Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Sir Thopas »

Eight visual arts tossups in twelve rounds, and this is being generous.
One packet had two of the first four questions on the same topic.
Tons of repeats, including at least three instances of something being tossed up twice, and numerous others.
Stretching, stretching, STRETCHING the literature distribution way into plasticity.
Clusters of topics coming up again and again, across distributions, sometimes even in the same packet (I can't get more specific, of course, but I could provide some in private).
A tossup on a city, and then one on a country, and then on a state, and another, etc., interminably. Surely there are other things to write about?
Computational math questions which were literally, from the beginning, "do this arithmetic quicker than anyone else".

All of this doesn't include the questions themselves: full of cutesy giveaways, antipyramidal questions, stock and anecdotal clues, uneven and cutesy bonuses, at least one list tossup. Can anyone there actually write science? Or history? Or literature?

I am disappointed.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by ieppler »

Hey, I have someplace to go right now so I can't post an in-depth criticism of today's NAQT set (or certain other things that I noticed at the TJ tournament, for that matter,) but I'd just like to say that all of these comments on IS-80A apply equally to IS-79. Seriously, this was a disgrace. Sets like Prison Bowl show that groups of high school students working in their spare time can put together a better set than this for-profit group of "professional question-writers." I feel that this is a real problem for the high school quizbowl circuit.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas »

I don't know how in depth I can get with question specific, but one round had 3 geo questions in a row, which was a little... odd.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by aestheteboy »

Sir Thopas wrote:I am disappointed.
Really? I wasn't all that disappointed with IS set today because I knew exactly what I should expect. Learned helplessness!
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Sir Thopas »

I mean, the worst was that a few of the questions were legitimate, academic, (more or less) clue-dense, pyramidal tossups. And then there was the rest of it.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by at your pleasure »

I forget-which tournaments used this set?
For what it's worth, I had serious problems with IS-77(paticuarly a paucity of visual arts), but at the tournament where I heard the set, we had a string of slow readers, so I'm not certain how much of the problem was with the packets and how much of the problem was how few tossups we got through.
Computational math questions which were literally, from the beginning, "do this arithmetic quicker than anyone else".

It took me a while to figure this out, but that's what MATHCOMP is, paticuarly on things that are covered in a standard high school curriculum. I think the best thing that could happen to NAQT would be a total ban on MATHCOMP(freeing up space for things like non-fraudable lit and 1/1 legitmate visual arts) and a per-packet distiribution. Also, a "changing of the guard" may be in order at NAQT. I don't think anyone needs to be told that when they got into the buisness standards for good questions were much lower at the high school level. It's incumbent on NAQT to bring themselves up to the current question-writing standards, though, unless it wants to find itseft outcompeted by good houswrites, the better new question producers, and any sort of packet-submission model that may find its way to the high school level.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by cvdwightw »

Um, no. NAQT Math Computation is usually "Here is a problem that involves an application from algebra/geometry/trigonometry/probability. There's a trick to solving it, but if you know the trick, go ahead and use it while we tell everyone else what that trick is. For 10 points, solve the problem." "Poor" NAQT questions ask you do something like compute the average of several numbers, which are mostly arithmetic but get taught in pre-algebra (I'm pretty sure a standard pre-algebra/early algebra problem is along the lines of "Bob gets scores of 88, 94, 82, and 91 on his math tests. If he needs to average a score of 90 for an A, what is the minimum score he can earn on his fifth test to get an A?"). At least one question in IS-79 asked "This question wants you to perform a single arithmetic operation on numbers X and Y. Here's two lines of filler. For 10 points, solve the problem".

The biggest problem I had with IS-79, as noted by someone else with IS-77, was inconsistency. Several of the questions were, if not necessarily "the best example of a question on TOPIC X ever", well-written especially considering the constraints imposed by the NAQT style. Several others were also mostly pyramidal, except that either the writer or an editor decided to stick a giveaway in the first sentence and thus render the rest of the tossup (which, keep in mind, was mostly pyramidal) essentially useless. Several others just flat-out stunk. This led to people "playing against the packet" rather than actually buzzing on clues they know.

