups on easy answers, there's nothing at all wrong with writing about any of these things.

But I conclude that VETOs 2005-2007 were probably a bit easier than DI SCT-level, likely about as hard as DII ICT or intermediate between ACF Fall and ACF Regionals. However, there are a number of tossup answers present here that are harder than that, and nationals-difficulty by any reasonable scale.
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
Mike Bentley
Sin
Posts: 6141
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:03 pm
Location: Bellevue, WA
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

VETO has something of an identity crisis. Does it want to be a quizbowl tournament that rewards practicing, studying, and attending other tournaments, or does it want to be this yearly gathering where people don't really prepare for it and still expect to do well? If it's the latter, then maybe VETO should re-examine whether it really wants to be a "quizbowl" tournament in the modern sense of the word. The reality is that the rest of the quizbowl world is improving, that the average player is knowing more things, and that the NAQT DI SCT that this tournament was suppossed to be similar to has itself changed drastically since this tournament was first run in 1999. No longer does that tournament have science tossups on anecdotes about Molybdium, questions on As I Lay Dying that begin "This novel is narrated by 14 characters, including one from a coffin" and multiple questions per round on stuff like "May 4th" or crude oil indeces of the North Sea. Instead, modern quizbowl tournaments like the DI SCT reward knowing actual plot elements of As I Lay Dying, elements and functional groups that scientists might actually care about, and so forth. If VETO doesn't want to go in this direction, maybe it should move more into the realm of something fun for people who like game shows and bar trivais to do every summer. I personally wouldn't want to see it do this, especially since VETO is one of the few events well attended by Canadian teams--teams that are perfectly capable of improving and developing into a more mainstream circuit like any region in the United States (such as the American-side of the Pacific Northwest, which over the past year has been doing this).

I guess it was my crazy American tastes, but I found the edited packets way more enjoyable than the 3 unedited packet we played in Vancouver. Those unedited packets were full of completely misplaced clues, bonuses that were all over the place in difficulty, and a handful of tossups were packet that were unreasonably hard. Luckly we didn't play any unedited packet like the final from last year where the top teams didn't break 100 points each--this year the final few games between the top three teams (teams, by the way, that would not be in the top 25 nationally in my opinion) were featuring scores like 180 to 265 and 315 to 215.

In terms of this actual tournament, I thought the edited packets were for the most part pretty good. There were a few instances of misplaced clues and there was naturally some bonus difficulty variance, but nothing enough to ruin a match.

In terms of the Canadian content, I'm still not convinced that Canadians actually care very much about Canadian literature. Bonus parts on Canadian authors were often 0'd, and I didn't the the impression that people at this tournament had actually read almost any of the works asked about for these authors. In general the history seemed okay, although it alternated between stuff that even I could 30 just by memorizing the list of Canadian PMs and relatively difficult provincial stuff. Additionally, the added Canadian content in these packets seemed to leave a real dearth of answer space for areas important to everyone. I don't think I heard a question on Russian history all day, for instance. Maybe in the future VETO tournaments could run on 22/22 or something, with the added 2/2 reserved for Canadian questions, and the other stuff filling out a more regular distribution.

I think there are certainly things that could improve. I agree that the length of the tossups was too long. This is something that has not been unique to VETO. In the past year or so I think the average tossup length has creeped up maybe 1.5 lines for non-official events. This makes it easier to write questions--you have more room for leadins, which are less harmful to misplace than middle clues--but it also really doesn't add a lot of utility except at a select number of tournaments with a very strong field.

Also, I think the tournament's difficulty could stand to be turned down even another notch to the ACF Fall level. Some of the conent seemed to be approaching that, while other stuff seemed to be stretching the limits of what the field knew.

That's it for now, I'm sure I'll have more comments later.
Mike Bentley
VP of Editing, Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence
Adviser, Quizbowl Team at University of Washington
University of Maryland, Class of 2008
User avatar
magin
Yuna
Posts: 975
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 5:50 pm
Location: College Park, MD

Re: VETO discussion

Post by magin »

On a sidenote to this discussion, did any team convert the bonus part on Earle Birney? Jerry and I have a $20 bet riding on this.
Jonathan Magin
Montgomery Blair HS '04, University of Maryland '08
Editor: ACF

"noted difficulty controller"
User avatar
Auroni
Auron
Posts: 3107
Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2007 6:23 pm
Location: Urbana

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Auroni »

I contributed 1/1 to VETO, my tossup being the very well known American author John Steinbeck, and my bonus being on the pretty notable Mexican author Carlos Fuentes and some of his works.

I'm pretty incensed right now at some of the treatment of the editing team's feverishly hard work, but I'll defer my arguments to them because they can articulate them better.
Auroni Gupta (she/they)
UIUC
ACF
User avatar
bsmith
Tidus
Posts: 586
Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 10:33 am
Location: Ottawa, ON

Re: VETO discussion

Post by bsmith »

The tournament was not unreasonably difficult (except for our high school team in attendance), especially considering that Peter originally advertised DI difficulty. Two teams at the Ottawa site are roughly the same character as teams at other tournaments held this year (ACF Fall and D2 SCT); comparing those tournaments statistically:

A Ben-dominated team

ACF Fall: 64% wins; 47% of TU heard converted; 12.3 PPB
VETO: 63% wins; 33% of TU heard converted; 10.4 PPB

Ottawa D2 players

D2 SCT: 33% wins; 29% of TU heard converted; 11.9 PPB
VETO: 38% wins; 39% of TU heard converted; 9.6 PPB

Getting the stats for Hamilton would allow further comparisons, but from this I can probably say that VETO was around DI level, if not easier. The illusion of difficulty came from long tossups that weren't answered until FTP and the poor conversion of bonuses.

On a separate note, I don't know whether this came from the original writers or the editing, but there are better words to use than "dude" (say, "chemist" or "poet" or another descriptor), and f-bombs and high school teams do not mix.

Finally, when the need for a 2-game advantaged final was still a possibility, the players at our site had a consensus to put the unedited packet in the round-robin rather than the finals. Once the possibility of a 2-game final disappeared, we swapped out the unedited packet for a packet we reserved for finals. Upon looking at the unedited packet, I think we made the right choice with the swap.
Ben Smith
Ottawa '08 & '10
User avatar
adosreme
Rikku
Posts: 327
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:14 pm

Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: VETO 7/18/2009 in Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa

