How DU Quizzing Societies are Coping with the Pandemic

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Quizzing is undoubtedly one of the most exciting extra-curricular activities out there. For some, it’s about acquiring bragging rights, while for others it’s about the insatiable curiosity to know more about the world. There are more than 20 quizzing societies in DU alone, and each year, these societies organize quiz fests that offer attractive cash prizes, and most importantly, a chance to learn something new.

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However, the pandemic has affected every field, and quizzing has also not been left untouched. The pandemic has unfortunately disrupted the activities of the quizzing circuit to a great extent. From difficulty in getting sponsors to ensuring a fair quiz, the problems are many, and the solutions come with their own compromise.

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The pandemic has compelled quizzing societies to conduct quizzes on online platforms like Google Meet, Zoom, and Discord. This, however, is not deterring passionate quizzers from participating, who often turn up in large numbers. In fact, in some cases, online quizzes are witnessing more participation than offline quizzes, which used to be usually held physically on campuses. But online quizzes also have their fair share of cons.

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How DU Quizzing Societies are Coping with the Pandemic
Image Source-Illuminati, Hansraj College

HOW ARE QUIZZING SOCIETIES OPERATING AMIDST THE PANDEMIC?

Gayatri Giri, the senior coordinator of The Lady Shri Ram College Quiz Society, says that her society would not hold formal elections until the situation becomes normal. “Our society has decided to not host either an election or a recruitment quiz until we can confirm full participation by every member,” she says. “Since our previous union was made entirely of third years, they had to handle administrative stuff even after technically graduating. So to maintain the society’s activity, there was a decision to make an interim union, which we are the result of.” She further says that the extent of the society’s activity would probably be limited to Discord sessions or Instagram and WhatsApp quizzes.

For the Miranda Quiz Society, the pandemic has certainly changed the way they conduct their activities. “We used to hold regular intra college quizzes hosted by our members, but now all of that has shifted online onto platforms like Google Meet, Zoom etc.,” the society says. “It lacks the in-person flair and fun of an offline event but we have to adapt to what we’re afforded. In addition to that, any inter-college events that we’re planning for the future may end up being held on these online platforms. There are some hitches, in so far as connectivity issues are concerned. Mostly, I feel, our society, and the quizzing circuit as a whole has managed to rise up to the challenge and create a vibrant online quizzing culture.”

THE CHALLENGES OF CONDUCTING ONLINE QUIZZES

Arihant Tyagi, the president of Qnights: The Ramjas Quiz Society, has pointed out some of the problems of conducting online quizzes. “Online quizzing has been a very big hassle for every quizzing society,” he says. “While cheating is definitely a very big problem, another major problem is the technological disparity and lack of features in video call apps which are not in line with quiz rules. For example, a person can’t pounce on Google Meet which is the most available app, and on Zoom, you can pounce but it’s difficult to check individual teams and their pounces. For this purpose, Qnights made a Discord server which is one of its kind in the DU quizzing circuit. While this was a successful measure, teaching Discord to beginners was a bit difficult.”

Another issue highlighted by Arihant is getting sponsors for quizzes. “When conducting an online quiz, it is very difficult to pitch the sponsors and convince them of something. Sponsors are also hesitant in lending money as they can’t see the true happenings and crowd. Thus, there is minimal incentive left to conduct quizzes and for the quizzers too.”

HAVE QUIZZING SOCIETIES BECOME DORMANT DUE TO THE PANDEMIC?

Pranav Manie, a former General Secretary of Illuminati: The Hansraj College Quizzing Society, believes that the pandemic has made some quizzing societies “dormant”. “Quizzing has always been an activity that thrives on people meeting each other, and some of my close friends are from the quizzing circuit,” he says. “You just learn so much from meeting such people. Quizzing as an activity feels more alive when you are there as a person and it is easy to ensure that there is no Googling. In online quizzes, you just don’t get the feeling which you get when you pounce in a room filled with lots of people.”

Pranav, however, also thinks that online quizzing has been beneficial in some ways. “The quizzing circuit is definitely more amicable to people in general, more than any other extra-curricular activity, as it does not require any registration fees. Online quizzing has given birth to fundraising quizzes that have been able to collect money for the right causes. I have done one myself with a bunch of people from different societies and it was a very collaborative effort that managed to raise money not only from different parts of India, but from places like Chicago as well. So, that is the kind of reach that online quizzing can have. But the downside is that in Covid, it’s very difficult for people to get sponsors. So it’s going to be hard to sponsor an online quiz fest because physically, it is very easy to help out a company in meeting their demands and promoting them. Money from sponsors is essential to offer lots of cash prizes or to get your quiz hosted by a grand quizmaster like Major (Chandrakant Nair).”

ARE THERE ANY SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEMS?

One question that can be raised here is that can the quizzing circuit change its format or amend some of its rules in order to suit the current scenario? Amlan Sarkar, the former president of Qnights: The Ramjas Quiz Society, believes that there are not many solutions to the problems that are plaguing the quizzing circuit currently. However, some efforts have indeed been made by the societies to ensure the conduction of fair quizzes. Talking about the same, Amlan says, “People have been asked to keep their hands visible at all times whenever they are quizzing online. There’s this time thing that people have to comply by, where you give less and less amount of time in an online quiz to answer questions because long questions will give you ample time to Google, but again, if the question is very long, and in case that long question is a repeat from some earlier quiz, then it is bound to create unfair advantages for people who would have seen it in an earlier quiz. As in, it’s not necessary that every wall-of-text question is a peter (repeated question), but that if it is, then it creates unfair advantages.”

One solution that Amlan has suggested is “Google Proofing” which, according to him, has been done quite successfully by a lot of people in the circuit. Amlan explains this process by saying, “You first frame the question like you would do in a usual quiz. Then you see which keywords, if you Google them, lead you towards the answers. So you remove them and edit the question in such a way that those keywords are removed. This prevents the participant from finding out the answer in the limited time that they get. So it’s kind of like Search Engine Optimization but in a reverse way.”

Another interesting solution suggested by Amlan is that of “Google Baiting” which involves “framing a question in such a way that googling keywords from it will only direct you towards incorrect answers, so the QM will know that you Googled.”

Online quizzing has been successful to a certain extent, but it still can’t manage to recreate the thrill of testing your wits in a room filled with actual people, and at the same, observing each other’s reactions.

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Nilesh Goswami
Nilesh is a second-year English Literature student at Hansraj College, University of Delhi. He is a self-proclaimed cinephile and bibliophile who loves writing about anything that is even remotely related to pop culture.

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