Looking for study material?
Prepare for next season with thousands of packets FREE for study and practice use from the Quizbowl Packet Archive!
Need a new buzzer system? Apply for a $250 Matt's Buzzers grant!
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:24 pm



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] 
Question length discussion 
Author Message

Joined: Mon Sep 08, 2008
Posts: 9
Post Question length discussion
This thread was split from the Richland Tournament thread; that thread can be found here.

Hey, I really wish disingenuous bad-quizbowl proponents would stop demanding that other people write their tournaments for them at slave-labor rates and under conditions that make it impossible for good work to come through, and then whining when no one takes them up on their rhetorical construct of an offer.

The minimum necessary for a remotely good tossup in 12-point text is 5 lines, and something like 6-7 is more workable. Constraining writers to 4 lines and asking them for "pyramidal" tossups just shows that you either don't know what "pyramidal" means or don't actually want it.

Calculation tossups are not good quizbowl. Asking for them shows that you either don't know what good questions are or don't actually want them.

The prevailing market rate for writing at the high school level is $2 per question. This means that, for each MSHSAA-format packet with 84 questions in it, you should be paying at least $168. Offering $25 per packet, or less than 30 cents per question, is insulting and a guarantee that your offer will never be accepted, though of course you knew that when you made it.

But, instead of paying $1680 to commission a 10-packet tournament from scratch, you can and should mirror an existing set which spreads out the cost by being run at multiple sites. If anyone in Missouri wants to run a real quizbowl tournament, you can talk to NAQT or HSAPQ or one of the high school student groups offering questions for mirror this year (Fall Novice, the GDS tournament, Prison Bowl, etc.) You will have to deal with the fact that it costs around $16 per team in attendance to acquire a set of reasonable quality, that no one with any sense will use the Missouri distribution, and that there will either be significantly fewer speed-arithmetic questions (NAQT) or none at all (HSAPQ and the other things listed) because the rest of the country has decided to reward people who know and care about actual math by asking math questions instead of calculation questions. If you would like to fight the tide of history by making insulting offers that require good writers to write bad questions at 30 cents apiece, you can keep doing that, but don't act surprised when none of them fall for what you alone think is some brilliant master plan.


Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:59 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004
Posts: 4388
Location: Viburnum, Missouri
Post Question length discussion
I'd just like to chime in here to make sure everything remains civil.

I suppose I have something of a median viewpoint on this issue. I am actually going to disagree slightly with Matt Weiner in that I don't have a major problem with four-line tossups for Missouri tournaments. I don't think they're ideal, obviously, since four-line tossups simply can't educate players or prepare them for higher-level events as well as six-line tossups can, and I'd call four lines the minimum for what I'd deem acceptable for tournaments here.

I realize some people are going to disagree with me on this, so here's why I feel the way I do: having directed and moderated for a number of tournaments run on questions of roughly that length, I have found that, in my opinion, the number of buzzer races would not be significantly greater if the tossups were increased in length from four lines to six. I also do not feel that the outcome of any game I have ever seen would have been different had the tossups been lengthened. Also, I believe four lines is roughly how long the questions in NAQT IS sets are, and I don't think I've heard a lot of people say that the length of those questions inherently makes them bad quizbowl. (I should note that I'm speaking solely about Missouri tournaments here; I'm not sure I feel the same way about tournaments such as, say, NAQT HSNCT.)

However, while I will neither classify nor refer to Coach Brown as a "bad-quizbowl proponent," the last two paragraphs of Matt's post are right on. My views on the calculation issue are well-documented, and I really don't feel like having this argument again, having reached what could best be described as a stalemate the last few times this debate has occurred on this board, so I'll just reiterate my opinion on that here and move on. Also, having actually written and edited a tournament exactly like the one Coach Brown is seeking, I will simply state that the effort it requires is worth much, much more than $25 a round. As a writer for HSAPQ, a group with which I am proud to associate, I will point out that the tournament you are looking for would cost you $384, and that is with questions that HSAPQ can then reuse throughout the country. Given that the Richland tournament traditionally draws teams from throughout the state and that the Missouri format is not one that is accepted nationally, you are basically asking for questions that are not reusable for $175. Since this tournament would take me, a relatively fast writer, a bare minimum of 80 hours to produce, I'm going to agree that $175 is not sufficient compensation. I know you've expressed interest in writing more pyramidal questions; I think you would find that you, too, could charge significantly more than $25 per round for well-written pyramidal questions.


Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:19 pm
Profile WWW
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006
Posts: 4134
Location: Columbia, MO
Post Question length discussion
Chadbourne, you have to be honest, when you operate in a circuit like Richmond and the D.C. area, not to mention working both nationals, you do in fact see tons of games where the length does make a difference. We have to look at these things a little more realistically - the reason why for our circuit, a 4 line tossup would probably play the same way as a 7 line tossup has much more to do with the fact that only one team in our entire state was able to make the HSNCT playoffs than anything about the usefulness of those clues. If we can get a circuit going where we have a couple teams breaking the top 20 at nationals and a few more going 6-4 or 7-3 as well, then I guarantee you will start to see games where the length really truly does matter. And of course, if we start getting fields as deep as the ones Matt Weiner staffs routinely where non-contending teams can first line tossups on Vargas Llosa, that number will skyrocket. So in the sense of making a set that is appropriate for play no matter where it is held, he is absolutely right that 5 is the minimum. The Novice Fall set I am working on is not quite that long though, the tossup cap will be 5 lines, but as it is a set for novices I am not so concerned because I think for that field IS set length is certainly appropriate. Also, most IS set tossups I've read this year are over 4 lines, and almost all of them I read at the HSNCT were undoubtedly 5, but as you know, many writers and active students are insisting they increase their 425 character cap as well.


Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:41 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004
Posts: 4388
Location: Viburnum, Missouri
Post Question length discussion
ashkenaziCD wrote:
We have to look at these things a little more realistically - the reason why for our circuit, a 4 line tossup would probably play the same way as a 7 line tossup has much more to do with the fact that only one team in our entire state was able to make the HSNCT playoffs than anything about the usefulness of those clues.
Charlie, I think you're kind of making my point for me here, as this is pretty much exactly what I said in my last post.

You seem to be somehow conflating my claim of "four-line tossups are marginally acceptable for Missouri teams" with "four-line tossups are acceptable for national title contenders" - the latter of which I notably did not say, and in fact said exactly the opposite. While I agree that numerous others, myself included, might like to see NAQT increase the length of IS tossups (1), that in no way contradicts my claim that the current length (2) is adequate to distinguish between teams not in the top 25 or so nationally, a claim that you also never actually attempted to contradict.

When the overall competitiveness of Missouri as a state has been increased such that four-line tossups no longer adequately distinguish between teams, I'll be the first one pushing for another length increase. I remain unconvinced that it's necessary at this time.

(1) The length is an issue, particularly for the top teams nationally, but this is secondary to other current issues with NAQT, like poor pyramidality and an inconsistent distribution. I don't think the fact that a game between, say, Wilmington Charter and State College on an otherwise well-written NAQT IS packet might not produce the most reliable result because of shorter tossups makes that packet "bad" necessarily, much like an ACF Fall packet isn't "bad" because Chicago and Brown couldn't have a reliable result on it.
(2) Perusing through the first few packets of IS-77, which I believe was received fairly positively as IS sets go, a few tossups were longer than four lines, a few shorter, and the average length was almost exactly four lines.


Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:55 pm
Profile WWW
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006
Posts: 4134
Location: Columbia, MO
Post Question length discussion
What I'm saying is that we can get results that are at least the same, and most likely more accurate, by using questions that are nationally accepted. I also don't think Missouri should have to settle for 3-4 line tossups just because the teams aren't as good as they are in DC. If we don't have the normal length questions, there won't be as much motivation to learn the earlier clues. I think our state's general history of quizbowl proves that right, since there have been plenty of teams that were at least competent on one line questions, but only one in the last decade that has been legitimately dominating on good sets. If we settle for less than the national standard just because we think (but don't know for sure) that it won't affect the outcome of a game, then we are reducing our chances of ever getting teams to be motivated to improve enough to be nationally relevant. On the other hand if we decide to just run things to national standard no matter what, we have made the tournaments both more beneficial to the players in terms of experience, and have done a better job of ensuring that bad results don't happen. These questions are still accessible either way because their giveaways are easy (and usually MORE accessible than worse written sets) and they get better results no matter what, so why not run tournaments to higher standards?

Also, just so you know, some of the high schoolers I just asked who played IS-77 described it in terms that are against board rules, and all the rest said it was particularly bad, so I'm assuming that it is not something we should be looking to as a standard in this discussion.


Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:45 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004
Posts: 4388
Location: Viburnum, Missouri
Post Question length discussion
Once again, you've put a whole lot of words in my mouth that I did not (nor will I ever) say.