Post by adosreme »

grapesmoker wrote: I'm going to write up a detailed reply to the posts here, but I just want to note the following: I volunteered to do this without any guile or intend to deceive. Indeed, I have never made any secret of what I (and the vast majority of other quizbowl players) consider to be good quizbowl. There was no obligation to send me any packets, and anyone who felt that their vision of VETO was incompatible with my vision of quizbowl had only to abstain from doing so.
This is completely true. I feel that this is exactly what we should have done.
grapesmoker wrote:I would have had 3 relatively decent packets and been done in less than a week, instead of spending an unbelievable amount of time fixing 11 packets, and you could have played the usual bilge that passes for quizbowl in Canada.
Again...in hindsight, this is what should've happened.
grapesmoker wrote:But no, you couldn't possibly do the rational thing and just turn down my offer, you had to do a thing for which you could not rationally expect results that were different from what you got
This is where we differ in opinion. I feel that this is true if people are aware of your strong conviction in good quizbowl and are somewhat familiar with the way you do things. However, many of the players at VETO had never played in a tournament that you've edited or know too much about your editing style. This is in no way your fault and I think that this has been a good experience for us all with respect to "getting a taste" of good, American quizbowl (I don't use this term disparagingly at all. I find it the best way to describe what I perceive as your vision for the future of quizbowl).
grapesmoker wrote:and then you had to go and take a shit on the untold hours of effort I (and a relatively large team of other good writers) put in.
Okay, fair enough. Good or bad result, I would like to thank you for your editing and I am grateful that you decided to put in your time. We are not trying to "take a shit" on your efforts and it was wrong if we did. It is clear that you weren't deliberately trying to ruin our tournament and any testaments to that are wrong and uncalled for.
grapesmoker wrote:I can't possibly convey in so few words as I am currently inclined to write how insulted I am by your response and the responses of several other Canadian players, both on this board and on qb-canada. No one forced you to do anything if you wanted to keep VETO looking the way it always looked, and your self-righteous condemnation of my work is not only factually wrong, as any competent player will attest to, but deeply offensive to everyone who volunteered their time and effort for this project.
I feel that your issue here is that people ignored the fact that you worked hard editing our packets and basically said "this isn't what we wanted, therefore you suck." If this is your problem, then it is completely justified. I apologized if I implied that I didn't fully express that I appreciate the effort that you and the editing staff put in to fixing our packets.

In the end, the primary issue for many of the Canadians was that this tournament was good quizbowl instead of the old, bad quizbowl that we expected. Thank you, however, for exposing us to good quizbowl and letting those of us who can appreciate this know that good quizbowl is an option. Personally, I feel that there are things I like about both.

Hopefully, I can come down to the states in the future with some of the Canadians who *did* enjoy VETO and play in some of your tournaments. Note that if I do, then I will not expect it to be different than VETO and won't complain about anything I get.
Aaron Dos Remedios
Formerly of the Waterloo School of Abstruse Canadian Inside Jokes (University of Waterloo)
User avatar
The King's Flight to the Scots
Auron
Posts: 1534
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:11 pm

Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: VETO 7/18/2009 in Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

adosreme wrote: Personally, I did not enjoy VETO this year. My problem with the tournament is that was at a difficulty level far too high for me. It made me feel extremely stupid and useless as I sat there while I figured out early in the tossup that there was no way that I would get it. Combined with the length of the questions, which were longer than I am used to seeing, made the rounds seem to last forever. This just made the day drag on and it was no fun for me.
Sorry to pick on you, Aaron, but I feel like you've expressed the viewpoint of most of this tournament's detractors. Honestly, if this is how Canadians feel about this tournament, they should re-evaluate why they're playing quizbowl. As Mike Bentley said, do they want to play at a consistently low difficulty so that they can get tossups without effort? Or do they actually want to learn something? A personal anecdote: when I was a freshman, I thought that all quizbowl was like the It's Academic television program in my area: 1 line questions on things like "George Washington" and "Winnie the Pooh". I figured that I would be an immediate force on the team, since I knew all of the answers to the TV show. You can imagine how that turned out. But now, after getting marginally better, I realize: what would be the point of studying for It's Academic? I'd memorize some leadins, maybe learn 10-11 works of literature, but I would learn almost nothing substantial. Playing on questions far too difficult for me exposed me to subjects I would have known nothing about. Though I may never be able to compete with someone like Guy, at least I know things I never would have known otherwise.

Later this summer, I'm competing in an ACF Nationals event called CaTO/TaCO which you can easily find on this board. However few points I score, I'll get a feel for just how much I still have to learn. Despite probably being inferior to most Canadian players, I advise them to adopt this mindset. Quizbowl just isn't as fun when you've heard of every answer.
Matt Bollinger
UVA '14, UVA '15
Editor-in-Chief, ACF
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: VETO 7/18/2009 in Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa

Post by grapesmoker »

adosreme wrote:This is where we differ in opinion. I feel that this is true if people are aware of your strong conviction in good quizbowl and are somewhat familiar with the way you do things. However, many of the players at VETO had never played in a tournament that you've edited or know too much about your editing style. This is in no way your fault and I think that this has been a good experience for us all with respect to "getting a taste" of good, American quizbowl (I don't use this term disparagingly at all. I find it the best way to describe what I perceive as your vision for the future of quizbowl).
Let me take this back to front. First of all, it is not just my vision, nor is it for the future of quizbowl. It's an implementation of the reality of what quizbowl looks like today almost everywhere. Not only that, but this is a set that for the most part wouldn't have been out of place at a tournament among good high school teams in the US (modulo Canadian content that would be replaced by US content in a similar US event). Second, the offer was made to Peter McCorquodale, with whom I have over the years have repeated disagreements about what constitutes good quizbowl. While it's fair to say that a random player from the University of Ottawa might not be familiar with my positions, it is completely false to say that Peter had no idea what would come out of this. My goal for VETO was to keep as much of the substantive content while eliminating a lot of the dross; that's what I said I would do and that's what I think we did.
grapesmoker wrote:Okay, fair enough. Good or bad result, I would like to thank you for your editing and I am grateful that you decided to put in your time. We are not trying to "take a shit" on your efforts and it was wrong if we did. It is clear that you weren't deliberately trying to ruin our tournament and any testaments to that are wrong and uncalled for.
Ok, you might want to communicate that to your fellow countrymen who played in Hamilton yesterday, since according to the latest information I have from that site, I was blamed for ruining VETO and butchering questions, and literally had physical violence threatened against me. That sounds like exactly the kind of response any tournament editor would love to get!
I feel that your issue here is that people ignored the fact that you worked hard editing our packets and basically said "this isn't what we wanted, therefore you suck." If this is your problem, then it is completely justified. I apologized if I implied that I didn't fully express that I appreciate the effort that you and the editing staff put in to fixing our packets.
You're right, that's exactly the issue.
In the end, the primary issue for many of the Canadians was that this tournament was good quizbowl instead of the old, bad quizbowl that we expected. Thank you, however, for exposing us to good quizbowl and letting those of us who can appreciate this know that good quizbowl is an option. Personally, I feel that there are things I like about both.
You're welcome; my hope in editing this set was to have an exemplar of a good, novice-level set that included lots of Canadian content, so that people who are trying to figure out what good quizbowl looks like will have a model from which to work. After I get done writing it, I'm going to put up a detailed post analyzing various aspects of this tournament, so if you're interested in how to avoid various writing mistakes you will want to read that. If my efforts have given a few people the motivation and the tools to propagate good quizbowl throughout Canada, I will consider that a success.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8421
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

Lost in the discussion of whether people should prefer harder questions or not is the fact that these questions weren't hard, and that most of the problem with the pre-2009 state of VETO is that it replaced the events of an actual quizbowl game (people being read questions on important things that they know about and buzzing in and answering them at some point) with some sort of bizarre ritual where people try to pick up candy with chopsticks, hear a 3 line tossup on Gyno Text and stare blankly at the moderator, end up with a score of 90 to 70, and then talk about how "easy" and "fun" that is.

