Friday, 14 January 2011

Why Does It Get Me So Angry ?

The finest legal minds here at LAM Towers have been poring over the fine print of my carry over New Year’s Resolution : -
I resolve to stop saying that any team who beat us in a straight pub quiz must have cheated, even when they have actually been using their phones in front of us.-
and they categorically assure me that there is no way that I can make this particular post without breaking it.

Fair enough.

I honestly wasn’t going to post about this. Then in last night’s The Chase,( see my last post ) one of the good contestants was asked if he played a lot of quizzes. He replied that he used to, until they were ruined by the use of mobile phones.

I’m not asking why anyone should bother to use phones to cheat in a social quiz where there is no prize. I’m asking why it should have got me so angry when it happened a week ago.

Perhaps I should explain a little more. If you’re a regular you may recall me mentioning the Thursday night quiz in the rugby club. We have a few traditions, one of which is that the first quiz of the New Year always consists solely of questions concerning the previous year. The last question of each round is always a four part question. You can attempt as many parts of it as you like. However if you choose to attempt all 4 parts of it, then if you get them all right you get 8 points, and if you get any one of them wrong, then you get nothing.

OK, now these 4 parters are tough. Well, in the first three rounds in the quiz, two teams picked off all three four parters, one after another. They were swelled by non regular members, and the non regulars were blatantly using WAP phones, and supplying them with answers to the 4 parters. This isn’t just an unfounded suspicion on my part. People from two other teams told me that they had watched them doing it, as did the question master after the quiz. After the third round scores were announced the mutters from other teams were getting louder, and neither team gambled again – but the damage to the competition and the quiz was already done.

OK, so it happens. I know it sounds pompous of me to say it, but I feel a little disappointed that the regular members of both teams didn’t have a quiet word and tell the non regulars that this was not how its done, and not acceptable quiz etiquette. But there we are.

The question I really am asking is why the hell it should have bothered me so much ?

Look at it this way. We win more quizzes in the club than any other team as it is anyway. That's not that much of a boast, since frankly we should, being that there is only one other team with what I would call any serious players in it, and they don’t even come every week. There’s never any prizes, other than your own satisfaction. So why the hell was I so angry about it when I got home on the Thursday evening ? What is wrong with me so that something so trivial should get me so frustrated and indignant that I was still muttering about it in last night’s quiz at the club, a week after the event ? I’m not so very sure that I would like the answer to that question.


commentor said...

I would say it made you angry because, regardless of the low stakes, cheating shows contempt for your opponents. Getting pissed off is nothing to be ashamed of.

Londinius said...

Thanks commentor

That makes me feel a little better - I just don't know why I got quite SO angry about it ! I'm just a childish g*t , I suppose !

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment


Electric Dragon said...

as did the question master after the quiz.

Wait - so the question master knew or thought there was cheating going on and didn't do anything about it? That's disgraceful. If I were the q-master and suspected a team of using their phones to research answers I'd be down on them like a tonne of bricks. Quizzes are meant to be a test of knowledge, not a test of how well you can use a smart phone.

Londinius said...

Hi Electric Dragon, and welcome to LAM

Yes, the question master did honestly see that it was going on.

I think I should explain that he has a policy of turning something of a blind eye to the cheating which goes on. In his defence I think I should say that : -
* Its never as blatant as it was on the night in question
* The two teams who usually bring books ! ( honestly, its true ) into the quiz never win
* Most people just come for a bit of fun and he doesn’t see the point of making a fuss about it.

I’m question master myself down there on a regular basis, and I went through a phase of naming and shaming the teams who I saw looking in their books, and offering to show them the answers to each round in advance if it meant that much to them. It didn’t curtail their activities one little bit, but did earn me a telling off from the main QM and organiser, and enhanced my already burgeoning reputation as someone who Takes It All Far Too Seriously !

I won’t lie, I don’t like the normal run of the mill stuff cheating with the books, but it doesn’t materially affect the outcome of any quizzes in the club. But the quiz in question it was beyond the pale, since
a) The people doing it only ever come for this New Year’s Quiz and otherwise contribute nothing to the quiz - their own teams should have policed it, and in my opinion should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves ( trust me, they aren’t )
b) The cheating meant that the quiz was over as a contest by the end of round three.

GRRR - I’m getting myself all angry again ! Seriously, thanks for leaving a comment.


doublemm said...

Hi Londinius

Just a quick note to say how much I enjoy your blog. I've been reading for only a few weeks now.

I too hate the Googlers in pub quizzes, though there aren't (m)any in the one I usually attend. Unfortunately, I'm aware that I look a bit suspicious when I check my phone during the quiz (for time, texts etc.), primarily, in my opinion, because I'm a bit younger.

Londinius said...

Hi doubleMM, and ewlcome to LAM. Thanks for your very kind comments about the blog. Even if nobody read it I think I'd still write it anyway, but the fact that peole like yourself do makes it a pure pleasure.

With regards to phones, I know it would be ridiculous to ban people from using their phones at all in a pub during a quiz. To be fair such blatant cheating as the incident I described in this post is really the exception rather than the rule in my experience.

Of course, this doesn't make it any better when it does happen !

Thanks for leaving a comment,


Jacob said...

I think one potentially uncomfortable angle, that should still be considered, is that it could be hard to see that anyone with the aid of a phone within the financial reach of most people, and a basic ability to use search engines properly, can then become as good as a top-class quizzer (in situations like this, where time is not too much of an issue).

It's analogous to being a calculating prodigy in the age of calculators. Sure, you'd get to the answer of some difficult piece of arithmetic faster than the calculator guy, but it's not likely to be much consolation that your ability is essentially reduced to 'being a bit quicker than a person with a gadget'.

What makes it worse of course, is that I would wager that an average person could go against a team of hand-picked quizzers and beat them if provided with a smart phone, as they've got the access to accumulated knowledge on the internet, Wikipedia alone containing far more than any one person could conceivably know.

It wouldn't sap all the use of knowing about things - having facts in your head is good for everything from having a good conversation to learning about new things with the benefit of existing knowledge - but it certainly tarnishes the ability of being good at quizzes by making it in principle available to anyone with an internet connection.

I plan to write this line of reasoning out into a longer post at some point. I've been considering how the practical utility of many skills that were once very useful have diminished in an age of technological aids, and being able to calculate things, or draw things by hand, or know lots of facts, all seem to me to be casualties of this. Whether that is good or bad is a moot point.

Londinius said...

Hi Jacob

Sorry that I haven't replied before. A good post, and a thought provoking comment. I have no doubt that a very competent team of googlers could possibly beat a team of the world's best quizzers under the right circumstances. I also agree that while its nice to know lots of stuff, its not eesential, certainly not in the modern world.

However the fact is that our quizzes, socisl , pub, league, you name it, are competitions. Games. A game is something in which you voluntarily buy into a set of articifial rules and limitations. In the case of a quiz, that it is a test of wits, to see who either knows, or can work out, the greatest number of correct answers. Using an internet phone is akin to saying - well, I can go faster on my motor bike than a man can run, so can I use a harley in the final of the men's 100metres in the Olympics ? An extreme analogy , but an apt one. The ability to run fast is not essential today. But its one we can admire, and enjoy .

Interesting post - thanks for dropping by.