2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
Post Reply
jinah
Lulu
Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2015 8:32 pm

2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by jinah »

This post is for general discussion of 2020 ACF Regionals; specific question discussion and errata will go in another thread.

First, thank you to everyone who made this set possible. In particular, thank you to Alex Damisch, ACF’s mirror coordinator, who was in charge of the massive logistical challenge of making sure ACF had accessible mirrors across three countries. An additional thanks to ACF’s officer board, who were incredibly helpful throughout the process, and to Will Nediger and Auroni Gupta, who provided invaluable guidance as Regionals Editor Emeritus.

This year’s Regionals editors were chosen through an open application, which helped diversity our editor pool and introduced me to several new, delightful collaborators. Subject-specific editors were:
Jordan Brownstein: American, British, and European Literature and Painting/Sculpture
Wonyoung Jang: World/Other Literature, Classical Music, and Popular Culture
Nitin Rao: History
Geoffrey Chen: Biology and Chemistry
Dennis Loo: Physics
Neil Vinjamuri: Other Science
Taylor Harvey: Other Fine Arts, Philosophy, and Social Science (minus Economics)
Nick Jensen: Religion, Mythology, and Geography
Myself: Econ and Current Events

Additionally, Billy Busse and Ophir provided valuable commentary and oversight, and Tejas Raje and Ryan Rosenberg contributed some great freelance questions and feedback. In addition, thanks are due to our host of playtesters, as well as to our proofreaders, Susan Ferrari, Eddie Kim, Jonathan Magin, and Olivia Murton, all of whom provided feedback above and beyond simple
proofreading. An additional thanks to Ophir, who provided advanced stats, online scoresheets, packetization, and proofreading support.

Finally, thank you to all the teams who submitted packets. This set would not have been possible without your contributions, and there were many creative and fun ideas that were submitted or sparked by submissions. If you enjoyed the process of writing, or seeing your questions get played, I hope you will consider continuing to do so on other projects — and maybe even submitting an application for a future ACF tournament.
JinAh Kim
University of Pennsylvania, '18

Here Comes Rusev Day
Lulu
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 12:22 pm
Location: Orlando, FL

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Here Comes Rusev Day »

I staffed this tournament at the University of Florida site and it seemed as though most players were fine with what they were hearing. I thought the set was good, and probably the absolute hardest Regionals should be without going into Nationals level. I was a very big fan of the “Other” subjects (mostly the Fine Arts and Science) and how they were asked, but also had some gripes with the CE (mostly it being one question that really felt like a “haha, figure it out” type tossup). My other criticism if I had one was that the hard parts of bonuses simply felt way too difficult too frequently (will there be a conversion by category sheet we can look at?), but I also understand we have to deal with the question of just how hard a hard part should be.

Thank you ACF Regionals team.
Zach Foster
North Myrtle Beach High School '09
George Mason University '13
University of Central Florida '15

User avatar
Judson Laipply
Rikku
Posts: 492
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 10:02 pm
Location: Bucyrus, Ohio

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Judson Laipply »

Astro (the only subject that I’m really qualified to give an opinion on) was really solid. Loads of real stuff early and answerlines that should be gettable by the end. One exception is the clue on abundance matching which isn’t strictly used for luminosity but it usually is so it’s not that bad.

In the other science categories and rest of the set there seemed to be a bit of a problem where “Good Ideas(TM)” had tossups written on them and once they were written it was apparent they weren’t good ideas yet they were still left in the set.

Difficulty seemed very high to me including several tossups that wouldn’t be out of place at Nats. But then again I was playing solo and having to buzz on categories I haven’t buzzed on in years.

Additionally, the bonus rollercoaster was wild. Especially in science there were easy 30s and nigh impossible 10s.
James L.
Kellenberg '10
UPenn '14
UChicago '20 (probably, who gives a fuck)

User avatar
vinteuil
Auron
Posts: 1451
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:31 pm

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by vinteuil »

I quite liked this set overall. There were numerous things I've been waiting to hear come up. Phrasing was clear, length was controlled, clues were interesting, and difficulty was pretty darn consistent. I admire the restraint taken with tossup answer difficulty.