I know things are different up in Canada--you spell "checks" as "cheques" and have Thansgiving in October. WHOA, CRAZY. But that doesn't mean that "easy" and "hard" get to switch meanings, or that you can pretend old VETO tournaments were anything but a death march through one unanswerable question after another, which Jerry graciously replaced with tossups that you (not the hypothetical American superplayer, but YOU, the Canadian player at VETO) actually knew the answers to. If you want to complain about how you don't actually like answering questions on academic topics, or you have the attention span of a goldfish with ADD and can't bother to hear a 7-line tossup on something you know as opposed to a 3-line tossup on the finest poetry collection of Yorkton market literature that no one at your all-Canadian tournament has, in fact, heard of besides the person who wrote the question, or actual questions about facts are boring and you want to try to pick a pennant out of a tub of tapioca pudding underneath a huge papier-mache nose instead...well, you have the right to your opinions, as stupid as they may be. But you don't have the right to redefine words (like "hard" and "easy") or bury the objective facts, such as the scores of past VETO games and the conversion rates for Canadian players on those arbitrary Canadian topics.
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org
User avatar
Mike Bentley
Sin
Posts: 6141
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:03 pm
Location: Bellevue, WA
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

I don't know if I'd agree with Jerry that this was necessarily a "novice" event. It certainly wasn't very hard (this tournament had its fair share of answers on Leaves of Grass, Poseidon, King David, etc.), but there were a decent number of tossups per round that I would consider too difficult for ACF Fall (What is Property, Purloin Letter, Fundamental Attribution Error, etc.) For any Canadians reading this thread who haven't actually played in ACF Fall, collegiate quizbowl tournaments do in fact get easier than this. That being said, previous VETO tournaments certainly haven't been at the ACF Fall level and the DI SCT target difficulty of this tournament is also not at the ACF Fall level.

One thing I'm curious about is what type of packets the people that attended this tournament who thought it was way too hard practice on. This tournament is pretty much in line with any regular season tournament in the past 3 years (except for maybe the tossups being 1-3 lines longer), so if any time was spent playing Penn Bowl, TIT, Harvard's Fall Tournament, Buzzerfest, ACF Regionals of Winter from this year, or anything else this wouldn't come as some huge surprise. Are people just playing old VETO packets, or NAQT packets where they're forgetting that they don't know equally many answers in those even though things go by faster?

I suppose another potential reason that this tournament seemed a lot harder than previous years is because the distribution was significantly different. Trash, general knowledge and geography made up signficantly more answer lines and clues in other questions in previous years than in this year's tournament. These are the type of subjects that I think people who don't practice quizbowl are more likely to know on their own at lower levels. When people are able to answer classical music tossups based on their appearance on the most recent episode of Little Mosque on the Praire or whatever or tossups on some author who shares his name with a Maple Leafs player, they're going to feel that the music and literature are easier--even if they're not actually answering these questions on music and literature clues.

Also, I don't think that audio and visual bonus are necessarily incompatible with good quizbowl, and I don't think there's any real harm in doing them at a tournament like this. However, I can see why Jerry did cut these bonuses. First, they generally take longer to edit and prepare than regular bonuses. Next, out of all of the multimedia bonuses we played in the unedited packets, I think only Peter's "identify the artist from the picture" bonus was one that had an easily identifiable easy, medium and hard part. The rest were things like guranteed 0's or complete guessing if you weren't a specialist (i.e. the chemistry bonus and the programming language bonus) or things that presented huge amounts of information without giving you enough time to actually process it all (i.e. the Canterbury Tales bonus). Thus, I imagine that most of the submissions were pretty awful, so they'd require complete replacements. Given the time restrictions the editors had when editing this tournament (less than a month to produce many of the packets pretty much from scract due to their poor quality), cutting multimedia bonuses seems like a small price to pay for higher quality. In the I think these bonuses can be incorporated in an intelligent way if time allows, but I'm not going to cry a river because I only got to play one "you've just been handed four vegetables..." bonuses this year.

Edit: Forgot to complete last paragraph.
Mike Bentley
VP of Editing, Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence
Adviser, Quizbowl Team at University of Washington
University of Maryland, Class of 2008
User avatar
No Rules Westbrook
Auron
Posts: 1232
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 1:04 pm
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

When you say things like "we just prefer bad quizbowl to good quizbowl!" - it would be helpful if you could be clear as to whether you legitimately believe that one kind of qb is "bad" and another kind is "good", or if you're just using those terms as a concession to us. If you really do prefer bad quizbowl over good quizbowl and you admit that, I'm not sure the discussion can go anywhere from there (although, you can't really expect us to believe that Canada as a region is just innately attracted to bad quizbowl as if it's their eternal nature).

If you want to debate what makes for good or bad quizbowl (and the degree to which this tourney was good), that's a different story. Or, if you want to contend that the questions should have been around 6 lines instead of 8, that's a pretty reasonable opinion too. Lastly, if you're going to evaluate difficulty, it would be really helpful if you could spell out what you mean by that word - as people have pointed out, I doubt this set was objectively more difficult than previous VETOs (which generated really low scores and were packed with things noone could buzz on), or too much more difficult than low-level events in the US like EFT.
Ryan Westbrook, no affiliation whatsoever.

I am pure energy...and as ancient as the cosmos. Feeble creatures, GO!

Left here since birth...forgotten in the river of time...I've had an eternity to...ponder the meaning of things...and now I have an answer!
User avatar
adosreme
Rikku
Posts: 327
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:14 pm

Re: ANNOUNCEMENT: VETO 7/18/2009 in Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa

Post by adosreme »

Jerry, I'd like to comment on some of the things you said and then make some general commentary:
grapesmoker wrote:First of all, it is not just my vision, nor is it for the future of quizbowl. It's an implementation of the reality of what quizbowl looks like today almost everywhere. Not only that, but this is a set that for the most part wouldn't have been out of place at a tournament among good high school teams in the US (modulo Canadian content that would be replaced by US content in a similar US event).
Noted. I was not actually aware of this and its good to know.
grapesmoker wrote: Second, the offer was made to Peter McCorquodale, with whom I have over the years have repeated disagreements about what constitutes good quizbowl. While it's fair to say that a random player from the University of Ottawa might not be familiar with my positions, it is completely false to say that Peter had no idea what would come out of this.
Then (and I'm only making an educated guess here) I'm betting that a lot of the people who were upset showed up expecting to be entertained today and the reality was that Saturday's "American-style tournament" and its attempt to advance Quizbowl as a solid academic endeavour wasn't entertaining. Again, this is not a slight or insult to you or good quizbowl, but simply a difference in opinion of what we want out of quizbowl and ensuing clash. In the end, I'm sure this will just result in Peter not asking for your help next year (again, not stating a fact but simply predciting what I expect will happen), as I believe it should be.
grapesmoker wrote:Ok, you might want to communicate that to your fellow countrymen who played in Hamilton yesterday, since according to the latest information I have from that site, I was blamed for ruining VETO and butchering questions, and literally had physical violence threatened against me. That sounds like exactly the kind of response any tournament editor would love to get!
Honestly, I'm sure people were just overly riled up and angry. You know how people get when they're overly incensed about something (I hope I used that word correctly). As far as I've known them, Canadian quizbowlers really are friendly people in general.
grapesmoker wrote:After I get done writing it, I'm going to put up a detailed post analyzing various aspects of this tournament, so if you're interested in how to avoid various writing mistakes you will want to read that.
Absolutely. This is exactly the kind of thing I'd love to read about. I still find writing very difficult to do and it would help to know how to write cleaner, better questions.

