Finding a consensus on good quizbowl

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Post by jrbarry »

I followed the national poll when we attempted one here and I voted in it. But it is very difficult to build a construct to rate teams across the nation when there is so little agreement on even what good quiz bowl is. That is the same reason I no longer subscribe to any national tournament determining a true ranking of academic teams either.

Do not get me wrong. I support national tournaments with my time and our team's money and efforts and will continue to do so. They are great fun and I enjoy seeing great teams from all over competing against one another. But I have yet to attend any national tournament anywhere that I am convinced determined BEYOND ANY DOUBT IN MY MIND who is the best academic team over the preceding season. Those tournaments determined who was the best academic team at that event, under the rules, procedures, and questions utilized in that event.

I have no problem calling whoever wins NAQT Nationals a national champion. But I do not see that tournament as the best system possible for determining a national champion in academic team competition. Maybe the best available, but not the best possible.
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Post by quizbowllee »

jrbarry wrote:I followed the national poll when we attempted one here and I voted in it. But it is very difficult to build a construct to rate teams across the nation when there is so little agreement on even what good quiz bowl is. That is the same reason I no longer subscribe to any national tournament determining a true ranking of academic teams either.

Do not get me wrong. I support national tournaments with my time and our team's money and efforts and will continue to do so. They are great fun and I enjoy seeing great teams from all over competing against one another. But I have yet to attend any national tournament anywhere that I am convinced determined BEYOND ANY DOUBT IN MY MIND who is the best academic team over the preceding season. Those tournaments determined who was the best academic team at that event, under the rules, procedures, and questions utilized in that event.

I have no problem calling whoever wins NAQT Nationals a national champion. But I do not see that tournament as the best system possible for determining a national champion in academic team competition. Maybe the best available, but not the best possible.
TJ 2005 still left a doubt in your mind?
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Post by First Chairman »

charlieDfromNKC wrote:My question with Illinois teams is that they generally play on a totally different distribution than you find in NAQT (lots more math and science, I think). What I'm saying is, does the ability of a team on its own state format correlate to its ability on NAQT or PACE? The same can be asked for just about every state championship.
Charlie,

Illinois has done very well on Panasonic format the last few years, probably because the math/sci distribution is also relatively higher than NAQT or PACE's formats. That said, of course, the Panasonic format is ... well, Panasonic format.
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Post by The Time Keeper »

quizbowllee wrote:
jrbarry wrote:I followed the national poll when we attempted one here and I voted in it. But it is very difficult to build a construct to rate teams across the nation when there is so little agreement on even what good quiz bowl is. That is the same reason I no longer subscribe to any national tournament determining a true ranking of academic teams either.

Do not get me wrong. I support national tournaments with my time and our team's money and efforts and will continue to do so. They are great fun and I enjoy seeing great teams from all over competing against one another. But I have yet to attend any national tournament anywhere that I am convinced determined BEYOND ANY DOUBT IN MY MIND who is the best academic team over the preceding season. Those tournaments determined who was the best academic team at that event, under the rules, procedures, and questions utilized in that event.

I have no problem calling whoever wins NAQT Nationals a national champion. But I do not see that tournament as the best system possible for determining a national champion in academic team competition. Maybe the best available, but not the best possible.
TJ 2005 still left a doubt in your mind?
Well to be fair, it's not like they did anything at NAQT and PACE other than demolish the vast majority of records on those formats (with a three-man team for the PACE prelims no less) and consistently beat the other best teams in the nation by ridiculous margins on some of the best questions, particularly PACE's, that HSQB ever sees. Not to mention the successes they had throughout that season, often with incomplete teams.

I mean, they didn't attend and win noted tournaments with terrible questions and formats ASCN (does this still exist?) and NAC, so we can't really be sure that they'd have been the best team at tournaments that no one cares about.

And lets not even get into comparing them against teams from earlier years, because we all know that being great at real questions and being great at superficial one-line garbage is equally impressive because of REASONS and THINGS/STUFF. Some people think recent PACE sets constitute great quizbowl questions and some people think that ASCN questions from 1986 are great quizbowl questions. And as we all know, when people have two opposing viewpoints they must both be equally correct!

I know (hope?) that no one really thinks that questions such as "Who wrote (x)?" or "Give the name and regnal number of the king/pope who (x)" are good or even acceptable anymore. Patrick's Press and Knowledge Master type questions were way more prevalent back in the day and I cannot accept that a team that was dominant on those questions is nearly as good as a team dominant on modern questions. I know it's unfair to write-off many of the powerhouses of the late 80s and early-mid 90s just because they never got a chance to play real questions on a national level (and from what I've seen of various sets from those eras, most of the "good" tournaments didn't have very good questions either), but barring time travel there's no way to directly compare them to the modern greats. I have no choice but to err on the side of the team that wins games on real questions everytime. Using a combination of 90% looking over stats from tournaments over the last eight or nine years and 10% common sense and knowledge of what constitutes good quizbowl, I can come to no conclusion other than that TJ 2005 was quite easily the best high school quizbowl team ever assembled, let alone the clear best team in 2005.

The simple fact is that the teams that do well at PACE and NAQT are better than the teams who do well only at Chip or various bizarre local formats. Given that deep, pyramidal questions and standardized formats are becoming more and more common across the country, most of the good teams in the country travel and play against each other regularly, and that teams in different regions often play on the same sets (such as NAQT IS questions, which are decent for determining differences in hsqb skill, if not the best possible questions for separating the top few teams), I don't think it would be too hard to come up with a fairly solid idea of who the best teams seem to be and where they should generally be ranked in relation to one another.

Perhaps if one team wins NAQT HSCT and another wins PACE we can't always determine which is superior to the other, but any good team is going to play enough tournaments to generate a lot of information and statistics which can be used to compare them against other teams. It might be difficult to crown an absolute national champion every year, but I don't think it'd be hard to reach a general consensus as to who the best ten or so teams are by the end of the year.
jrbarry (emphasis mine) wrote:But it is very difficult to build a construct to rate teams across the nation when there is so little agreement on even what good quiz bowl is.
I really don't think this is true at all. From my experience on this board I feel that most people familiar with high school quizbowl on a national level can tell the difference between good quizbowl and bad quizbowl. I'd like to hear what others think about this in case I'm way off here.

Will there ever be some mathematical formula to determine an absolute top 20? Of course not. Could a panel of objective people with access to stats from tournaments across the country reach a generally agreed upon ranking of teams? Easily.

Sure there may never be the One Great Tournament whose results are indisputable proof of exactly how good each team is, but I think PACE NSC and NAQT HSCT are the closest things we can hope for.
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Post by jrbarry »

1. People in the SE have been playing with pyramidal tossups since the 1980s. Nothing new there. Some people prefer shorter questions and have used them for decades. Not my cup of tea, but I am not ready to denigrate those people like too many on this website do all too often. IF anyone thinks there is some kind of consensus of what constitutes good quiz bowl even in a subcategory like questions, they are simply not looking at the facts. No consensus on what constitutes good quiz bowl exists at least not on a national scale.

2. I like this site which is why I check it periodically. It allows me to keep up with what is going on in quiz bowl in places outside of my region. But, most quiz bowl people do not post or read this site. Determining what a consensus is on good quiz bowl using samples from this site leaves out way too many people who are doing quiz bowl all over the country. It may be the consensus of those of us who read/post here often that NAQT-style, pyramidal tossup questions are the best. But that consensus does not reflect a large segment of the quiz bowl community at all. We may want to look down our collective noses at those people and suggest they are ignorant of quiz bowl on the national scene or whatever. I prefer a less offensive approach.

It is nice to have a frank discussion of quiz bowl with people who care about the activity.[/quote]
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Post by First Chairman »

I don't wish to be a historian. Rick's certainly been in the circuit longer than I or most people on the board. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to dissent, but I do think that while I know we should never feign a sense of being nationally representative of all of quiz bowl, I also think we should not discount the fact we have a critical mass of people who do discuss quiz bowl, and many of us I think are very much involved with making the game better.

