We at the BC are constantly asking questions: what makes quizzes good, what made a *good* quiz good, why do we quiz, why don't more people in Pune quiz, and what can we do to help spread the fun and cheer that we get out of this sport.
One such introspection provoked this post by Salil, which received a lot of feedback. A discussion amongst some of us much later also elicited a lot of comments. Salil has put together some of the key extracts of the later discussion (featured below; read the link above for the original set of comments). As you may know, we organise open quizzes once in every two months and we'd like to know what you think of the content in our quizzes, whether you find the quizzes interesting, and what you look for in quizzes. General suggestions welcome too.
Following are from a thread of discussion on attracting more people for our formal quizzes and making them more popular.
If I were a first time quizzer, I'd expect to be able to answer a few questions, and at least be able to relate to most of the others. Now, judging from the low scores of first time teams in BC quizzes past and present, I'm afraid not too much of that is happening.
If we want people to come back for our quizzes, we'll need to make the quizzes more answerable. Now, I've set aam-junta quizzes – quizzes for first timers a couple of times – and I'm clear that to set a quiz that everyone can enjoy, answer and relate to, does NOT necessarily involve dumbing down of questions – you do NOT have to ask 'how many sisters-in-law does Mrs Agarwal have in KKKKusum?'. You can ask a question about KKKusum/Himesh/pop-culture and still keep it workable. That would be something a KKusum/Himesh fan would appreciate the same way that BC regulars would applaud a involved-literature/history/60s-movie question.
To reach out to a first timer AND pique his interest, we need put in questions that aren't obvious, aren't direct, but are in the area of his interests, and are such that he can figure the answers out very easily, so he at least stays back for the finals, and comes back to the next quiz.
We need to look at who we are setting questions for. What I'd suggest is to have(in the prelims), say, 20 questions targeted at regular BC quizzers, and say 15 at newcomers – the latter comprising of nice, easily workable, non-factual questions on topics that would still interest a non-quizzer – say cricket, Indian history, politics, current affairs, non-intricate business. I know our quizzes comprise questions on these topics already, but most questions aren't easy enough for a first timer.
Yes, there're going to be voices that we're pandering to aam-junta, that we'll become populist, and that we don't need to give 'grace marks'. But hey, quizzing is a two way activity – like I said, we always need to keep in mind who we are setting the quizzes for. And besides, we aren't altering our style of quizzing, we're still staying true to our essence, which is to ask workable questions and stay away from factual recollection based questions.
We need to convey to people why we enjoy quizzing, and for the same reason we think they will enjoy quizzing too. Yes, we can merely say let-them-come-if-they-are-interested, but they simply wont show up if they cant make head or tail of the first quiz they go – I myself remember being almost put off while watching a greek-and-norse-myth filled quiz back in my first year of college.
Besides, 'elitism' is overrated – a lot of the times, all it entails is recollection of a petered funda, that we simply happen to know because we've been quizzing for a long time. First timers who are well read, but simply haven't quizzed before wouldn't do particularly well in a lot of our quizzes, simply because they aren't in touch with our quizzing repertoire.
In the comparison with Bangalore-Chennai we could look at the Landmark-Odyssey quizzes, that regularly see 500+ teams taking part(of 3 members). They've 40 question prelims, and at least 10 of those are the sort that everyone can answer. Finals of course are different, and comprise what we at the BC would call standard questions. However, finals still have some quantity of local/pop-culture questions that are tough to figure out, so the audience relates to it once the answer is out.
I don't know if you should call it a dumbing-down as much as a setting-questions-for-the-audience-you-cater-to.
I agree with Shamanth.
A common question I ask is, has my mom heard about the answer while setting a newbie quiz - and that helps me remove some biases that are natural once one has quizzed for a long time.
Yes - this is a nice way of looking at it. It's a very good criteria for picking newbie questions. Perhaps, in addition to this - 'Would my mom be able to answer this question? If not immediately, at least after some prompting and clue-dropping?' would do well.
A thumb rule like this can and should be applied to all questions and not just the newbie questions.
