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Q for Quizzes

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DVD Smith
1269532.  Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:53 am Reply with quote

Thought I’d jump the gun and start providing stuff for the Q Series! I’m currently reading the amazing book “The Joy of Quiz” by Alan Connor, and there’s loads of great information in that. All of the information below is taken from Chapters 1 and 2 of The Joy of Quiz which are available on Google Books; I've provided other sources for the info where I can find them.

History: Quizzes as we know them only really became popular in the 1930s with the rise of radio. The first quiz broadcast in the UK was “The Transatlantic Spelling Bee” in January 1938, a co-production between the BBC and America’s NBC, and featured a spelling contest between representatives of Harvard and Oxford. [1] This was the first time that the traditional quiz format of rounds and buzzers was seen. It was a success, and further broadcasts featured “Age vs Youth”, “Men vs Women”, “Employers vs Secretaries”and “The BBC vs the Listeners”. [2] (Page 19) The format became so popular that during the Second World War, one in four programmes broadcast on American radio was a quiz.

Quiz board games: The first quiz board game of its type was Trivial Pursuit, and in the beginning it was very hard to successfully sell as a concept. Nearly all board games sold at the time were marketed at children, and so companies were very reluctant to jump on board. MB (of Twister fame) said “adults don’t play games”, while Parker Brothers (of Monopoly and Risk fame) returned the test copy they had been sent without opening it. So the Canadian creators, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, started making the game themselves, and so they made 1100 sets by hand, each at a loss, printing all the question cards themselves at their local post office. By chance, actress Glenn Close found a copy while in Canada and took it with her to the California set of her new film The Big Chill, where it was a huge hit with her and all her fellow actors, which included Kevin Kline and Jeff Goldblum. [3] The cast of The Big Chill ended up becoming inadvertent ambassadors for the game, and at the film’s premiere every journalist was presented with a copy of Trivial Pursuit. When TP was released in the USA, it went on to sell 22 million copies in the first twelve months.

Types of questions: When Haney and Abbott were writing the questions for Trivial Pursuit, they came up with their own terminology to describe the variety of questions being asked and the effect they might have in affecting the course of a game:
  • Snapper – “A short, punchy question with a kick.” These were designed to garner a reaction from the players, where you might fail to give the right answer, but you'll slap yourself as soon as you hear it. (e.g. "Q: Who is the only US President to have worn a Nazi uniform? A: Ronald Reagan, in the film Desperate Journey.")
  • Stopper – A question designed to stop a trivia buff from giving loads of correct answers in a row and winning the game before anyone else has had a chance. (Abbott’s quote: “We asked what hospital room number Ed Norton of The Honeymooners stayed in after being injured in a sewer explosion. Nobody in his right mind would know that…but somebody will.”
  • Mongie – A question so easy that anyone could answer it. In Haney’s words, “for people who are brain-dead at one in the morning, and still get them right”. (Haney would later regret using such a derogatory word.)
  • Quirky – Questions with jokey answers, like "Q: What's the largest diamond in the world? A: A baseball diamond." [3]


Quiz lawsuits: One of the “stopper” questions listed above landed Trivial Pursuit with a not-so-trivial lawsuit. (See what I did there?) One question asked “What is Columbo’s first name?” with the answer “Philip”. This wasn’t true – Columbo’s first name is never mentioned in the show – but the fact is completely unverifiable without rewatching every episode of Columbo extremely closely, which would have been next-to-impossible in 1984 before the era of the box set. The inclusion of the question showed that the Pursuit team had lifted some facts from the book The Trivia Encyclopedia by Fred Worth, who had added in the Columbo fact as a “fake fact” to stop any other encyclopedias from stealing all his painstakingly-researched trivia. Worth sued Trivial Pursuit for $300,000,000, claiming that 32% of the questions in TP had been lifted from his book. [4] Haney and Abbott conceded that they had lifted trivia from his encyclopedia, but thought “that’s what encyclopedias are for”, to be a work of reference for use by others. A judge agreed, and Worth lost the case, with the court ruling that, as Alan Connor writes, “writing down a fact about the world does not give you ownership of it”. [3][5]


Last edited by DVD Smith on Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:52 am; edited 5 times in total

 
Baryonyx
1269538.  Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:35 am Reply with quote

I have wondered recently what the legal implications of declaring facts are.
Naturally, facts exist and cannot be owned but there would still (surely) be issues if I printed off a load of NSTAAF facts and rebranded them onto some cards and sold them as conversation starters.

Any QI lawyers roam these messageboards?

 
suze
1269544.  Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:09 am Reply with quote

The English courts have usually held that there is no copyright in fact, but that this still doesn't mean you can just copy a whole load of someone else's facts and pass it off as your own work.

Most reference works do include a handful of "fake facts" with the same intent as Mr Worth mentioned above, and in England they win when they take it to court.

