The Secret of Trivia Questions

Writing trivia questions (and answers) may sound like fun, and it can be fun, but it's far from easy. A while back, my daughter Daria wrote questions and answers for a certain popular TV quiz show, and later for a newspaper. The whole family pitched in with ideas and suggestions. We had a ball.

Last night I actually dreamt I was being interviewed (for some obscure reason) by a panel of learned men, who were shooting obscure "general knowledge" questions at me. I was at a loss and felt quite discombobulated. That's what comes of watching too much Weakest Link, and from trying to translate a poorly thought-out trivia quiz for a large skincare company.

Now, why Mineral Skin Wonder decided to create a trivia quiz is beyond me. I couldn't even figure out, nor was I told, who the target audience was. If it's for company employees, then old-timers might know most of the answers, while newcomers wouldn't, unless they were forced to study the Company History upon being hired. If it's for potential clients, perhaps with the incentive of winning a kit with free Mineral Skin Wonder samples, then, what can I say, the quiz is a total wash-out.

You could say that, when it comes to a TV show, the nature of the presenter (Anne Robinson, Stephen Fry) and the atmosphere of the show (The Weakest Link, QI) are as important, if not more important than, the actual questions. Obviously, some questions cause you to raise an eyebrow and mutter "who the … cares!" Other questions, to which you know the answer, make you feel quite smug. In case you didn't know the answer, are not a contestant, but you've learnt something new, you may be pleased. But the bottom line is, stupid questions, totally uninteresting questions, remain so in whatever medium.

Below are a few questions of the "who gives a …" variety. So as not to leave you in suspense, the correct answer appears in italics.

What were the first three products created by Mineral Skin Wonder?
1. Body lotion, cleansing cream, moisturizing cream
2. Hand cream, foot cream, body lotion
3. Moisturizer, mineral mud, bath salts
4. Body lotion, mineral mud, bath salts
5. Shampoo, conditioner and body lotion

Actress Dropdead Gorgeous' visit in Israel in the summer of 2008 received wide media coverage. How many separate mentions of this event appeared in all media outlets at that time?

1. 61
2. 64
3. 67
4. 69
5. 120

The production plant contains about [sic!] 4 huge pots used for cooking. What's the difference between the four?
[What's the matter – can't anyone at the company count to four without getting confused?]

1. The only difference is in their capacity. (up to 1,200 kg; up to 800 kg; up to 500 kg; up to 20 kg.)
2. Usage: 2 large pots for various uses; the medium size is for butters / masks, and the small one for experimentation.
3. There are 2 large pots and 2 medium sized pots, according to the quantity of materials used.
4. Each pot is made of a different type of metal, according to its resistance to the various temperature required in cooking.
5. Answers 1 & 2 are correct.

I'm not sure I have chosen the worst questions; there were quite a few vying for the title.

Oh well. I think I'll watch a couple of episodes of QI now to take the taste away.

Wishing you all a happy, entertaining and illuminating 2010!


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