Sure, we don't have :chip: posting on the board on a regular basis, nor do we tend to have people who love his questions. The chief question-writers of KMO don't make an appearance on this board. Neither do the writers of High School Bowl (TM). We have a handful of people who are very much involved at the state quiz bowl level who post and interact here, and we hope to have more people and more states represented.

But while a good majority of people in quiz bowl do not read this bulletin board, this does not mean that this board is not qualified to discuss what could constitute valid improvements in the game. Is there a reason why those people do not discover this bulletin board? Maybe they just don't know there is such a community that exists. Maybe their own local perspective view of what constitutes quiz bowl as they know it is strikingly different to what we discuss here that there is a lack of a relationship. I don't know what can be done to ameliorate it; I'm sure slowly but surely (with Facebook groups and additional students seeking networking) we'll get more people to notice this board or our group.

That said, I do sometimes worry about the argument that Rick presents: that somehow we can never come to a consensus of what could be "good quiz bowl." The fact is that with every activity, there are usually people who are at the "cutting edge" or the "lead group" who help to guide the activity along. I know I can bring up the social activity world of salsa dancing because a vast majority of people who participate in it don't want to read up on every message board about salsa dancing. (I know I can't.)

But there is no syllabus (unlike ballroom) to provide a standard on "good" versus "not good" salsa. But the people at the cutting edge: the people who clearly discuss technique, new innovations, and teaching methodology are the ones who set the standards because they have thought about how to make salsa more attractive, more entertaining, more challenging. (Same thing with X-games events, but I really know even less about that.) One can argue that these salseros and salseras don't truly represent everyone who dances salsa (where are the Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire instructors' voices in that conversation?), but that does not mean that their advances or even their championship events are any less valid than others.

So I disagree that it's impossible. It may be impossible to be a truly "democratic society" when it comes to any specific activity. But we are open to participation among those who want their perspectives to be heard, as long as it is clear that we will discuss these topics thoroughly. Democratic does not always mean "best": just because more people believe that evolution is not valid scientific theory doesn't mean that all of those people are necessarily the standard-bearers for biology education. If one has issues with the direction of the game, every dissenter has opportunity to voice his/her opinion for consideration. But the experts here when it comes to question-writing, tournament-directing, and competing should not have their perspective summarily rejected just because others who have much less experience do not have their opinions heard here.

Besides, a handful of us don't exclusively write pyramidal format, yet we do have our standards of what would be improvements even in quick-recall single-sentence questions. Sure, those of us who are pyramidally inclined should not be so haughty when it comes to dealing with others who do not agree with our opinions, so far as those who do not agree with our opinions can also exhibit similar open-mindedness and consideration of other perspectives.

But back to the salsa analogy. Yes, the experts would ridicule people who don't make the effort to see what "good salsa" looks like outside their own world (like me). New York salsa is totally different from Miami salsa and Los Angeles salsa (or London or Havana or Toronto...), but someone who does not make the effort to understand what those differences are stylistically will fail to have a position in any debate of what constitutes "good salsa". Do these detractors attend the salsa "congresses" at New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, etc.? If they don't, they won't see the best dancers innovate and thus won't understand where salsa dancing is really progressing as an artform or a dance.

So the analogy to that comes to this case: if we don't see these dissenters actively in the quiz bowl circuit at regional events or national events on a regular basis, they risk speaking foolishly to those of us who are actively involved with those events. (This argument also works in the converse situation too: we national-minded folks must also be sensitive to how local qb is played.) We want to increase participation, and through that, raise the quality of play. More often, the reason why quality does not improve is that the people who run the events are not really given a chance to evaluate their own programs against the national standards. Sometimes that evaluation doesn't matter (it's TV/entertainment), but not always.

This bulletin board acts as an equivalent to a virtual conference of minds who are interested in making quiz bowl more rewarding and fun for the students. Those who do not participate in this conversation risk being satisfied in their isolation and comfort with the game as they know it locally. Whether they should be happy in their own worlds and remain blissfully ignorant of this community... that's up to them. But I think many people who have discovered this community recognize how much improvement there can be locally (and how hard bringing such improvements could be).

Yes, the vast majority of participants in quiz bowl (or most activities) are casual. But it doesn't mean that the person who runs 40 yards in 20 seconds has an equal voice in telling a marathon-runner how to train or compete as an Olympic medalist does.
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Post by Captain Sinico »

See, this is all well and good until you realize that there are characteristics that make quizbowl good or bad independent of peoples' opinion of it. The simple fact is that some forms of the game are significantly less likely to reward knowledge and skill than others. For example, quizbowl played on questions that contain hoses penalizes people both for buzzing sooner and for knowing more.
Quizbowl that is bad by that standard must either be bad quizbowl in the view of someone, or that person doesn't actually have a standard for quizbowl as such. They may still claim to prefer that form of the game, but this can only be due to error (they may not know other forms exist, for example) or faulty criteria (they may prefer bad quizbowl because it gives their team the best chance to win or because that's what they're used to, but they're making a judgment about something about themselves rather than about quizbowl itself in that case.)
In short, the appeal to the (incidentally unverified) fact that no consensus regarding the nature of good quizbowl in no way defeats the fact that certain forms of quizbowl are more likely to reward knowledge and skill than others and that those forms must be better or there's no point in anyone playing, ever.

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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

E.T. Chuck wrote:Is there a reason why those people do not discover this bulletin board? Maybe they just don't know there is such a community that exists. Maybe their own local perspective view of what constitutes quiz bowl as they know it is strikingly different to what we discuss here that there is a lack of a relationship. I don't know what can be done to ameliorate it; I'm sure slowly but surely (with Facebook groups and additional students seeking networking) we'll get more people to notice this board or our group.
This is the truth. Just for the Missouri state forum I've posted comments on quizbowlers blogs and I've spent all kinds of money and time making copies and cutting up little slips of paper to hand out at Missouri tournaments. Sure, a lot of the kids don't pay attention, but there have also been quite a few who join once i tell them about it. My conclusion is that "there is the interest out there for this stuff, but people just don't know enough about it yet." I think if more people that use the board were to advertise this and other websites at the tournaments they attend, there could be an increase in interested users.
Of course, half of the people will look at you and say "what a loser, he's that obsessed with quizbowl"
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Post by First Chairman »

It's hard to characterize the detractors' positions without actually having them post and represent themselves. Again, there's no reason from our standpoint to dissuade people from posting here once you get over the bot filters. We can discuss the digital generational divide later.

But I think the following points (reading through the Illinois and Missouri threads) are being made by those who differ in their opinions. Some of these points have merit, and some of them don't, but I hope I can objectively characterize them here.

1. The questions are too long. Pyramidal style or not, it's hard to focus on what the answer is after a certain point. To agree: Jeopardy and other TV shows' clues probably can be read within 5-7 seconds, which is the ideal attention span for most people. To disagree: there is a limit for the number of substantive clues that can be contained in just one sentence, and additional sentences must be included to incorporate more in-depth knowledge.

2. The questions are too hard. The material you choose is more in the college-prep or more advanced curriculum than our students are able to assimilate at that point in their educational careers. (To agree: it is difficult for non-senior players to master the curriculum when they have yet to take British literature [as an example] or upper-level math. To disagree: the content is college-prep, and we are hopeful that our participants have higher education as part of their career goals.)

3. The distribution is arbitrary. Argue about how much math, geography, history, social science should be included... There should either be more math tossups, or math tossups should go the way of spelling questions. Discussion of pop culture in high school quiz bowl goes here.

4. The structure of the game should be [this way]. Examples: reboundable bonuses, power tossups, timed rounds, worksheet parts, four-quarters versus toss/bonus. This is probably where Rick is harping on more than any of the other points, if I represent his points properly.