In general, I think the problem with this is that many of us up in Canada do not view quizbowl in the same way that you guys do. I think we wanted to be entertained and this weekend seemed more like we were studying for something. Note that I am not speaking for all Canadians here. I know that there are some like Ben (Smith) and Chris (Greenwood) who like the academic nature of good quizbowl and I can definitely see why they like it. I am glad to have been exposed to this "new" style of Quizbowl and I hope to be able to attend more tournaments like this (maybe somewhere close like Michigan or even as far as Chicago) in the future. I just can't say that I'd like to do it all the time as it would probably drive me crazy (but that's just personal opinion and I can totally understand if you think it's wrong).
Aaron Dos Remedios
Formerly of the Waterloo School of Abstruse Canadian Inside Jokes (University of Waterloo)
User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8421
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

People don't play good quizbowl out of a sense of obligation. It's actually much more fun once you understand it. We're not trying to impose a Grinch-like vision of no fun on Canada. I appreciate that you're trying to be conciliatory and see the other side here, but it's fundamental that you understand that there is no strict dichotomy between "entertaining" and good/academically worthwhile.
Matt Weiner
Founder of hsquizbowl.org
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

My post is going to contain remarks relevant to the "entertainment" angle, but from what I saw, the Canadian concept of entertainment apparently involves something like half the tossups going dead and impossible bonus parts that even the best team at ACF Nationals would have trouble answering.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
Interrupt
Lulu
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2007 1:18 pm

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Interrupt »

I played (and was on the winning team of) VETO 2007. Last year I was in Australia, and this year I was in the latter part of summer session courses, precluding me from participating in both. However, I do keep updated on the progress of QB and felt the need to share my comments on what's likely to be a rather thorny issue.

First and foremost thing that came to my mind: walking out of tournaments, regardless of how boring you believe the questions to be or how badly you think you're doing, is completely unacceptable. It's also a disrespect to the tournament director who now has to juggle the schedule to accommodate your departure and the many individuals who took the effort out of their summer schedules to edit said questions. I don't particularly care if it is "ACF Summer" (in the pejorative sense). If you've committed to show up, you at least owe the TD and editors the decency to see the tournament through and then make your complaints if desired.

In addition, I honestly think that people should've known what Jerry and co. coming on board meant for VETO this year, rather than complaining after the tournament that "They ruined it!" There were going to be changes, that much was abruptly clear. There definitely weren't going to be any of those "pick up Gobstoppers" bonuses that even I thought were incredibly insipid and non sequitur to quizbowl's role as a test of knowledge. This is not a matter of Canadian concept of difficulty vs. American concept of difficulty - i.e. American editors swooping in and imperialistically throwing in hard questions that we'd better damn well know. Canadian teams have managed to avoid the bottom bracket at ICT DI (and even make the top bracket in DII). The knowledge sphere is clearly there. And I thought it was great for relations between Canadian and American quizbowl as it finally showed a willingness for high-profile quizbowl players to come up to us and say "Hey, we would love to help you guys out." This offer for assistance has been... sternly rebuked, which would be an absolute loss.

So. To say that I'm just a hint embarrassed at the negative response of Canadian quizbowl to your editing assistance would be a bit of an understatement.
Jordan, Laurentian '09, '11
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

By the way, for those of you crying about tossup length, here's what you played if you hear the Guelph packet (one of the unedited ones):
Of the philosophy of one of the founder’s of this school of economics, John Stuart Mill said, “though being a superficial resemblance to some of the project of the Socialists, [it] is diametrically opposed to them in principle, since it recognizes no authority whatever in Society”. Indeed, though some see roots of the movement as far back as the 17th century levelers, this school grew primarily out of early socialist movements like the Owenites; its other founding philosopher had once been involved in a Lyonnais labour movement. Surprisingly, Adam Smith was an influence on the movement, and his labour theory of value is a founding principle, as adherents of this school prefer exchange of labour to wage labour. The Cincinnati Time Store was a store operated on these principles; shoppers paid with promises to perform labour. It shares its insistence on individual autonomy with the individualist anarchism of Max Stirner, and Benjamin Tucker, an early adopter of this system of beliefs, was the first to translate Stirner’s The Ego and Its Own into English. It is characterized by a belief in free markets, free association, and an absence of the state. Adherents prefer credit unions to banks, and this idea has been put into practice in Toronto’s Local Exchange Trading System. For ten points, name this school of anarchist economics founded by Josiah Warren and Pierre Proudhon which takes its name from its belief in the benefits of association and cooperation.

ANSWER: Mutualism   
That's right guys, that's a 16-line tossup on Mutualism. I don't ever want to hear any complaints about an 8-line Herman Melville tossup ever again.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
canaanbananarama
Wakka
Posts: 110
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2003 10:39 pm
Location: Everywhere, SAKARTVELO

Re: VETO discussion

Post by canaanbananarama »

Man, this is utterly formulaic. I've mentioned to a couple editors, in joking terms and more serious ones that this idea was one of the worst dreamed up in quizbowl. All this effort, and look, people, we knew what was going to happen. Two months ago, any reasonable person could have figured out, hey, a lot of people are going to hate the change, insult the "quizbowl heroes" and then be lambasted by the "quizbowl heroes."

Look, those of you who signed up to be editors did so for really poor reasons. Certain of you should have taken your cape with a giant "A" in the middle of it and stuffed it up your left flank. You wanted to bring good quizbowl to Canada, but good quizbowl as you know it. The difficulty was (what?) too hard, and in the end Canada's pissed. This is just a continuation of a series of bitchfighting between the various people involved here and Canada. You hated VETO, you thought it an abomination and you wanted to wipe it off the face of the earth. Of course, the heroes have claimed other motivating factors, but I'm calling bullshit. If you actually did this for the moralistic reasons that you claim you did, you embarked on the most hilariously quixotic journey of folly that has been embarked.

Worst of all, you ruined one of the most enjoyable events on the circuit. You people know, you're the ones guffawing on the IRC about tossups on the Canadian Supreme Court, Saskatchewanese provinicial tax reform, cats owned by members of The Tragically Hip. It's great, hilarious! Peter McCorquodale, what an idiot! I mean, how dare you destroy the most singularly and beautifully bad tournaments. It's not CBI, people. It's not like Round 9 involves a trip to a cage in Flin Flon into which Canadian quizbowlers hibernate for eleven months.

You wanted to make this tournament a success? One, don't drastically change a tournament. It's just a bad damn idea. Like, do we need to write a well-written Harvest Bowl? A fantasterrific Bulldogs over Broadway? The CBI Nationals we always dreamed of? Just write an open event, host it in Canada. Simple. The people who want to go to your event will, and will know what they're getting into. Other people can go to VETO. Write it to ACF Fall. Instead the efforts of numerous good writers were wasted and they feel all insulted. Shock!

