Monoclonal Antibodies

This question would be obscure enough, IMHO, even if it didn't ask for the more technical part of the name. Why not ask what the AB stands for?

I suspect the answer might be because the setter was afraid to ask for what might be seen as a two–part answer.

In my still humble opinion, there is far too much fuss made over this topic in MQL; and this question (along with its required answer) illustrates exactly why. There is nothing intrinsically wrong (IM still HO) with asking for what two letters stand for – or even a whole acronym, provided it's not too complicated and reasonably well known.

Some people are under the impression that MQL has a rule against asking for expansions of complete acronyms. If such a rule does exist, I haven't been able to find it.

The Guidance for Question Setters (note that this is guidance, not rules) advises the following:

"Do not include questions with more than one, or indeed multiple, answers. Make sure each question you have written only has ONE correct answer."

I've been meaning to raise this point at an AGM for some time now, and maybe I will next time. But this advice is itself, IMHO, ambiguous, and possibly misleading.

Take the previous question, for example: the one about the development of calculus. This has two answers (Newton and Leibniz); but only one was required. No problem. But if the MAB question had been "What does the AB stand for?", this also would have had only one answer, and it would have been only one word: antibody. So one question contravenes the guidance, but (as far as I can see) is perfectly fair; the other complies with the guidance, but my impression is that the setter has avoided it in favour of a more obscure question that didn't contravene the guidance.

What is it that the guidance is trying to avoid?

I would suggest it's questions where there's a risk that one team might get it half right, which would give an unfair advantage to the other team if it were passed over. This would clearly be the case if the calculus question had asked for both names. But with the MAB question, I can see no possibility of anyone giving an answer that included "anti" but not "body" – or vice versa.

Acronyms are often fraught with the risk of the first team getting the answer only partly right. Such cases should clearly be avoided, and setters often, quite rightly, do so by asking for the expansion of only one letter. I would suggest that the MAB question is not one of those cases.

My bottom line is: just use a bit of common sense.

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