5. My "casual" team wants to beat the "national" team. Agree: encourage more events and experimental formats. Disagreeable position: the rules should be set up to make this outcome at least possible. Rules as defined as the game structure, restrictions on travel or participation in national events including camps, etc.

6. Autonomy of students. Agree: developing leadership skills, financial skills, and interpersonal skills are extremely important for developing our young kids for a successful future in college and beyond (as an admissions officer I know these things :grin: ). It even helps lift a lot of work burdens from the coach. Disagree: teenagers must have adult supervision because they are under 18, and the law dictates this.

I'm sure there are a few others but these are the common categories that I see.

But as Sorice mentions: outside of these points, I think there is common consensus for a "moral law of quiz bowl." We should be rewarding knowledge and encouraging students in a joyous pursuit to acquire more. Hoses are bad, and in general, rewarding students for knowing more in-depth information is better than buzzer races which are more "luck of the draw"/random. Tournament formats should strive to reward good teams while giving those teams with reasonable chance to win a fair shake. Individual buzzing and team consulting rounds work better than 7 multiple-choice tests, an essay, a speech, an interview, and a public relay round (Decathlon, which I also participate). And this game under ideal conditions is fun to play and fun to watch.
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Post by Howard »

I'm all for rewarding knowledge and skill, whatever skill that might be.

What about thought and the ability to think quickly? I think these are skills important in quizbowl, but much of this community doesn't seem to acknowledge that. I give Mr. (Dr.?) Barry credit for acknowledging that it's possible to have different theories regarding quiz bowl and that having one belief doesn't necessarily dictate that someone else's belief is inferior.

I'd pretty much given up on trying to discussing my opinion until this thread came along. Mostly, I was tired of exactly what Mr. Barry describes-- people acting like their quiz bowl philosophies are superior.

This is an example:
ImmaculateDeception wrote:...there are characteristics that make quizbowl good or bad independent of peoples' opinion of it.
.
First, this is just not sound logic. "Good" and "bad" are always opinion. Second, it makes the implication that a certain subset of what Sorice thinks is good or bad is not open to interpretation by others. I'll concede that I share several of Sorice's opinions, but I think we're kidding ourselves if we think some people won't see this as attempting to devalue their opinions.
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Post by The Time Keeper »

Howard wrote: Mostly, I was tired of exactly what Mr. Barry describes-- people acting like their quiz bowl philosophies are superior.

This is an example:
ImmaculateDeception wrote:...there are characteristics that make quizbowl good or bad independent of peoples' opinion of it.
.
First, this is just not sound logic. "Good" and "bad" are always opinion. Second, it makes the implication that a certain subset of what Sorice thinks is good or bad is not open to interpretation by others. I'll concede that I share several of Sorice's opinions, but I think we're kidding ourselves if we think some people won't see this as attempting to devalue their opinions.
So because there are no absolutes when it comes to anything, we can't acknowledge any style or format as being better than others even if it's generally agreed upon by most people who are familiar with the styles or formats being discussed? If one hundred people think a quizbowl game should consist of, say, 20 tossup/bonus sets and three people think that a quizbowl game should consist entirely of one tossup, are both viewpoints equally valid? Even reversing the number of supporters for each idea doesn't change the fact that the first format is just better for obvious reasons.
What about thought and the ability to think quickly? I think these are skills important in quizbowl, but much of this community doesn't seem to acknowledge that.
This is because the overwhelming majority of the people on this board who have been thoroughly exposed to both strictly knowledge-based questions and "riddle bowl" greatly prefer the former.
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Post by First Chairman »

Howard wrote:I'd pretty much given up on trying to discussing my opinion until this thread came along. Mostly, I was tired of exactly what Mr. Barry describes-- people acting like their quiz bowl philosophies are superior.

This is an example:
ImmaculateDeception wrote:...there are characteristics that make quizbowl good or bad independent of peoples' opinion of it.
.
First, this is just not sound logic. "Good" and "bad" are always opinion. Second, it makes the implication that a certain subset of what Sorice thinks is good or bad is not open to interpretation by others. I'll concede that I share several of Sorice's opinions, but I think we're kidding ourselves if we think some people won't see this as attempting to devalue their opinions.
Again, "good" and "bad" are subjective, but it's not without some standard against which to measure. Killing someone in self-defense is justifiable compared to killing someone because you don't like the group to which he/she belongs. But most people hold common opinions of what is "good" and "bad" with regards to behavior or aesthetics. We can get to a much more subjective area like wine-tasting; but with enough people who taste certain wines, there can be a general consensus of what wines deserve medals. But clearly the variation between experienced people of what constitutes a good cabernet and an excellent one is strikingly small and dependent solely on the level of experience that taster has, despite the differences in taste bud sensitivities. We can also discuss Matt Morrison's music for days. :cool: :cool:

That said, do we have snooty wine-tasting connoisseurs or fans of alternative rock? You bet we do. Do we have sneaky lawyers who can justify incidents of homicide? Sure. There are plenty of salseros and salseras who have their own particular philosophy of how that dance should be performed and taught, to the point where there is quite a bit of tension among experts. It can be annoying, but oh well. This attitude exists in government, in science, and probably in schools among teachers and certainly among students.

Whatever happens, we have a general consensus of the characteristics of quiz bowl: buzzer system, captain with supplemental teammates, general lack of a set order of questioning. But we have people with various experiences with different ways this game has been played, and we have developed our own opinions solely because we know what it's like when quiz bowl has felt very dissatisfying and unrewarding... and we want to avoid perpetuating those formats as much as we can.

No, I don't believe that postmodernism applies to quiz bowl in which the only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths.
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Post by Howard »

Dolemite wrote:So because there are no absolutes when it comes to anything, we can't acknowledge any style or format as being better than others even if it's generally agreed upon by most people who are familiar with the styles or formats being discussed?
Sure you can make such an acknowledgement. Everyone here should be welcome to their own opinion. I happen to find it offensive, however, when the statement of your (or anyone else's) opinion reaches the point of telling someone or implying to them that their own opinions aren't correct.

As for "most people," I say it depends on who "most people" includes. I'm not sure how well the college quiz players match to the board members, but I think it's safe to say that a majority of high school players are not members. In that case, this board is a poor substitute for "most people."
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Post by DumbJaques »

What surprises me is that many people who call for formats to emulate the standard of rewarding quick reflexes and quick recall and buzzing quickly, etc., seem to also call for formats that more often than not include non-buzzing rounds. This does not make sense to me. I would argue that pyramidals still reward the ability to think quickly that Howard mentioned - unless you're playing a team that knows absolutely everything, information needs to be rapidly discarded, analyzed, maybe even called back from the beginning of the question when an actual buzz occurs. NAQT gives you 2 seconds to answer - good luck arguing this does not require speed of thought and reflexes.

I would in no way ever advocate that a team never play speed questions. Indeed, some of the DC area's speed formats will always hold a special place in my heart. They're fun, require a very different (and much less knowledge-based) skill set, etc. But there is no way at all that I would by the argument that they're a superior measure of a better team than pyramidal competition. Simply put, when any one (much less a dozen or so) teams can master 99% of the canon annually and it comes down to simply pressing the buzzer at the right interval, it's not the best measure of a team's strength. When we won It's Academic (local tv show, speed questions) last year, our only really challenging game was against Walter Johnson and Gonzaga. Honestly, it came down to feeling out the rhythm and buzzing at the appropriate time. Not the appropriate time as in when the right clue came out, I mean the appropriate amount of 2-4 seconds after the question began. It was fun, but I'd liken it to mashing the buttons in a fighting game (for lack of a better analogy). In no way did it amount to the same measure of a team that NAQT or PACE did.

I would not ever accuse Mr. Barry of preferring a format he thought was inferior because he wanted his team to win at all costs. There are some coaches out there like that, there are probably a lot of them. Is it fair to discard the opinions of a team that regularly goes to Chip despite maybe even acknowledging the superiority of NAQT? Yes, I think it is, because I think you can objectively say that Chip has atrocious questions that don't come close to appropriately mixing real, deep knowledge and buzzer reflexes the way something like NAQT does, and if a coach knows this and takes his team to Chip anyway and talks about "all formats or equal" or some garbage, then yeah, he's full of it. But that's about as extreme an example as you can get, and you can't discard the opinion of everyone involved in some tournament or not involved in another because of the extreme examples.

