SMT 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

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Ye Unfeeling Romeo
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SMT 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Ye Unfeeling Romeo »

Hey everyone,

Thanks for playing SMT - I hope you all enjoyed it! The set came together kind of roughly for this first mirror, but we hope to work on it a lot more in the next couple of weeks in preparation for the first in-person mirrors on March 10th. Supreme thanks go to head editor and writing mentor Jordan Brownstein, science editor Ewan MacAulay, math and CS editor Anderson Wang, and music editor Kai Smith. Equal thanks go to all the writers – lit (and Jordan and my pick for MVW, Most Valuable Writer!) writer Olivia Lamberti, history writers Govind Prabhakar, Arjun Nageswaran, Charles Hang, and Jacob O'Rourke, JinAh Kim for writing various humanities questions, science writers Deepak Moparthi, Ashwin Ramaswami, Shamsheer Rana, and Melanie Wang, and, er, sole trash rock writer Ali Saeed. Many of those names ended up arising because of a major rush to complete the set close to the mirror date – the biggest thanks go to JinAh, Ashwin, Shamsheer, Arjun, and Melanie, who helped a ton in those last couple of weeks. Another thing I should acknowledge is the fact that, when one of our writers went completely AWOL (Conrad Oberhaus reported many current events and geo questions as written, but never sent them to us, and then completely disappeared the couple of weeks before the discord mirror) Govind, Arjun, and Olivia wrote all of his claims in a matter of one day. This is a lesson in naïvete (and also general disorganization) – none of us noticed he hadn't put in his reported questions, so when they weren't there before the mirror, we patiently waited for him to reply to our inquiries, leading to the emergency outpour of writing the day before the mirror. I will surely never make a mistake like that again – don't be lazy with checking up on your writers and their claims + writing.

Please leave general comments on the set in this thread. My general comments will be that the geo and current events were somewhat shaky (as per the circumstances), that the science was somewhat shakier (due to some unideal scheduling of the science editing), and that the rest seem to have turned out decently, with difficulty variance being a concern that can be fixed with more combing through of the set. I am, in general, pleased with a lot of the writing, considering it's the first writing effort of virtually every writer from Stevenson, and the relatively good reception of the set should be something every single Stevenson writer should take great pride in, while still paying special attention to the really helpful criticism given at the mirror and in this discussion forum.

Thank you all for your time and help!
Young Fenimore Lee (they/them)
Stevenson High School 2017
Stanford 2021
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Mike Bentley
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Re: SMT 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Overall thought it was a very good set.

The literature in general felt a little easier than other topics on the bonus side of things, but you should look at the actual stats to determine that.

I'd caution the editors from making very many changes to make the set any harder than it currently is based on playtesting feedback. This was a very good field.
Mike Bentley
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Re: SMT 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by otsasonr »

I thought the science was fairly good overall, I'll mention some particular concerns in the other thread when I have a chance. But as a comment on the physics subdistribution, I don't recall there being any tossups (or bonuses?) on thermodynamics or stat mech, which is not good, since it's a core area of physics, both in terms of the undergraduate curriculum and research. Was this just a consequence of which packets we heard?
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Jem Casey
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Re: SMT 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Jem Casey »

To everyone joining the forum after this first crop of mirrors, welcome and thanks for playing SMT! As the set's head editor, I'd like to thank all the other editors and writers whom Young graciously named above for their work on the set--as well as Young himself, without whose vision, tireless logistical and managerial work, and question writing this set would not in any sense have been possible.

I'd also like to specifically thank the writers from Stevenson High School, who were all great to work with. It is of course not common for high school students to write a large portion of a college set, but it is no less rare to find a group of writers as consistently timely, good-natured about and responsive to feedback, and adventurous in question ideas and clue choices as they were. Thank you all; you are without exception promising writers and I can't wait to see your work in future sets.