As someone who doesn't speak for NAQT, but who does have the ability to effect a minor amount of change through questions, I will make you high schoolers with your high standards this deal: If there are specific areas of questions which were almost uniformly poor (and by this I don't mean "everything kind of sucked" or "there wasn't enough of SUBJECT X" but rather "A significant majority of tossups in CATEGORY Y were poor"), then post those subjects here in this thread. Time and interest permitting, I will spend the next month or two sending NAQT questions in those subjects, written to a level of question quality I would find acceptable given NAQT's length constraints. Although this will probably amount to no more than around 20-40 questions a set, if I can replace that many problematic questions with better questions, then I've done something write. I encourage HSAPQ writers (and other writers of high-quality questions) who still maintain ties to NAQT to make the same pledge, even if it's only for something like 10 questions a set.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by moskatoe »

By my count, 6 legit history tossups in the 4 packets I played. Maybe 10 or so if we are generous about what is legit.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Hopper wrote: all of these comments on IS-80A apply equally to IS-79. Seriously, this was a disgrace.
Seconded. IS-79 was a huge dive downward in quality from IS-77.

If NAQT is going to remain a product that good teams are willing to play, the overall quality needs to increase significantly. While IS-77 had its flaws, it was decently playable and had a bottom line for quality. IS-79 had no such thing. This set was plagued by repeats (and disputable threepeats), the emergence of SCIENCE!, BIOGRAPHY!, and "THINGS THAT SHARE A NAME WITH OTHER THINGS!" as categories of their own, clues pulled verbatim from older NAQT sets, and persistent fraudability. If I knew about this beforehand, I wouldn't spend money to buy it, play on it, or encourage play on it. From their comments, I presume TJ (last year's NAQT national champions!) agrees.

I understand that NAQT has a large amount of questions to complete in a short amount of time, but if the result of such pressure is more sets like IS-79, it's time to cut back on the quantity of sets and improve their quality.

@Dwight: There is a lack of fine arts, as Douglas notes. More lower-case science would be good too.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by closesesame »

That was honestly the worst IS set I've ever moderated or played on.

How many times can you ask a question like "name the country" giving clues that are obviously of a specific ethnicity IN THE FIRST LINE? I also don't think it counts as a different question if you take the same answer and make it geography one round and history the next (and just for kicks, current events the next). You know what I mean.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by AlphaQuizBowler »

Did anyone think that not having per-packet distribution really screwed up 80A? Maybe it's only because they read 16 tossups a game at Walton, but it seemed like in the prelims there were at most 2 lit per round and in the playoffs we sometimes got 3 or 4. The subject distribution varied wildly between packets, which I guess is what to expect from NAQT given their policies.

The bonuses varied wildly as well. There were some good ones with clear easy, medium, and hard parts, but then there were some that were giveaway 30's and some that were almost automatic zeros. I think at least part, but not all, of this owes to the trash, which in my opinion was an easy 30 if you know it or a zero if you did't. Some of those bonuses really made me think that someone at NAQT was trying to mess with us. The sad part is that that's not true; it was not intentional.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Sir Thopas »

AlphaQuizBowler wrote:The bonuses varied wildly as well. There were some good ones with clear easy, medium, and hard parts, but then there were some that were giveaway 30's and some that were almost automatic zeros. I think at least part, but not all, of this owes to the trash, which in my opinion was an easy 30 if you know it or a zero if you did't. Some of those bonuses really made me think that someone at NAQT was trying to mess with us. The sad part is that that's not true; it was not intentional.
Along that line, I thought packet 5, bonus 12, was utterly inappropriate. It was entirely intentional, and rewarded teams for having a certain political or religious ideology (a stronger form, by the way, of NAQT's propensity for including specific Catholic rites and prayers, without analogous versions in any other language. I don't want to necessarily call NAQT discriminatory, but this is unfair for non-Catholics who won't have necessarily even heard of these, as opposed to others who work with them every day). Our moderator had only ever heard of one of the answers; everyone on our team, none of them. I submit that this was by far the hardest bonus in the entire set, and its apparent rationale for inclusion is repugnant to quizbowl as I know it. It was not about rewarding knowledge accumulated through the ways encouraged by quizbowl. Clearly I'm being opaque here, but for those who have the packets, my point should become rather clear.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

Please send me specific criticisms. I'll do what I can to root them out of IS #81. Specific examples of "fake history" would be particularly appreciated.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by cvdwightw »

RyuAqua wrote:@Dwight: There is a lack of fine arts, as Douglas notes. More lower-case science would be good too.
If it's a lack of fine arts, there's not much I can do. If it's more "the fine arts that was present in this tournament was consistently subpar" then I'll try to write some of that stuff. I'll work on trying to send enough lowercase-s science that the SCIENCE! subdistribution is minimal; combined with Jeff's efforts and those of others who have yet to post, hopefully IS-81 can be a huge step up in quality.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