In summation:

Mr. Barry - I think that among the people who post on this board (and by extension, the people that would be voting in a poll) share an approximation of what good quizbowl is. Even if they do not, it wouldn't be difficult for the poll to be for NAQT/PACE/Pyramidals/whatever. Nobody is interested in an NAC poll. Since this is a national poll, it should have a national end in mind, and while there are differences in what people think constitutes good and bad quizbowl, I don't think too many people on this board, again, are pushing for the :chip: BCS rankings.

Everyone Else - I think what Mr. Barry was more trying to suggest is that there's a big difference in what people think of as "best" quizbowl rather than "good" or "bad." He even acknowledged, if I read correctly, that something like NAQT is the best available measure right now. I don't think anyone is going to claim that it's the best possible, and I would hope to Christ nobody is going to start claiming that NAC is the best available or best possible. In my opinion, there will always be programs who hold on to terrible formats desperately because they offer a real chance for success and prestige (such that it is), and there are currently lots of people who are in the dark about more discriminating formats, and maybe even the capabilities of their students to succeed at those formats. I'm never, ever going to subscribe to the idea that you can't call a pyramidal question superior to a one or two liner in its ability to separate teams based on ability. But I do think there's a more diplomatic way to say this, and it's something I'm guilty of as well. We do jump on people who say anything that borders on question factionalism, and I know in the past I've done it without thoroughly considering their position. I worry that some of us on the boards - and more importantly, the philosophy we're implying - isn't going to end up driving more potential teams away from better quizbowl. I've been incredibly encouraged by the steps I'm seeing taken in states that previously had never heard of pyramidals, I see no looming crisis for good quizbowl. I think their comes a point in the aggressiveness with which we defend our views on quizbowl when we start doing more harm than good. I don't have the answer to where this point is, or to many of the issues I tried to raise, but I think its discussion with less hostility might yield more favorable results, for everyone.

EDIT:
John (Howard) - While the bulk of what I said in the previous paragraph had to do with what you seem to be upset about, it goes both ways. Simply saying "we have our opinions, you can't say my opinion is wrong" isn't going to cut it. Aside from an endless loop of opinions about opinions, this is not conducive to discussion (hey, aren't we on a discussion board here? Remember when we actually discussed stuff? Me neither).

I understand how some of the attitudes I called for to be reigned in provoked your response, but neither of those positions is going to help us actually discuss stuff. Also, while this board may not constitute "everyone" or anything like that, we have representatives from most of the oldest and best teams in the country here, and I sincerely doubt that the fact that most of the Missouri State quizbowl association is underrepresented dwarfs the almost indescribable experience total that all of the college players/post college people/coaches on this board have. Maybe some voices aren't being heard because of the force of some arguments, but that's not a good reason to say that hsqb doesn't represent a very significant number of viewpoints about quiz competition.
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Post by Djibouti »

From the perspective of a HS student in the Baltimore/Washington area (Perry Hall - we may not be a national power but we have held our own well and are generally a solid team):

It's Academic is a good format. It's different from most tournaments in the area (i.e. pyramidal tournaments), and it rewards reflexes, speed, and high school knowledge. Almost always, the better team wins, though I know there are exceptions. It also provides many area schools with a chance to compete and represent their school (a vast majority of these teams don't compete at tournaments), and is a fun style. It's Academic, and like formats, engage the competitive spirit, and I personally enjoy speed questions. This is probably Perry Hall's better format; at an It's Academic-style tournament, we even beat Gonzaga and Whitman and competed against RM A in the finals. I think that too often people discredit the It's Academic-style simply b/c it is not pyramidal. That said, pyramidal questions are the best questions out there IMHO.

While It's Academic is a good style, pyramidal questions are a "great" style. Pyramidal questions also reward speed (although to a lesser extent; speed in pyramidal questions comes more from deeper knowledge and less from reflexes), but do a much better job of rewarding deeper and sometimes esoteric knowledge, and still foster a fun, competitive atmosphere. I know the title of most knowledgable team cannot come from a speed format, while they definitely come close with pyramidal questions. At a tournament, especially a national one, but definitely tournaments in the DC area, the top five could easily be scrambled. There are still upsets on pyramidal questions, about as often as they occur on It's Academic even (this is often to refute), but overall they are purposefully designed to test deep knowledge, broad understanding, and still recognize speed, ability to process clues coming at a rapid pace, and reflexes. And because there are more clues coming at a player at a rapid pace, I would even say that pyramidal questions even do a better job of testing a team's ability to analyze and process. Buzzes on styles like It's Academic often come on instinct. Thus, in order to gain national recongition, you have to be able to play on pyramidal questions.

At Perry Hall, we recognize that on a pyramidal / tu-b format, we are not better than Gonzaga or RM A. We do, however, recognize that as a solid team, we stand a solid chance in any given match. That is what's great about pyramidal questions: while they reward the better team they still give solid teams a chance to win.
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Post by Zip Zap Rap Pants »

There's a big difference between good quizbowl and good trivia. People who defend :chip: are defending trivia and a different game entirely (just as some of the players I've recruited have found CBI to be a whole nother ballpark from NAQT/ACF, hence some have become disinterested in the club).

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Post by BuzzerZen »

You're going to have to be careful when you say that It's Academic is a good format. I've come to be of the opinion that It's Ac the TV show, for what it is, is actually rather well done: the questions are almost all academic, almost all about legitimate topics, and infrequently hoses. It's not Great Quiz Bowl, but for the fun value and for the role it's had in the growth of the DC area circuit, it's nothing to be sniffed at.

I will, however, contend that day-long invitational tournaments featuring short questions and it's academic-style formats are Not Good at discriminating between knowledgeable teams. TJ's lost to three teams this year: Gov, Gonzaga, and Quince Orchard--that last one at the Blake tournament, which features a fast-buzz format. I don't think anyone would seriously argue that QO is a better team than we are; I can't even recall them being at many other tournaments since then. But when we lose to them, I'm thinking the culprit is the format, which has a higher probability of not rewarding the more knowledgeable team than pyramidal TU/B. Considering the implicit point of a quiz bowl tournament--that the winning team should, with high probability, be more knowledgeable about primarily academic subjects than all the other teams in attendance--this is a failure to legitimately perform the function of a quiz bowl tournament.

This is a bit of a slippery slope, of course. Upsets happen, and the finals and semifinals of the playoffs in a strong field are usually close and bitterly contested. Additionally, the success of a given team may hang on what the questions happen to be about in a given round. But in general, knowing more should increase your odds of success. When knowledge becomes notably less important compared to the quick recall aspect of the competition, something is broken. The idea behind pyramidal tossups is that teams who know more should be able to buzz sooner: that's all it is. Short or non-pyramidal questions have a lower probability of rewarding the team with more knowledge because there isn't much question before every player knows the answer. Asymptotically, it becomes akin to teams racing to see who can press a button first when a light comes on. Nobody would claim that's an academic competition.

There's a spectrum between a pure test of reflexes and a pure game of knowledge on which quiz bowl lies. Where on the spectrum we place it, as players and coaches, is what this discussion is what it's all about.
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Post by jrbarry »

I was trying to suggest that I believe it is not possible to get a consensus of what good quiz bowl is on a national scale because we have no widespread-enough system to form that consensus. Personally, I would love to see such a consensus form because I do believe it would help facilitate the activity in many more places than where it now flourishes.