I thought the mythology questions were very cool, touching on comparative religion, literature, ethnography, and other important topics. That said, they seemed inordinately and somewhat transparently difficult—"in a Tungusic myth" in the second sentence, nontrivial details of Bororo myth midway through a question.

I liked the music questions on the whole, although there were far too many strings of pitches, usually without rhythms and always without injunctions to [read slowly].
Jacob Reed (he/him/his)
Chicago ~'25 | Yale '19, '17 | East Chapel Hill '13
"...distant bayings from...the musicological mafia"―Denis Stevens

User avatar
naan/steak-holding toll
Auron
Posts: 2246
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:53 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

I'll echo the general sentiments that this set's individual questions were almost invariably interesting to listen to and displayed a lot of thoughtfulness on the part of the editors in attempting to represent a wide range of traditions, individual backgrounds, and approaches to subjects - nothing less than what we'd expect from a highly qualified editing crew drawn from both old and new faces. Like Jacob, I heard a lot of stuff I'd been waiting to hear come up and that was exciting. I'd also like to put forth that this tournament was very hard, even harder than the past few (challenging, but appropriately so) editions of the past few Regionals.

One thing I do think this set was a bit lacking on was "meat and potatoes" in many subject areas. For history and literature, I don't think this was a particularly big problem. Rather, I'd like to talk about the visual arts, myth/religion, and science, all of which were mechanically well-written and explored topics from a bunch of interesting angles, but which felt like they were trying to run away from the past canon a bit too aggressively. As a prolific writer I find this an understandable instinct, to not want to write questions similar to ones you've done before and to find a new angle on everything, because this really is what sets strong and interesting tournaments apart in many ways. The tournament was thus very interesting, but given the wider audience of Regionals I think having a lot of more "basic" tossups where you take a well-done answerline, find a couple new early clues, make them engaging to the audience, and put a solid pyramid together is important for two reasons:
  • Keeping some continuity from lower levels, such that the progression from Fall/EFT, to Regionals, to Nationals isn't as rough. Regionals should be a challenging qualifier for weaker teams and introduce them to new styles of questions and content, but I think there's a lot of value in keeping continuity on topics so these teams can see "what I've been working on for a while still pays off." Inventive answers that clue some of these topics later do that too, but they take a little bit more work to arrive at the correct answer sometimes, which weakens this aspect of continuity.
  • Controlling difficulty - it's naturally harder to do this when you venture into new territory, even when you're one of the most knowledgeable people about the subject. Haven't seen the data, but I would guess that stats on this Regionals continued the trend from the previous Regionals of having fairly late buzz points and a boatload of very challenging hard parts, and if anything were harder than any of the previous three sets.
With regards to the science in particular, our team was a bit frustrated that the chemistry and especially physics questions - at least the ones we heard - had a huge overabundance of applied / engineering type content relative to more basic or theoretical topics, i.e. classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, core E&M stuff, or field theories and general relativity. It's a submission tournament, so if that's what got submitted and the submissions were solid, then it doesn't make a lot of sense to throw good questions out, but we definitely thought more balance was in order, at least in the physics questions.

Unrelated, I thought the logistic, professional, and other "ancillary" aspects of this year's set were extremely well done. Reading welcome messages and openly inviting feedback is absolutely something that should be done, just as a small nudge to encourage more people to contribute and participate in the community. Thorough pronunciation guides were very welcome, as was the generally excellent communication on the part of ACF. Keep up the great work.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor
Permanently A Cancelled Eccentric (not-PACE)

User avatar
Smuttynose Island
Forums Staff: Moderator
Posts: 570
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:07 pm

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Smuttynose Island »

Will's post does an excellent job capturing all of my first impressions of this tournament. Individual questions were clearly written and technically sound, but also very challenging for a variety of reasons. I'm looking forward to the public release of advanced stats (which is a great program for Regionals to participate in) to see if these impressions are borne out by the data.