Sir Thopas wrote:Eight visual arts tossups in twelve rounds, and this is being generous.
There are only supposed to be 7/9 visual art tossups in an A-series set (depending on whether you count the two architecture tossups as visual art).
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Sir Thopas wrote:Eight visual arts tossups in twelve rounds, and this is being generous.
There are only supposed to be 7/9 visual art tossups in an A-series set (depending on whether you count the two architecture tossups as visual art).
We got through at least 18 questions in each of the 13 rounds we played of IS-79, and I remember less than 10 visual art questions (TU and B). In contrast, Greg counted 25 Geo TU. That seems not quite right to me...
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by at your pleasure »

I suspect that quite a bit of the "visual arts"(not having seem what NAQT classifes as what) was filled by several common-link tossups that had only one actual fine arts clue. Also, please don't arts tossups that are laundry lists of titles. If you must write about a artists, and you only have 4 lines, then describe 2 works by that artists. However, 4 lines is a length more suitable to descriptions of paintings.
One last thing: There are more than 3 renaissance paintings that are askable, so stop writing about the same 3 paintings and same 1-2 artists from before 1600.
EDIT: Grammar.
Last edited by at your pleasure on Sun Oct 19, 2008 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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MLWGS-Gir wrote:There are only supposed to be 7/9 visual art tossups in an A-series set (depending on whether you count the two architecture tossups as visual art).
We got through at least 18 questions in each of the 13 rounds we played of IS-79, and I remember less than 10 visual art questions (TU and B). In contrast, Greg counted 25 Geo TU. That seems not quite right to me...
IS-79 contained 6/5 painting and 2/2 sculpture.

Yes, the geography quota for an IS set is 27/28.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

Anti-Climacus wrote:I suspect that quite a bit of the "visual arts"(not having seem what NAQT classifes as what) was filled by several common-link tossups that had only one actual fine arts clue.
I can't find an example like this in IS-79; please send me details by private email. I don't do much with art myself, but I'll pass your concerns on to R.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Sir Thopas »

bt_green_warbler wrote:IS-79 contained 6/5 painting and 2/2 sculpture.

Yes, the geography quota for an IS set is 27/28.
To me this is preposterous, and, being a player who is pretty strong in arts, I would like a justification for why geography is worth 3-4 TIMES as much space as visual arts.

As an extension of that, I'm counting the following amount of tossups in IS-80A:
13 on cities
5 on US states
17 on countries and territories
Now, I realize that many of these may not have been geography, but is it really, absolutely necessary to have nearly one out of every eight questions on one group of answers? This is monotonous, and it shows a laziness and lack of creativity in writing and choosing answers. Seriously, how can the polity distribution be SIX TIMES larger than the visual arts distribution? Does this make any sense to anyone?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by The Time Keeper »

cvdwightw wrote: I encourage HSAPQ writers (and other writers of high-quality questions) who still maintain ties to NAQT to make the same pledge, even if it's only for something like 10 questions a set.
I would take a different approach and encourage the good NAQT writers who don't also write for HSAPQ (not knowing everyone who writes for NAQT, I'm not sure what kind of overlap there is) to join HSAPQ instead and write solely for them (not being a member of HSAPQ I don't know if they're taking new people or whatever).

It's great that people want to try to improve NAQT, but from what I've seen and heard, their sets overall just aren't cutting it. If people like you and Jeff would stop writing for them, their HS product would quickly fade into total unacceptability and pave the way for a superior company like HSAPQ to grab more of the market, as well as encourage more schools not currently house-writing to arrange mirrors or make collaborative efforts with similar teams in other areas to produce question sets.

I don't have any specific anti-NAQT agenda or anything, and their HSNCT sets are by all accounts considerably better than their IS efforts, but it seems like many of their writers/editors as well as the upper level people don't have the same commitment to quality that people like you and Jeff do. Even if people like you were able to make an IS-set 90% good, having a bad 10% is still totally unacceptable in today's game, even at the HS level. It just seems to me that the efforts of the good writers would be best if they were channeled elsewhere.

Edit: I'm sure no one will actually pay attention to this and everyone should feel free to act as the iron lung of the IS-set if that's really what they want to do for some reason.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

Pat, we should probably take this to private email, but suffice to say that I think it's better for the health of the circuit if I improve the quality of IS sets, rather than resign with some kind of intent to destroy quality tournaments like the HSNCT and ICT.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

It seems to like some changes in the distribution would help, as that seems to be the root of a lot of these problems. Guy, myself, and others have asked about the justification of certain parts of the distribution before, and as far as I know, those questions have never been answered. If NAQT considers their distribution to be justified, I really don't understand the reluctance to explain that justification in a public forum. I'm sure we'd all love to hear it.

