Monday, March 09, 2009

Diversification of Quizzing

Monday, March 09, 2009

After returning from the NSIT quiz (about which I have blogged here ), I came across Ankur's post where he presented his case:

Iv’ve noticed one thing about ‘general’ quizzes in general: they go into excruciating details of lots of things ranging from literature, movies, music, pop culture, history, mythology and whatnot - but computers and technology is something which gets just a passing mention at best or nothing at all at worst.

He further cites an example saying,

Even at Mahaquizzer there are hardly any questions on tech. (Asking who’s the founder of Facebook - Mark Zuckerberg - in a quiz of Mahaquizzer’s level where the other questions are so good is laughable. And not many were aware of this!).

And finally comes around to make his point. 

Does computers and technology deserve to be treated as a pariah in quizzes. Most definitely not! Given its ubiquity in the current century it deserves more coverage in quizzes. Given the granularity of trivia asked in other topics, technology deserves at least some mention.

But the point I am trying to address is a much larger one. And Skimpy nails it in this post of his:

Different quizmasters have different interests. However, there are a few things that a large number of quizmasters are interested in, and these form a dominant portion of most quizzes. There is some sort of a self-reinforcing positive feedback loop at play here.

And if you don’t share these “special interests”, then your average performance automatically gets capped.

Of course, this doesn’t apply in case you force yourself to develop new interests just for the sake of quizzing, but that, I think, defeats the whole purpose

Not getting what I'm hinting at? Try to go back and recollect the number of times Asterix was the answer to a Long Visual Connect.

But I digress, what I mean to say that though most quizzes claim to be a "general" quiz. There is nothing "general" about them. Somehow it's just assumed that every quizzer just has to be well versed with "certain" topics. After having interacted with a lot of people I realised that some of my friends didn't fare that well (some even disliked) in a quiz because they found it catered only to an audience with a niche set of interests and that bringing somethng new to the table wasn't rewarding enough. 

At BITS, I know people who have a huge knowledge base in a lot of interesting topics however I also know that they can never qualify for a quiz for their knowledge will never be tested. I suppose that's the reason while BITS does exceedingly well in Entertainment, we get pwned in Business Quizzing. At the same time quizzing in other topics isn't really encouraged either.

I always used to think that Business Quizzing was useless and that there were no "fundas" to be cracked there since you either knew the answer of not. But then can't the same be said about H2G2 or The Watchmen?  And as I spend more and more time reading for the Crucible finals, I realise the questions can be quite workoutable in Biz Quizzes also.



There is much merit in what you and those you quote have written about. Despite their best efforts, many of the national-scale quizzes have their own inherent signatures, which are reflective of their setters. MQ has at least tried to keep shuffling their setters.

Among my circle, we try to get around this "syllabus" problem by trying to encourage more people to set quizzes and indulge in their own interests. Get your friends to set quizzes and learn about their interests. Quiz circles can be watchful for 'incest'. Best you can do is to increase your own sphere of interests.

Rishabh Kaul

You're right. Have as many quizzes as possible. We're also planning on reviving SEQC, the saturday evening quizzing sessions.

Apart from that I suppose having thematic quizzes also helps, if conducted right.

Personally, I would love if people wouldn't look at Tech and Biz quizzes with such contempt. True, I a not a specialist in either of these domains, but I would love to attend more quizzes where the spread of questions includes all the domains.

Obviously, this doesn't mean that Entertainment isn't still my first love.


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"Apart from that I suppose having thematic quizzes also helps, if conducted right."

Precisely. This year, at the weekend BCQC sessions, we've tried to have several theme quizzes with an aim to making these subjects available to those who would otherwise never bothered about them. The highlight was a Medicine quiz last week, which is an area I have never really heard more than 5 qns in over 10 years. The quiz was both interesting and informative, and I'd enjoy such quizzes more than the nth repeat of a Asterix/Mile Sur Mera long connect.

Ankur Banerjee

Good to see more support on what I said. It's true that quizzing forces you to 'study' particular topics. Most quizmasters have an insane obsession with Bollywood classics and 70s-80s rock music. Sure, they're topics worthy of attention - but not at the cost of completely blanking out new stuff.

There was this general quiz held at Siri Fort in Delhi a few days back which had (apart from my team) ones from NSIT, St Stephen's, et al. In the audio visual round a lot of considerably tough-to-get questions related to classic rock / old Bollywood / music before 60s was asked. Yet, when a Coldplay track was played (a simple "Identify the band") the question was passed by 7-8 teams before it came to ours and we answered it.

This bias is so strong that I actually had to take up listening 'old stuff' - just for quizzing. That really shouldn't be happening. The sad bit is that because of this self-selective bias only the ones who stick to 'certain covered topics' ever progress in quizzing at a higher level. :|

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