Logistics were fantastic. And, despite my own personal experience at the tournament, I am incredibly grateful that the PNW was able to hold its first mirror of ACF Regionals in at least a decade (and probably ever)!
Daniel Hothem
TJHSST '11 | UVA '15 | Oregon '??
"You are the stuff of legends" - Chris Manners
https://sites.google.com/site/academicc ... ubuva/home

User avatar
Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone
Wakka
Posts: 147
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:24 am

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone »

I'd like to echo what I think is the general consensus that this was a a good Regionals set, with generally around the right difficulty, and some good ideas. The logistics side of the tournament, from a player's perspective, was a seamless as any tournament I've played in.

I will be interested to see the conversion stats on a few bonus sets when those are available, because there were a few which felt that they tended towards E-E-H, but I think this is one of the areas where hard data is much more useful than feelings.
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Sun Jan 26, 2020 2:35 pm

One thing I do think this set was a bit lacking on was "meat and potatoes" in many subject areas. For history and literature, I don't think this was a particularly big problem. Rather, I'd like to talk about the visual arts, myth/religion, and science, all of which were mechanically well-written and explored topics from a bunch of interesting angles, but which felt like they were trying to run away from the past canon a bit too aggressively.
I think I would go further than Will and say, at least in the packets played in the UK, that the history felt lacking in the 'High Medieval' and 'Early Modern' periods, and conversely, (and to my team's benefit!), a much greater proportion of Classical/Late Antique history than is usual. (Pre-Classical also felt underrepresented). There were also packets with multiple Classical myth/religion/literature/history TUs which, although flattering to my statline, should, I believe, be avoided where possible.

Similarly, the VFA felt as if it lent much more towards the 20th century. It may be these distribution quibbles are an artefact of the packets we played - I'd be interested to know what others felt.
Oliver Clarke
King Edward's School, Birmingham '11
Oxford '16
St Andrews '18
Oxford '21

User avatar
5 Fingaz to the Male Gaze
Wakka
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:01 pm
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by 5 Fingaz to the Male Gaze »

Hey everybody! I wanted to thank everybody for playing the set and for giving such helpful feedback -- publicly or privately -- as well as elucidate my editing philosophies on my categories (which, as outlined above, were World/Other Literature, Classical Music, and Popular Culture). In general, I set out to draw from and include a diverse variety of content -- particularly those by and/or for women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community -- while maintaining an appropriate level of difficulty. At the risk of sounding too self-adulatory, I think I hit the mark for the most part, and the conversion stats seemed to support this (the PPBs were all on target in my categories). I do think that my efforts to achieve these two goals regrettably came at the expense of "core" canonical content -- I've thus taken a lot away from my experiences balancing these factors with this set that I'm excited to apply in markedly better ways in the future.

For the World/Other Literature, I fastidiously made sure to include as many countries and states that are housed under the umbrella of "World/Other" as I could while maintaining a balanced subdistribution for genre as well, which proved to be quite difficult. I made a particularly pointed effort to draw from post-colonial literature, as I believe that this is an area of World/Other Literature that is often underrepresented with respect to its canonical importance. I was wary of past criticisms on other sets for using too many "country answerlines" for literature, and I thus tried to balance the answerline types and justify the usage of common links whenever I did use them by tightly theming them (Japanese literature for "snow," Chinese drama, Argentinian poetry, etc.).

I think my efforts to include extracanonical representation of women and POC were particularly evident when it came to the Classical Music, which unfortunately did cause me to skimp on more canonical content -- again, my relative oversight in balancing "core" content with more novel content is probably one of my regrets with my work on the set. However, I also did make a concerted effort to draw from a wide variety of refreshing content in relatively accessible ways by, again, employing tightly-themed common links ("France" off of 20th century women composers, "angels" off of 20th century music, "E minor" off of cello concerti, and the bonus on landmark American women composers were some of my personal favorites). I hope that my inclusion of lesser-known content ultimately allowed players to walk away feeling fulfilled and challenged appropriately, even through the absence of more fundamentally canonical works.