At GSAC we determined that having general knowledge in our distribution leads to board game questions, etc, so we eliminated it. Any valid general knowledge questions can still get in the tournament under "other." We also got rid of math calc because it doesn't suit our team's philosophy, replacing it with math theory. Continuing to do something because it's the way it's always been done when there is no longer a justifiable reason to do so makes no sense to me.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by The Time Keeper »

bt_green_warbler wrote:Pat, we should probably take this to private email
Will do.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by cvdwightw »

I don't necessarily agree with Pat - there are several areas of the country where NAQT is either the only format played or the clearly-best format played regularly. High schools that can produce their own quality events and colleges that take the time to write whole high school events are great, but I'm not sure that (a) they can quickly and easily break in to these areas and (b) enough of those events will spring up to take the place of the 7-8 IS Sets that get produced each year. Also, people should use the IS-A sets for what they're supposed to be used for - new teams and JV/below players - rather than trying to run a tournament with nationally competitive teams; I mean I understand that refraining from playing on IS-A sets halves your chances of qualifying for HSNCT, but there needs to be some sort of "gentlemen's agreement" in the high school game that players who can put up 100 ppg on a regular IS set and teams that can convert 20-25 ppg on a regular IS set probably shouldn't be playing IS-A sets.

Let's face it: NAQT runs the best-attended national tournament; said tournament also has questions that are far superior to every other national not named PACE NSC. As long as HSNCT is a worthwhile goal for teams, and IS sets are the only way to qualify, teams will continue to play on IS sets. It seems to me that the most prudent course is to reduce the number of clunkers rather than quit and force people to play on more clunkers. I suppose I should follow Jeff's lead and ask Pat to just e-mail me if he's interested in continuing this line of conversation.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot »

Let's not try and destroy NAQT. They do lots of good things.

From personal experience, I've found that A sets are worse written than IS sets, and IS sets are written more poorly than the HSNCT. My point is that as the difficulty goes up, the quality goes up. The way I was told to deal with A sets when I was a freshman was to just turn my brain off. Nothing is too easy for an A set. Also, I must second Daichi's sentiment that you must take NAQT for what it is and lower your expectations accordingly.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by at your pleasure »

Jeff-give me contact information and I will let you know which questions I had in mind. Of course, they were probably classifed as gen. knowledge or some other non-arts category; I thought NAQT used the standard 13/13(for a 13 packet tournament) visual distribution when I posted.
I concur with those who argue that the root of NAQT's problems is their distribution. When they write things like questions on works, or legitimate history tossups, they're pretty reasonable for being so short. In other words, people wouldn't have such problems with NAQT visual arts if there were a reasonable amoung of it.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

Anti-Climacus wrote:Jeff-give me contact information and I will let you know which questions I had in mind.
jthoppes [at] berkeley [dot] edu
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by AdamL »

la2pgh wrote: I've found that A sets are worse written than IS sets, and IS sets are written more poorly than the HSNCT. My point is that as the difficulty goes up, the quality goes up.
Last year the A-set I heard (the one at U of Alabama at the beginning of the year) was the best quality NAQT set I heard all year (note: CHS didn't attend HSNCT, so of course I'm not counting that and am unaware of its quality), and in fact was quite tolerable, whereas most of the IS sets - in particular, was it 74? but I can't remember the exact number. It was one that was also blasted by other sites - were totally awful.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by at your pleasure »

One thing I forgot-there were a lot of buzzer races in the rounds I played at TJ, one of which occured on the first clue. Obviously, that is not a good sign.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

Anti-Climacus wrote:One thing I forgot-there were a lot of buzzer races in the rounds I played at TJ, one of which occured on the first clue. Obviously, that is not a good sign.
Stock clues should not be lead-ins. While it may not be the one Douglas is referring to, I lost a buzzer race on one lead-in that should have been a giveaway.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

I also remember several of these during some of the higher intensity matches i moderated on Saturday (Whitman/GDS, MW/GDS, Charter/WJ) where a clue within the first 15-20 words led to a 4-5 person buzzer race. I thought to myself "this is in the first line? really?" as i was reading it, knowing i was about to hear a buzz and exasperated noises all across the room.