I think I know what good quiz bowl is and any player that I have ever coached can tell you it is about KNOWLEDGE! That is why I practice with pyramidal questions that reward deep knowledge. That is what I prefer to use and that is what I prefer my players to compete on. The reason you see only that kind of question among Georgia tournaments is that we, the coaches of our state, have cultivated that idea for many years. Now, it goes without saying that your are going to see primarily academic, pyramidal tossups at tournaments in Georgia.
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Post by First Chairman »

What would constitute a "system" to provide such a consensus? No system was in place for cell phones or iPods to become popular. One can accuse the media of being part of a vast system (conspiracy) to inundate our news with the awful northeastern weather, the recent NASCAR suspensions, or the circus surrounding Anna Nicole Smith's death... but I digress.

From my own experience, I get a chance to see how people pick and choose a "consensus of experts" in a particular area. I have seen how that small group of experts draws the attention of additional scientists at meetings. These experts wound up getting the attention of other scientists not because they were voted onto some committee and have expertise in committee work (if anything, scientists avoid committee work like teachers avoid having to be detention monitors). The experts gained knowledge and insight about their field to the point they have a particular opinion or philosophy that synergizes with other experts in the field.

We have something like that here. We can always have more, but we have students who run tournaments, teachers who run tournaments, and people who run state championships and national championships posting here regularly. Would we like to have a wider and more geographically diverse (even demographically diverse) group here? The more the merrier, in my opinion. I doubt we can ever get to 100% participation (heck, we can't even get our voting populace to a 50% participation rate at times!). But I think the people who want to participate in the discussion are here, and the people who are happy not participating in the discussion are not here. We're not a legislative body, so we cannot really force people to read these posts if they don't want to.

So I posit that we have a critical mass and a system already in place. We would love to have this nucleus grow and contribute ideas to our consensus to improve the game. But I don't think the impediment to spreading quiz bowl to areas where it is not so active is due specifically to a difference of opinion on what constitutes good quiz bowl. Rather what is more likely to be impediment is a lack of financial and programmatic support for good quiz bowl from the part of school teachers, students, and administration. Of course, getting to the next step (supporting programs that want to discover how to improve on a national basis) is another hurdle altogether.
Last edited by First Chairman on Wed Feb 14, 2007 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Howard »

DumbJacques wrote:Simply saying "we have our opinions, you can't say my opinion is wrong" isn't going to cut it. Aside from an endless loop of opinions about opinions, this is not conducive to discussion.
I'm less trying to give my opinion than point out that we'll never have substantive discussion while there's hostility toward differing opinions. I don't mind if someone disagrees. But I think we could all do without the hostility.

I've given my opinions in the past, and I'm not currently ready to rehash everything. Besides, there seems to be a reasonable discussion ensuing with actual encouragement. If there's a point I feel needs to be made, I'll step up. For now, I'm interested in watching the discussion.
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Post by First Chairman »

Howard wrote:
DumbJacques wrote:Simply saying "we have our opinions, you can't say my opinion is wrong" isn't going to cut it. Aside from an endless loop of opinions about opinions, this is not conducive to discussion.
I'm less trying to give my opinion than point out that we'll never have substantive discussion while there's hostility toward differing opinions. I don't mind if someone disagrees. But I think we could all do without the hostility.
There's not an easy way to deal with this. If anything, the internet bulletin board format actually makes things easier because everyone has an opportunity to be heard without any censoring or managing of the meeting by a moderator to pick/choose topics that should be heard. The best thing that those of us in moderating positions on the board can do is try to guide the discussion away from personal attack mode. But mocking cynicism and using ridiculous logical leaps of argumentation doesn't break "the rules of posting" unless we are willing to be more strictly moderated. As long as we don't spiral into completely vapid and irrelevant personal attacks that would make political commercials pale in comparison...
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Post by Djibouti »

BuzzerZen, I agree wholwheartedly. Beating Gonzaga and Whitman on a speed style does not make us the better team, but it does show we are a solid team. I was saying that while It's Academic is a good format, and it is, pyramidal questions are a great format. Also, :chip: questions aren't It's Academic questions; defending IA isn't defending the other. While I enjoy IA, pramidal questions are indeed a better test of a better team.

One thing I disagree on. Upsets are supposed to be minimalized when questions reward the team with better knowledge. However, when an upset occurs [in pyramidal format], apparently that team did have more knowledge on the given set of questions. I don't think a tournament fails when the better team loses; that is why we play the games.
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Post by Captain Sinico »

My response to Howard is this (I wrote this immediately after his post but was unable to post it until just now due to server hiccups, so I'm sorry if I re-tread some ground):
Please demonstrate why you think good and bad are always opinions rather than just trying to state that as a fact. That maxim is, in fact, your entire argument, yet you've done nothing to support or justify it. Moreover, it's not obvious as I whole-heartedly disagree with it. It seems to me that good and bad are sometimes opinions (as in "this song is good because I like the way it sounds" or "this painting is bad because I don't like the way it looks") whereas they are sometimes matters of fact, given some standard ("this car is good because its gas mileage is the best and it handles well" or "this chair is good because it keeps peoples' backs healthy" or even "this test is good because it accurately predicts what it is supposed to.")
By your own reasoning, your judgment that my logic was "bad" is itself mere opinion. If that's the case, surely I can equally validly disagree with you: it is my opinion that I used "good" logic. Or perhaps judgment of the goodness of logic isn't susceptible to your maxim? In that case, why is it different and why is quizbowl not? Clearly your reasoning here is vulnerable (special pleading) or just plain wrong (if I'm allowed to say that.)
Incidentally, you've done nothing to demonstrate anything about my reasoning; in fact, you've basically said "you drew a conclusion different from my own, so your reasoning must have been wrong." Not only is that textbook begging the question, it looks to me suspiciously like dismissing other people's views. I say that I'm merely presenting a view contrary to your own. I see no reason to pretend that that's insulting and, if you find it so, what does that say about your view regarding its compatibility with others?
In the end, my point is this: the only opinion that should come into play is one about the purpose of the game. Once you have a sense of what the point of playing quizbowl is, the matter of one format being better than another is a matter of fact, measurement, and observation (as I've stated it) rather than a matter of opinion. It may be that all purposes for quizbowl are equally valid as opinions, but I actually don't think so.
Therefore, if you have a differing opinion about the purpose of the game (something like, say, "the game is to have fun and hoses are fun, so hoses are good in my format,") I would approach discussing that in another way. However, if there's some understood purpose for the game (and as educators, there should be one), it seems wrong even on its face to claim on first principles that one format mightn't be better at fulfilling that purpose than another.

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Post by Captain Sinico »

I'm going to assume that hostility knock was directed at me. I wasn't being hostile and I'm sorry if you think I was. Or, should I say, it is my opinion that I wasn't hostile and it is my opinion that I'm sorry if it was your opinion that I was? I can phrase that any way you like, but the simple fact is that you've once again just stated that I was hostile without substantiating that at all, and I disagree. Please demonstrate how and why you thought I was hostile. Also, please stop stating your opinion as fact (yeah, I said it.)
Listen; if it's your position that we're all entitled to an opinion about everything, then clearly we're going to disagree about some stuff, which means it's going to be my opinion that your opinion is wrong. By saying something tantamount to "don't post things that say other people are wrong," therefore, you're saying "don't post a differing opinion" because it is in every way implicit in a differing view that the opposing view is wrong, as long as some truth exists. Anyway, if all viewpoints are always equally valid, then there's never any point in ever discussing anything... so what are we all doing here?
Finally, if I didn't have a good reason for thinking I was right about something, I wouldn't bother saying it... so you figure it out, dude. How can it possibly be it less hostile or impolite or whatever for you to assail my opinions than it is for me to state mine? I don't understand.

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Post by cvdwightw »

Personally, I think there are three qualities of quiz bowl (really, any test of anything) that determines whether they are placed into "good" or "bad" sub-sections. Outside of that it's really a matter of opinion as to what's better.

1. Validity: Does the packet set test what it sets out to test, namely depth and breadth of academic (and to varying degrees current events and pop culture) knowledge? Packets with hoses, audio tossups on blenders, and bonuses on naming fruits from bar codes belong in the "bad" category. Packets with well-written questions (of any length) on academic subjects high school students may be expected to have knowledge of are "good".

