In the Author's Lounge, thirty-eight authors embarked on a race around FunTrivia's category, creating quizzes to fulfill the requirements of several different tasks. These tested the participants, all in groups of two, three, or four, in many different ways, pushing them out of their comfort zones in a sprint to the finish. The results can be found at http://www.funtrivia.com/bb.cfm?action=details&qnid=26879&boardid=2222222&start=0
To give a look at the background of the race-- how it came to be and what happened behind the scenes-- I figured that answering a few questions would be in order. Our racers asked the questions; here's what happened.
When you announced the race you obviously had expectations of number of teams, who would join in, that sort of thing. Did the people you expected to sign up all do so, and did people sign up that you didn't expect to?
I'd say that more people signed up than I expected. Some teams really brought it together-- I didn't think anyone without quizzes online would join but we had several first-timers. Amazing, really. I hope it inspires more people to join in!
In all honesty I expected five teams at the most, but it seems to have sparked something.
For roughly how long had you been planning and thinking the race out before announcing it to the trivia world?
I'd planned the route in a day back in December and posted the sign-up a few days later. Once the teams started signing up I started tweaking it here and there. Ultimately, the clues kept being 'thought out' until about a week before Leg 5 at which point things needed to be set in stone for teams' trips straight through until the end.
I posted it quickly because I knew the more I thought about it, the more I'd realize how much work I'd need to put into it. If I posted it, I knew I'd go ahead. I'd gladly do it again; it's just a lot to keep track of.
People would be surprised at how close the track stayed in the order it did. I believe I only had to move things around in legs 4 and 5.
How long did it take you to organise the Race with all the other editors to be sure they were happy and ready for the sudden work load in their particular categories?
HAHAHA! This is the part of the race where I have to admit a bit of guilt. Originally, I was out of the gates before the editors; the Geography editors had to deal with the first thirty quizzes in the first week without a great deal of input and I'm still a bit ashamed of the lack of collaboration I instigated at that stage of the race. In each of the proceeding legs I asked editors-- I told them the basic game plan and my original ideas for clues, took all suggestions (it is, after all, their categories), and really shifted the direction. A great deal of the race followed the expected route, but some, especially legs 4 and 5, took completely new directions. I asked all editors about the possibility of completely open challenges (allowing for any categories), but after leg 1, everything was set up weeks in advance...and I did it without the racing editors knowing! It's hard to sneak around without getting them to know.
Being an avid fan of the TV show "The Amazing Race" myself, I find it interesting to see how the several race mechanics such as detour, road block, U-turn, route info, and pit stop are modified accordingly and implemented successfully in this Amazing Trivia Race. If there's a second installation of this race in the future, here're some of my suggestions:
1. Include intersection (2 teams need to collaborate to write a quiz)
2. Include speed bump (the last team to complete a previous leg needs to write another quiz before the start of the next leg, maybe something simpler and easier like writing a For Children or Brain Teaser quiz)
3. Include fast forward (ask the team members to create a more difficult quiz, something like writing a 25-question quiz, where each question needs to meet certain criteria; having completed this quiz, team members can skip all the tasks in between and check in directly at the pit stop)
4. Introduce elimination and non-elimination legs (I know this is cruel but it adds excitement and competitiveness)
What do you think about these 4 race mechanics?
I did consider the other race mechanics but first and foremost, my goal was to have all teams write all tasks. We wanted a good number of quizzes, and all of a great caliber, and I think that's what we got. Let's see if I can cover all four:
Intersection - I considered this and liked the idea, but with the forums, topics could not contain more than five participants, so two teams of four would have a great deal more difficulty collaborating via the site's normal methods, especially if the authors (like 4Pi could have) opted to use their team boards instead. The reason I left it out was for logistics and to ensure that the great majority of the responsibility was placed on the teams themselves; U-Turns provided an interesting dynamic, but didn't ultimately fell the teams-- they inevitably always bounced back.
Speed Bump - The Speed Bump is something I hope to add in future races, but I want to avoid kicking teams while they're down. If a team is already in last (for whatever reason) they're in the back seven. An additional quiz, especially for an inherently slower team, could just keep them held back. In the actual race, the Speed Bump is compensation for the team being spared in non-elimination. What I aimed to do was avoid punishing teams; the goal was to give gains to the front-runners (and the front-runners constantly flipped each leg) while letting everyone run at a good, steady pace.
Fast Forward - I like your idea of a 25q quiz; I never thought of that. I'd want to avoid putting the FF at the beginning of the leg-- why miss out on three quizzes from one team in the leg? I loved earlier seasons of the race in which the FF was in every leg because it was even and fair, but in later seasons with only one or two, it threw things out of order-- it became a bit unfair. If a consistently first-place team is the only one to take the FF, it just seems odd to me.
Elimination - I thought about it, but I liked the idea of everyone crossing the line in the end. It wouldn't have been fair to give a badgelet to an eliminated team and it wasn't fair to eliminate when the queues played such an important role. To be fair, all rounds were non-elimination rounds.
Which clue did you consider to be the trickiest one? Did it have the expected effect on the teams? Was there any clue that you considered straightforward but teams messed up on?
I perceived the first Road Block to be the trickiest. My plan wasn't originally to force anyone to write a quiz (I thought participation spoke for itself) but I realized, at about the start of Leg 1, that if I didn't restrict the selection to someone who hadn't written a quiz thus far, some people *could* get away with a free ride.
For some reason, I've always loathed the idea of the 'Beauty Accessories and Fashion' category-- it seemed like something people would either take to or shy away from. Everyone ended up doing fine.