Special props are also due to the people who, without any prior obligation to the set, spent time making it better in the last few weeks: Eric Mukherjee, who provided much helpful feedback on the science; Ophir Lifshitz, whose scrupulous proofreading caught a great number of typos, errata, and readibility issues; and JinAh Kim, who, after being added to the docs about three weeks ago, wrote 81 questions--more than most of us wrote in ten times that span--and helped with playtesting, proofreading, editing, and anything else that needed to happen for the set to get done.

Anyway, you know the drill; discuss away.
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Re: SMT 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by wcheng »

Overall, I want to thank the writers for putting together this set, especially since many of them are new to writing college quizbowl tournaments! Generally speaking, I thought that the difficulty was reasonable and the answerlines were well-chosen, but I think there were some structural issues with how certain answerlines were constructed. Several questions seemed very "ornate" in that they required numerous pieces of information for no clearly-discernable purpose, like the tossups on "water on Mars" and "alcohol prohibition in Islam." I think that these would have easily tested the same knowledge with less-restrictive answerlines, which I think should be preferred for better player empathy.
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Re: SMT 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Lighthouse Expert Elinor DeWire »

I like the idea music+opera/other audio division, but it seemed that in practice it didn't make much of a difference, since ballet and world vs. opera ended up being switched in the distro and there wasn't actually an increase in jazz.
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Re: SMT 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by ErikC »

Overall I really liked this tournament. The content that was "off-canon" was quite good and I liked the general approach to history. The literature clues seemed much better than the standard plot summaries for works I am familiar with.

One thing I noticed is some things came up more than once. I believe Bavaria and John Coltrane were included in two separate tossups/bonuses. I don't think it's a large issue but something worth looking into.
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5 Fingaz to the Male Gaze
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Re: SMT 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by 5 Fingaz to the Male Gaze »

As a relatively inexperienced high school student whose first foray into collegiate quizbowl was SMT, I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed playing this set (despite not playing particularly well). The questions were incredibly interesting, very well-written, and suitably difficult, but not completely inaccessible. Thank you all so much for producing this set!
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Muriel Axon
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Re: SMT 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Muriel Axon »

I found this tournament quite readable in comparison to many others. Nice work!
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Re: SMT 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Bensonfan23 »

Thanks to the writers and editors for producing a great set that I had a blast playing! I'd say this set is a great example of what a regular-minus set should be, and if the difficulty the editors were aiming for was "past MUT's", then I'd say this was pretty spot on.

To echo a few other comments, it certainly felt like a few questions had answerlines that were attempting to be more "out-there" than necessary, and could have been improved by simplifying the answerline (alcohol consumption in Islam, and the "sunrise" in myth tossups come to mind). I think its easy for writers to forget that answerline selection and pronoun selection are just as important as clue selection in terms of affecting how a question is ultimately played, and in general, I'd say there's rarely anything wrong with going with the simpler answerline and not just banking on "description acceptable" to resolve this issue.

To comment on a few specific categories, I felt that the bio and chem questions were in generally done quite well; I'll make some more specific comments in the other thread. I also thought that the visual arts categories were done very well. The only category that felt notably harder than others in the set was the religion, specifically the Christianity/Judaism questions. This may have just been a skewed result of my playing solo, but a vast majority of the bonuses that I ended up 0'ing on the day were Abrahamic religion questions. Religion definitely isn't my best category by any means, so take these comments with this in mind, but I wanted to bring this up as an opportunity to suggest that the easy parts for these bonuses might benefit from being made more get-able. Lastly, the only other quirk that comes to mind was that a lot of the trash questions in the set seemed to skew pretty heavily toward older content, which I'm sure some people enjoyed, but this made the category seem a bit stale to me.

Once again though, thanks for writing a very enjoyable set overall!
Ryan Humphrey
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Zealots of Stockholm
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Re: SMT 2018 - Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Zealots of Stockholm »

The one thing I wanted to comment on from this set is that in 10 packets, I believe I only heard one tossup that clued from Latin American and/or African Lit. I realize World and Ancient lit were combined for 1/1 but 1 tossup on those two major areas in world lit (in the first 10 packets) seems less than ideal.

Other than that, I had a good time playing this set. Thanks to all of the writers and editors!
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