I recently finished playing in my first (and probably only, the reason for which I’ll explain shortly later) season of LearnedLeague, an online trivia league. I’d say it was a fun experience, and that the ideas behind how competition in LearnedLeague works are generally good ideas.
Each round (of which there are 25 in a season, at least in the one I participated in) consists of a head-to-head match between two league players, that involves answering trivia questions (called “offense”), and assigning numbers of points each question is worth for your opponent (called “defense”), for which one is allowed to consult their history to know what one’s opponent tends to be good at.
And this gets to why I don’t think I’ll be back for another season. LearnedLeague has failed to deviate from a problem I find in most trivia competitions: an excessive favoring of generalists. Frankly, there are four categories of LearnedLeague trivia (Film, Lifestyle, Pop Music, and Television) than not only am I terrible at but also I honestly have less than zero interest in getting better at (really, four and half, given the Games/Sport category; it’s a really easy exercise for the reader to figure out which half of that I don’t care about). But there are categories of trivia I am definitely extremely interested in. Overall, my trivia knowledge is terribly category-polar, and this makes me ridiculously easy to defend against. As much as I like the assigning-points-for-opponent mechanic, the resulting effects of the such for highly non-generalist people like me make it something I’m not willing to give money for. A second factor lies in excessive references to alcoholic drinks, which many may know I find elevated discomfort in. There’s quite a few questions for which it looks like the writer specifically wanted to force an association with alcohol. Yes, it turns out unfortunately trivia is often associated with bars. *Sigh*.
Anyway, my category stats:
Below I’ll make some notes on specific items in some categories.
Some of these questions have images that are part of the item when you click ‘Click here’. I’m too lazy to copy those over, so I’ll leave it to your imagination what those items were.
MD15Q3 was the least-correctly-answered item in the entire season, with only 5% answering correctly.
MD06Q2 was a guess. They all looked like portraits. Might as well guess that they were of the self variety.
I only got MD13Q1 because of knowing where Qaanaaq is and knowing there’s a military base named Thule nearby, and thus just guessing “Thule” off of only this information, possibly the most distant answer derivation I’ve underwent this entire season. Does this count as love towards Sweden via proxy?
I entered “Hand of God” instead of “Invisible Hand” for MH08Q5. Oops.
I’m fairly ashamed of having not been able to name the new UN Secretary-General. Apparently, neither could most of LearnedLeague, so shame on everyone else too.
MD12Q5: Booo Othello. I can’t believe the world accepted the game of Reversi getting a second name.
What is sportsball.
Apparently the most frequently incorrectly guessed answer to MD20Q2 was “Washington”. I guess that’s what “Bellevue” tipped people off to?
I was not actually sure of the answer to MD12Q6; I based my guess off of understanding the Central American isthmus as gradually less inhabitable as one moves south and east.
I don’t really have many comments to make here.
I really should’ve gotten MD24Q5, but didn’t answer “Peloponnesian League” because of the inclusion of Corinth, which I recalled as not-all-that-Peloponnesian, although maybe I should’ve still considered the isthmus Pelopennesian. I guessed “Dorian League”.
For MD15Q4, I knew where relatively chronologically the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was; I just couldn’t exactly remember where it was delimited and wasn’t exactly sure which monarchs came between Victoria and Edward $LARGE_NUM. I ended up deciding I had the best chances with guessing Victoria, which it turns out was too early.
For MD12Q3, I made the rather hilarious-in-retrospect mistake of calling the Ostrogoths the “Orthogoths”. Herpity derp.
MD07Q5 was the most-correctly-answered item in the entire season, with 88% answering correctly. Fortunately, I was in the 88% for this case.
I was wondering whether MD01Q2 wanted the real (legal) name of Kim Il-Sung, since that is not it, but ended up deciding they probably just want “Kim Il-Sung” for the purposes of the question. It turns out that was a good assumption.
I consider the FANBOYS question a bad question.
MD02Q4 was an item I really should’ve gotten, but I mind-blanked a bit much and put “al-“.
Maybe if I thought a little harder on MD18Q4 I would’ve gotten it.
MD08Q1 was the second-most-correctly-answered item in the entire season, with 87% answering correctly.
MD19Q4 was the second-least-correctly-answered item in the entire season, with only 14% answering correctly.
The Classical Music section consists of an excess of…I guess I’ll call it “applied” music and way not enough “pure” music, grump, grump. I’m saying “applied”, I guess because terms like “incidental” and “operatic” don’t actually capture the set I’m trying to describe.
I was actually quite surprised with how long it took me to recall what Newton’s Second Law was. It turned out my physical knowledge had progressed to a state where I only know if I’m supposed to know things. Fortunately, I did eventually remember the Law. I wonder if I would’ve forgotten it if I hadn’t taken an olympiad qualification test whose name is the equation of the Law.
Anyway, that’s all; ’twas a fun season. I’m going to stay around for some MiniLeagues, but then vanish from LearnedLeague. I did refer a friend to LearnedLeague, though, so maybe he will stay.