2. Reliability of Results: Do teams perform at a roughly consistent level? That is, are good teams at a certain format consistently good at that format? I'd argue that, when played at their highest level, such pilloried formats as CBI and :chip: fit this criteria as players and teams that do well at one tournament with these formats don't just completely suck at the next. Almost all tournaments fit this criteria.

3. Accuracy: Do results more or less conform to expectations? When anomalies show up in tournament statistics, people tend to question them (see: Basileus). There are going to be upsets at any tournament, but at good tournaments these can be explained by variabilities in the packets. But "good" teams will beat "bad" teams at "good" quizbowl significantly more often than not. Here's where I think a lot of people have a problem with one-line speed traps. Imagine you have a 50-tossup speed bowl where those account for the only points each round. Now, a team averaging only 10 tossups per round can easily beat a team averaging 40 tossups per round not due to any variabilities in the packets but because they suddenly get hot and win almost all the buzzer races. With pyramidal questions the importance of the buzzer race is diminished as there will be more instances of one person buzzing with knowledge and getting things right, and so the effect on variation in scores due to buzzer races decreases because of a smaller number of buzzer races. Short one-liners have six or eight people buzzing on the same clue, and emphasize the buzzer race, such that the deviation from norm due to buzzer races is significantly greater than expected (you too can excel at these formats if you just buy Jason Mueller's Seven Secrets for Increasing Your Buzzer Speed - Retractable Pen Not Included).

In conclusion, "good" quizbowl should be valid, reliable, and accurate. If it fits these criteria, it's "good". If it doesn't, it's "bad". The only argument should be over the definition of "acceptable deviation from norm" due to buzzer races, regardless of format.
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Post by Matt Weiner »

Anyone who automatically considers a disagreement with their opinion to be a personal attack is invited to stop doing so.
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Post by Bubiyuqn »

Let me be the Devil's Advocate here for a second. (I am somewhat familiar with the quick-buzz format, and those who defend it).

It seems to me that the consensus here is that "good" quizbowl is directly proportional to rewarding knowledge and inversely proportional to the amount of "buzzer races".

However, buzzer races seem to be a direct test of buzzer speed and of quick (reflexive?) thinking. If the idea of the longer question is to eliminate this aspect of buzzer speed from the game, then why use the buzzer at all? If we want to test a team's knowledge, why not just have each team sit down and take a test? That would surely guarantee that the more knowledgeable team would come out on top, and questions as to whether or not the game was deciding on button pushing skill are void.

Let's extend the general concept of absolutely rewarding knowledge to another activity, like basketball, for instance. Theoretically, the team with attributes more conducive to basketball should always win. Ergo, why have the teams play? We could simply put shooting averages, player running speed, height, and other statistics into some sort of formula, and we could decide the winner by that alone. Heaven forbid that the underdog team might get "hot" and actually win against the odds. I hope that it is obvious that this is silly, and defeats the purpose of the whole game.

These examples are obviously drawn to the point of absurdity, and are based on the idea of "absolutely" rewarding knowledge (i.e. the most knowledgeable team always wins). I hope it can be seen that this means that the buzzer actually IS an important aspect of quizbowl, and helps to define the game. As BuzzerZen said, the point of this discussion is how much emphasis should be placed on knowledge and how much should be placed on buzzer. That being said, is it necessarily "bad" to have a format of quizbowl that rewards buzzer speed (perhaps moreso than knowledge, although buzzer speed is worthless without knowledge)? Is it or is it not an integral part of the game?

Anyway, this argument is not mine, but was the one my former captain used when I was arguing for the merits of the pyramidal question. I just wanted to give the viewpoint of someone who is in favor of the quick recall.

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Post by First Chairman »

Bubiyuqn wrote:Let me be the Devil's Advocate here for a second. (I am somewhat familiar with the quick-buzz format, and those who defend it).

It seems to me that the consensus here is that "good" quizbowl is directly proportional to rewarding knowledge and inversely proportional to the amount of "buzzer races".

However, buzzer races seem to be a direct test of buzzer speed and of quick (reflexive?) thinking. If the idea of the longer question is to eliminate this aspect of buzzer speed from the game, then why use the buzzer at all? If we want to test a team's knowledge, why not just have each team sit down and take a test? That would surely guarantee that the more knowledgeable team would come out on top, and questions as to whether or not the game was deciding on button pushing skill are void.
I do. It's called Academic Decathlon. I can also tell you we have awful questions in AD too, mostly because we use multiple choice questions. Some of our fine arts questions are simply questions that are about how well you memorized the painting or sculpture or piece of music (what type of wind instrument do you hear?).

There are also quiz bowl formats in which a buzzer system isn't involved at all: North Carolina Public Quiz Bowl is perhaps the most egregious one. I also have High School Celebrity Shoot, which is a non-buzzer competition but I specifically call for quiz bowl teams to compete. I gladly welcome all comers to expand your experiences with quiz bowl to include at least HSCS. It's not "true" quiz bowl, but it's a fun experience nevertheless. (That's not really the case with Public Libraries Quiz Bowl unless you really want to experience sheer pain in quiz bowl.)

Believe me, I get your point, but I also know rapid reflexes is not the sole way to determine whether someone is "smart" or not. But a functioning buzzer system is a feature of quiz bowl... not blue books for writing essays or forensic/speech-debate scoring.

I admit, I like different formats. In Cleveland, we run Buzzerpalooza in the mode of It's Academic, while we run our Great Lakes competition with more pyramidal (originally PACE-style) questions. I know that some teams really like the quickie questions, while others prefer the longer pyramidals. How much to balance between buzzer race questions and six-feet-deep tossups... yes that a good ground for a philosophical discussion. I'm just saying though that even though I do play with different forms of "quiz bowl", I recognize that a longer game on pyramidal questions is probably the toughest test that can be given when it comes to rewarding a good quiz bowl team for knowledge and speed to recall.
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Post by Matt Weiner »

Yes, let's all make absurd straw-man arguments and sports analogies.

Look, we understand that there is an enormous "game" component to this. That is why we have the buzzer, that is why we keep score, et cetera. But the point is to balance the game aspects with the intellectual aspects and justify the game's existence as an academic activity. Sure, you could ask nothing but buzzer-race tossups about television shows--but then why would we do this as a school function? It's just as absurd as asking everyone to take a test and eliminating the game component.

There is an enormous amount of educated/strategic guessing, mental quickness, and gaming the system in your prep work required for success even in the most "dry" forms of quizbowl. It's just not valid to compare a pyramidal, academic format to taking a test--anyone who has played in a really important game knows that it feels a lot more like playing basketball than taking an economics exam (well, hopefully it's less sweaty, but the adrenaline and competitive fire are there). The most serious and competitive players tend to prefer the better formats, not the inferior ones, and it's no coincidence.
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Post by Red-necked Phalarope »

E.T. Chuck wrote: (That's not really the case with Public Libraries Quiz Bowl unless you really want to experience sheer pain in quiz bowl.)
Just confirming that Dr. Chuck isn't kidding here. I shuddered a bit when he mentioned PLQB just now.
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Post by Bubiyuqn »

Err, I guess I didn't make it clear that the previous post I made was the argument nearly verbatim that was used against me by of someone who is representative of most teams in my immediate area and holds views contrary to the one I personally hold (I'm all for pyramidal questions, I'd love to see Southern Illinois move far, far away from what exists now and more towards NAQT/PACE). I just posted it for the sake of "representation" of view points, since we were concerned about a lack of people that support buzzer-madness. Maybe this was a bad idea :)

I'm a high school player in Southern Illinois (the hills, not the farms), where quick-recall and truly trivial questions dominate. The problem seems to be that no one around here really cares about true academics. Many schools around here have the idea that industrial arts and vocational skills are the most important aspects of High School. So when you try to discuss the academic merits of the activity around here, arguments like the one I gave before are given. More or less: "why shouldn't it be about the buzzer?" Perhaps this isn't the view of defenders of quick-recall everywhere, but it's the one around here, and I agree with all or most of you that it's silly.