I have a lot of thoughts on how quizbowl handles popular culture in general that I am not going to delve too deeply into here, especially considering that there was 5/5 total popular culture in this whole set. My main view is that, oftentimes, non-NAQT quizbowl popular culture is much too reflective of the popular culture interests of quizbowlers for obvious (and understandable) reasons. Perhaps even more obviously, however, the popular culture interests of quizbowlers are seldom reflective of what are actually the most relevant and consumed topics in popular culture for a more general audience. This bent particularly casts out popular culture that is created by or predominantly consumed by women (again, for obvious reasons). I set out to make use of the 5/5 I was given to draw from as many disparate aspects of popular culture as I could and avoid the homogeneity that the majority of quizbowl popular culture is prone to. From what I could tell, it seemed as if people were both challenged by and enjoyed the PC, but I especially welcome feedback about the PC in hopes of encouraging a more open and productive discourse about the way that quizbowl treats PC!

Again, thank y'all so much for playing the set. I'm especially grateful to JinAh for being a phenomenal head editor to work under, to Jordan and Taylor for working closely with me in adjacent categories, and to the playtesters and Ophir for some of the most valuable feedback I've received in my tenure as a quizbowl writer and editor. My DMs are always open for further conversation!
Wonyoung Jang
Belmont '18 // UChicago '22
ACF; NAQT

User avatar
Iain.Carpenter
Lulu
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:44 pm

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Iain.Carpenter »

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Sun Jan 26, 2020 2:35 pm
With regards to the science in particular, our team was a bit frustrated that the chemistry and especially physics questions - at least the ones we heard - had a huge overabundance of applied / engineering type content relative to more basic or theoretical topics, i.e. classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, core E&M stuff, or field theories and general relativity. It's a submission tournament, so if that's what got submitted and the submissions were solid, then it doesn't make a lot of sense to throw good questions out, but we definitely thought more balance was in order, at least in the physics questions.
I would definitely like to echo this sentiment; I found the physics to mostly be fun, but it really, really skewed to experimental/applied physics which I found particularly disheartening (though I’m probably biased because I intend to pursue theoretical physics). For example, I found it fairly egregious to never mention the Hamiltonian despite it being the most important quantity in all of physics (though we only played 14/16 of the packets, and we might’ve picked things up before it was mentioned to be fair) while tossing up things like the EPR paradox (which, while important historically, has never been mentioned in the 3 quantum mechanics classes I’ve taken. Additionally, EPR is mentioned in just 2 pages of Griffith’s QM while the Hamiltonian is talked about in nearly every chapter). I understand that due to packet submission things might’ve just been submitted as all applied stuff, but neglecting to have any theoretical physics in 16 packets doesn’t feel right to me. This gripe can be extended to the limited amounts of EM (e.g. never mentioning scalar/vector potentials) and Classical Mechanics (e.g. never mentioning momentum) that appeared in the set as well. So, as fun as I found this set, the lack of theory did really strike a chord with me.

In the same vein, the math appeared to avoid abstract algebra (unless the roots tu was intended to be abstract algebra) while more niche things like graph theory came up twice, which seems like another oversight. For reference, at UIUC to graduate with a math degree we have to take 3 courses about abstract algebra while graph theory is never required and if you go to any math department, you will almost certainly find a whole lot more algebraists than graph theorists; so to avoid algebra almost entirely also feels wrong to me.

Overall, I will say the science was really fun and it seemed to reward real knowledge in the sense you could “figure things out” if you understood the right concepts which is a mark of a very good editor imo. Moreover, echoing what people have said above, thanks to everyone who worked on this set for being super organized; it really helped the tournament run smoothly and it was much appreciated by us.
Iain Carpenter
Mahomet-Seymour High School (2013-2017)
UIUC (2017-2021)

User avatar
Zealots of Stockholm
Rikku
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:28 am
Location: Auburn, AL

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Zealots of Stockholm »

