Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A few words on how cheating is handled

A couple of Draught Horse regulars mentioned some phone-based cheating to me last week.  That's appreciated as it is a large room - with 15-20 mostly large teams probably one of the larger regularly scheduled quizzes around - and I can only see so much from where I'm located.  So by all means feel free to snitch.  And please feel free to confront people yourself.

I'd just like to remind folks that it usually becomes evident to me after the fourth round who might be cheating.  It doesn't look like I'm doing much about it but that's by design.

The whole idea of the quiz is to fill seats and encourage people to stick around, presumably buying food and drink.  It's therefore my policy to let cheaters cheat without comment and continue conducting the game while the cheaters think they are doing well.  They get eliminated at the end of the quiz and the bar still gets their money, which is transferred to honest winning teams in the form of prizes, and to me in the form of... their money.

Sometimes it becomes evident a team has cheated on a few answers and isn't really very good or very motivated at that activity either, and won't be finishing in the prizes anyway.  Those people I just leave alone.

It's also an aim of mine that people who enjoy the challenge should feel that they aren't being cheated, and of course neither the bars nor I appreciate our honest customers getting ripped off.  Thus I'd just like people to know that I take a hard line against cheating, I do like to know when it's happening, and although it's mostly unspoken something is happening to defeat it.

Fortunately it's generally evident when a team is cheating.  People who underestimate the rest of our abilities to determine when they cheat are usually not bright enough to pull things off well either. Signs include:

- Teams who get 5 correct in the first round and then 8 in each of the last few. Possible but very unlikely.

- "Knowing" a difficult answer and then misspelling it, especially when it's not a difficult item to spell.  This is clearly happening when one person is looking up the answer and a different person is writing things down.  I tend also to have more confidence in sheets written in different handwriting, as team members slide the sheet around to the person who knows the answer, and who doesn't want to say it out loud.  Cheating teams generally assign one person - usually a female if they have one - as a scribe.  We are after all talking about lazy people.

- Always doing better at the beginning of the round than at the end, because there was less time to look things up at the end.  Again, these are lazy people, and if they were better at looking things up they'd have a skill set which might include knowing them offhand from the start.  Sometimes I deliberately make the last couple of questions in a round the ones that are more difficult to Google, and often this results in a team who was looking things up turning a sheet in earlier than other teams, there being no point in trying to brainstorm an answer, with all their correct answers front-loaded.

- Teams that get some difficult questions correct and then leave others in the same round completely blank - just no attempt whatever at an educated guess - make me suspicious.

- In the case of a generally younger crowd such as we have at the Draught Horse, getting a 1980s TV question correct but not a contemporary one.  Again it is possible but it draws my attention.

- Only getting the straightforward questions correct and never getting the complex ones correct that'd be difficult to Google.  An example of a straightforward question in this sense would be a sports record holder, or a capital.  Easily researched, and if I'm asking it there is generally one definitive answer.  If your team gets all of those correct, no matter how obscure, and can't answer anything correctly requiring multiple elements, or requiring a plot element from any book or movie... I'm suspicious.

- Getting most of the answers correct in the Secret Theme round but not even attempting to propose a Secret Theme.  This is especially the case when the questions were difficult but the theme more obvious should you have them to work with.  That one's a big red flag and usually these teams will miraculously go on to get 8 answers correct in the final round.

Most cheating teams do a combination of all or most of the above.  Usually they might as well just stand up and announce that they are looking up answers.

There are likely a few other things I'm forgetting.  Most of the time I'll just skip over a team name when giving the final scores when it's obvious cheating occurred.  And most of the time this takes place no one bothers to follow up with me about it, which is another sign that they did dirty.

Rarely people will have the temerity to challenge me on de facto accusing them of cheating, and this is usually easily handled by asking them simple follow-up questions - simpler ones in fact - about their answers.  An example from life would be asking a team who "knew" what Huck Finn's hometown was what primary character Huck was with during his raft journey.  When the team didn't know Jim after multiple guesses it was clear they didn't know the book.

No comments: