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#917870 - Thu Nov 15 2012 07:11 PM What counts as Literature?
gracious1 Offline
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Registered: Tue May 01 2012
Posts: 717
Loc: New York USA
What counts as Literature? (For the purposes of FT quizzes, of course!)

I gather novels, short stories, and poems count. But what about... letters? diaries? speeches?

And I notice that in the People category there is a Writers and Authors subcategory. I guess that means it is more biographical?

But does this mean there is no biographical information in the "interesting information" if you put your quiz in the Literature category?

Just need some clarification. Thanks!



Edited by gracious1 (Thu Nov 15 2012 08:40 PM)

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#917875 - Thu Nov 15 2012 07:45 PM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: gracious1]
WesleyCrusher Offline

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Posts: 3908
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I'm not a Literature or People editor and they may correct me in some details, but the general principle is that Literature is about works while People is about authors.

In an ideal Literature quiz, you should be able to answer the questions if you have read the book(s) in question (and, if applicable, know related information like awards received) but do not know anything about the author's life. In an ideal People/Writers quiz, the opposite is true - knowing the biography and list of titles written by the author should be enough to answer even without never having read a single line between the covers.

Not every quiz will or can meet these "idealistic" standards - sometimes an easy author bio question or two is a great way to support a quiz on a book or vice versa. However, your quiz should have a clear focus on one or the other - mixing five questions of biographical author info with five others about the content of a specific work won't make for a great quiz (this would be two half quizzes and you should write the other half for each as well smile )

In the interesting info, you can of course also present related information "from the other side" of things - adding some biographical data to support a specific interpretation of a work is an excellent example.
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#917877 - Thu Nov 15 2012 07:53 PM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: gracious1]
agony Offline

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Posts: 11928
Loc: Western Canada
Quizzes about the lives of the authors should go into People, quizzes about the works go into Lit. A little crossover is fine, but try to pick one or the other to focus on. Biographical info in the II is fine in Lit, as long as you are not totally ignoring your question - "Who did David Copperfield marry?" should not have a bio of Dickens as its info, but "In what year was 'David Copperfield' first published?" could.

If it's been published as a book, Lit will take a quiz on it. We'll take online published on a case by case basis - talk to an editor before writing your quiz.

However, if you are using a book as a reference for a quiz about the subject of the book, the quiz might be better suited in the category of the subject. That is (because that was a rather incomprehensible sentence) say you've just read Tuchman's
"The Guns of August" about the first month of WWI. Probably your quiz will go in History, rather than in Lit, unless you are focusing more on Tuchman's approach to the art of writing History than on the events of August 1914. This is really only going to come up in non-fiction, and you might want to talk to an editor specifically about your quiz beforehand, to work out the best approach.

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#917932 - Fri Nov 16 2012 07:44 AM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: agony]
dsimpy Offline
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Registered: Sun Jan 24 2010
Posts: 465
Loc: Belfast Ireland
I guess I'm hijacking the intent of this thread ... but on the same general question ... what counts as Literature where Global Challenge is concerned?

I know it's been raised before, but from Level 8 onwards the Literature category becomes practically impossible, significantly restricting those 'literary types' on a quest for Immortal or Hard Core.

I'm sure the breadth of the Literature topic almost inevitably makes it tougher than many other categories, and the question pool will be based on the pool of questions and quizzes contributed by players. But really, it's not that it's frequently unplayable by level 8, it seems it's NEVER playable for anyone wanting more than 6/15.

Would it be possible/practicable/desirable to restrict the question pool for this category in some way, to make it at least reasonably accessible at least some of the time?
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#917953 - Fri Nov 16 2012 09:42 AM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: dsimpy]
bloomsby Offline
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Posts: 3719
Loc: Norwich England UK            
Quote:
"The Guns of August" about the first month of WWI. Probably your quiz will go in History, rather than in Lit, unless you are focusing more on Tuchman's approach to the art of writing History than on the events of August 1914.


The History category has a well established convention that questions should be answerable by anyone with a good knowledge of the topic, regardless of where they got the knowledge from. So, if you want to write a quiz on the opening weeks of World War I it should be possible to answer the questions without even having heard of Barbara Tuchman. As her book is relatively uncontroversial, it should be possible to write a quiz largely based on her book. As this book is a quasi-classic by now, I suppose that a quiz expressly on the book rather than the subject of the first month of the war would be acceptable in much the same way as a quiz on Einhard's biography of Charlemagne would be accepted.

However, if a book is partisan (one-sided) or polemical or pushes a fringe theory, quizzes on it are not normally accepted in the History category.

Some years ago there were problems when a quiz was submitted in effect on Viktor Suvorov's Icebreaker. To quote Wikipedia on the book, it 'challenges the widely-accepted view that Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime attacked an unsuspecting USSR on June 22, 1941 with a much superior and better prepared force. Instead, Suvorov argues that the Soviet Union was poised to invade Nazi-controlled territories in July 1941'. The Nazis themselves claimed (in somewhat different terms) that they were invading the Soviet Union in self-defence, and this is not accepted by most historians. To cap it all, the QM took Suvarov's claims as indisputable fact, without mentioning any source, except right at the end of the quiz. The quiz was not accepted.

If in doubt, please contact a History editor before starting to write your quiz.


History Editor

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#917980 - Fri Nov 16 2012 11:12 AM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: bloomsby]
agony Offline

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Posts: 11928
Loc: Western Canada
Bloomsby brings up a very good illustration of how it works. Lit would be the perfect place for a quiz on "Icebreaker", because to a large extent the quiz would be about this particular book, rather than about the historical period.