I'll probably have more to say later, but a lot of the hard parts in this set felt incredibly hard, and there were a few outlier answerlines that felt way too hard, such as a tu on authors with the surname Tate. I did want to single out the Grapes of Wrath bonus, which would not have been out of place in a harder high school set and felt much too easy for this tournament.
Chandler West
Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University '22
Auburn University '20
Good Hope High School (Cullman, AL) '16
Member, PACE

scorrevole
Lulu
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:08 pm

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by scorrevole »

I noticed and am appreciative of the great inclusion of female composers in the music distribution - C Schumann, F Mendelssohn, L Boulanger, and Price all came up in questions without sacrificing conversion ability, which was honestly really cool to see. That said, I completely agree with there being far too many score clues. I would also echo others' complaints about having too much engineering content, and also noticed too much poetry in some of the packets.
edit: Wanted to add on that long fiction was definitely underrepresented.
Last edited by scorrevole on Sun Jan 26, 2020 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Michael Yue
TJHSST '16
Harvard '20

User avatar
Zealots of Stockholm
Rikku
Posts: 472
Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:28 am
Location: Auburn, AL

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Zealots of Stockholm »

Another thing I noticed was that in the first three or four rounds we played, there was a very high amount of poetry, certainly more than 1/1, and a lack of long fiction. I'm not sure if it balanced out over the course of the tournament. I distinctly remember one round's tossups being 1 short fic, 1 drama, and 2 poetry.
Chandler West
Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University '22
Auburn University '20
Good Hope High School (Cullman, AL) '16
Member, PACE

User avatar
TaylorH
Lulu
Posts: 98
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:31 pm

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by TaylorH »

I edited the philosophy, social science, and other fine arts, and I hope everyone enjoyed my approach to these categories. I think I tried some somewhat novel things with distributions in this 3/3. For example, I reserved 4/4 of the 16/16 in social science for "Sociology and Other Soft Thought," which allowed space for question like the fertility TU, the sexual consent bonus, and the museums TU that would not quite fit in the somewhat narrowly-defined established sub-categories.

In social science and philosophy, I tried to stray away from the "great thinker/great work" tradition in answerlines as much as possible. As a player, I love being tested on my knowledge of interesting and important ideas from intellectual history rather than bibliographic minutia, so I tried to reflect this in the questions I worked on. I also tried to emphasize the interconnected nature of the areas of thought I covered: some of the thought questions had shades of theology, lit crit, or historical context clues thrown in. I hope this allowed players to approach the (sometimes intimidating) thought questions from unique knowledge pools. There were certainly some topics I would have liked to include (Islamic and South Asian philosophy come to mind) but I think overall the breadth of topics was good.

Similarly with the other fine arts, many questions tended to blur the line between traditional Fine Arts domains and more accessible, pop culture-tinged areas. I am thinking of the questions on Hans Zimmer, drag makeup, Indian fashion, dance traditions through the lens of Joker, tape music, guitar in African music, and miming. Hopefully players enjoyed this approach to the other fine arts, and the sub-distribution, which I partially based on a Quizpolling Purposes poll from a while back.

I want to thank all the players for playing the set, writing questions, and all the feedback you've given so far. There were lots of good submissions I was able to use and sadly many I was not due to overlap and distributional issues. I also want to thank JinAh for being a great head editor, and all my co-editors, especially Wonyoung, Jordan, and Nick. I also want to thank Ophir for improving the linguistics questions and his amazing logistical work.

Please DM, email, FB message, or Discord message me if you have thoughts on these areas.
Taylor Harvey
University of Florida Quiz Bowl
UF B.S. Nuclear Engineering '17
UF PhD Nuclear Engineering '21

Here Comes Rusev Day
Lulu
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 12:22 pm
Location: Orlando, FL

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Here Comes Rusev Day »

