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Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:27 pm
by DeckardCain
Charbroil wrote:The questions Julia and I wrote are here. I hope you guys will take a look and critique them.
Can't access the document.


Posted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:36 pm
by Charbroil
Sorry, I didn't realize that you had to publish documents before viewing in Google Documents.

I changed the original link, and the new one is here.


Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:56 am
by logic2718
These questions are very well written, and maintain a fairly even difficulty throughout. However, they are VERY VERY easy.
Not that that's a bad thing.


Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 6:05 pm
by Charbroil
logic2718 wrote:These questions are very well written, and maintain a fairly even difficulty throughout. However, they are VERY VERY easy.
Not that that's a bad thing.
When you say they were easy, do you mean the topics were easy, or the clues were? The topics were meant to be things everyone would know, but I hope that the middle clues were hard enough--and conversely, the early clues weren't too hard. Do you think we did a good job at that?

Incidentally, I hope the answers didn't seem too easy. We were going for highly accessible--not ridiculously insulting.

<div class="editby">Edited by <a href=' ... arbroil</a>, Jun 23 2009, 07:07:17 PM.</div>


Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:47 pm
by Jason Loy
These are very good questions and seem ideal for their intended audience. A few things I noticed:

1) The lead-in on tossup 35 isn't very helpful. The (Maxwell - ) Boltzmann distribution can model the behavior of any gas whether or not it's catalyzing a reaction.

2) Tossup #29 - I wouldn't namedrop Kostova that early to guard against linguistic fraud, if indeed anyone is going to linguistically fraud a question at this level.

3) Tossup #5 - If I don't recognize the Sophie Germain clue (which is an excellent lead-in, by the way), I'm buzzing on the divergent infinite series clue with "positive integers" since the harmonic series is a) divergent and b) better known than the sums of the reciprocals of the primes.

4) Tossup #30 - The "description" of "Face of War" isn't very helpful, but you probably already knew that.

Tossups that I especially liked: Moses, electrical resistance, Bulgaria (yes, I'm a hypcrite), Holden Caulfield, Iran-Contra affair.


Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:29 am
by logic2718
Well, I think the questions were of uniform difficulty since the lead-ins were never really too obscure but were getting at exactly the sort of deeper knowledge expected from a good QB player. However, there were a good percentage of questions there that I could have gotten after the lead-in (that's all I really meant by easy).

the uniform difficulty is the really great thing, since that is exactly what was wrong with the prelim rounds (radical fluctuations in difficulty).


Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:07 am
by Machina
My favorite answer was George Orwell. He's become an MSA 09 favorite. XD

I think the one we didn't get was #16. I'm not completely sure though.

I'll let you guys know how the guys' house does against the RAs/staff.


Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:41 am
by Awehrman
I'll echo what others have said and say that these questions seem pretty good overall. I think you could have included at least one more US history question (I think the Iran Contra question was the only one).

The smallpox question has some serious problems, though. The first clue is not uniquely identifying. It's practically begging for someone to neg with "plague," and technically an early buzz of "plague" would be correct since the Black plague was hemorrhagic. Hemorrhagic malaria was also known as Black Fever. There are likely other diseases that fit the bill too. Also, the Jenner clue is incorrect. Jenner discovered vaccination (although others had discovered it previously but Jenner is usually credited) not inoculation. Inoculation had been around for hundreds of years by then. It's not a terrible question, however, but it takes time to learn to write uniquely identifying clues.


Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:23 pm
by scphilli
The Juno q would read better if you just said "Anyone Else But You" by the Moldy Peaches as the Dawson thing is irrelevant when you don't include her first name. Also in the second sentence "whom the main character" is a seriously misplaced modifier and the character who warns Juno about Jason Bateman's character is her STEP MOTHER not aunt. Andy's right about the smallpox leadin. The Queen Victoria tu starts out way too easy with the references to Palmerston & Napoleon III. I understand why you didn't use a pronoun in that q, but when you constantly say "this ruler" instead of a pronoun, you may as well say "she" because that's a common way to tip that you're asking about a female.

I have more but not much time at the moment.


Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:44 pm
by Charbroil
Thanks for the commentary, everyone--I'll respond in detail once I have time.


Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:49 pm
by Charlie Dees
I don't exactly think that an audience of high school sophomores, many of whom never played quizbowl, is going to key in on the "this ruler" = female thing. Given that the set was written for that audience, I'm willing to leave some things untouched in this set that I would normally edit harder.


Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:23 am
by logic2718
Hey Charles, could you post the questions from the finals as well? Those were yesterday, and I wrote some comments as I watched, but I'd like to have the actual questions to reference. Thanks.


Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 9:58 pm
by Charbroil
The second packet is here. Unfortunately, it didn't quite reach my normal standards of quality because various personal issues intervened, but I hope it wasn't too unfortunate.

I'll respond to criticisms of this and the other packet later in one unit.


Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:58 pm
by scphilli
On the Congress of Vienna q, technically it was the Finnish War that ended in 1809 that gave Russia control over Finland. I have no idea where you're getting info otherwise, but it's incorrect. The q on Spirited Away doesn't seem appropriate for the audience (and also doesn't mention its Oscar win, notable as it's the only non-American animated film to win Best Animated Feature). The Germany leadin "The inhabitants of this nation were the subject of a work by Tacitus" is neither unique, nor accurate as Germany wasn't a nation when Tacitus was writing about them. The Piggy q: name me one other book that even mentions "conch shell."

The following has many errors so I'm going to repeat it in full:

In 1987, Philip Elman claimed he and Felix Frankfurter were largely responsible for this case's verdict. (1) The original decision by the Warren Supreme Court was unanimous and affected all public facilities, (2) despite technically only applying to public schools. This case ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment was being violated and overturned (3) the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson. Name this 1954 case (4) that ended (5) segregation in schools.

Answer: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

(1) First, this clue refers to the decision in 1955 commonly called Brown v. Board of Education II. That was when the language "all deliberate speed," for which Elman and Frankfurter are responsible, first appeared in the implementation of Brown I. Further, the opinions of the Supreme Court are not verdicts. They're not even verdicts in cases brought under their original jurisdiction. Verdicts are only rendered by trial courts, which in this case is not applicable as the Court was acting in its appellate capacity.

(2) I'm not sure what you mean when you say the "original" decision was unanimous as the decision came down unanimously and never changed in Brown II. Further the language of the opinion did not apply to all public facilities in the instant case. This would have to be separately litigated and was. (See Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US, Gayle v. Browder, etc.)

(3) This case only ruled that "separate but equal" had no place in public education. It undermined Plessy but by no means overruled it. The justices EXPLICTLY avoided that issue as they were afraid of massive resistence in the south.

(4) This always bugs me whenever decisions like these are asked about. Like Roe et. al v. Wade, this is not simply one case. It is a collection of five cases (Four of which were disposed of in this opinion.) that were argue in one session and are commonly referred to by the lead case. In this case, Linda Brown got the honors because hers was the only case that didn't derive from the South or a border state. The companion cases were from Delaware, South Carolina (which Thurgood Marshall argued), Virginia, and D.C. (which is decided in a separate opinion see Bolling v. Sharpe). It is therefore erroneous to refer to the decision as implicating only one case (All five had separate attorneys for both sides.) instead of a collection of cases.

(5) This decision by no means ended segregation in schools. Southern school boards would refuse to comply for decades with the decision until finally the Court basically gave up trying to enforce it. (Cooper v. Aaron, Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Milliken v. Bradley, etc.)

<div class="editby">Edited by <a href=' ... cphilli</a>, Jun 30 2009, 06:42:03 PM.</div>


Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 8:35 pm
by logic2718
I largely agree with Sean's analysis, especially with the Piggy question.
However, I am unsure as to why the Spirited Away question was not appropriate for the audience. I found it to be a perfect choice.
Additionally, the Kronos question had far too easy of a lead-in. Indeed, the lead-in was possibly the easiest clue in the question apart from the very last sentence.


Posted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 7:05 pm
by FZW Coach
I didn't realize you all were doing this until tonight when I read Julia's message (from Spain). Well done!

Charles, you will have to teach me the stats program sometime soon. My schedule is pretty open this summer - just tutoring doctoral students in statistics at Lindenwood about three afternoons a week.


Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:50 pm
by Charbroil
Okay, here's my long delayed response. The revised packets are linked into the titles.

Packet One

I fixed everything you mentioned except for Kostova in the Bulgaria tossup, because to be honest, I don't think that very many people are going to fraud that linguistically. Anyway, since there's a certain anthropological aspect to the tossup (with the head nodding and such), that kind of fraud almost counts as deep knowledge in my mind.

I changed the tossup--I think that only Smallpox has the four variants described.

I fixed the Juno tossup, though I agree with Charlie that not many people are going to pick up on that issue as rising juniors.

Packet Two


I fixed the Congress of Vienna tossup. However, I have to admit, I'm not sure about why the Quiz Bowl community seems so hung up on whether Germany was either a nation or not it tossups like this--the region was known as Germany, the people were called Germans, so there is literally no other answer which a normal person could say here. I understand that technically it wasn't Germany then, but it doesn't seem a serious issue to me. Anyway, I changed it to "future nation," which also takes away the possibility that someone could think that I'm talking about Rome.

About Spirited Away, I think the tossup was designed to emphasize the movie's plot, and given the length constraints, I kept it the way it was, though you're right that that would be a good clue. As for the Piggy clue, while anyone who's read Lord of the Flies will know that it's a character from that book, it will take someone with deep knowledge to remember which character actually conceives of using the conch. Next time, though, I'd probably just go with a tossup on "Lord of the Flies."

About Brown v. Board, I changed some of the wordings (ex. "result" for "verdict") and got rid of "original." While I did do my best to put in the nuanced description you outlined, I have to admit that the result is going to be a bit imprecise because most of the target audience doesn't know what you mentioned and is only going to be confused if I say "This case didn't actually end school segregation, but..." (for example)

Anyway, if anyone's interested in re-critiquing these questions, they're more than welcome.