July 5, 2011

Anatomy of bad trivia questions

Last week, I analyzed what I consider a nigh-perfect trivia question, discussing what I feel makes it such a sterling example of the quizmaster's art. Strutting my peacock feathers, sure. But to keep it fair and balanced, I promised to look at the opposite side of the coin: lousy trivia questions, and what makes them so bad.
I've written thousands of questions over the years, and some were just flat-out rotten. Perhaps the worst were the ones with which I failed due diligence; for whatever reason, on rare occasions, I just plain didn't do my homework, and ended up asking a question that is factually wrong. (Really? The first female U.S. senator was elected in 1986?!?) There are a million moving pieces to every Big Quiz Thing event, so it's inevitable that every now and again something slips through the subway grate. But the truth should never be one of those things, so it kills me when it's happened, as rare as it is.

But as soul-crushingly crappy as baldly wrong questions can be, that's not what I want to look at here, because I think their badness is self-evident. I want to dig a little deeper into what can make for a piss-poor trivia question. And rather than examine one shining example, as I did when looking at the perfect question, let's examine two that are varied in their suckitude. "Enjoy"…

Q: This is the essence of trivia: Within 50, how many dimples does a modern golf ball have?

I actually said that when I asked the question: "This is the essence of trivia." And I suppose I was right, if you adhere to the traditional definition of trivia, which is "useless knowledge." But over the years, I've come to prefer working with a different definition, which is "interesting information." (Plenty of trivia questions are about dumb bullshit, but just as many other deal with knowledge that's well worth having. There is literally no topic that can't produce a good trivia question, under the right circumstances.)

There are several major problems with this golf-ball question:

(1) It's not easy to verify. Search the Internet and you will find many answers to this question, none of them passing my reliability test. Moreover, I gather that there's no official number of dimples for regulation balls, so it's perhaps ultimately unverifiable.

(2) It's impossible. Not even remotely figureoutable (all right, fine, I suppose some incredible, ultraevolved physicist or mathematician might be able to take a stab at a designing a model that will give him an educated guess, but come on, we're trying to enjoy ourselves here). Also, I don't know what school you went to, but you were most likely not taught this as a youngster, so there's no digging-through-your-memory element here.

(3) It's cliché. This same question has been asked a million times in a million places, judging by ye olde Interwebs; my little "essence of trivia" disclaimer hints at it. I essentially ripped this question off from various anonymous sources. I mean, geez, if I'm going to be a thief, I should be more discerning, shouldn't I?

And perhaps most importantly, (4) it's just not very interesting. The answer is 360 (or at least that's what I declared it to be when I asked this at the BQT). Big fucking deal. An impossibly difficult question might be worth something if, at the very least, a player feels they've been enlightened once they hear the (verifiably) correct answer. (Really? The Mr. Men books were the U.K.'s best-selling kids' series of the '00s after Harry Potter? Hm.) But with something like this, the audience is left with nothing. This question provides neither fun nor victory nor knowledge, just a big pile of boring, obscure, squishy information. Terrible.

And this stinker:
Q: In the film This Is Spinal Tap, how did the band say their first drummer died?

This was actually the very first question asked at the very first Big Quiz Thing, and it's terrible. (Though in hindsight, a lot was terrible that night.) Spinal Tap is easily among my favorite films, and many others would agree, so it is definitely prime trivia-question fodder—it was an answer to a great four-parter about fictional rock bands (the Thamesmen!). But this query doesn't qualify. It relies on one's memory of a minute detail from the movie (a funny detail, but small)— not figureoutable. Moreover, it's a bit of a trick question, isn't it? Everyone remembers the drummer spontaneous combusting, and many others recall that another drummer "choked on vomit." But yes, the very first drummer (played in a cameo by Ed Begley Jr.) died in "a bizarre gardening accident." So it's a bit of a swerve to put this little-known aside front and center. And, perhaps most importantly, I asked this as the very first question of the night! Of the first BQT!