Thiccasso's Guernthicca wrote:
Sun Jan 26, 2020 5:05 pm
I have a lot of thoughts on how quizbowl handles popular culture in general that I am not going to delve too deeply into here, especially considering that there was 5/5 total popular culture in this whole set. My main view is that, oftentimes, non-NAQT quizbowl popular culture is much too reflective of the popular culture interests of quizbowlers for obvious (and understandable) reasons. Perhaps even more obviously, however, the popular culture interests of quizbowlers are seldom reflective of what are actually the most relevant and consumed topics in popular culture for a more general audience. This bent particularly casts out popular culture that is created by or predominantly consumed by women (again, for obvious reasons). I set out to make use of the 5/5 I was given to draw from as many disparate aspects of popular culture as I could and avoid the homogeneity that the majority of quizbowl popular culture is prone to. From what I could tell, it seemed as if people were both challenged by and enjoyed the PC, but I especially welcome feedback about the PC in hopes of encouraging a more open and productive discourse about the way that quizbowl treats PC!
I will add on to what Wonyoung brings up here, because it shouldn't be overlooked (No matter how small the distribution, it's still worth a discussion to constantly improve, and there are definitely quizbowlers who play these tournaments looking forward to the 1 popular culture question they will hear every 3 rounds!). The Murphy Brown bonus as well as the WNBA bonus was a pleasure to see, and definitely strives away from the typical name this indie rock band or meme rapper that a player that edited this set likes. It was very obvious you accomplished the goal of including more widely consumed popular culture, and this should continue in future sets with even more topic exploration, meaning nobody should be dissuaded from submitting a tossup or bonus on rugby sevens or casual dining chains (just as an example).
Zach Foster
North Myrtle Beach High School '09
George Mason University '13
University of Central Florida '15

ArnavS
Lulu
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:57 pm

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by ArnavS »

I was really impressed by how gettable a lot of the more arcane content seemed to be. There were many questions I was reading where I was thinking "this is 100% going dead/zeroed," but the specialists snapped it up.

The math also had a nice selection (analysis, algebra, topology, diffEq, computation, probably a few others that I'm forgetting...), and I remember being pleased with the economics as well.

Edit: Added the Zariski topology question.
"We're not going to pay you to come to our tournaments" --- Paul Kasiński
NYU, 2014-2018
University of British Columbia, 2018-Present

User avatar
Sam
Rikku
Posts: 293
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 2:35 am

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Sam »

Thanks to the editors for this tournament. I agree with Jacob Reed on the difficulty; I thought it was very well managed. There were a few instances where a healthy chunk of the question was really hard, and the difficulty was "saved" by the answer line being the type of thing that most people could answer at the end. I'm thinking of the question on Lear and some of the common link myth questions here. In general, though, very on track.

There were several instances where on a "description acceptable" type tossup, the moderator had to pause for multiple seconds to figure out whether the person should be prompted/marked correct/marked incorrect. Some of the answer lines were apparently quite long. A "too long" answer line is better than a "too short" one, but it should maybe lead to reflection on the answer line. In most cases, if something along the lines of
ANSWER: _main answer_ [or _alternative answer_; or obvious equivalents; do NOT accept "similar looking thing that's actually quite different"]
is not sufficient for the random intelligent, English literate moderator to figure out whether someone is right or wrong, then it's likely players will also have a hard time of figuring out what's going on.
Sam Bailey
Minnesota 'xx
Chicago '13

User avatar
Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock
Wakka
Posts: 146
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:09 pm

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock »

I would agree with what Will said regarding the lack of "meat and potatoes" content in certain categories. I definitely noticed this in the visual arts, and while I wouldn't say it significantly impacted my personal enjoyment of the category (except for getting my brilliant plan to write something about Valie Export scooped, haha), I can see how such shifts towards breaking new ground in the canon would throw off others. My teammates, all scientists, made similar comments regarding how they felt that the science got extremely finely-detailed and didn't seem to have much in common with what we've read and discussed in past practices. Granted, this was their first tournament experience at this difficulty level, but I definitely observed some good knowledge from them on the day, and nonetheless I think their observations should hold some weight if the goal is for Regionals to be accessible to wide audiences.

As for the rest of my categories, I thought the US and British history was generally pretty good. The Bible content seemed to rely very heavily on specific verses without much context for them, as I believe others have noted. It didn't seem to me like there were many typos or issues with the packets based on the mods' experiences with them, and the active soliciting of feedback is much appreciated.