Is this a result of poorly-written questions? Or just uber-ready and incredibly learned quizbowl participants? Or both?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by ClemsonQB »

To add to what Andrew said: is this a combination of both mentioned and such short questions?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by The Laughing Man »

Most of the buzzer races were a result of truly heinous clue placements. Obviously, the increase in the level of high school quiz bowl contributed somewhat, but there were at least 10 truly awful lead ins that anyone with a buzzer and a pulse would buzz on. It was astounding that these lead ins got past the editors. Obviously I can't speak with greater specificity, but it suffices to say that you would laugh (or cry) if you heard them.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

Well we had a "regular" IS set at TJ yesterday (as opposed to the A set at LIFT)... but, yeah, i guess George's question still stands, too.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by ClemsonQB »

Let's just be honest; it isn't possible to distinguish top teams on four line questions.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by closesesame »

The Laughing Man wrote:Most of the buzzer races were a result of truly heinous clue placements. Obviously, the increase in the level of high school quiz bowl contributed somewhat, but there were at least 10 truly awful lead ins that anyone with a buzzer and a pulse would buzz on. It was astounding that these lead ins got past the editors. Obviously I can't speak with greater specificity, but it suffices to say that you would laugh (or cry) if you heard them.
In the Charter v. GDS game that I moderated, we actually did laugh. Non-stop.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by AlphaQuizBowler »

ClemsonQB wrote:Let's just be honest; it isn't possible to distinguish top teams on four line questions.
Case in point: The final three games at Walton (played on an A-set), Dorman v. Chattahoochee, Brookwood v. JI, and Chattahoochee v. Dorman, each came down to 10 points.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by grashid »

AlphaQuizBowler wrote:
ClemsonQB wrote:Let's just be honest; it isn't possible to distinguish top teams on four line questions.
Case in point: The final three games at Walton (played on an A-set), Dorman v. Chattahoochee, Brookwood v. JI, and Chattahoochee v. Dorman, each came down to 10 points.
Semifinals : Dorman vs. Brookwood, JI vs. Chatt
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

Two quick points:

1. I still haven't received examples of specific questions with terrible clue placement. Please email me: jthoppes [at] berkeley [dot] edu

2.
ClemsonQB wrote:Let's just be honest; it isn't possible to distinguish top teams on four line questions.
IS sets have the same length limits as any higher-level questions NAQT produces, so this isn't really a useful argument unless you are willing to believe that HSNCT and Division I ICT are equally incapable of distinguishing top-level teams. (Personally, I do advocate that NAQT should relax its restrictions to allow for longer, more clue-dense questions.)
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by ClemsonQB »

I said it, did I not? I'm making the bold claim that it is easier to distinguish top teams on longer questions than it is to do so on ones of four lines or less.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Maxwell Sniffingwell »

ClemsonQB wrote:I said it, did I not? I'm making the bold claim that it is easier to distinguish top teams on longer questions than it is to do so on ones of four lines or less.
I think Jeff is objecting to your use of "it isn't possible" instead of "it's harder."
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by ClemsonQB »

Obviously "impossibility" is an overstatement; however, my point all along was that four line questions just don't cut it when you're trying to distinguish these teams. Sure, their would still be "buzzer races" with longer questions, but this would occur much less frequently.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by btressler »

bt_green_warbler wrote: (Personally, I do advocate that NAQT should relax its restrictions to allow for longer, more clue-dense questions.)
Are you in the minority among the editors, or are there others that share this view?

I would vote for adding one sentence to tossups and extending halves to 10 minutes.

And while we're at it, could we please not have any six-part list bonuses? Or at least if we absolutely must, could the question allow the team to think for 10 seconds?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by aestheteboy »

Bad Boy Bill wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote: (Personally, I do advocate that NAQT should relax its restrictions to allow for longer, more clue-dense questions.)
Are you in the minority among the editors, or are there others that share this view?

I would vote for adding one sentence to tossups and extending halves to 10 minutes.

And while we're at it, could we please not have any six-part list bonuses? Or at least if we absolutely must, could the question allow the team to think for 10 seconds?
I agree with this, and while we are at it, how about making all bonuses 3-parts? The stupid bonus format is one of the major issues that contribute to the badness of NAQT sets.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by at your pleasure »

I would also like to reiterate that a large part of the problem may stem from NAQT trying to churn out lots of sets quickly. I supsect that if the editors had taken more time to edit the problematic recent IS sets, a number of the bad questions would not have seen the light of day.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by AlphaQuizBowler »

aestheteboy wrote:
Bad Boy Bill wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote: (Personally, I do advocate that NAQT should relax its restrictions to allow for longer, more clue-dense questions.)
Are you in the minority among the editors, or are there others that share this view?