It is known that the London A-Z atlas includes a handful of non-existent streets in obscure corners of pages, and the company goes to law if those same non-existent streets magically turn up on other people's maps. Similarly, I was once told that the Shorter Oxford dictionary includes precisely 111 fake words aming its half a million entries, and that the Oxford lawyers take an interest if (when) those words appear in other dictionaries.

 
crissdee
1269609.  Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:40 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
It is known that the London A-Z atlas includes a handful of non-existent streets in obscure corners of pages, and the company goes to law if those same non-existent streets magically turn up on other people's maps.


I can see a flaw in this clever ruse. You get hold of a copy of the one with the fake streets, and a copy of one which has presumably been passed as ok. Simple (if tedious) comparison will tell you which are the fake streets, which you then delete from your scanned in copy of their map, and print away, safe from prosecution.

 
GuyBarry
1269610.  Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:08 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:

It is known that the London A-Z atlas includes a handful of non-existent streets in obscure corners of pages, and the company goes to law if those same non-existent streets magically turn up on other people's maps.


They're known as "trap streets". Here are some examples:

https://londonist.com/2015/11/london-trap-streets

Quote:
Similarly, I was once told that the Shorter Oxford dictionary includes precisely 111 fake words aming its half a million entries, and that the Oxford lawyers take an interest if (when) those words appear in other dictionaries.


I don't know of any from the Shorter Oxford, but here's a famous one from the New Oxford American Dictionary - "esquivalience".

Such fictitious entries are sometimes known as mountweazels, after a fictitious entry for "Lillian Virginia Mountweazel" in the 1975 New Columbia Encyclopedia.

 
DVD Smith
1269626.  Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:46 pm Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
Such fictitious entries are sometimes known as mountweazels, after a fictitious entry for "Lillian Virginia Mountweazel" in the 1975 New Columbia Encyclopedia.


They are indeed, and Alan Connor touches upon this and the fictitious London streets in The Joy of Quiz - I would have mentioned them too but I was already playing fast and loose with the 500-word limit. :)

 
GuyBarry
1269627.  Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:55 pm Reply with quote

DVD Smith wrote:

Quiz board games: The first quiz board game of its type was Trivial Pursuit, and in the beginning it was very hard to successfully sell as a concept. [...] So the creators, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, started making the game themselves, and so they made 1100 sets by hand, each at a loss, printing all the question cards themselves at their local post office.


I had always understood that Trivial Pursuit was a Canadian invention, and that the game was initially distributed only in Canada. So it came as a surprise to learn that...

Quote:
By chance, actress Glenn Close found a copy in a local shop and took it with her to the set of her new film The Big Chill, where it was a huge hit with her and all her fellow actors, which included Kevin Kline and Jeff Goldblum.


Glenn Close is American. How could she have picked up a Canadian game in a local shop? This article says "When they weren't filming, the cast loved to pass the time playing games together including poker, charades and a brand new game Glenn Close had found in Canada that had not yet been released in the States called Trivial Pursuit".

Quote:
The cast of The Big Chill ended up becoming inadvertent ambassadors for the game, and at the film’s premiere every journalist was presented with a copy of Trivial Pursuit. When TP was released nationwide, it went on to sell 22 million copies in the first twelve months.


I assume you mean "nationwide across the USA" there.

I'm not surprised Canadians feel marginalized sometimes!

 
DVD Smith
1269628.  Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:17 pm Reply with quote

That's fair, the chapter has been written from a USA perspective and I neglected to mention that the pair were Canadian. Apologies :)

As for the Glenn Close quote, this is the paragraph from the book:

"They were saved by the boredom of Glenn Close. Close had come across a copy of Trivial Pursuit – by then being manufactured by the company Selchow & Righter in goodlier quantities, although more were pining on shop shelves than were stashed in home closets – and took it on to the California set of The Big Chill. The fit was perfect: the stars of an ensemble film about baby boomers, with time on their hands, confronted with a quiz containing thousands o boomer-friendly questions."

I took "local shop" to mean "local to the manufacturers" but you're right, it's ambiguous and I conjectured. I've edited the original post.

 
DVD Smith
1279941.  Sun Apr 01, 2018 1:38 pm Reply with quote

In 2005, BBC News reported the tale of a pub quiz in Bristol where a question dispute turned into a massive brawl. The police showed up, and the quizmaster and most of the competitors were arrested and jailed - but the players were so competitive that the questions were brought to the cells, and the quizmaster continued the quiz from behind bars.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4168275.stm

According to this Mirror article from 2017, one third of people surveyed said they had cheated in a pub quiz, with 28 per cent saying they had actually won a pub quiz through cheating.

And in March 2018, the quiz company who conducted that cheating poll, SpeedQuizzing, also came up with a solution to another modern-day pub quiz problem: people using music-identifying app Shazam to win at "name that song" rounds. The way they did this was to set a trap – they had one of their staff members compose an original piece of techno music with a unique name and artist, which they then managed to get uploaded to Shazam's song database. By then playing this tune as part of "name that song" rounds, they can identify any sneaky Shazammers simply by looking at the answer they write down for the fake music, and call out the guilty party. (However, they do not accept any responsibility for any Bristol-style brawls that this trick may initiate.)

Source: https://www.speedquizzing.com/software-news/music-quiz-cheats-honey-pot/

 

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