The most popular feature of the Friday Quiz that I put together every week is the fifth question: the multi-answer question (usually worth five points). I tend to feel the success of each week’s Friday Quiz is defined by how good Question 5 is. It can be hard to come up with a good one.
The Friday Quiz (you should sign-up for it if you aren’t on the mailing list!) is almost 4 years old, and as such we’ve asked around 200 Question 5s. Now, we did, of course, already have a good stock in our database from our years of writing questions for pub quizzes and corporate events, but it’s always necessary to generate more and more, and I give as much care as I can to writing them.
The ones for the Friday Quiz have to be a little easier than ones we use in a quiz night, as people generally do the Friday Quiz on their own, rather than in teams (although we know that some offices come to a standstill at 12:30 every Friday to do the Friday Quiz together). Apart from that, the idea is roughly the same (also, I do generally avoid sport questions in the Friday Quiz, for reasons already discussed in a previous post about sport quiz rounds.)
There are a few things to try and achieve, and a few things to avoid:
1. It shouldn’t be a “know all or nothing”. There is a question I really like, which is fun question but can be a little unfair: Name 4 of the things Alanis Morrisette’s other hand is doing in the song ‘One Hand in My Pocket’ – it’s a well known song but not that well known, so the chances are plenty of people will know it, if they know it they’ll probably remember all of them, but if you don’t know the song, you won’t get any. 0 or 4. This question will have too much undue influence over the results of the quiz.
2. Following on from that,questions should, ideally, be on a topic that can be answered with general knowledge, about something that doesn’t turn a large number of people off.
3. There are some questions where people will instantly know 2 or 3 of the answers and then may know/be able to recall/ work out a few more out e.g. Name 5 cities in Scotland, but I prefer questions where in the instant it is asked, you don’t necessarily know any, but then they come to you. A good one is ‘Name the 5 countries in the world whose name ends with the letter L’ – most people or teams will work out four or five within a couple of minutes, but it will take a little bit of time to get there.
4. The one tiny issue (though it’s a great question) with the above question is that once you’ve got those 5, you should be 100% confident you’ve got the points. I prefer something where you can’t be 100% sure until the answers are revealed, yet most teams or people trying to answer it will still get most of the points. One of my favourite examples is: ‘Name the five largest islands, by area, in the Mediterranean.’ – I love this question – most teams will end up with 3 to 5 correct, but they won’t be sure they have. Almost everyone will be able to come up with 5 answers as there are lots of options, and lots of viable incorrect alternatives, and a real sense of excitement and satisfaction when the correct ones are read out. That’s ideal, really.
5. Having something too easy is almost as bad as something too hard. Say (we’ve never asked this): ‘Name the four members of the Beatles from 1962-1970’ – everyone will get it, obviously, but also there aren’t viable alternatives – there’s no sense of jeopardy.
At this stage, I might ask if anyone has any really good multi-answer questions, but I realise that’s a little cheeky and might seem like I’m touting for material! (I’m not, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send any to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, but only if you would be happy for us to use your question(s)!)
So, do you enjoy these kind of questions? Do you ask them yourselves? What do you think makes a good multi-answer question?