I would vote for adding one sentence to tossups and extending halves to 10 minutes.

And while we're at it, could we please not have any six-part list bonuses? Or at least if we absolutely must, could the question allow the team to think for 10 seconds?
I agree with this, and while we are at it, how about making all bonuses 3-parts? The stupid bonus format is one of the major issues that contribute to the badness of NAQT sets.
I agree. I thought that the 5 for 1, 10 for 2, 20 for 3, 30 for 4 or whatever it is wasn't used anymore, but it came up multiple times. Also, what's with the this, that, both or neither bonuses? Both of the ones I heard in IS-80A were the laziest and worst-written questions I have ever heard. Seriously, they're not interesting, most of the time they don't test significant knowledge, and they promote guessing with a 25% chance of getting it write.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by cvdwightw »

At the high school level, a lot of the people on this board are either top players on nationally competitive teams or coaches of teams that are competitive at no lower than a regional level. HSNCT is designed for these players and teams; even the teams that aren't getting to 100 ppg still qualified to be there and therefore must have done well on a packet set or two. HSNCT is designed for the top 15-25% of teams in the country, and as such writers write with those teams in mind.

IS and IS-A are not designed with the top 15% of teams in mind. They are designed with the medium, or maybe the bottom with IS-A, teams in mind. Like, at the college level, it's really hard to distinguish between the best teams when the questions are at or below ACF Fall level, even though they're well-written, pyramidal, and six lines long (don't believe me? look at some of the EFT scores). Surely no one is advocating for the destruction of ACF Fall.

IS-A sets are designed to be just on the right side of "insultingly easy", because the bottom teams will still miss all sorts of insultingly easy parts. With some of these teams, you could write a tossup on William Shakespeare, George Washington, or Jesus Christ and watch it go dead. Right now the top teams are so far above the rest of the circuit (seriously, we had a 90-20 game on Saturday) that I don't think NAQT can reasonably respond to criticisms that "the questions were too easy". Most of the teams that are complaining are in the top 1% in the country; there's another 99% of teams NAQT has to consider, including a lot more than 1% who are converting under 100 ppg even with misplaced clues on easy answers.

There were many questions in IS-79 that I fully expected teams to get in five words; I ended up having to read practically the whole question a lot of the time on those questions. There's nothing that says that otherwise good teams are going to be grabbing easy clues early.

Oh, also, it's not like NAQT doesn't care about quality control and misplaced clues - even though I often find myself trying to order three "giveaways" (for top teams) from least easy to most easy in order to fit difficulty, I've had questions returned for getting "too easy too early".
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Howard »

ClemsonQB wrote:Obviously "impossibility" is an overstatement; however, my point all along was that four line questions just don't cut it when you're trying to distinguish these teams. Sure, their would still be "buzzer races" with longer questions, but this would occur much less frequently.
I'll jump on the wagon with those that don't think this is true. Four lines is enough to distinguish between the best teams if the clues are hard enough. The problem that arises is that such questions won't appropriately distinguish between teams below the second tier.

Additionally, when questions are made too long, teams begin to find them boring, potentially encouraging undesired consequences. Admittedly, the teams that would find these boring are not in the top tier, but tournament hosts need to remember who their audience is. Ultimately, nearly every large high school tournament will be something of a compromise. Otherwise, it's likely to be entirely inappropriate for a large portion of the field.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

IS-A sets are designed to be just on the right side of "insultingly easy", because the bottom teams will still miss all sorts of insultingly easy parts.
Part of the problem with A sets is that they throw in some ultra bizarre answers that aren't necessarily that easy (see the tossups on Louis Comfort Tiffany and Wilfred Owen in 75A), along with another , oh, more than third of them being bizarre but gettable on topics like candy corn and the long island sound that really don't help players actually improve at quizbowl. I think if NAQT is actually going to produce A-sets geared towards JV teams, they should make writers write almost exclusively on things that are worthwhile topics in quizbowl that a new team can use to learn basics, instead of making A sets just a dump for all the weird questions writers submit on "families" and the occasional inappropriately hard nonsense that gets thrown in to try and appease the good teams that go to play A sets, because both of those things make the ideal concept of an A set further from the actual product. And on that topic, because there is only so much someone can ask about high school basics, it seems to me in order to keep the sets kind of fresh they should be cut down by at least 1 A set per year.
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