Is SpeedQuizzing impossible to cheat?

Three years ago we would have said “yes”, one year ago we would have said “almost”. Now in 2015 we advise hosts to “be vigilant” keeping an eye out for certain things. But in the most part, the games are still too fast for anyone to garner any real advantage by attempting to cheat.

Regrettably there are a small number of people who will try and locate the answers on the internet and who are occasionally able to do this fast enough to input the answers within the short timescale allowed in the SpeedQuizzing format. However, SpeedQuizzing is still way ahead of the game in making it incredibly difficult to cheat.

Why is SpeedQuizzing so much harder to cheat at than a traditional pen and paper pub quiz?

At a pen and paper quiz people generally have until the end of the round to come up with the answer to a question. This can in some cases give players as long as 20 minutes to ponder a particular question. However with SpeedQuizzing players only have a matter of seconds to decide on an answer and act on it.

Therefore at a traditional pub quiz even if you operate a NO MOBILE PHONES policy, people can still go to the toilet/bathroom to illegally find a particular answer and still have time to come back and write it down. With SpeedQuizzing any attempt at cheating must be blatantly taking place at the table within a few seconds of each question being read out.

This therefore still makes it very difficult for someone to type the question in to Google and retrieve the answer unnoticed.

Voice Recognition apps

Voice recognition apps such as Siri however now mean that it can be harder to spot a wannabe-cheater since the app is actually listening to the question being read out and attempting to retrieve the answer and display it on a mobile device, all within the space of a few seconds.

Having said that, we have ran tests on our SpeedQuizzing Quizpacks and there are very few of our questions which these apps return the correct answer to.

Also for this style of cheating to work they are relying on the host reading the questions in impeccable English.  Funny but we don’t get any reports of Siri style cheating from our Mancunian or Glaswegian hosts. No offence…. 😉

What can you do to combat the cheats if you suspect people are attempting to use voice recognition apps such as Siri?

  • The most important thing is to make players aware that using these apps to attempt to beat the system will not be tolerated.
  • As with any quiz, you are in charge and you make the rules. If you suspect you may have would-be cheaters taking part, then a strict “Only The Playing Device At The Table” policy is a no brainer.
  • Make it absolutely clear that anyone wanting to use a device to answer a call, check their emails, text a friend or find the football scores must leave the room to do so (or wait until the end of the round) and anyone who is caught with a device out of their pocket or bag whilst a question is in play will result in that team being penalised. This way you can penalise a team for breaking this rule rather than necessarily ever having to directly accuse anyone of cheating.
  • Be a hard-ass. Some people will cheat just to prove that they can, so even huge point deductions for suspected cheaters may not be enough. Excluding them from the remainder of the round, or even the rest of the game may be more of a threat.
  • Make other teams feel comfortable naming and shaming suspected cheats. You could even offer bonus points to anyone who exposes someone they spot using a second device during play.

Roam about where possible

  • If you use a wireless microphone and Quizmaster’s remote control handset, make any team you suspect of trying to cheat feel uncomfortable by standing near them whilst reading questions.

Optimise the games to make it even harder for cheaters where necessary

  • In Keypad, Nearest Wins and Buzzin’ Advanced games’, don’t waste any time starting the 10 second timer. The less time Siri has to ponder and relay the question the better.
  • Clever, faster teams should always be able to answer a question faster than Siri, so if you are suspecting attempted foul play during Keypad rounds, you might want to lower the points per question and increase the Speed Bonus. (Also introducing the sliding scale speed bonus may help in certain situations.)
  • Another fun alternative to traditional team play is to do sections where rather than playing as a whole team, they have to nominate a team member (or maybe a pair) to bring their device out and answer questions standing at the front of the venue, away from the rest of the team. Not only is this a fun twist to the evening but it also stops anyone trying to Google the answers in their tracks. This can be particularly useful if you suspect people are trying to cheat on the big-point Nearest wins question.

Confuse the voice recognition apps

  • Use your imagination, be creative. If you are reading a 30 point Nearest Wins question, inject your own personality to deliberately throw Siri off the scent by ad-libbing mid-question. IE if the question is “In what year did the Mars bar first go on sale” you could say “In what year…. (although I’ve always been more of a Snickers fan myself, or at least I was until I developed a life threatening peanut allergy)….. in what year did the Mars bar first go on sale”.

Lastly, make the quiz fun, if people are enjoying themselves, laughing and joking, then attempting to beat the system probably wont even cross their mind.

What are we at SpeedQuizzing doing to help combat this kind of cheating?

  1. Version 4 of the SpeedQuizzing software will feature a new Exclude Team function. Although this will have other applications (such as tiebreak questions where you only want certain teams to be able to take part in a question), it will also work well as a way of temporarily freezing out of the game anyone who is spotted breaking the rules.
  2. We are also considering in V4 a Display question on handset feature, so if at any point the host suspects foul play using Siri he can switch tact to ask a question without reading it out loud.
  3. Also from now on we are introducing a policy where every question which goes into our database will be checked with Siri and where necessary re-worded if possible.

In the words of Alan Partridge, these people are “sub-human scum” and if they are cheating at a pub quiz they are probably leaching off society in general. Where possible, choose a venue with a secluded pub car park and always carry a selection of baseball bats in the boot/trunk of your car.  (Joke)

Alan Leach

Tags: Desktop Application, Landlords, Pub quiz, Questions, Quiz host, Quiz Hosting Software, Smartphone, software, SpeedQuizzing, Virtual Buzzer App