Overall, I think this set skewed a fair bit to the hard side, and as such I look forward to perusing the full stats to see if any of my conclusions are actually borne out by them.
Ryan Bilger
Emmaus '15, Gettysburg '19, West Virginia '21

"I never saved anything for the swim back." - Vincent Freeman, Gattaca

jinah
Lulu
Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2015 8:32 pm

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by jinah »

Sam wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 1:21 am
Thanks to the editors for this tournament. I agree with Jacob Reed on the difficulty; I thought it was very well managed. There were a few instances where a healthy chunk of the question was really hard, and the difficulty was "saved" by the answer line being the type of thing that most people could answer at the end. I'm thinking of the question on Lear and some of the common link myth questions here. In general, though, very on track.

There were several instances where on a "description acceptable" type tossup, the moderator had to pause for multiple seconds to figure out whether the person should be prompted/marked correct/marked incorrect. Some of the answer lines were apparently quite long. A "too long" answer line is better than a "too short" one, but it should maybe lead to reflection on the answer line. In most cases, if something along the lines of
ANSWER: _main answer_ [or _alternative answer_; or obvious equivalents; do NOT accept "similar looking thing that's actually quite different"]
is not sufficient for the random intelligent, English literate moderator to figure out whether someone is right or wrong, then it's likely players will also have a hard time of figuring out what's going on.
These are excellent points, and very fair. I generally agree many answerlines could have been shorter, but I do think there are some cases, especially for more technical questions like the tossup on growing bacteria, where a complex answerline tests interesting information and a more fleshed-out answerline is needed because moderators aren’t familiar with what does and doesn’t count as an “obvious equivalent.” I have also, in my life, seen cases where players are negged on a synonym that seems obvious to the editor, but not to the moderator — e.g I believe a player was ruled incorrect for saying “Mr. Bovary,” when the answerline accepted “M. Bovary,” or the French equivalent. It’s a difficult balance to strike, and I don’t think always striving for simple answerlines is always the best bet (though this set definitely had some overly complex ones).

Unrelated to Sam: When considering difficulty, please keep in mind that Regionals is a qualifying tournament for ACF Nationals. While we were glad to see the breadth of teams that signed up to play, one of our primary goals was to effectively distinguish between teams within the ~30th and 40th percentiles. For that reason, statistics will likely differ from regular-difficulty tournaments like EFT, and the question content asked was also much harder in many areas. That said, hopefully the bulk of questions remained accessible to most teams in terms of late clues and easy/some middle parts.

Edit: Also not inspired by Ryan, who I saw also posted about difficulty just now.

Edit 2: This isn’t to say that I think claims about the difficulty are invalid — it was a hard set and some areas overshot, including most of my own questions. We had an exceptionally strong playtester corps, which additionally may have distorted our perception of the difficulty somewhat (though many questions were made easier after playtesting). For that reason, I’d encourage people of all skill levels to volunteer to playtest sets that you won’t be able to play, if you’re interested in them — sets need feedback from people of various skill levels and backgrounds to be successful, not just elite players as is so often the case.
JinAh Kim
University of Pennsylvania, '18

User avatar
Mike Bentley
Sin
Posts: 6028
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:03 pm
Location: Bellevue, WA
Contact:

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

jinah wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:38 am
Unrelated to Sam: When considering difficulty, please keep in mind that Regionals is a qualifying tournament for ACF Nationals. While we were glad to see the breadth of teams that signed up to play, one of our primary goals was to effectively distinguish between teams within the ~30th and 40th percentiles. For that reason, statistics will likely differ from regular-difficulty tournaments like EFT, and the question content asked was also much harder in many areas. That said, hopefully the bulk of questions remained accessible to most teams in terms of late clues and easy/some middle parts.
I can certainly see the argument that ranking the top 10 teams in the tournament would be harder on an EFT-like difficulty, but it's a little less clear to me that this is the case for teams in the 30th position.

