Random Trivia Blog

How does the Random Trivia Generator work?

I was recently going through user submissions (a big “thank you” to all who contribute by the way!) when I came across the following question/answer:

“question”: “Bu nasıl işliyor?”
“answer”: “Bakalım”

According to Google Translate, the language above is Turkish and translates to:

“question”: “How does this work?”
“answer”: “Let’s see”

This inspired me to write a brief blog post on what happens with submissions, error reports, and e-mails.

New trivia submissions

When a user contributes a question/answer, the submission is entered into a temporary, private database which requires approval before the question is added to the public database for all users to see. I have not enabled alerts so I usually set aside some time each week to check the database and approve the submissions. The great thing about trivia lovers is that the submission is already in a great format so all I need to do is a bit of research to verify the question/answer before approving it. Some questions require a bit of editing, such as formatting or spelling. Another group are the questions with incorrect answers, which get updated and approved. I have nothing against incorrect answers because they go through a verification process and once fixed, they are a great addition to the database. And there is the last group of questions which are more posed as corrections. I don’t mind those either and treat them all very seriously.

Error Reports and E-mails

Both of these end up in my inbox and I get an alert on my cell phone. If I am not busy with work, or the family, I try to respond to those as quickly as I can.

So that’s it – everything is still manually done by humans. Although it would be awesome if there is some bulletproof AI that writes new trivia, verifies submissions and fixes existing errors. If you know something like this, or can do this, let me know!

Random Responses #5

This post is a collection if interesting submissions I came across that I couldn’t approve, but also couldn’t delete. All of these were very interesting but I just couldn’t verify them…so if one of these is yours, or if you know what the author meant to ask, please let me know. I would hate to not add these to the database. But they need a bit of editing.

“question”: “What two things do the years 1988, 1996 and 2016 have in common?”
“answer”: “Summer Olympics and U.S. Presidential Elections”

While this isn’t incorrect, I think there is more to this question…unless I am overthinking it. The Summer Olympics and U.S. Presidential Elections normally coincide so this applies to a whole bunch of dates. I also looked into other things that are common…like locations where these are held, top performing nations, etc. It was an interesting rabbit hole to fall into but I am not sure this question is ready yet. If you are the person who submitted this, get in touch and let me know what you meant…because I just might be overthinking this.

We also received an interesting form of correction to the answer for the question:

“The first atomic bomb test split an atom of what fissionable element?”

The original answer was “Plutonium” but the submitted the correction was not a straight forward one. The user submitted a link to Google search results. The funny thing about Google is that the results are rather personalized and the algorithm tries to blow up the answer it thinks you are searching for. For me, using the account I use to research and write trivia, the bold answer at the top of the search results was “Plutonium” but when I searched Incognito in Chrome, and through a couple of other devices and accounts I have, the answers were coming up as “Uranium”, “Uranium-235” and “Plutonium”. I find that fascinating and shows that the answer shouldn’t be taken blindly based on the top search result and that some additional reading is required and (but who am I to judge since I often do this myself).

The truth is that when you search “atomic bomb” you will find that they could be made using either uranium or plutonium, which explains the mix of answers. Some articles also provide a lot of additional information on the elements and the search algorithm is not capable of identifying some specifics. The  first atomic bomb test, codenamed “Trinity”, used plutonium. But that answer is not near the top of any of the search results and requires some digging. Therefore, we stand by our original answer.

Keep the corrections and submission coming. We love going through them and learning new things and, of course, when we are wrong.

Random Responses #4

I have been catching up on submissions for a while now but I have been slacking off addressing some incorrect submissions. Typically incorrect submissions just need a bit of massaging/editing to fix them up. They could be off by a few days (if a date is the answer), the spelling of the answer could mean something else, etc. It is rare that I get completely incorrect submissions but I still do. Here is one of the latest ones:

“question” : “What is the only country in the world that is contained within 2 continents?”
“answer” : “Turkey”

If the fix was simple, I would have implemented it and moved on. But this is hard to fix because there are just so many countries that span two continents, or are fully “contained” within two. If you include little territories, then the number of answers grows exponentially. I am not going to name all countries that span multiple continents but a few major ones come to mind – Russia, for example. That is a rather large country to miss.

Just a quick search using your favorite search engine reveals numerous sites listing countries. Here is one at the top of every search result as an example. There are more depending on how you wish to classify the countries.

But in case I have misinterpreted the question, please let me know and I will approve it within the submission system with some minor corrections. You can either respond to this post with a comment or shoot us an e-mail at [email protected].