Five Points Available

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, 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?


Greatest Britons

In 2002, the BBC conducted a poll to find out whom the British public considered the greatest British people in history. You can read the Wikipedia article about it here and see the full list of the top 100, in order, here.

On Friday 18th May 2012, the QuizQuizQuiz Friday Quiz asked for people to name any 5 of the top 10. (If you want to be on the mailing list for the Friday Quiz, sign up here). We’ve taken a look at the results from our quiz, and compared them to the BBC survey. At the bottom of this post I’ve pasted the results, showing those who were mentioned more than once in the responses on the Friday Quiz.

Bearing in mind that we weren’t asking people to list their 5 Greatest Britons, we were asking them to try and remember any 5 of the top 10 from the BBC poll, here are a few observations:

  • Stephen Fry came 17th in our list, but was unranked back in 2002.
  • The Queen came 7th in our list, but only 24th in 2002.
  • Sir Christopher Wren came 24th in our list, but was unranked in the BBC poll (which is pretty extraordinary, considering some of the people who were in the top 100 on the BBC list like Tony Blair and Robbie Williams).
  • Scooby-Doo, Albert Einstein and Christopher Columbus were on our list, but not on the BBC list, but none of them are/were British so that seems reasonable – I imagine they would all have been in the list otherwise.

Here is the list from our Friday Quiz:

QQQ RankNameBBC Poll
1Winston Churchill1
2Isambard Kingdom Brunel2
3William Shakespeare5
4Isaac Newton6
5Charles Darwin4
6Princess Diana3
7The Queen24
8Lord Nelson9
8Margaret Thatcher16
10Queen Victoria18
11Charles Dickens41
12Elizabeth I7
12David Beckham33
14John Lennon8
15Oliver Cromwell10
15Richard Branson85
17Stephen Fryunranked
17Florence Nightingale52
17Alexander Graham Bell57
17Henry VIII40
21George Stephenson65
21Stephen Hawking25
21Bobby Moore69
24The Unknown Warrior76
24Steven Redgrave36
24Walter Raleigh93
24Francis Drake49
24Alexander Fleming20
24Jane Austen70
24David Attenborough63
24Christopher Wrenunranked
24Albert Einsteinnot British
33Robbie Williams77
33Neville Chamberlainunranked
33Tom Jonesunranked
33Scooby Donot British
33Richard Hammondunranked
33Christopher Columbusnot British
33Alan Turing21
33Francis Crickunranked
33Bob Geldof75
33John Logie Baird44
33John Peel43
33Robert Baden Powell13
33Del Boyunranked
33WG Graceunranked
33JK Rowling83