Monday, 4 June 2012

Questions where you just don't care . . .

Question – what percentage of women kiss with their eyes closed ? The correct, indeed the only acceptable answer to such a question is, of course, who gives a stuff ? Now I wouldn’t want you thinking that any local question master has upset me recently by asking such a question. In fact I was at the Dyffryn Arms last night, and I thought that the quiz was actually very good. Graham, one of the regular question masters there, has a little bit of a habit of going gimmicky – last letter first letter rounds and the like – but last night I thought that he pitched the quiz very well indeed. IN fact there were a couple of genuinely interesting questions that caught me out – for example, the country that produces more cheese annually than any other. Now, I knew that I’ve been asked this before, and I knew that the answer I gave then, France, was wrong. In fact the only thing I didn’t know was which country actually was the correct answer. It was actually USA – good question.John wasn't there last night, and I have a feeling that he'd have had that right. It's one of the reasons why we work well as a team - he knows stuff that I don't, and vice versa, however, I digress. Any question where you immediately think you should know the answer, yet you still get it wrong is doing something right. Coming back to the question I began this post with, on a question like that, there’s no earthly reason why anyone should either know or care that 97% of women kiss with their eyes closed.

I hate this sort of question. You might just as well say name a number between 1 and 100 as ask something like this. I’ll tell you what makes me raise this issue today. My oldest daughter runs a charity shop in Port Talbot. I popped in to have a chat a couple of days ago, and I noticed that someone had donated a box of continuation trivia questions. They were made for WH Smiths in the mid 80s during the Trivial Pursuit boom, and though they obviously couldn’t say it on the box it’s pretty clear that they were meant to be used with alongside TP or ’other trivia board games’ . You can see the box in the photograph. I paid for them – all above board, you see – and when I got home to have a good look, to say that I was disappointed when this question was one of the first to rear its ugly little head would be an understatement. In the interests of fairness I should probably add that they’re not all like that. Still, it does lead me to question what the point is of writing and including a question like that. Unless the thinking behind it is that it’s a game, and after playing , and being asked that question a few times you could amaze your adversaries by answering it correctly. I suppose.

What I don’t really understand is why anyone would want to include a question like this in a pub quiz – and unless you’re very lucky indeed I’m sure that you’ll have been to pub quizzes in the past where questions of this sort will have been asked. I certainly have. Of course this is just my opinion, and of course you must feel free to disagree, as always, but when I compile a set of quiz questions, what I don’t want is any of my questions to provoke people taking part to ask themselves :-
* How on earth can anyone here be expected to know that ?
* Who would ever want to know the answer to that ?
* How does the question setter KNOW the answer to that ? I mean - has he ASKED every woman in the world if they do or not ?
* Who cares about it anyway ?
I expect most question masters would feel the same way. Unless , that is, the purpose of your quiz is to try to show off what you know and prove how clever you are by producing a quiz where nobody in any of the teams can answer a large number of the questions. I’m afraid that there are still a a few QMs like that out there too. Still, not, thankfully in the rugby club, and not in the Dyffryn Arms.


DanielFullard said...

Hi David! Hope all is well and you are enjoying the 4-day weekend!

I agree very much with your sentiments. I hate "impossible to know" questions in a quiz and you tend to see this stuff on Quiz machines all the time so you don't win anything! one quiz master back in the town I used to live in would ask a few gimmicky ones at the end which he would often also give multiple choice answers ruined the quiz in all because on a 50 point quiz which usually ended up very close, the last 5 points were based on gimmick questions and it meant the winners were usually the team who guessed right.

However, one issue I would like to suggest is these questions CAN be used right and can be a fun part of the quiz night. One I attend does it regularly with success.

The quiz has 4 rounds which are marked at the end of each round by handing in the 4 answer sheets you are given one at a time. After every round he gives a "guessy" question as a jackpot. It does not effect the normal quiz but there are pint cheques on offer.

Questions in recent weeks are things such as "How many pub quizzes are there in the UK every week?", "How many followers does xxx have on Twitter?" etc etc. All questions I would hate to see in the normal quiz but alas they are fun in this format. It gives everyone a chance to win something, it allows players in the team who may have struggled to contribute and also encourages some good banter between team mates.

But I do agree with your overall point....I always tend to sigh when certain questions come up. A lot of the Red Tooth Current Affairs round have induce a similar feeling.

On that subject the local pub which I usually do Red tooth with on a Monday is offering a Jubilee Quiz tonight so better get my skates on!



Londinius said...

Hi Daniel

I'm glad that you enjoyed the world championships. One day . . . I take your point about using questions like this for specialist beer rounds, when they don't affect the result of the quiz. I also don't mind so much when things like this are used as a tie breaker. Mind you , having said I turned down the chance of undergoing a tie breaker on Sunday night. What happened was that Rob ( Brain of Britain runner up ) and his team turned up. They only come occasionally. John wasn't there, so it was just me and my youngest daughter. We were all square at the end of the quiz. We were offered the chance of a tie break, but what the hell, I was happy - actually delighted - to have managed a tie with Rob and the guys, and I didn't want to take the bottle of wine on offer anyway( I never take the wine. I don't drink it, and don't believe in taking the prize just for the sake of it )So an honourable draw was perfectly acceptable. Rob and the guys felt the same way about it as well.

AaronW said...


Questions like that are the equivalent of "guess the weight of a cow to nearest lb" at a village fete! They are fun in a daft kind of a way but not the same type of problems as those that lend themselves to either knowledge, or educated guesswork.

I totally agree that the two types of game should be kept strictly separated.

I think it's hard to define what is worthwhile as subject-matter for a question though. Almost anything in the public domain can be reasonable as a question i reckon, and the more variety the better, according to how much depth and breadth of knowledge would be required to dig up the fact. Sometimes it is easy to spot ridiculous questions though. For example there was on Eggheads recently a question about which domestic cricket side a certain Australian cricketer had played for.

I cannot imagine why anyone in Britain would know the ins and outs of DOMESTIC AUSTRALIAN CRICKET LEAGUES, down to a resolution of individual players. I actually would not even want to know information like that, even if i had a photographic memory, because it would still be taking away valuable space from more important, fun, or interesting, things.

"Who cares" is a risky criterion because there will always be some people that do not care; so i would go with minority rules there...provided somebody in the room might cherish the question, it's ok, even if 80% of the people are stumped and "do not care". that's a good reason to pop a couple of mathematical ones in for example (not many people like maths but those that do tend to REALLY like it lol).