I'd like to give a general word of advice to any author writing specifically for a challenge, where it is important that the quiz go into a particular category. If it *really matters* where your quiz goes, check with an editor in that category before you start writing. There is no point in guessing and hoping, when someone who actually knows the answer to your question is right here, willing and able to help. The editors in a category are listed on every page in that category - just send a message and ask.

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#918059 - Fri Nov 16 2012 04:48 PM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: agony]
jabb5076 Offline
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Registered: Tue Apr 24 2012
Posts: 191
Loc: Georgia USA
Dsimpy brings up an excellent point that I've wondered about myself in the year that I've been on this site. In the GC, no other category seems as affected by a level increase as does literature when you reach level 8. Rather than simply increase the question pool at that level, it seems that the questions are pulled from an entirely different pool--one consisting of contemporary novels from various light fiction genres. Rather than simply INCLUDING questions from those categories, it appears that everything else is excluded, and only those questions are in the pool. Why is this, and why is literature the only category in which this occurs? It's a conundrum!

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#918063 - Fri Nov 16 2012 05:02 PM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: jabb5076]
looney_tunes Offline
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Registered: Tue Jan 20 2009
Posts: 3240
Loc: Briar Hill Victoria Australia 
Terry is probably the only one who can answer this. The question pool for a number of categories changes as the levels progress. It is not just Literature that is affected, although that is one I personally noticed because I play it regularly. When playing Hardcore forced me to play in some of my less-favored categories, I found that they too had some dramatic increases of difficulty in the question pool as the game progressed.

For the purposes of this site, Literature is "The body of written works of a language, period, or culture." (Definition 1 from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language) It is not necessarily "written material such as poetry, novels, essays, etc., esp works of imagination characterized by excellence of style and expression and by themes of general or enduring interest." (Definition 1 from the Collins English Dictionary) Of course, we hope all our quizzes, no matter the category for which they are written, are striving to meet the latter definition.
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#918064 - Fri Nov 16 2012 05:02 PM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: jabb5076]
WesleyCrusher Offline

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Posts: 3908
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It's actually not only Literature, but in Literature, the effect is most prominent.

Divisions 1 to 7 exclude specialized subcategories from the question pool. Divisions 8 to 10 don't. In many categories, this doesn't make a difference (smaller categories like Sci/Tech and Animals might not even have any excluded subcategories). Literature as a whole has very few general questions, but extremely many specialized ones. So once the larger pool is open, it seems that the category is now about special questions only because the ratio of general ones is just very low. For Children is another category that's hit quite hard when you go from 7 to 8, while some others (Movies, TV, Sports) have a jump that's less noticeable but still significant.

I agree however that playing Lit on the later levels is usually a losing proposition unless you're extremely versed in the works that have many, many quizzes about them.
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#918068 - Fri Nov 16 2012 05:08 PM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: WesleyCrusher]
rossian Online   content
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Registered: Sat Jun 10 2006
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Loc: Merseyside UK 
I avoid Literature and For Children at the higher levels and hardly ever play Sports and Television at any level. It was a nasty shock the first time I got that high in the game, but I soon learned.
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#918073 - Fri Nov 16 2012 05:19 PM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: rossian]
WesleyCrusher Offline

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(Can we now get this thread back to the authoring aspects? Thanks...)
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#918074 - Fri Nov 16 2012 05:24 PM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: rossian]
agony Offline

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Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 11928
Loc: Western Canada
Quote:
Literature as a whole has very few general questions, but extremely many specialized ones


That's it, in a nutshell.

We've got under a thousand Lit questions that a well read person would have a reasonable chance of knowing - who wrote such and such a book, questions about well-known characters and incidents from well known books.

The rest of the category is quizzes about specific books, many of them not very well known at all. If you happen to have read that book within the last five years or so, you've got a good chance of answering correctly - the questions are not really all that obscure in the right context. That context is "people who take this quiz because they have read this book". Once we open up to everyone else on site, the questions become impossible. Not much we can do about it, except exclude Lit from the higher levels entirely.

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#918139 - Sat Nov 17 2012 02:54 AM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: WesleyCrusher]
gracious1 Offline
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Registered: Tue May 01 2012
Posts: 717
Loc: New York USA
Originally Posted By: WesleyCrusher
(Can we now get this thread back to the authoring aspects? Thanks...)


Yes, actually, I was wondering if anyone has an answer to my first, as to what counts as literature?

What about speeches, diaries, letters, transcripts? Pledges of certain organizations? Pamphlets?

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#918141 - Sat Nov 17 2012 03:44 AM Re: What counts as Literature? [Re: gracious1]
looney_tunes Offline
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Registered: Tue Jan 20 2009
Posts: 3240
Loc: Briar Hill Victoria Australia 
Why not browse through the category, and see the variety of material you find there? Diaries, if published, are certainly represented; speeches and letters only if published as a collection. Try looking at the non-fiction subcategory, where they might be found.

Some of what you suggest sounds more like documentation that would be relevant for a History quiz, rather than being used as the subject of a Literature quiz, but that would depend on exactly what you did with the questions.

Your original query also asked about biographical information. This is most welcome in the extra information, if it is relevant to the question asked. It is not appropriate subject matter for a question in Literature, which should be focused on the written material, and accessible to players who have only that knowledge of the author and his/her work.
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