Tuesday, March 30, 2004

A paper on Necessities of Conducting a FAIR quiz.(main round only)


I feel that in general discussions on improving fairness in quizzes the most important factor, i.e. with regards to quizmaster has been neglected. Therefore I take it upon myself to chalk out general as well as finer details that are necessary and must be followed by quizmaster.

a)The quizmaster must have a complete knowledge of topics at hand, he should be able to comment on questions/answers from his personal experience. He should be able to solve disputes and in general must be a step ahead of the contestants. This is not possible in the general sense esp. when we have all the sirs among our contestants. However whenever a quizmaster is setting questions for a quiz, he can make sure that he knows a little if not more about the history/background of the question. This is esp. Not possible when the questions are pilfered/dhapped and a def. attempt must be made by the quizmaster and his team of people setting the question to come up with original questions. This is a huge step in ensuring the quality of a quiz and ensuring the knowledgability of the QM.

b) The quizmaster will not at any time drop hints regarding the question/answer if an answer given by the team is incorrect/imprecise. Comments like 'way off the mark' are giving a hint to other teams and unfair to the teams who have already answered.

c) The quizmaster should not disclose at anytime if an answer given by the team, is partly correct. Now this put forth a very pretty problem, what does the QM say then ? If he says that the answer is not correct other teams are misguided and therefore that is not fair. If the QM says that "I will came back to you" then that tells other teams that at least a part of the answer is correct. That also is unfair. Now a good policy to adopt is to move on to the next team if the answer given by the team is unacceptable/partly precise. This method should be adopted even when the question is not contential. Therefore the general rule is to never say that an answer is not correct, but just to move on to the next team. However I personally feel that a certain bit of discretion is to be adopted by the QM and ensure that whatever his comments are he does not give an unfair advantage to other teams. It is as important for quizzing to be fun as it is for it to be fair. Therefore if the QM can pass some funny comments without being unfair then he should do so. I would even stick out my neck and say that the QM can sacrifice a little bit of fair play for the purpose of humour.

4) Audience Factor: Though many people feel that a quiz should give max importance to the quizzers I strongly disagree. I feel it is the audience that matters and the audience that must be catered through. I feel a giant leap in this respect is using proper audio-video aids like a projector and microphones. These are essential if a large audience has to enjoy a quiz. Also this greatly benefits the quizzers as the QM does not have to repeat long questions and the mikes help other participants to listen to other people's answers. A QM must make the answers clear. He must understand that the audience is not at as high a plane as the participants and must before starting the quiz get a pulse of the audience. He MUST at all times repeat the perfect answers clearly even if a participant has given a right answer. There is no greater frustration that listening to questions and not getting the answers. He must be clear at all times and make sure he is understandable to the audience.


There have been considerable discussions on the format of scoring, and which system is better. There has been considerable discussions regarding the various formats like IR, D&P and some of the new ones that have been proposed.

Therefore while discussing which format is good I would like to give my own parameters which I feel should be incorporated to make a quizzing system good.

1.No of Attempts must remain same :
There is universal agreement that the total no. of questions attempted should remain the same. This is I feel the most important parameter with regards to a quizzing pattern and must be around a particular constant value for all the participants.

2.No. of Direct Questions must remain same.

This is , I feel the most contentious issue with regards to setting, proposing a new format. Following are the cases when/how the number of direct questions becomes most important.
a)When a sitter is asked (notably the only case when the team to whom the question is asked direct gets an advantage)

b)When a PMQ is asked (not so important and I never intended to make an issue out of it. Never myself felt that if a quizzing system does not take this into account it is not good)

*note: PMQs are popular misconception questions, to which obvious answers are actually wrong.

c)Now sometimes teams know the answers but they think on the wrong lines and thereby do not get the answer. This I feel is fair and they should not get any points for thinking on the wrong lines. However if they get to hear other peoples answers who have thought on the right lines (but do not have enough knowledge) then they might get the correct answer which they might have not got if they had been asked the question in direct.

d)Now a major event is when multiple answers are solicited for a particular question, notably in connects and while asking the names of certain people. Now ideally full marks should be awarded to teams that know the whole answer. If this team had got the direct then they would have scored full points. Now if another team before them gets half the answer, then even though this team in question knows the full answer from the start they get only half the points.

*note: a suggestion that is implemented is that the quizmaster does not disclose his comments if the answer is right or wrong. Our esteemed quizmaster 'Sir' Brijesh did this notably in Shyam Bhat Quiz '04. However still when one team answered half the question right and another team got the full question right he split the points between the teams.(I think it was some question about ENIGMA etc..)Personally don't know why he did that because it is assumed that one team did not benefit from another team.

3. Round reversal :
Mathematically a good way of accounting for errors is not by getting rid of them but my negating them. This method works especially in the D&P system, where some teams suffer from a very brilliant team ahead of them and these very famous problems in D&P. Anyway this is also implemented in IR sometimes and I feel is necessary in any scoring/passing system.

There might be some points, which I might have missed out. I would like to know if there are any other things that are necessary. The process of pointing out points is not at all over with this paper and I am still trying to identify points which I may I have left out.

There are a many other factors like SETTING A QUIZ(order of questions et al), SCOPE OF QUESTIONS(i.e. topics) etc. I will try and address these issues in concluding part of this article.

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