Whether participating in a quiz, watching a TV quiz show, or just catching sight of a set of quiz questions in any context, I always feel, alongside the sense of admiration, a pang of disappointment when I see a really, really good, clever question. Because I then think, “Damn, I won’t be able to think of that one now. There’s one more in the pot of really outstanding quiz questions which isn’t mine. I might have thought of that question off my own back in a couple of day’s time, but now, if I do, I’ll know that someone else got there first!”
Over the years, I’ve become more and more entrenched in trying to make sure the work we at QuizQuizQuiz produce is entirely our own. We’ve, at various times, used freelance writers, done question swaps, asked for and been sent material by quiz enthusiasts, but increasingly I’ve felt a certain sense of dissatisfaction with that, however good the material is. The fun of the job is coming up with the questions yourself.
Of course, it is a grey area, and no one is going to get sued anytime soon for using a quiz question they’ve previously heard elsewhere. At freshly written pub quizzes up and down the country, multiple question setters have probably come up with almost exactly the same questions as each other, whether because they were scanning the same news sites or because their minds were just working in the same ways.
I’ve had times when I’ve been watching ‘University Challenge’ and a question has been asked which is pretty much exactly the same as one I thought up earlier in the month and thought “Damn, people are going to think I nicked that”. Well, I really do my very best not to nick questions from anywhere, not because I necessarily think there’s all that much wrong with it, but just for the sense of personal satisfaction.
I’ve been at pub quizzes where questions have been used which I know have, one way or another, come from QuizQuizQuiz, either from one of our pub quizzes or, more recently from our weekly Friday Quiz, and, really, I don’t mind at all if it’s just the odd one or two. It’s a compliment.
We generally tried very hard to protect the integrity of our questions early on, so we would turn down requests from clients to see the questions in advance or to be sent the questions after the event (which we still do by and large), but there is a big, big difference between taking a whole quiz without asking and hearing a question/factoid one likes and thinking “I can use that”.
And since we kicked off the Friday Quiz five years ago, really, our questions are out there in the world – if someone really wanted to systematically hoard them for their own purposes, there’s nothing we can do about it. We just hope other quiz enthusiasts take as much pleasure in coming up with their own questions as we do.