The 'Stepping Up' task, the Road Block in Leg 4, ended up being a doozy. Something I couldn't anticipate were the categories chosen by teams, and I couldn't really tell them 'no, don't go there'. When Salami_Swami said he expected a 'Stepping Up' style clue early on, I thought 'this is a good excuse' and popped it into Leg 4 (which was originally going to be three tasks in World, but ended up changing as the race went on). I ended up asking all of the editors about the possibility of an open challenge, but, as usual, they were to treat quizzes as normal submissions. I couldn't tell teams 'the wait is going to be a long one', but that's all part of the task. Daaanieeel waited a long time in People; Malik did too-- a front-running team dropped from top three to seventh. And we'd just come from the People category, so it must've given a sense of security. :p
I expected 'Entertainment By Themes' in Leg 2 to be straightforward but some teams were either sent to other categories or couldn't find the icon hidden in the page (the little movie clapper) or they were strapped for ideas. It really made me think about the structuring of that particular category. I spent a day or two rummaging through there, revising the guidelines, and splitting it into subcategories. I consider that clapper to be one of my sneakier clues; some got it immediately and some were really struggling with it. On one hand I was laughing, but on the other I really wanted to give them a hand.
Out of all the quizzes written for the Race do you have a particular favourite(s)? and Which task resulted in the most creative quiz submissions in your opinion?
I have quite a few-- I gave an Editor's Choice award to one of them. One I should note is Wes' 'Anything You Can Quiz...'. It's a quiz I wish I thought of. Just too clever.
In regards to most creative task, Leg 4, Task 4, the one with the FunTrivia game titles. Those could've gone in any direction, and they were all over the place.
Was Bhutangate (Leg 1, Task 2) your favourite bit of the race and if not what was?
The reaction of Bhutangate was pretty great, but I'd have to say my favourite part was watching the reactions to each new clue; teams would be stumped from the get-go, but approach the tasks in unique, productive ways. The creativity of each team really trumped it.
When you saw a team working on a quiz that would not fit the clue how hard was it not to drop them a hint or two?
That was the absolute worst. It happened more than once-- teams would jump on an idea (sometimes without my knowing) and submit it only to find that it would be shifted to a different category. On one hand, it only added to the quiz total (which is nice) but on the other, I wanted to see the teams succeed. All I could do, and I did it for all teams, was to reiterate the necessity of reviewing category guidelines and playing quizzes in specific categories. This is the expectation of all authors though, race or not. I must admit, I really enjoyed seeing teams overcome the challenges en route.
Was the difference in time zones a prominent factor for most teams and how did they cope?
Prominent enough to make teams think carefully about every submission. Some teams planned well, having people at different spots on the globe, but it's somewhat unavoidable. I shifted clue send-out times around to make it fair, but editors and authors would never be in sync. Luck plays a big role. I wouldn't be able to count the amount of times teams were grounded by corrections left to sit because of time zone issues.
I gather that most teams would have come up with similar plans and tactics ... those aside ... what were some of the most outlandish ones ... what worked best .. what failed miserably?
Outlandish? None too crazy, I'd say. Some of the teams would start templates for quizzes in completely arbitrary categories before the start of a leg, which was weird. Not that I'd stop them from writing more quizzes. I think they were thrown for a loop when the first clue in a leg would always be something oddly different. Geography to Movie Quotes, for example, then staying in Entertainment, then an Author Challenge option (which you can't really prepare for), a Detour, and another Author Challenge. If any outlandish tactics were made, I think they were proven outlandish by my attempts to keep racers on their toes.
I'd never be able to say what worked best-- it's a fair bit subjective. I love the teams that made every effort a collaborative one, but I would probably (personally) end up writing quizzes myself to ensure I have the grip on something. I could let that go, of course, but it'd be my first recourse. Not that it's the best.
You were a fly on the wall in every teams' conversations ... what gave you the biggest laugh?
Some of the conversations between Plodd and Creedy were pretty good; I've been clearing out conversations throughout the race to keep my box from overflowing, but some of their later conversations ended up being a combination of question posting, short, funny responses, support, and claims that they didn't know what they were talking about.
Oddly, ICBS was the only team not to make use of the forum pages for chatting-- they went off-site, presumably so that they could say nasty things about what I was doing to them.
All teams had their funny moments. It was a serious race, but more importantly it was also a fun race.
You always manage to come up with fresh ideas for the Lounge. How do you do this?
Do you hope to be able to spend as much time on FT when you leave college?
Do you think the interaction with people via being an Editor and the work you do in the Lounge, will help you in your future career?
2. But of course! I couldn't leave you guys! Besides, I'll be back in university (albeit for a new degree and in a new setting) in the fall.
3. Here's hoping! Not sure where I'm going yet.Mysterious Question #13:
A twelve-part challenge for either single authors or teams of two which isn't so much a race against each other as it is a race against the clock. In other words, you'll have a time-limit to get the quiz online, but it'll be independent of queue length. Both Wes and I have collaborated on this one, so it should be fun stuff for everyone. In the coming week or two, we'll have sign-ups. It will likely push authors to completely new areas of the site and while it won't be as high-octane as the race, it's bound to be perfect for racers looking for something to sink their teeth into (and I know there are a lot of you out there who haven't been driven since the race ended). This is the pick-me-up.
Oh, and I'll be joining you on this adventure.
It'll be the FunTrivia Sprint.
Anywho, that's about it! Much thanks to those who sent questions my way. The next big event (the what's next) will be posted at the beginning of next week!