I suppose reaching some sort of consensus would involve reprogramming certain locations (like mine) to forget the idea that reflexes should be important at all. The game aspects preserve themselves just fine if "buzzer races" are taken out of the picture, but many people fail to see that. They equate skill with speed when they should really be equating skill with knowing when to buzz. I think it could be argued that the latter takes far more skill in any sense of the word.

I apologize if my last post was ridiculous, but I wanted to introduce the sort of opinions that many people around here hold, to show what work there really needs to be done to form a nation-wide general agreement.

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Post by Tegan »

Matt Weiner wrote:Yes, let's all make absurd straw-man arguments and sports analogies.
Matt Weiner wrote:It's just not valid to compare a pyramidal, academic format to taking a test--anyone who has played in a really important game knows that it feels a lot more like playing basketball than taking an economics exam.
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Post by First Chairman »

I want to make it clear, I don't mean to make it appear I'm attacking anyone personally. I do appreciate the variety of viewpoints on this topic too.
Bubiyuqn wrote: I'm a high school player in Southern Illinois (the hills, not the farms), where quick-recall and truly trivial questions dominate. The problem seems to be that no one around here really cares about true academics. Many schools around here have the idea that industrial arts and vocational skills are the most important aspects of High School. So when you try to discuss the academic merits of the activity around here, arguments like the one I gave before are given. More or less: "why shouldn't it be about the buzzer?" Perhaps this isn't the view of defenders of quick-recall everywhere, but it's the one around here, and I agree with all or most of you that it's silly.

I suppose reaching some sort of consensus would involve reprogramming certain locations (like mine) to forget the idea that reflexes should be important at all. The game aspects preserve themselves just fine if "buzzer races" are taken out of the picture, but many people fail to see that. They equate skill with speed when they should really be equating skill with knowing when to buzz. I think it could be argued that the latter takes far more skill in any sense of the word.
I brought up PLQB in North Carolina just to say that you aren't the only one to perhaps think like this. I'm not sure exactly how the PLQB format was created, but I think the various librarians wanted to be sure that "it's not the speed of recall that matters" position was supported with their format. I'm sure we could try out the format around your part of Illinois and it would thrive really well. Kinda like kudzu. :cool:

Sure, we can argue and entrench our positions... thus getting nothing done. I am just saying that I've done a lot to form a bridge between those who don't think buzzers should play a role and those who do. I cannot say that any of my efforts will ever truly change a culture towards pyramidal questions, but I do think that a critical mass of change agents among IHSSCBA and IHSA members must be reached to effect those changes.

Otherwise, we can throw out tons of sports analogies until one sticks. :roll:
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Post by The Time Keeper »

Bubiyuqn wrote:If the idea of the longer question is to eliminate this aspect of buzzer speed from the game, then why use the buzzer at all? If we want to test a team's knowledge, why not just have each team sit down and take a test?
What your former captain and anyone else who would even consider using this as an argument fails to understand is that a pyramidal question with buzzers is infinitely better at testing depth of knowledge than a written test. On a written test you see the entire question at once, so the written test argument should actually be used to make a point against playing short, one clue tossups.

Buzzer speed is important on long questions too as it is used to differentiate between two or more players who recognize the same clue at any point of the question. Buzzer speed is going to be relevant on any question that uses buzzers. But buzzer speed should never be as important as who has better knowledge of what's being asked.
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Post by grapesmoker »

Bubiyuqn wrote:I'm a high school player in Southern Illinois (the hills, not the farms), where quick-recall and truly trivial questions dominate. The problem seems to be that no one around here really cares about true academics. Many schools around here have the idea that industrial arts and vocational skills are the most important aspects of High School. So when you try to discuss the academic merits of the activity around here, arguments like the one I gave before are given. More or less: "why shouldn't it be about the buzzer?" Perhaps this isn't the view of defenders of quick-recall everywhere, but it's the one around here, and I agree with all or most of you that it's silly.
May I suggest that if this is the view in your school district, you have bigger problems than trying to figure out which quizbowl format is the best? If the underlying attitudes towards academic pursuits remain dismissive, then of course it stands to reason that only bad quizbowl could possibly thrive there.
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Post by Stained Diviner »

In addition to the views summarized by Justin, there is also the view of quizbowl that it is supposed to fun, and in order to be fun we need to deemphasize studying and preparation. Questions shouldn't favor teams that have studied because such teams are missing the point. Students are already busy enough taking classes, holding jobs, playing in the orchestra, and dealing with hormonal changes, so we shouldn't give them more work to do. (Note: I disagree.)

Currently, quick questions are currently much more popular than pyramidal questions. There are exceptions to the rule, but in Illinois the size of the field generally varies inversely with the quality of the questions.

As far as validity and reliability are concerned, bad quiz bowl is no worse than Major League Baseball, where most teams win between 40% and 60% of their games, and the World's Biggest Joke, even when playing outside their home field of Wrigley, can on any given day beat the World Champions.
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Post by First Chairman »

Again, I understand the concept of activities being "casual." Maybe you know better whether there are moves to extend this concept to all athletic activities as well as extracurricular ones. Are there rules that dictate the number of hours the debate team has to meet to prepare for competition just as there are rules for the number of hours an athletic team has to meet for practice? (Iverson: We're talking about "practice"!)

Again, anyone who would like to try to run HSCS in Illinois, I would be more than happy to try it out there. Non-buzzer, non-standard pyramidal, but it is an entree to playing more difficult sets of questions later on, even if it is a theme tournament. We can wean people to liking pyramidals more.

I can certainly understand that the game is fun when people know the answers... which begs to wonder why Illinois format has so much math. :lol:
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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

If a team wants to be casual about it, then they should stop complaining when they continually lose. Do high school football teams generally take their sport "casually?" Of course not, and the football players have similiar things to deal with. If a football team does play "casually" then they are going to lose badly when they are up against someone who doesn't play casually. Quizbowl is certainly not football, and to be a decent quizbowl team you don't need to spend near as much time preparing as you do to be a good football team, but in all activities the concept is the same. I have seen very few exceptions.


I can't stand playing "casual" teams who complain/are frustrated about us blowing them out afterwards.

On the subject of questions, of course pyramids are preferable. I do think, however, that speed questions should be practiced on just to get used to the reflex action. I'm fine with a few speed tournaments, or speed components of a tournament, but not for anything really important. I would say that most of the time teams that are good at pyramids can beat teams on speed also. However, just because a team is good on speed doesn't mean they're good. Speed is fun, but it doesn't really count in measuring a team's skill, and teams need to realize that.

Something that I've wondered is if areas with no real exposure to good questions were to somehow get the exposure (say, a local college run an NAQT tournament or something) would that increase interest in better questions and better teams. I can think of some examples, like Wash U, which draws more St. Louis teams than anywhere else. But most St. Louis teams keep going and failing. Very few have ever stood out as good teams (Parkway Central, Westminster, Ladue, and Eureka at different times). The teams keep showing up, keep getting good questions, and keep on not improving. Yet the tournament is very successful. Yet other tournaments with good questions (locally I think of Smithville) got a lot of complaints about how the questions are too hard and their kids didn't like the tournament. It really scared a lot of people off (and the questions weren't too hard at all). I am baffled by the differing responses.