This gets at a very important yet overlooked element of quizcraft: Question order and placement is nearly as important as the content of the question itself. Sure, I could've asked about the bizarre gardening accident in a later round, perhaps at a movie-specific quiz. It would've been a toughie, but fair-enough game. But as my opening salvo of my quizmaster career, it was a bad move, indicating that perhaps I subscribed to the dicky you-have-to-know-everything-ever-to-succeed school of trivia, rather than the, you know, actually fun one.. Thankfully, the nerds there that night forgave me, I recovered, and went on to my glory as the greatest quizmaster who ever strode the face of this world.

What do you think? Are these questions really so bad? What do you consider the hallmark of a trivia clunker? Share your discerning voice!


Anonymous said...

We [url=http://www.onlineblackjack.gd]no deposit casino bonus[/url] be subjected to a rotund library of totally unconditional casino games for you to play privilege here in your browser. Whether you pine for to procedure a provender game master plan or scarcely sample manifest a few new slots once playing on the side of real filthy lucre, we be undergoing you covered. These are the exacting still and all games that you can engage at real online casinos and you can part of them all representing free.

Anonymous said...

[url=http://www.onlinecasinos.gd]casino[/url], also known as accepted casinos or Internet casinos, are online versions of pile up ("cobber and mortar") casinos. Online casinos legalization gamblers to dissemble and wager on casino games from start to exhaust the Internet.
Online casinos habitually word up an eye to sales marathon odds and payback percentages that are comparable to land-based casinos. Some online casinos contend higher payback percentages during prominence gismo games, and some lease out something be known payout with a bequeath out audits on their websites. Assuming that the online casino is using an fittingly programmed unsystematic swarm generator, tabular games like blackjack evident an established distraction tabular edge. The payout participation aspire to of these games are established past the rules of the game.
Away online casinos license heart or lay united's hands on their software from companies like Microgaming, Realtime Gaming, Playtech, Supranational Imposture Technology and CryptoLogic Inc.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, you'll be able to go to sites as You - Tube at which you might locate lots of funny vids. Many people will be happy with replaceable batteries for home use and occasional outings. The Public Radio Tuner from American Public Media may be one of the best radio applications you can get.

Here is my web page Suggested Browsing

Anonymous said...

The most important thing to know when you are selling an account is where you are going to sell.
You will eventually run into the Download Location menu
with two options: Wii System Menu and SD Card.
The player guides Phen through 10 levels of dungeon gameplay, finding a whole host of weapons and other items as

Stop by my website internetradio

Anonymous said...

It's a pity you don't have a donate button! I'd without a doubt donate to this outstanding blog! I suppose for now i'll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS
feed to my Google account. I look forward to
brand new updates and will talk about this website with my Facebook group.

Chat soon!

my webpage; omerta city of gangsters game key

Anonymous said...

There are many different kinds of tools and techniques required to deliver an exceptional SEO India results.

Spend some time to design a good-looking 404 page, site offline page, etc.
The tools include efficient internet marketing, proper usage of keywords, flawless content and
creating social media buttons. The main aim of SEO is to get search engines positioning a certain website well in results
for specific keywords. A client can also seek troubleshooting services from SEO experts if their site is blacklisted by
Google or their search engine rankings start to drop. The major
preference is for offshore SEO companies as they offer SEO at the most competitive prices.
Domain Authority is influenced by:. There are many tools online to help you research relevant keywords, such as the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
Online research is required to determine
the packages and SEO Company. Most of the XML sitemap generators online are simple enough for anyone to
use. They want to know things about how to create effective copy, general marketing tips and
maybe even stuff about social media. However, in general, SEO services involve using standard and compliant coding.
Now, if it takes you three years to referrer 3000 members which means that you receive US$3000 per
month. It's more control than you get In many backlinks and every element of these controls allow you to link a bit more than he would be out of control. This is where your innovative SEO marketing techniques can achieve a high search ranking for your budget motel whenever a user is specifically searching for a motel at your location. As of now, Thomas Lenarz has helped many people get the information on reputed SEO companies. The World Wide Web is an incredible source of customers and potential revenue for all types of businesses and companies in all niches. Here are tips on how to identify the right keywords for your business website. The content must complement the theme of the website design. Image Optimization is also a part of SEO services in Pune.

Also visit my webpage click the following internet page
Also see my web page - wiki.aquasoft.de

Anonymous said...

World wide web has without a doubt built taking part in
extra fascinating. Hochbetten können außergewöhnlich ein Ort zum Spielen sein.
You can join the millions of people who play online bingo.

Here is my web blog: Recommended Internet page

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you may be a great author.
I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back down
the road. I want to encourage you to continue your great
work, have a nice day!

My web page ... gratis spiele spielen

Anonymous said...

Ηello There. I discovered your blοg the usage of msn.
That is a rеally well writtеn artіcle. I'll be sure to bookmark it and come back to read extra of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I will certainly comeback.

Here is my homepage - visit the next web site
Also see my page - mouse click the following post

Anonymous said...

Knee braces are designed for a particular kind of knee injury or
knee problem first and foremost, and then you should consider the sport of skiing.

However, diabetics should never drink anything with this substance in it as it has a very bad glycemic reaction on the body.
Adequate Sleep - An alternate way to lose weight is to always have adequate sleep.

Feel free to surf to my blog post ... 10 kilo abnehmen

Anonymous said...

Hello all, here every one is sharing these know-how, so it's pleasant to read this website, and I used to pay a visit this web site daily.

my site - online radio

Anonymous said...

"Is there really no way to transfer my VC and Wii - Ware games from my Wii to another. Real game, real people, real thrill and of course real money; is all about online gaming, the perfect place to fulfill your desire to be a multi millionaire. In our next article, we'll be tackling using SNES4i - Phone to do exactly that - play those old favorites, like Chono Trigger, Super Ghouls and Ghosts, or even Super Mario Bros 3.

My web-site ... youtube downloader online

Anonymous said...

Please supplement charge before use when the battery has been kept for a long time.

However, it is still possible to insect the terminals and make
sure there is no corrosion. Although, sound card is integrated device, it functions similar to brightness of the screen when talking about power consumption.

Here is my web-site http://www.afterhourbikers.com/

Anonymous said...

This provides an important social outlet for many youngsters in a time when more and more people are becoming increasingly isolated from one another.
Like a pc when much too many programs are downloaded at the moment the process can shut lower from overuse.
Otherwise, choose the NES emulator you think will work
best for you and your system.

My site http://carlotuzacau.soup.io/post/301948568/Options-For-Realistic-Games-Products

Anonymous said...

It's going to be finish of mine day, but before end I am reading this enormous post to increase my know-how.

Feel free to visit my web site シャネルバッグ

Anonymous said...

We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.
Your web site offered us with valuable info to work on. You've done an impressive job and our whole community will be grateful to you.

My web page - www.raybansunglassesoutletsales.com

Anonymous said...

Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed
account your blog posts. Anyway I'll be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently fast.

Also visit my blog; gucci 財布

Anonymous said...

Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just
so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple
ipad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

Look at my page; rolex時計

Anonymous said...

Hi there would you mind letting me know which web host you're using? I've loaded your blog in 3 different internet browsers and
I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most.
Can you recommend a good web hosting provider at a fair price?
Thank you, I appreciate it!

Feel free to surf to my webpage: アバクロンビーフィッチパーカー

Anonymous said...

Very rapidly this web page will be famous amid all blogging viewers, due to it's pleasant content

Feel free to visit my website オークリーサングラス

Anonymous said...

The IAB originally predicted that private student loans for people ad spend.

My web page - The Student Loan People

Anonymous said...

I'm really loving the theme/design of your web site. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems? A couple of my blog audience have complained about my website not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome. Do you have any tips to help fix this issue?

Here is my weblog - サングラスレイバン

Anonymous said...

Hi my family member! I want to say that this article is awesome, great written and come
with approximately all important infos. I'd like to look extra posts like this .

Feel free to surf to my web site :: ヴィトンバッグ

Anonymous said...

Thus every one of you who jailbreak could possibly get to enjoy in those jailbreak apps.
Apple can also be rolling out a fresh iOS update on March 11.
Seems as being similar to an Apple iPad, doesn't it?

my homepage http://nastycute.com/

dadyar said...

exellent thanks