I mean, this discussion has been hilariously predictable. Every person who has posted in this thread has posted exactly what I would have thought they would have posted two weeks ago. Jerry mad, Andy Watkins is insane! Canada is evil! The same hocka that has been on this forum for years and years, only you wasted dozens of hours you could have done farting out a "Canada SUCKS!" post. Hey, Mike Bentley and Bruce Arthur, and a handful of Canadians enjoyed this tournament. That points to a highly unsuccessful tournament (shit, I've run them, it's life in California) and you know what, people who edited this tournament, I haven't seen the questions, but you got what you asked for.
C. Meigs
CA
User avatar
Not That Kind of Christian!!
Yuna
Posts: 847
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 10:36 pm
Location: Manhattan

Re: VETO discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

canaanbananarama wrote:Man, this is utterly formulaic. I've mentioned to a couple editors, in joking terms and more serious ones that this idea was one of the worst dreamed up in quizbowl. All this effort, and look, people, we knew what was going to happen. Two months ago, any reasonable person could have figured out, hey, a lot of people are going to hate the change, insult the "quizbowl heroes" and then be lambasted by the "quizbowl heroes."
I think, Charles, that the reason people were hoping this *wasn't* going to happen is that packets were voluntarily turned over for editing to a guy whose ideas about what are good questions and what are bad ones are readily available on the forums and in the thread in which he offered to edit the packets. I'm not going to say that the people who are complaining asked for it, but when I offered to work on this, I hoped that being taken up on that offer would mean that people actually wanted to play the results.
Hannah Kirsch
Brandeis University 2010
NYU School of Medicine 2014

"Wow, those Scandinavians completely thorbjorned my hard-earned political capital."
User avatar
No Rules Westbrook
Auron
Posts: 1232
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 1:04 pm
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

I'll agree with you about the totality of this interchange being incredibly predictable, but that's about where the agreement ends.

Bad quizbowl events are not beautiful flowers that should be kept intact, they're bad quizbowl events...that, with some effort and work, can be turned into good events - a transformation beneficial to everyone in qb, from new players in underdeveloped regions to old players in developed regions. It's ludicrous to think we are forever consigned to having one region of the Earth be plagued by bad quizbowl.
Ryan Westbrook, no affiliation whatsoever.

I am pure energy...and as ancient as the cosmos. Feeble creatures, GO!

Left here since birth...forgotten in the river of time...I've had an eternity to...ponder the meaning of things...and now I have an answer!
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

canaanbananarama wrote:Man, this is utterly formulaic. I've mentioned to a couple editors, in joking terms and more serious ones that this idea was one of the worst dreamed up in quizbowl. All this effort, and look, people, we knew what was going to happen. Two months ago, any reasonable person could have figured out, hey, a lot of people are going to hate the change, insult the "quizbowl heroes" and then be lambasted by the "quizbowl heroes."

Look, those of you who signed up to be editors did so for really poor reasons. Certain of you should have taken your cape with a giant "A" in the middle of it and stuffed it up your left flank. You wanted to bring good quizbowl to Canada, but good quizbowl as you know it. The difficulty was (what?) too hard, and in the end Canada's pissed. This is just a continuation of a series of bitchfighting between the various people involved here and Canada. You hated VETO, you thought it an abomination and you wanted to wipe it off the face of the earth. Of course, the heroes have claimed other motivating factors, but I'm calling bullshit. If you actually did this for the moralistic reasons that you claim you did, you embarked on the most hilariously quixotic journey of folly that has been embarked.

Worst of all, you ruined one of the most enjoyable events on the circuit. You people know, you're the ones guffawing on the IRC about tossups on the Canadian Supreme Court, Saskatchewanese provinicial tax reform, cats owned by members of The Tragically Hip. It's great, hilarious! Peter McCorquodale, what an idiot! I mean, how dare you destroy the most singularly and beautifully bad tournaments. It's not CBI, people. It's not like Round 9 involves a trip to a cage in Flin Flon into which Canadian quizbowlers hibernate for eleven months.

You wanted to make this tournament a success? One, don't drastically change a tournament. It's just a bad damn idea. Like, do we need to write a well-written Harvest Bowl? A fantasterrific Bulldogs over Broadway? The CBI Nationals we always dreamed of? Just write an open event, host it in Canada. Simple. The people who want to go to your event will, and will know what they're getting into. Other people can go to VETO. Write it to ACF Fall. Instead the efforts of numerous good writers were wasted and they feel all insulted. Shock!

I mean, this discussion has been hilariously predictable. Every person who has posted in this thread has posted exactly what I would have thought they would have posted two weeks ago. Jerry mad, Andy Watkins is insane! Canada is evil! The same hocka that has been on this forum for years and years, only you wasted dozens of hours you could have done farting out a "Canada SUCKS!" post. Hey, Mike Bentley and Bruce Arthur, and a handful of Canadians enjoyed this tournament. That points to a highly unsuccessful tournament (shit, I've run them, it's life in California) and you know what, people who edited this tournament, I haven't seen the questions, but you got what you asked for.
Shorter Charles Meigs: fuck you for trying to do something for others, chumps.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
canaanbananarama
Wakka
Posts: 110
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2003 10:39 pm
Location: Everywhere, SAKARTVELO

Re: VETO discussion

Post by canaanbananarama »

To sum up my argument: I think that it's within reason that some of the motivation lying within doing this "great deed" lies in a many year struggle against bad quizbowl that manifests itself in periodic outbursts against Canada and the South. The VETO brass made a mistake accepting to do this tournament in the form presented, but it can't be out of the picture that people have long had dreams about "what could I do if I edited such and such bad tournament?" and completely ignored the fact that the end result was going to be negative reaction to the tournament, leading to the same beaten up old arguments about how these regions are wrong. The circuit is fine people; you want to improve it, promote stuff like ACF Fall. Attempting to wipe a tournament off the circuit and re-write it to your personal tastes is inevitably going to lead to disappointment. And as far as Canada acquiescing to this arrangement, I'd venture to guess that many or most of the people who attended VETO had no particular idea what kind of event they were going to.
C. Meigs
CA
User avatar
women, fire and dangerous things
Tidus
Posts: 655
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:34 pm
Location: Örkko, Cimmeria

Re: VETO discussion

Post by women, fire and dangerous things »

magin wrote:On a sidenote to this discussion, did any team convert the bonus part on Earle Birney? Jerry and I have a $20 bet riding on this.
I didn't hear this bonus, but I'd be surprised. I read a goodly amount of Canadian poetry, but probably wouldn't have pulled that answer.
Will Nediger
-Proud member of the cult of Urcuchillay-
University of Western Ontario 2011, University of Michigan 2017
Member, ACF
High-volume writer, NAQT
User avatar
maxis7
Lulu
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:53 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: VETO discussion

Post by maxis7 »

But no, you couldn't possibly do the rational thing and just turn down my offer, you had to do a thing for which you could not rationally expect results that were different from what you got, and then you had to go and take a shit on the untold hours of effort I (and a relatively large team of other good writers) put in.