Somethings to consider is what type of subject/difficulty distribution makes "good quizbowl," and where do we draw the line between good and bad questions?
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Post by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox »

Part of what needs to be looked at is who your audience is, what are their expectations, and how much time do you need to change them. Originally WUHSAC was run on NAQT questions. That lead ballooned. HARD. In Missouri, some coaches (certainly mine) looked at the invitationals, conference tourney, etc. as preparation for the state tournament, which is speed bowl. Therefore they placed little value on NAQT or pyramidal styles. If someone's expectation is that questions are a sentence-long or clue free, of course they're not going to try to improve on pyramidal style because there is no impetus for it other than attendance at that one tournament a year.
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Post by Tegan »

charlieDfromNKC wrote:Something that I've wondered is if areas with no real exposure to good questions were to somehow get the exposure (say, a local college run an NAQT tournament or something) would that increase interest in better questions and better teams. I can think of some examples, like Wash U, which draws more St. Louis teams than anywhere else. But most St. Louis teams keep going and failing. Very few have ever stood out as good teams (Parkway Central, Westminster, Ladue, and Eureka at different times). The teams keep showing up, keep getting good questions, and keep on not improving.
Don't discount tradition. Some teams keep going and not improving because of tradition. Just this past year, I heard a coach complain about the same bad questions at a tournamnet. I offered to move my octangular to that date so her team could hear (According to others) better questions. She immediately declined saying that they had "always gone to that touranment and will keep going". Until coaches and players are willing to get out of a bad question rut ..... bad questions will remain.

One coach in Illinois, a Kentucky colonel no less, has thought about publicly rating tournaments based on difficulty (read: question quality). That could work or backfire (stating the obvious), but I would think it is worth a try.
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Post by evilmonkey »

charlieDfromNKC wrote: Something that I've wondered is if areas with no real exposure to good questions were to somehow get the exposure
I can tell you that this is very much what the state of quiz bowl in Indiana is. My first year of quizbowl (two years ago), almost every tournament we went to in-state ran NAC style, the lone exception being our own tournament. To get to good tournaments, we had to venture out of state to Michigan and Illinois. My coach has worked tirelessly to convince the other coaches of the virtues of NAQT, and some of the coaches are coming around to it.

*going off on tangent*
Even worse is that the majority of high schools in Indiana don't play quiz bowl. They play Academic Superbowl, a 25 question, multiple-choice test which asks questions off a syllabus provided at the beginning of the year. Since :chip: and ASB are the dominant forms of academic competition, I can state that Indiana Quiz Bowl is a suffering breed.
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Post by First Chairman »

Tradition is good, but I only ask what the host school does with the money they raise from the tournament. If they just spend it on other local events, great... the money goes 'round and 'round.

It's easy to call it "tradition," but the coach is going not because of the questions... he's going because of the relationships made because of that event. If the coach really cared about improving the questions, he/she would have leveraged that relationship to encourage the TD to improve the questions. Obviously it's not that important. The only way that the tradition will be broken is if the TD is so incompetent in running the event that the results of an event wind up being grossly biased. That or a significant movement of "new blood" has to be placed in the board of the state organization, but even that may take time.

The other issue is that the one I raised earlier: student autonomy (point #6). I don't know that many coaches that would let their decisions be swayed so much by their students because "they don't know any better" or "I'm the adult." If the students really don't get excited about qb because they go to sucky events all the time, that squelches any incentive to really enjoy the game. That perpetuates the cycle of rewarding "bad" qb because entrenched bad qb can drive out good potential players to other activities that are certainly more rewarding and fun.
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I just wonder as one way of tipping the excitement for more pyramidal questions is to piggyback off the popularity of iPods. Can we have people be willing to broadcast quiz bowl games and "infect" students with CD's or thumb drives with these games on them? What has to be clear is that the game CAN be played with longer questions, and the game is much more fun as a result. There is YouTube too, though webcast/broadcasting/archiving games may take more effort.

Somewhere I think I have a couple of rounds from one of the Gov School comps, and I may wind up wanting to record a few other rounds. The purpose is to help train readers and scorekeepers... eventually we may want to think about that for acclimating coaches and teams to NAQT or PACE games.
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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

E.T. Chuck wrote:I just wonder as one way of tipping the excitement for more pyramidal questions is to piggyback off the popularity of iPods. Can we have people be willing to broadcast quiz bowl games and "infect" students with CD's or thumb drives with these games on them? What has to be clear is that the game CAN be played with longer questions, and the game is much more fun as a result. There is YouTube too, though webcast/broadcasting/archiving games may take more effort.

Somewhere I think I have a couple of rounds from one of the Gov School comps, and I may wind up wanting to record a few other rounds. The purpose is to help train readers and scorekeepers... eventually we may want to think about that for acclimating coaches and teams to NAQT or PACE games.
NAQT's podcasts of the '05 HSNCT were the biggest factor in my conversion to pyramidal style. Without them, I would have had little to no exposure to pyramidal style - ACE camp only lasts a week, and I wouldn't have had personal game exposure in Illinois quizbowl that year. Further exposure of such podcasts would work very well, in my opinion.

Here's an idea for bridging the gap between teams who traditionally use one-liners and their conversion to pyramidal style - use the 30-20-10 bonus format for tossups. It keeps the idea of a short one-line question - no more "pyramidals are too long" because the phrases are still just as short - but implements the key tenet of pyramidality, that deeper knowledge should be rewarded. 30-20-10 is probably too much to reward a tossup and probably too few on clues - perhaps 20-15-10-5, but it'd probably end up varying from tourney to tourney. So long as all the tossups in a given set of matches (a tourney, or a regular season schedule for conference) use the same number of clues and points per clue, it'd be uniform enough as to not disrupt the quality of the tossups like variable point PLEASE MAKE FUN OF ME BECAUSE I SPEAK NEITHER LATIN NOR ENGLISH did. It's not perfect, but it'd get multi-clue questions with the correct ordering of clues to the teams that don't have multi-clue questions. I can see this being successful on a junior varsity level, sowing the seeds of pyramidality amongst the youth of the HS circuit. By the time they hit varsity, they'll be more than ready to accept NAQT style.
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Post by Mike Bentley »

styxman wrote:
E.T. Chuck wrote:I just wonder as one way of tipping the excitement for more pyramidal questions is to piggyback off the popularity of iPods. Can we have people be willing to broadcast quiz bowl games and "infect" students with CD's or thumb drives with these games on them? What has to be clear is that the game CAN be played with longer questions, and the game is much more fun as a result. There is YouTube too, though webcast/broadcasting/archiving games may take more effort.

Somewhere I think I have a couple of rounds from one of the Gov School comps, and I may wind up wanting to record a few other rounds. The purpose is to help train readers and scorekeepers... eventually we may want to think about that for acclimating coaches and teams to NAQT or PACE games.
NAQT's podcasts of the '05 HSNCT were the biggest factor in my conversion to pyramidal style. Without them, I would have had little to no exposure to pyramidal style - ACE camp only lasts a week, and I wouldn't have had personal game exposure in Illinois quizbowl that year. Further exposure of such podcasts would work very well, in my opinion.
I think I may actually start recording some college level games (and possibly from our upcoming high school tournament) and putting them online. Look for these some time in the future. They're probably a good way for people to be able to practice on their own, as well as to see the strength of players they don't usually get to play.
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Post by First Chairman »

The one thing that you need to be sure about is that the recorded individuals give their approval to be recorded if you intend to have it posted on the internet. Private use is one thing, but no one wants to have a match "secretly recorded" and broadcast without permission.

The other thing that you have to do is get clearance from the question authors. It is their copyright, and we wouldn't want to have people plagiarize others' questions.
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Post by Matthew D »

I personally would love to see some of them and I know that my teams would like to see them..
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Post by Mike Bentley »

E.T. Chuck wrote:The one thing that you need to be sure about is that the recorded individuals give their approval to be recorded if you intend to have it posted on the internet. Private use is one thing, but no one wants to have a match "secretly recorded" and broadcast without permission.

The other thing that you have to do is get clearance from the question authors. It is their copyright, and we wouldn't want to have people plagiarize others' questions.
Yeah, I plan asking both the players and the question writers permission before posting anything. For the high school tournament we're hosting, we're writing the questions in-house, so the question writer permission shouldn't be much of a problem. I may also record the practice sessions we do in case during any of the rounds high shcool members do not wish to be recorded.
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