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Trick Questions and Contests

I recently held a contest at another site of mine. People had to correctly answer six product-related questions in order to be eligible, and one of the questions was phrased in a mildly tricky fashion.

The product was a rangefinder, and USGA rules recently allowed rangefinders to be used - at a tournament committee's discretion - in events. They, however, are never allowed to be used if they measure something other than distance, and some products measure things like slope (angle up or down to the target) and so on.

The question asked basically "what rule permits the use of [product with distance and slope measuring capabilities in tournament play?" The correct answer - which was provided along with three others in a popup menu - was "none," and one of the two linked articles basically gave the answer in a word-for-word fashion.

Yet only about 61% of people got that question right. When I put the question together, someone else told me they thought it was a bit of a "trick" question. I countered that, if it was a "trick" question it wasn't exactly super-tricky, and even if it was a mild trick, what's wrong with providing a little bit of a challenge and rewarding those who can answer some questions correctly? If I didn't want any "skill" or "knowledge" to come into play, I could have just had people give me their names and drawn a random one.

So, what do you think? Is a mildly tricky (or even a super-tricky) question in a contest okay? Where would you draw the line?

2 Responses to "Trick Questions and Contests"

  1. I find contests with no difficulty in the questions boring.

  2. My recollection is that the dividing line is drawn by the US Government in the differing laws on games of skill and games of change. If the quiz is "too hard" then it becomes a game of skill and changes any legal ramifications. (What these affect these rules have on anything, I don't really know. It may be good to do a bit of research to ensure you don't end up on the wrong end of what you thought was a good thing.)

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