I can't possibly convey in so few words as I am currently inclined to write how insulted I am by your response and the responses of several other Canadian players, both on this board and on qb-canada. No one forced you to do anything if you wanted to keep VETO looking the way it always looked, and your self-righteous condemnation of my work is not only factually wrong, as any competent player will attest to, but deeply offensive to everyone who volunteered their time and effort for this project.
I was in one of the Toronto teams at the Hamilton site and have also played ACF Regionals (at Chicago) and Winter (at Michigan) this year. The questions (and the response to them both on site and here on the forums) were pretty much what I expected. I don't really have anything to say about them that others (especially Mike Bentley and Aaron) haven't already, but I would like to thank the American editors, especially Jerry, for the significant amount of time and effort that they invested into editing this for no tangible benefits to themselves.
Chris Lionel, University of Toronto
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

canaanbananarama wrote:To sum up my argument: I think that it's within reason that some of the motivation lying within doing this "great deed" lies in a many year struggle against bad quizbowl that manifests itself in periodic outbursts against Canada and the South. The VETO brass made a mistake accepting to do this tournament in the form presented, but it can't be out of the picture that people have long had dreams about "what could I do if I edited such and such bad tournament?" and completely ignored the fact that the end result was going to be negative reaction to the tournament, leading to the same beaten up old arguments about how these regions are wrong. The circuit is fine people; you want to improve it, promote stuff like ACF Fall. Attempting to wipe a tournament off the circuit and re-write it to your personal tastes is inevitably going to lead to disappointment. And as far as Canada acquiescing to this arrangement, I'd venture to guess that many or most of the people who attended VETO had no particular idea what kind of event they were going to.
"Canada" as a whole did not acquiesce to anything. The offer was made to Peter, who knew exactly what my position was. And just for the record, this strategy has actually been successful in the south, as most of the shit tournaments in that region are now extinct, thanks to mirroring arrangements and editing assistance provided by us horrible imperialist Yankees.

But I guess it sure must be satisfying to castigate people trying to make a difference from your high horse. What a bunch of jerks we are for trying to contribute something to quizbowl.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
User avatar
theMoMA
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 5797
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:00 am

Re: VETO discussion

Post by theMoMA »

I can't speak to Charles's motives, but he actually has some things right. As prosetylizers of good quizbowl, our strategy has long been to create and hold shockingly real tournaments that winnow the grain from the chaff, and rebuilding circuits around the players who not only like good quizbowl, but tolerate the initial shock of it. We rather harshly ask people to take good quizbowl or leave it after one event that is extraordinarily at odds with their expectations. We have to ask ourselves if we're satisfied with this approach.

There's not much room for gradation between bad quizbowl and good, and while there is reasonable disagreement to be discussed about difficulty and question-length, none of us is willing to compromise on the quality of events that we edit or play. We should be more than willing to flat-out state our purposes, especially our willingness to welcome anyone into the quizbowl community who makes a reasonable effort to join us.

With that in mind, I have written the following open letter to Canadian quizbowlers.
Dear Canadian Quizbowlers,

Quizbowl is changing.

Three years ago I was an incoming freshman to the University of Minnesota, a school in the center of an upper midwest region that looks a lot like where Canada is today. There were a handful of good players and a lot of smaller programs. From the 1990s up until a few years ago, schools like Minnesota, St. Thomas, Grinnell, Iowa, Iowa State, Drake, Carleton, St. Olaf, Macalester, and Wisconsin regularly played against each other on questions outdated in the current game.

Now, most of our well-intended but poorly-executed invitational events have evaporated; they have been replaced by modern tournaments, either mirrored or house-edited. Of the perhaps five high-school level tournaments that used to be held in this area, Carleton's was the only one left in 08-09. A lot of the programs are following suit. While Minnesota, Iowa, and Carleton have come out okay, and have all managed to host well-attended events and attend many more, the other teams are drifting to the periphery despite our best efforts to keep them in the loop.

This isn't a story of destruction, but of rebirth. Across all former quizbowl backwaters, the same process is repeating itself. It's only being sped up by the increasing connectedness between young players and the people who are heavily invested in seeing quizbowl succeed. The programs whose existence depended on a full menu of questions that don't meet today's quality standards are fading, and they're being replaced by young players who are dedicated to improving, not only at the game itself, but at writing and editing too.

This is exactly the progress that many of us have been working towards for years. But there is a cost to progress, and too often, the cost has been that dedicated players of the old guard feel marginalized by the new standards of the game. The unfortunate downside of our circuit's resurgence is that the generation of its players who introduced me to the game now feel alienated by it. Some of us are more than willing to see them go out the door, because that's the easiest way to end the squabbling. But I think we should recognize that these are the players whose dedication has long propped up a circuit in a place far from quizbowl's hotspots, and we should be sad to see them go.

So if I may address Canada's "old guard" of quizbowl players, here's what my experience leads me to say:

Quizbowl isn't going to go back to what it was before. If VETO does backtrack, it will not be a victory for the old ways; it will be nothing but the lone lawn that the old guard can still keep the kids off of, a strange and lonely living fossil of a bygone era. The general argument over what constitutes good quizbowl is over, and something that looks an awful like "ACF Summer" has won. No argument about what's fun and what isn't is going to bring back a circuit full of tournaments like the old VETOs. Modern quizbowl lures in the dedicated and talented players to proliferate itself, because they find it rewards their dedication the best. And dedicated players make a circuit work. This might result in what you see as boring questions, but it means that the circuit is never going back to how it was.

Even if VETO isn't a part of it, the time for a vibrant Canadian quizbowl circuit is not far off. The Canadian team at ACF Regionals in Chicago was one of the best teams that I played all year, and those players are only getting better. Talented players like Peter Burton, Jason Dickson, Zarya Cynader, Will Nediger, and Chris Lionel are going to (and should!) demand to test their skill on the questions that best reward their talent and dedication. The fact that Jerry was even asked to edit VETO in the first place is a sign that a critical mass has been reached. Even if you can wrest VETO from the new blood in Canadian quizbowl, it will only serve to further isolate you from the best players of Canada's future.

So the most important thing I have to ask Canada's old guard is: Do you want to be a part of this future? Sure, you can be satisfied with having VETO as an annual get-together with the goals of reenacting 1999 and talking about how much the rest of quizbowl is wrong and terrible, but you will be increasingly alone. And no matter what you do, your most promising young Canadian quizbowlers are going to be out there putting together impressive tournament showings like they did at recent Regionals, HSNCTs, and ICTs. You have to decide whether to adapt and play a role this new and exciting era for Candian quizbowl, or to lock yourselves in VETO and throw away the key.

Sincerely,

Andrew Hart
University of Minnesota
Andrew Hart
Minnesota alum
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Ok, now that I've managed to get some rest and see Aliens 3, I can finally give the official VETO breakdown. There's going to be lots o analysis of question writing in this post; names will be named, in both positive and negative contexts; and hopefully everyone will have learned a little something at the end. In the interest of providing a comparison between the edited and the unedited submissions, I've posted the entire collection on Christian Carter's collegiate quizbowl packets archive. Chris will post a link once he's got the set up.

