Quizzing: Meta Thoughts

Hat Tip:  Ramanand's Buzz:
From quatrainman: Wunderbar! RT @mitesh_agarwal: Must read if you are a quizzer - awesome stuff from Arul @al_lude Trivial pursuit

(I originally planned to just retweet it, then I  thought I should add a comment or two. One thought led to another and then all brevity eloped.)

Arul Mani's article makes excellent general points and confronts some dark aspects that most people would not admit in public. There are a number of spot-on observations on quizzers, quizzing communities and prevailing attitudes, including what's going to be called the quizzing asshole aphorism:

My own private test for the health of a quizzing community is to ask whether they have acquired a resident asshole. This creature is generally male, a petulant complainer, a hand-raiser, and a source of such constant irritation that all the others band together to ensure some general sanity. 

In a perverse way one, I  can only sympathize with the quizzer's need for recognition as a rockstar in a parallel universe where knowing the epitaph on Heisenberg's grave is actually 'cool':
Quizzers are at their entertaining best when they are overtaken by the need to write their own history. The Wikipedia page ‘Quizzing in India’ was initiated by a Pune-based quizzer as a bland list of quizzing activities in several Indian cities.

He continues further...
Despite the old and new, quizzing has had a very short history. There has been little organization or talk between communities across cities, but quizzers having read too many books are really quick to seize the opportunity to write their own mythologies and theories of supremacy of one city, or one system over another.

That has always been one of the chief attractions about quizzing - despite what anyone tells you - everyone wants to grab a slice of history and fame. To add a few more psychological-anthropological fundaes: Quizzing also being overwhelmingly male-dominated often descends into no-holds-barred nerd frat party, minus the booze. Male egos need histories to stand out as heroes. What's wrong with that?

The following also made me chuckle, Mr. Mani writes - "Some years ago, I discovered that the Pune quizzers liked to discuss questions, such as what makes for a good quiz, with pages of analysis and graphs – I spent several months wading through the stuff in repulsed fascination."  I  freely admit that we Pune quizzers tend to be masturbatory lot when it comes to theorizing. It did get out of hand a little while ago, but all that discussion was more in the speculative genre and the changes, or tweaks really, have been largely for the better. See the self-styled BCQC website for details. Note: BCQC people are Pune's leading quizzing fanatics (italics mine).

Nurturing a quiz team is one of the ways in which a business school can prove that their MBA packs muscle. Holding a quiz is the means by which folks in corporate employ can reassure themselves that they are knowledge-workers

There is hardly an 'old' quizzer who isn't lamenting with great nostalgia for the pure and distant past. I would argue to the contrary. TV shows and the popularity of  bad, often very bad MBA-style 'business quizzes' took quizzing to more places and to more people. If it hadn't been for these media circuses, place like my hometown Pune would not have been able to showcase the home-grown talent and for it to improve and compete with traditional powerhouses from Kolkata and Bangalore. Many, many years ago I had qualified for the National finals organized by Limca and Pune teams - Loyola and St. Vincent's (my team) took such a beating in the semis that we realized Pune's poor level of quizzing. I am very glad to note that this is no longer the case and  many local schools and open teams have had outstanding results at the national level.

The wrong kind of crowd who Mr. Mani wants to distance himself from is merely the price of democratization.  While the riff-raff and the occasional bad quizmaster who insists on using the Manorama Yearbook as a source of questions are still annoying,  I see a lot more decent quizzes and decent quizzers than before. People who really understand what a good question is and who appreciate the joy of 'working out' the answer. Mr. Mani rightly points out that the internet has been a boon to keep the nastier elements in line. On a more important note: the internet keeps people like me, part of the great quizzing diaspora connected.

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