I'd also offer the general advice that playtesters will almost always be better than most teams at your tournament (especially if done in an online mirror of a closed set). Editors should be very reluctant to use playtest feedback to make questions harder. Especially because it's much more likely that a set overshoots its difficulty than undershoots it (I certainly do this all the time). This isn't a hard and fast rule--sometimes a playtest session can be great for finding an out-of-place clue. But I'd encourage any editor to ask themselves a couple of times whether feedback on whether some clue/answer line is too easy really is valid before changing it.
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
Mike Bentley
Sin
Posts: 6028
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:03 pm
Location: Bellevue, WA
Contact:

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Mike Bentley wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 12:48 pm
jinah wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:38 am
Unrelated to Sam: When considering difficulty, please keep in mind that Regionals is a qualifying tournament for ACF Nationals. While we were glad to see the breadth of teams that signed up to play, one of our primary goals was to effectively distinguish between teams within the ~30th and 40th percentiles. For that reason, statistics will likely differ from regular-difficulty tournaments like EFT, and the question content asked was also much harder in many areas. That said, hopefully the bulk of questions remained accessible to most teams in terms of late clues and easy/some middle parts.
I can certainly see the argument that ranking the top 10 teams in the tournament would be harder on an EFT-like difficulty, but it's a little less clear to me that this is the case for teams in the 30th position.

I'd also offer the general advice that playtesters will almost always be better than most teams at your tournament (especially if done in an online mirror of a closed set). Editors should be very reluctant to use playtest feedback to make questions harder. Especially because it's much more likely that a set overshoots its difficulty than undershoots it (I certainly do this all the time). This isn't a hard and fast rule--sometimes a playtest session can be great for finding an out-of-place clue. But I'd encourage any editor to ask themselves a couple of times whether feedback on whether some clue/answer line is too easy really is valid before changing it.
Another, perhaps more important, version of this is recognizing when your questions are proving challenging for your better-than-average playtesting field but you're not directly hearing from playtesters "that was too hard." If only a few people are contributing answers to the middle parts, if you have an expert in the subject not buzzing until the middle of the tossup, etc., that could be a sign that you've overshot the difficulty. Of course, this is complicated by times when playtesters aren't paying attention. If you're a playtester, you can really help the editor out by giving a lot of feedback and letting them know when you're away from the keyboard.

And to be clear, this is general playtesting advice. I wasn't at the ACF Regionals playtesting sessions so cannot comment on them.
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
warum
Lulu
Posts: 44
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:18 am

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by warum »

My completely subjective impression is that, compared to 2019 Regionals, the 2020 tossups were equal in difficulty while being more engagingly written/fun to play. The bonuses seemed slightly harder than last year.
Natan Holtzman
Stanford ~2023, UNC 2016, Enloe 2012

jinah
Lulu
Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2015 8:32 pm

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by jinah »

Packets are now available on the archive. The zip file contains Word documents of each packet.
JinAh Kim
University of Pennsylvania, '18

User avatar
Jem Casey
Wakka
Posts: 121
Joined: Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:15 pm
Location: New Hampshire

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Jem Casey »

If you'd like feedback on your literature or painting/sculpture submissions, feel free to reach out to me via private message, Discord dm, FB Messenger, or by email at "[my first name]z[my last name]@gmail.com"
Jordan Brownstein

hokie168
Lulu
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:20 pm

Re: 2020 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by hokie168 »

I edited physics. Initial playtesting suggested the tossups were too easy, so for most of them, I removed a sentence of easy clues and put in a tough opening sentence. Hopefully, people found the first half of the tossups sufficiently challenging.

There was indeed a lot of applied stuff- we had many good submissions that were more applied than theoretical. I did want to introduce more applied than usual, but probably went a bit too far and I apologize for that. To get more "core" material in, I wrote some extra classical mechanics and E&M questions and intentionally made sure the editors' packets contained a mechanics and E&M tossup so they'd come up in any potential finals games.
Dennis Loo
Former coach at TJ and IMSA
Former player at UVA and Virginia Tech

Post Reply