How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with it?

Anything that's on topic but doesn't fit elsewhere, including related events that might be of interest to quizbowl players.
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Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock
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How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with it?

Post by Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock »

I've thought about this a bit lately, especially as I prepare to go off to a college where there is currently no quizbowl team and I hope to start one. When I tell people I play quizbowl, a lot of people ask me "what is that?" And I, not having the time to give them an in-depth explanation, result to buzzwords that I don't like such as "trivia" or "Jeopardy," and I feel like that gives the wrong impression of what quizbowl is like.

So basically, how would you describe quizbowl in, I don't know, 10 seconds or so, to somebody who doesn't know what it is? Is there some way to so succinctly capture the essence of our noble game? Let me know what you think!
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Re: How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with

Post by Eddie »

How about something like "Quizbowl is a fast-paced question-and-answer competition on core academic subjects in which you work as a team to buzz in on questions and score points." ?

I don't think the comparison to Jeopardy isn't so much of a bad thing, though - "it's like Jeopardy, but with teams, and a lot more rigorously academic."
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Re: How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with

Post by 1992 in spaceflight »

I do a variation of what Eddie says-I say "it's Team Jeapordy on steroids, and involving every academic discipline you can think of." If someone's more interested from that, I then explain how tossups work and how the game works.
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Re: How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

It's the Varsity Sport of the Mind(tm)!!!

More seriously, I usually say something like "it's a team-based academic trivia game with questions from lots of disciplines, like literature, history, science, arts, pop culture, all kinds of things."
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Re: How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with

Post by Cody »

My elevator pitch usually goes along the lines of "a buzzer-based academic competition where teams of four compete to answer questions on literature, history, science, fine arts, religion, mythology, philosophy, social science, and pop culture". [cutting subjects as necessary, adding a line in about Jeopardy as necessary]
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Re: How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with

Post by Mnemosyne »

I always make sure to mention that it's academic, not trivia, and that a question can be asked about anything you can take a college class on (which is almost true).
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Re: How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with

Post by vinteuil »

Depending on how vague you want to be with the sales pitch, a good angle to play up is "meet people who share even your most esoteric interests, and maybe even gain a few more" or similar.
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Re: How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with

Post by jonpin »

If I'm going with a Jeopardy analogy, I stress that the questions are longer and you can interrupt them.
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Re: How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with

Post by coldstonesteveaustin »

UCLA QB Website ( wrote:Quizbowl is an academic competition format pitting one team of up to four players against another team of up to four players. While a question describing a certain event, person, phenomenon, or entity is being read, the players individually compete to see who can buzz in first with the correct answer to the tossup. Teams can then work together to answer bonus questions when a member of their team gets the tossup right. Quizbowl is similar to formats like academic decathlon, academic olympiad, knowledge master, and the TV show Jeopardy! in that it rewards knowledge to those most prepared to demonstrate it ... Although quizbowl generally covers areas that are academic in nature (such as literature, history, sciences like biology and chemistry and physics, fine arts, religion, mythology, philosophy, geography, social sciences like psychology and economics and linguistics, and current events), we also play on questions geared towards popular culture, such as music, movies, sports, and general knowledge.
That is super long, so maybe just use the first two sentences.
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Re: How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

I said a lot about this topic in this thread. The most important things are to say whatever you're going to say confidently and succinctly, so it sounds like you know what you do and you're proud of it -- this will make it seem much cooler to other people.

When talking to people who are completely new to quizbowl or who are total non-quizbowl people who wouldn't realistically be recruited, I really don't think we have to shy away from sentences that begin "It's like Jeopardy!...". We know why comparisons to Jeopardy are inadequate to represent what quizbowl asks about or how it works, but the person you're talking to doesn't. It's many people's only connection to the idea of "using a buzzer system to answer questions about things", and that alone helps a lot with being succinct.

And yeah, whatever you do, don't say "entity".
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Re: How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

My standard line is "it's like Jeopardy, but with teams". The follow up question, 95% of the time, is "what are the questions about?" in which case I tell them that its mostly History, Literature, and Science, with a few questions about fine arts, geography, RMP, etc. thrown in. Notice I don't say anything about "oh, the questions are academic", I just say the actual subjects that are asked about. It tells them more, actually, and doesn't rely on them having a sense of our parochial notion of academic vs trash.

Interestingly, while the ability to buzz in during a question makes quizbowl very different from Jeopardy, I'm not sure it is essential quizbowl 101 information. My suspicion is that people who haven't auditioned for the show (=99% of Americans) actually don't know that you can't buzz in during a question on Jeopardy.

The most interest anyone who isn't a potential player has shown in quizbowl was a dude who interviewed me for a summer internship back in 2008. It was a half hour interview. The guy walked into the interview not knowing anything about quizbowl. By the time the interview was over, we were having a conversation about what the difference between "Mythology" and "Religion" is for the purpose of the RMP distribution. I got an offer from that place.
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Re: How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with

Post by Captain Sinico »

After years of this, I've distilled it to: "Competitive knowing stuff fast."
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Re: How do you describe quizbowl to someone unfamiliar with

Post by Amizda Calyx »

When I've had to explain my quizbowl "writing" "job" to people, I describe it as "composing paragraph-long questions that test depth of knowledge at academic tournaments". I give more details if they ask, but they're usually satisfied with that.
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