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In this Discussion was shut down on 24th September 2013. Thanks to the entire community which made this journey so awesomeballs. Read more.
Getting started with tech quizzing
  • Off late, I have been receiving lots of requests from new entrants to the tech quizzing scene asking for advice on how to get started. I believe this sudden influx of new tech quizzers is because for many years, schools have been sending the same people along to symposiums - and now when they have moved on from school, they find that their newcomers haven't much experience.
    I decided to put this together so that everyone finds it useful.
    * There is no secret formula: Being a good quizzer in any field takes effort and experience. Use every event as a learning experience. Once you're through with a quiz, read up about the stuff that was asked in the quiz. This is a very good starting point for building a base. Maybe you won't qualify for the first n quizzes, but you shouldn't be disheartened.
    * The Wiki Way: I wrote a blog post long ago titled The Wiki Way To Quizzing. The advice that I gave still stands - if you really want to get good at tech quizzing, you'll have to read a lot of material. Far more than students these days generally read, so get into a habit of reading. A few things have changed - Digg is no longer a reliable source of news, but the rest of it is still valid.
    * Be on the lookout for topics to research: How many of you, when you read 'Digg is no longer a reliable source of news' went ahead and searched up why this is so? Get into the habit. Tech quizzing sounds like a niche, but within it the field is so vast that you need to constantly be on your toes. Read Ars Technica or The Register for in-depth analysis - you'll probably not encounter questions of that level in most quizzes, but it'll help build up your interest when you have an understanding into the 'why' of tech news stories.
    * Sometimes, archives help: To become truly good at tech quizzing, you'll need to stay up to date with latest developments and read up on history. No amount of reading notes or memorizing stuff will help. Having said that, it is inevitable that questions get repeated from previous year question archives - reading them will help! Looking through archives of quizzes from the past year, I can safely say that bar a few events, many quizzes do recycle content from their own and other quizzes previous year archives. This is nothing new - even professional quizmasters such as Pickbrain, Derek O'Brien, Siddhartha Basu et al indulge in this.
    The amount that is reused can be anywhere between 50-90% as I've seen in quizzes over the past year, and even if you remember 10% of the stuff you read from previous year archives that puts in a well-off position in quiz. At the very least, you won't miss sitters. Check 'Quizzing Resources' link in the sidebar, and search for archives on and elsewhere on the web - you'll find a lot of content.
    * Learn the idiosyncrasies of a quizmaster: Each quizmaster has his/her own style (hardware? trivia? infinite bounce?), favourite type of questions (connect? 'identify X'? visual? biographies?), favourite area of questions. Try to find out who will be conducting the event for school/college events, if you don't know. If you look up archives of past quizzers by the same person, you'll get a good idea of what to expect. Just don't 'read' the archives - analyse! If you know that a quizmaster, say, is a big fan of Apple Inc then read up more about them, any company associated with Apple, recent developments, etc.
    * Keep calm and carry on: Most tech quizzes are unique in the quizzing scene, because they're completely student-run (with help from alumni, at times) events. (Think of how many times you've gone for a general quiz that's student run.) It is inevitable that it is as much of a learning experience for organizers as it is for participants. Always keep that in mind. For both organizers and participants - stay calm. As students, once we have authoritah, it's extremely easy for tempers to rise if either side acts 'unreasonably' or angrily in any way. So try to stay calm and have sane discussions - most situations can be resolved this way. Try to follow what organizers are saying and don't piss them off.
    * Don't be a sore loser: started off with 'quizzing for the love of it, not just points' as one of its ideals. Try to follow that. Up to a point, it is okay to analyse what went wrong and why you didn't do well at an event etc. It is even okay to provide constructive feedback to the organizing team if you think something was wrong. However, if you're constantly calling your competitors names, blaming organizers, et al after every single event - then that just makes you look petty.
    * Be mature. Share knowledge. Time and again, I keep hearing stuff about people not sharing archives or not sharing details of events to 'have a competitive advantage'. Stop fooling yourself that such petty measures help. You know what's the biggest indication that such tactics don't work? The fact that we have so many archives made available on and other places that have been used in quizzes, and yet teams are clueless as to what hit them.
    To be brutally honest, I get so many requests for past year archives before events - how many actively search for these, and once you've found one, read them, then go ahead and research about the things that you didn't know of earlier after reading the archive?
    My guess, looking at scores and performance of past events, is that not many are doing this nor are they keeping up with in-depth happenings in the tech scene. Everyone knows when the iPad is released, but how many of you will be able to elaborate on why Oracle is suing Google over Android? Get yourself to that level where you know more than the average Times of India / Hindustan Time tech page reader, and the only way you can do this is by sharing knowledge.
    If you have a private blog, forum, Facebook group, mailing list for your computer club - open it up. If you attend a quiz, take the time out to put up an archive. (It's not as easy task, I know, but you'll discover in the process that when you have to do research to fill in the gaps from your notes at an event to recreate an archive, you automatically learn stuff.) When you keep things sandboxed, you're limited to what you and your teammates know - whereas when you share something on an open forum, like, you get a collective pool of content that has the idiosyncrasies and individual expertise of many individuals.
    Take it from someone who's no longer in the school quizzing scene - when you look back at these years, it won't be trophies that you won that you'll remember. It will be the experience and the friends that you make, so don't make it a life-or-death matter by not sharing information on events with fellow quizzers.
  • very well said (and a pretty long post at that too!!!)
    well lets hope this puts some of the recent upheavel to rest!
  • If you're a tech quizzer, or were one, share your owns tips and advice! How do you go about preparing for tech quizzes?
  • Well said Captain. :)
  • Thanks Ankur! This helped me a lot! :D
  • you've really summed it up well :)

    now how about being a general quizzer when you've been a tech quizzer? :P
  • Aye.
    I gather your wrist is better now.
  • You are a genius dude. You don't know how much has this helped.
  • thanx buddy
  • Glad that people found it useful. :)
    @Arjun: Making the transition from a tech quizzer to general quizzer must be hard I guess! I went the other way, and that it definitely easier. There's some stuff that's still valid - like, before any general quiz scope out what the quizmaster's interests are.
    The 'wiki way' simply isn't scalable for general quizzing though. In this case, nothing other than keeping up with news and looking up more reading material for anything you don't already know will help.
  • Please note that the "Behave Yourself" parts aren't applicable if it is your last school event. Go out with as much chaos as possible. Looking forward to Access 2010 :D
  • ^ What he said. ;)
  • he is right
  • Thanks for posting it Ankur! Will be really helpful! :)
  • Er..Tech was never my forte but I daresay this might be helpful to fellow newbies. Courtesy the Root.
  • @amrit_george: what is this site about???
  • and this article was really nice and would guide me a lot. A BIG thanks from me to ankur bhaiya. personally i do feel that one should put up archives. I know people who somehow nick quiz papers and have not-found-on-the-net archives even though they are already well established in quizzing. Well, I really thank people like ankur bhaiya, prateek bhaiya and all those who do put archives. People have stopped posting archives due to the reason the Root mentioned in the article and that has proofs as well. Just have a look at the archives available on the net. Majority of them are of quizzes held before 2006-07 or the time when anker bannerjee and prateek vijayvargia left quizzing.
  • @Mihir Well it kinda gives you a brief history of IT of sorts.
  • @ amrit_george Didn't get ur point :I
  • Haha..dude just go to the would understand better then. :)