First I'd like to start off by thanking all the wonderful people who helped me out on this set. I could never have hoped to do what I did without the help of (in no particular order) Hannah Kirsch, Jonathan Magin, Andy Watkins, Eric Mukherjee, Trygve Meade, Rob Carson, Charlie Dees, Bernadette Spencer, Auroni Gupta, and Mike Bentley, who selflessly worked on the Lisgar B submission in the waning hours of the night prior to the tournament, thereby providing the non-Vancouver sites with an 11th packet. Thanks, guys: you are now all heroes of Glorious Quizbowl Socialist Labor, a rank which comes with a beer purchased by me at whichever tournament we happen to intersect.

Second, I want to repeat what I said yesterday about being alternatively dumbfounded and outraged by some of the responses from actual players. Apparently, as I've already mentioned once, someone at the Hamilton site literally threatened to punch me in the face. Now, I've attended plenty of tournaments that I've not enjoyed (or downright hated), but I'm fairly sure I never threatened physical violence against the editor. I don't know if that was said in jest, and I don't particularly fear for my safety, but that's a grossly inappropriate response to playing even the worst quizbowl tournament. I am likewise baffled by the logic that goes into submitting packets for editing and then expressing disbelief and anger at the notion that the editor did exactly what he said he would do, publicly and without any intent to deceive. I'm sorry if Lisgar B thought something else would happen to their packet; I can forgive them their ignorance, but I certainly cannot attribute any such ignorance to Peter McCorquodale, who actually solicited packets from teams to be sent to me. I understand that many in Canada might be unfamiliar with my ouevre, but I would say that (a) that's not really my problem, and (b) you had someone, perhaps several someones in your midst who were. If those people didn't think that a Jerry Vinokurov-edited VETO was what they wanted to play, they shouldn't have asked you to send me packets; please direct your anger over to them and spare me your wide-eyed surprise.

The third thing I wanted to do, and that's what will take up the majority of the rest of this post, is to explain, for the benefit of those who want to learn to write good questions, what the logic behind the various edits was, and the problems were (and there were many) with the original submissions. Let's begin:

Packet formatting: Before I even get to talking about question content, I want to discuss some basic technical aspects of packet submission. One of the most frustrating things for editors is receiving packets that are not formatted properly. This is because we then have to spend time reformatting the packets that we would have otherwise been using to edit questions. Some of this is obviously my fault, since I failed to mention what I wanted the packets to look like. However, there is an accepted standard for packet formatting which you would do well to adhere to in the future. That formatting is described on the ACF website, but the short of it is this: questions sorted by category, Times New Roman 10-point font, bonus parts indicated by [point value], the text "Answer:" precending the answers, and no funny formatting. Google Docs, which many editing teams now use for collaborative editing, is poorly suited to deal with creative formatting, so you should avoid anything like excessive white-space, crazy fonts, or whatever else. Sort questions by category is very useful for editors because it allows us to see exactly what has been submitted in every category and doesn't leave us guessing as to whether some ambiguous tossup is supposed to be trash, or literature, or whatever.

Also, your packet had better be in an editable format. Submissions in the form of a link to a PDF are not acceptable, Peter! Those kinds of questions are not editable, and when I tried to import your OpenOffice version into Google Docs, it failed. I had to give up on even trying to edit that packet because the amount of work I'd have to do to get it to the point where I could actually do so was just not worth the effort. And finally, your packet had better not break my email by being almost 10 MB in size, Toronto A! If you are including images in your packet, that's fine; save them as small JPEGs before you import them.

The distribution: I find it ironic to be accused of "not following guidelines" on qb-canada when many, many teams did not adhere to the guidelines themselves, particularly the distributional guidelines. The distribution is not a suggestion: it is a requirement that you are to follow when submitting packets. I'm sorry if the concept of obeying the requirements of a packet-sub event are too serious for some teams, but writing "A chemistry question goes here," is not equivalent to actually writing a chemistry question like you were supposed to. You have to actually meet these requirements in order for the tournament to be something other than a collection of anecdotes about Canadian sitcoms; I'm sorry if that's not "fun" or whatever, but that's how quizbowl works.

The question contents: This was surely the most problematic aspect of the unedited submissions, and one that we invested a significant amount of effort in correcting. There were several major problems with the packets that were submitted, among them: a collection of entirely useless "clues" that were impossible to buzz on, answers that were outrageous in their difficulty, answer selections that have no connection to the categories in which they were classified, and an abundance of trash clues in academic categories (Raymond Feist doesn't count as literature, guys!). While probably 4 or 5 of the submitted packets included either outright good questions or genuine attempts to order the appropriate clues in a pyramidal fashion (even if they contained mistakes), many of the packets looked like the information in them was copied almost right out of Wikipedia. The majority of the questions did not contain anything remotely resembling research, or at least, not the kind of research that would lead to the selection of relevant information about the answer choices. It would be too much for me comb through the entire set and explain what's wrong with every question I edited, but I want to give some examples of the kinds of changes we made:
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Toronto A original wrote:This man’s work Arcadia was shortlisted for the Royal Institution of Great Britain’s “best science book every” prize in 2006. Born in Zlin, Checoszlovakia, his family fled to Singapore to evade the Nazis in 1939, and then to Darjeeling India to escape the Japanese. He co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil and Shakespeare in Love, but is best known for his plays, including The Real Inspector Hound, which parodies Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap and The Coast of Utopia. For Ten Points, identify this playwright perhaps best known for penning Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Answer: Tom Stoppard
This is a question that clearly made a good-faith attempt at including worthwhile clues. It suffers from an inversion of the actual difficulty pyramid; Arcadia is one of Stoppard's best-known plays (which makes it weirder to say that he's best known for his plays, since you just mentioned one), and the bit about him being of Czech origin is an old chestnutt that really doesn't tell you a whole lot about Stoppard or his work. Here's the edited version:
edited version wrote:In one of this man's works, a dramatist named Henry writes a play called House of Cards, while another work, centering on George Guthrie, is set in the fictitious former colony of Kambawe. The politicians Cocklebury-Smythe, McTeazle, and Withenshaw are characters all involved with Maddie Gotobed in another of this man's works, which is usually paired with an interlude entitled New-Found-Land. In addition to Night and Day and Dirty Linen, this man's more famous works include a play about the titular head of a British counter-intelligence unit, as well as a recent trilogy of plays focusing on intellectuals in 19th century Russia. Other characters created by this author include Septimus Hodge and Tomassina Coverly, as well as a man who offers to stage for the pleasure of some titular characters, "The Rape of the Sabine Women. Well, actually, woman. Well, actually Alfred." The author of Hapgood, and a play in which James Joyce, Tristan Tzara, and Vladimir Lenin meet in 1917 Zurich, Travesties, for ten points, identify this Czech-born British playwright whose works include Arcadia and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
Answer: Tom Stoppard (or Tomas Straussler)
The fault of this question is that it's overly long for the field, but other than that, look at the information it contains. It starts with a description of several minor Stoppard works (The Real Thing, Dirty Linen, Night and Day) and then proceeds to give you those titles. The question then describes the plots of Hapgood and The Coast of Utopia, which are better known than the minor Stoppard plays. Then characters from Arcadia, a quite famous Stopppard play, are given, followed by a very famous line from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Then you are given the titles of Travesties and Hapgood, which should be well known to most people with casual Stoppard knowledge. In the end, you are told that he wrote Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

I'm not going to pretend that this is the ideal Stoppard question to end all Stoppard questions, but I want to note what it does emphasize: content of Stoppard's works over trivial biogrpahical minutia, knowledge of plot elements and titles in increasing order of fame, and a giveaway that provides the author's major work. I could have probably done without some of the early clues but this is a solid, pyramidal Stoppard question.

