First of all, thanks again for playing and I hope you enjoyed Regionals! I've been writing and editing history questions for some time, and I personally would consider this one of my best efforts yet for history (along with WAO and SHEIKH) thanks in no small part to a ton of excellent feedback from Auroni.
I think you all figured this out playing Regionals, but one of my goals with this tournament was to "push" the history category a bit. Perhaps this was not the wisest / a bit selfish, but I thought ACF Regionals would offer a pretty good platform for introducing some new types of question / pushing such question types a bit more aggressively for a wider audience, but in an accessible way. Previous tournaments that have done this have generally had a smaller audience.
I did this mostly through the "grab bag" history category - the distribution I've used for tournaments I've edited has usually included one of these. I owe this idea to Marshall Steinbaum, whose distribution for Cane Ridge Revival pioneered the idea of trimming Continental Euro to make room for more archaeology and historiography. Below can be found a description of what was in this category:
A list of questions / discussion points:Main Discussion Thread wrote:In the "grab bag" history category there was 3/1 historiography (American Revolution, Incas, Germany, history from below / people's / Canada), 3/2 archaeology (Shi Huangdi's tomb, Turkey, ships, Balearic Islands / Sardinia / graves, Lascaux Caves / hunting (and gathering) / aurochs), 6/6 British/Commonwealth history, and 3/6 Ancient Near East/Classical History. I plopped in historiography and other sorts of clues throughout the distribution, so perhaps this contributed to impressions of its overabundance, but the "pure" historiography distribution was quite small. Most of the "pure" historio / archaeo questions were derived directly from submissions, and I was quite pleased with those particular submissions in general - though the Germany question was originally a submission on Leopold von Ranke, a very important figure who is nonetheless far beyond the pale for a Regionals tossup.
- What did people think of having more secondary content in general? I understand that this stuff is often less accessible than raw facts (you can't always go on Wikipedia and find out what the major studies of a particular conflict are) but there is a real audience of people who engage with popular histories, public intellectuals, biographies, etc.
- What did people think of archaeology as presented in this tournament? I tried to steer things away from questions asking about specific archaeologists, who would probably be a challenge to ask about (as quizbowl seems to mainly be familiar with Flinders Petrie, Heinrich Schliemann, and Leonard Woolley) and towards iconic sites and general, important concepts, which I thought people would be more likely to know and be engaged by. A special shoutout to Waterloo and JHU D for submitting those questions on ships and Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum - you brought a big smile to my face
- How did people think of this tournament's iteration of "using simple answers to explore new material?" One way I've enjoyed doing this is writing a tossup about a geographical feature and its importance in history or incidents relevant to it - Kenji did this with his excellent tossup on the Baltic Sea. I tried to do the same with my Senegal River question and it looks like it didn't play out so well as it seems that most gets on that question came after negs - I personally wonder how much of that is due to awareness of the existence of a Senegal River.
- What did people think about a reduced focused on Named Things / Hard People and the use of a lot of fairly simple answers as hard parts? A specific example might be the bonus part on gates which was originally submitted on the Xuanwu Gate Incident. I changed that because I find that these names often aren't nearly as reified in books (though I do think I've seen that term in a book before) and using a simpler answer would allow asking about more things than just that one event. Antoher example (this one an editor question) might be using an answer of "The Raj" to ask about the License Raj and also social/economic policies in British India.
- Did people feel particularly challenged by any of these approaches, and might this affect the perception of the set's difficulty?
I personally think the more "pure" historiography oriented tossups didn't play out that well - the American Revolution tossup (lightly edited from a Yale submission) didn't get a ton of buzzes on the early clues except on Mercy Otis Warren, who I swapped with the following clue in the iteration of the set played at the UK. I'll probably avoid having questions that dense in historiography
Finally, I'd like to apologize for two things:
1) The variance in the US history bonuseswhich I thought was excessive when I saw it play out. I took AP World and AP European history, but not AP US history, and so my US history knowledge is very much informed by random personal interests / things I've just happened to encounter in my life. Between that and not studying US history as much for quizbowl, it's my weakest history area. I've made it a personal goal this year to read and learn a lot more about US history, and hopefully my future efforts will be a bit more consistent. Nonetheless, I do hope that I delivered some fresh content - i.e. rather than write another tossup on Irish immigrants or the March on Washington, I decided to reach for Armenians and the Million Man March instead to fill some gaps in the submissions - and that these were perhaps more difficult, but nonetheless engaging, along with the raft of submissions I had the privilege of including in the tournament.
2) Junking so many people's world history tossup submissions. In the final analysis, a majority of the world history tossups were editor questions written from scratch. I did this because many of the submissions just didn't fit my vision of what I wanted to do with the tournament's world history: use a lot of simple answers that a wide audience could buzz on, with a few choice tougher ones, but hitting on most of the world fairly evenly (relative to the amount of history there is in each part) and exposing people to cool new topics in the process. To take one example, three of the submitted packets that got used in the end originally had questions on African dictators. I used just one of these (Idi Amin) because I wanted people to learn more about other African history topics. Meanwhile, there were no Japanese or Korean history tossups submitted in the packets we used, so I wrote one from scratch (shoguns) because "shadow shoguns" and "barbarian-subduing generalissimo" were far too cool not to ask about.