Taking the Quiz … (Part 1)

Rumour has it that a working title for the Super Furry Animals’ 1999 album ‘Guerrilla’ was ‘Text Messaging is Destroying The Pub Quiz As We Know It’. So, 12 years on, were the Welsh wizards accurate prophets of doom, or were they putting too little faith in the good nature of the humble pub quiz participant?

Well, a bit of both, in my experience. Do people cheat at quizzes? Yes, they do. Is that cheating now so widespread and so impossible to combat that quizzes now, like Pakistan cricket or the 1990s Tour de France, have lost all sense of reliability and integrity? No, I certainly do not think so.

Of course, the putative album title now seems woefully old-fashioned. Text messaging?! Who texts to cheat at a quiz these days? There are a thousand other far more effective methods. And what are they? Here, I can happily confess that I’m a little ignorant, as I’ve never, not once, no, never, honest guv, cheated at a quiz in my life.

Suffice to say, with Shazipanion, Wikipam, picture-identifying apps and whatever else there is out there, there is no shortage of methods for getting ahead. But the more important question, for me, is, without digging too deep into the philosophical pit, why?

Prizes at pub quizzes and corporate quizzes are rarely life-changing (usually a bottle of wine suffices) – we’re not talking Major Charles Ingram on Who Wants Be a Millionnaire? So why do people risk their good name for a pittance. Well, one thing I will say is that sometimes I think people don’t even realise they’re doing anything wrong. I ran a quiz last week where someone was happily checking the answers to a Picture Round question right in front of me as soon as I handed it out. I stared, his colleague tapped him on the shoulder and shook his head, he looked surprised, then put it away. I know that may sound absurd to hardened quiz goers but a lot of our corporate clients may not have attended a pub quiz before.

Another reason I think people sometimes use their phones to check things is because they don’t want to look stupid – they’re not necessarily trying to win, but they don’t want to be shown up in front of their work colleagues.

And people will cheat if they think everyone else is cheating, unfortunately. I can tell that quite often if there are universally high scores for a picture round.

Why else, in your experience, do people cheat at pub or corporate quizzes, and have you seen any brazen examples?

This is just the first on quite a few posts on cheating (and how to cope with it). It’s a big, and fascinating, topic, which can’t be covered in one post, but I’d be interested to know your initial thoughts.

4 replies
  1. admin
    admin says:

    There ARE still plenty of pub quizzes out there not blighted by cheating – either because of the clientele, or because the Quiz Master is using enough of the anti-cheat methods which we’ll go into in later posts.

    Rik – whereabouts are you based? Maybe we can recommend a pub quiz that is not ruined by other teams cheating.

  2. Ben
    Ben says:

    I was at a quiz once where lots of teams were cheating on their phones. I informed the quiz master who answered back: “We don’t have a rule about mobile phone usage.” I told him next week I’d bring my laptop and dongle into the pub. He said go ahead. I never did… but you’re never going to stop this now, the genie is out of the bottle. The skill is to write quizzes where it is tough to cheat. I go to some quizzes where the music round just plays 8 seconds of a song – shazam can’t work- and questions are asked that require lateral thinking, something google can’t handle very well. Such quizzes frightened off the casual players and the cheaters, but thrive with serious quiz players.


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