Any quiz which does not cater to the lowest common denominator of the audience is not a good quiz. And this has nothing to do with dumbness etc. There are so many Qs in Niranjan's quiz which are in the so called areas of specialities of so many of our 'recognized' quizzers...you can check how many were actually cracked by those guys.
Having only seamless rounds with infinite rebounds, while being fair to quizzers on stage is not very audience friendly - it is drab. Rounds like the Chakravyuh round or buzzers or negatives make it interesting. I know it is difficult for such suggestions to pass through the standard format of our quizzes.
One of the toughest things to do is to try and convince a non-quizzer that he would prolly enjoy going to a quiz because he will prolly increase his knowledge of topics he may not have too much knowledge about or that he will get an ego boost by seeing that he really can answer a few "up his alley questions" or just happen to pick up a nice goodie or some cash. (The goodie/cash thing does work sometimes).
[I]n Landmark/Odyssey, you do not have 500(or even 300) teams of quizzers. Of these 400-500 teams, only 40-50 will have quizzed with some amount of regularity - most of the teams are family teams - parents and a kid or dad and two kids types.
They just come because they think it's a nice way to spend a weekend afternoon. Now that impression is inculcated simply because Landmark used to put publicity(and majorly) in schools and colleges. Also, people like it because it always has questions that they could answer and get a few right, and win audience prizes - there's lots of audience prizes in it. Besides, there're prizes like best team name and best school team prizes, so hajaar junta show up.
It clicked because they put in enormous publicity the first time, and made a lovely quiz. The first edition, I'm told, did not see that huge a response. Because it was a brilliant quiz, people told friends, who showed up the next year and it grew.
Speaking for me personally, it was a major influence - to see that sort of crowds, and that number of people having fun, and finally being able to answer questions in my first attempt at quizzing drew me. My first Landmark quiz was in my first year when I hadnt done any sort of quizzing, when hostel junta who'd quizzed in school told me to try it and that it'd be fun. I was pretty overawed by the entire experience.
I dont see why that sort of thing cant be done here. Get crowds - make sure they enjoy themselves, and they'll not only come back, they'll bring friends along.
I am not very sure about this (above mentioned) approach of asking questions.
If we stick to asking questions where the answers are known, this is going to stagnate the quizzing scene for sure. There will be more depth but the questions will heavily favour the zeitgeist. Asking new trivia or venturing into new areas which aren't known to everyone isn't a bad thing.
Having said that, I do believe that we need to make our quizzes more audience friendly. IMO, the most popular quizzes I have seen in Pune have been conducted by [...] Derek, Pickbrain and Parnab. Whatever be said of their questions, it can't be denied that the audience loves the stupid humour, the excitement created by the jumping QM etc. Infact, Parnab quizzes are super arbit but they ensure good turnouts because of his excellent dramatic skills.
1. Question topics and wording:
I had feedback from a total newbie, non-techie person this time :
My wife. Though she's a cricket buff, her reaction to nearly all of the questions was that 'they simply go over one's head' because of the cryptic phrasing.
We need a few simply-worded, straightforward questions in both the elims and finals. They don't have to be easy to *answer*, just easy to *understand*.
One suggestion : Let's have two people organizing each open quiz. There are definitely enough people willing to do it. There'll be more questions to choose from, some amount of editing and reviewing, and some checks on questions that look simple to the creator but are verbose/abtruse.
2. Getting more people :
I second Shamanth's point about the massive publicity and word-of-mouth generating the crowds. Look at Crossword's so-called 'sale' which features a single shelf of books at 10% off - but look at the publicity they give it, and the people that go consequently. We need something to make new people know about BCQC.
3. Making quizzes more enjoyable overall :
- Make it a point to have questions with humorous answers/fundas, and more straightforward audio-visuals. Audience interest needn't be generated by jumping up and down or needling the participants - accessible humour, movies, and music are more longlasting ways.
- Abhishek, your flash template for quizzes is really good. Do you think you can add some bits of animation in there? Such as fades between questions, perhaps flashing numbers when the score changes, a special screen to dislpay scores ?