I don't think "our state's general history of quizbowl" proves anything about anything, other than that one-line tossups obviously don't prepare anyone for anything beyond the MSHSAA series, since there's only been one season in the state's history in which anything resembling a full schedule of good tournaments has been offered. I'm also going to dispute your implied claim that four-line tossups aren't "nationally accepted." Last I checked, NAQT is still pretty relevant on a national scale, and while there are plenty of issues with their sets, especially recent ones (1), tossup length isn't the most significant one. (Also, dude, isn't Mizzou running an IS set tournament next year? Surely you aren't deliberately providing what you believe to be bad quizbowl to the masses....)

Anyway, that's not really the point. I've run tournaments with longer tossups in the past, and will no doubt continue to do so. Six-line tossups are superior to four-line tossups; that's not up for debate, and is not the issue here. If I could reshape the Missouri circuit from scratch, it would of course look more like the DC circuit, where most (but not all, as you seem to be contending) of the tournaments would have six-line tossups. However, you're deluding yourself if you think that's actually a possibility in this state at this time. It's just not going to happen yet. The issue that actually sparked this debate is whether four-line tossups are an acceptable compromise. Through the diligent work of many good people in this state, we seem to have reached a point where four-line tossups are acceptable to both a majority of the staunch defenders of one-line tossups and a majority of the staunch defenders of six-line tossups; furthermore, this is the first time in the state's history that this has been possible. And this is a compromise that I'm willing to make at this time, not indefinitely. Feel free to disagree, but don't put words in my mouth.

(1) I'm not really interested in debating the merits of IS-77, as the only things I remember about it are some people on hsquizbowl saying it was better than IS-79 (which, admittedly, doesn't really mean much) and that it was well-received at MST Spring.


Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:19 pm
Profile WWW

Joined: Mon Sep 08, 2008
Posts: 9
Post Question length discussion
NAQT packets are in 10-point font with rather small margins. That's entirely different from the 12-point normal documents we were discussing. A four-line tossup in the latter is barely the length of an NAQT A-set question.


Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:46 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006
Posts: 4134
Location: Columbia, MO
Post Question length discussion
Thanks for confirming what I suspected was the case, I didn't have any NAQT packets on hand to check for sure but I remembered them looking smaller.


Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:06 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004
Posts: 4388
Location: Viburnum, Missouri
Post Question length discussion
I'm not sure what questions you guys are looking at, but the IS-77 questions used at MST Spring are, in fact, an average of four lines long in MS Word 12-point font, as I posted earlier.


Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:37 am
Profile WWW
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2006
Posts: 4134
Location: Columbia, MO
Post Question length discussion
I just dug out my copy of our fall tournament set and it definitely uses a font that's smaller than 12. This tossup, which is basically the length of everything else in an A-set, when put into the MSHSAA specifications on Word, is about 3.25 lines long.
Quote:
A 1681 charter said this state ran from the 40th to 43rd parallel, which would have blocked New York’s access to the (*) Great Lakes. Its most populous city is on the Delaware River and its southern border is the Mason-Dixon line. For 10 points – name this site of Scranton and Harrisburg.


EDIT - I found my emailed copy of Division 2 Sectionals, which was under the same length requirements as IS sets. This tossup was in it.
Quote:
In the quantum Hall effect, the Landau level spacing equals h-bar times the frequency associated with this device; that frequency is twice the Larmor frequency. Thomas shims are used in the sector-focused type of this device, while the classic type used two hollow, flat copper (*) electrodes called “Ds.” For 10 points – name this type of particle accelerator invented by E.O. Lawrence, a forerunner of the synchrotron.

It is almost exactly 4 lines, a little bit under, on the page, like most of the other NAQT high school questions I've seen this year, and when I enter it in size 12 font it becomes almost 5 lines, so I think Matt W. is right.


<div class="editby">Edited by <a href='http://s4.zetaboards.com/Academic_Competition/profile/89049/'>ashkenaziCD</a>, Jun 17 2009, 12:41:54 PM.</div>


Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:35 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004
Posts: 4388
Location: Viburnum, Missouri
Post Question length discussion
Perhaps IS-77 is just shorter than other NAQT sets, though I'll still guarantee that the median length of NAQT tossups isn't five lines in TNR 12. At any rate, this is kind of a diversion from the actual topic, and not one I'm particularly interested in pursuing any further.


Wed Jun 17, 2009 1:08 pm
Profile WWW
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] 


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Forum style by STSoftware for PTF.
Translated by Maël Soucaze © 2010 phpBB.fr