Next:

Lisgar B original wrote:Philosopher Benedetto Croce described it as a triumph of liberalism, a view not shared by many, who criticize it as an aristocratic revolution that neglected the commoners. It began with a series of unsuccessful revolts and conspiratorial organizations after the Congress of Vienna, and ended with the Franco-Prussian war in the early 1870s. For ten points, name this Italian unification movement which led to the creation of the Kingdom of Italy.
ANSWER: Risorgimento


This question suffers from several issues. First of all, it's incredibly vague. While the Benedetto Croce clue is potentially useful, it has no context. After that, the question talks about the Risorgimento beginning after the Congress of Vienna, which is kind of true but is also like saying that World War I began after the Moroccan crises; it's not really useful information that tells you anything other than "this is a thing that happened in the 19th century." Also, saying that the Risorgimento ended with the Franco-Prussian war is misleading; Britannica characterizes the Risorgimento as "culminating in the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861;" while the 1870s definitely brought additional lands under the domain of the Kingdom, the main goals of the movement were accomplished earlier. Anyway, the clue is still vague and really doesn't tell you anything about the Risorgimento. Notable events would have included such information as the Treaty of Plombiers, the involvement of Napoleon III, and the work of Mazzini and Cavour, who was probably the central figure in bringing about Italian unification. There's just no information in this question that makes it possible for a knowledgeable history player to buzz with any degree of certainty. I don't know what replaced this question, but I'm guessing it was Mike's tossup on various Whig parties, which according to a recording made at the Vancouver site was answered somewhere midway through.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

From a packet we did not get to:
B2B wrote:The namesake of Belgrade International Airport, he posthumously received a radio patent. Standing 6’6”, he was a rival of Thomas Edison, who tried to show the dangers of his idea by electrocuting dogs and horses. He received over 700 patents, including for wireless remote control and spark plugs and he did early work with pulsars. For ten points, name this inventor who discovered alternating current and who is the namesake of the SI unit for magnetic induction.
Answer: Nikola Tesla
The majority of the information in this question is completely irrelevant to science. Who cares how many patents Tesla had or how tall he was? It's just a pointless bit of trivia that is in no way uniquely identifying, but that doesn't even matter because the question basically begins "This Serbian scientist," to which the answer could only be a few things. This is a question that doesn't reward anything about science knowledge and questions like this should not be written.

Here's another question that ended up being thrown out:
Waterloo A original wrote:On April 27th of this year, Cornell University was officially created. On July 4th, Lewis Carroll released Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. One day later, the United States Secret Service was founded. The Secret Service was originally conceived to combat money counterfeiting; its future role in defending the President of the United States would have been useful two months earlier, when the sitting President was assassinated. For ten points, name this year in which John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln.
ANSWER: 1865
This question is awful for two reasons. First of all, every clue is pointless minutia that no one would really have any reason to know. Why does anyone, much less any Canadian, care when Cornell was founded? I'm American and I don't know that; in fact, I don't even know when Brown was founded, and I'm a student here! It's just not the kind of thing anyone cares about and it's useless to anyone. The release date of Alice in Wonderland is equally trivial; at best someone would know that it came out in the middle of the 19th century. The next sentence doesn't even refer to what was being asked in the first place, which is really poor form. The assassination clue is really the only thing that anyone could buzz on in this question (and he's not even the only sitting president to be assassinated) so what happens is basically a buzzer race to who figures out that we're talking about Lincoln. Since I was looking for a replacement that hit marks of 19th century American history, I wrote the following tossup on the Free Soil party:
Among the early members of this political party was Samuel Young, and Henry Stanton won a seat in the New York state senate as a member of this party. This party's initial platform was put together by Preston King, Salmon Chase, and Benjamin Butler, and that platform advocated going beyond the stipulations of the Wilmot Proviso. Formed from an alliance of Conscience Whigs and a faction of New York Democrats known as the Barnburners, this political party ran John Hale as its second presidential candidate. In 1848, this party held a convention in Buffalo at which it nominated Martin Van Buren presidency, and it was later absorbed into the Republican party. For ten points, identify this American political party, whose name comes from its slogan advocating "free speech, free labor, and free men!"
Answer: Free Soil party
In retrospect, it probably wasn't the greatest answer choice for a Canadian tornament, but the Free Soilers were the most significant anti-slavery party of ante bellum America and I thought enough people would know that (given that Americans certainly know about such organizations as the NDP, the Parti Quebecois, and the Social Credit party). The question was intentionally designed to be on the easier side but I apologize if it ended up being too difficult for the Canadian audience.

Anyway, I could go on, but I hope you can all see what sort of thing we were trying to create, and the starting point from which we were operating. We made a conscious effort to keep as many answer choices as we though were reasonable and replaced the contents of the questions instead. We also tried extremely hard to include as much Canadian content as we could reasonably do, especially when it came to literature and history. Some overlaps were certainly created because the Lisgar B packet was worked on by Mike Bentley in isolation from the editing team, for obvious reasons, so that resulted in a few repeats. We also tried hard to eliminate answer choices that we thought were too difficult; I can post many examples, but I don't think anyone playing VETO would have a shot at a tossup on the Calabi-Yau manifold, for example. That's the kind of thing we were trying to replace with tossups on "diffraction" and "electric charge," which should be accessible to any players.

I'm happy to provide any further feedback that people want to their packets, either in this thread or in private. My ability to do so is going to be somewhat limited, but I'll do my best, and I'm sure anyone else who helped out will be happy to do the same.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6368
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: VETO discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

theMoMA wrote:I can't speak to Charles's motives, but he actually has some things right. As prosetylizers of good quizbowl, our strategy has long been to create and hold shockingly real tournaments that winnow the grain from the chaff, and rebuilding circuits around the players who not only like good quizbowl, but tolerate the initial shock of it. We rather harshly ask people to take good quizbowl or leave it after one event that is extraordinarily at odds with their expectations. We have to ask ourselves if we're satisfied with this approach.
In my experience this approach has been pretty successful; crappy tournaments have by and large disappeared and what's worthwhile remains. I'm not interested in excluding anyone from quizbowl, but I'm also not interested in compromising the standards of good question writing. My ideal situation would be for everyone to say, gosh, I learned something important and useful this year, and to come back to similar tournaments, but if some people decide that what they want is to be given vegetables to name instead of learning something, then I would say those people have no real place in the modern game.
We should be more than willing to flat-out state our purposes, especially our willingness to welcome anyone into the quizbowl community who makes a reasonable effort to join us.
Have we ever done anything but this? I dislike the implication that I somehow tricked someone into doing something they wouldn't have done otherwise. I have never even attempted to pretend that the entirety of my VETO efforts would consist of spell-checking or whatever. Of course I welcome anyone who wants to play good quizbowl and do my best to encourage those players.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance
Locked