- Audience questions are definitely a good idea. Audience questions with straightforward A/V identifies are easy to do and are best to pull people in.
- Let's also think of different prizes for people rather than throwing normal chocolates at them. Keychains? 10-buck coupons for pepsi? Pens? Comic books? Think cute, fun, envy-inducing on a low budget.
* Acc. to me, I'd like to help popularise quizzing as "a intellectually stimulating recreational sport". I don't know how many people are inclined towards something like this - re: the point that Dani makes. But in general, IMO, the most enthusiastic quizzers are "geeks", where geeks are defined as people who are passionate about something in great depth. It may be sports or films or music or books, but talk to them and soon they're spouting love-poems to their favourites. Some of my friends, non-quizzers, are in this category and I find them being fascinated by certain aspects of quizzing when I share questions with them. We need to at least attract and retain these. We also learn a lot from these people in turn.
* I feel we should "enable" everybody who wants to quiz or thinks they can quiz to participate. Our model of no fees, walk-ins etc. is perfect for this. But mere enabling is not sufficient as you have all pointed out. We will continue to tweak our "offerings" - hopefully, every change is designed to achieve something.
* I don't like the idea that we have to necessarily dangle carrots-on-steroids to get >100 teams. [D]o we really want all those ppl who come in only for prizes? Not IMHO. But we do want to make it a happy activity for those 80 coming for the content. We really want to be the pleasant domestic life of quizzing in these parts, not an annual one night stand. If we can also get to do the grand-nights-of-passion sometime, then fine - but I won't lose sleep over it.
* In addition to quizzes having some questions even for the (lowest common denominator), I feel the overall quiz should be pitched at the average participant, not at outwitting the (alleged) best participants.
* It should ideally have topics from a wide range AND the quiz host should be good at those topics - enough to be able to speak about the question and related context. This is hard to achieve. We know that many of us cannot claim wide-ranging interests. But we cannot get the few who seem to have wider ranges to do quizzes each time. So, if you want to be a good QM, then you have got to genuinely broaden your own horizons. Ensuring breadth by picking up questions from elsewhere won't help for long.
* Let's face it: we know exactly what certain QMs are likely to ask. And the QMs exacerbate this "incest" by hardly changing their pet themes over different quizzes. In fact, QMs must take pleasure in outwitting participants who think they know exactly how this pitch is going to behave.
* My personal subjective requirements from quizzes these days:
- breadth of topics (some familiar topics, some new that I can learn about)
-indulging pet themes of QMs fine, but only if the expectation from the quizzer is of fairly universal things to think about
- occasional reusability of old things - old wine in new and astonishing bottles
- workable, but not very esoterically so
- elims reflecting finals
- as far as possible, equidistance of topics to new and old quizzer alike - v. hard to achieve
- lack of sitters - but qm needs to be "aware" of recent quizzes
- Niranjan's idea of survivability of qn - a balance of clues to be given out and held back
* I'm not so concerned abt the number of people showing up increasing each time. [...] But we need to do the "retention" bit. I think colleges and schools should continue to be our highest priority for I feel that grown-ups have already now settled into some sort of recreational pattern and there's not that much of a dent possible unlike with the kids.
* Give out trivia quizzes/trivia puzzles during the finals. Let audience guys look at that when they're bored. Perhaps the content can be related to the elims/finals questions. They can take it home, mail in answers, and we give prizes.
* What are your views on the Theme Attic thing? I think it's a mistake to get people to write down answers all together. Perhaps we should have ppl call out answers for each qn instead? Person doing it can pick the newbies first instead of oldhands, and give them chocs. Otherwise, ppl may snooze off.
* We should get more feedback from participants. Perhaps we should put up a feedback form on the website too.
* I've noticed ppl, especially kids, leave qns blank. Since guess-work is the framework of most of our successes, perhaps we should incentivise this somehow (look at me spout economics ;-)) - perhaps have -ves if no. of blanks exceeds 5. Yes, ppl will probably write nonsense, but perhaps some will be forced to think +vely