We’ve been working on building computer systems (our own system is called QANTA: Question Answering is Not a Trivial Activity) that can answer quiz bowl questions well. We’ve had some success with that. You might think that computers are pretty smart, right?

You’d be wrong. Quiz bowl questions are supposed to be written pyramidally: harder clues at the start, easier clues at the end. The problem is that we don't write questions pyramidally for computers: they write questions for humans. If humans could write questions pyramidally for computers, computers would be in a whole heap of trouble, and computers would look pretty dumb. Our goal is to offer a true test for how smart computers are.

We’ve hooked up a web-based tool so that you can see how well a computer-based system can answer quiz bowl questions. As a result, you can now write questions that are pyramidal for both humans and computers (we also think that it will help you write better questions for humans by avoiding stock clues and the like).

The goal is to have questions that would not be out of place at ACF Fall, HSNCT, or PACE NSC … the ideal question is one on a canonical answer line, that a human would enjoy, is appropriately pyramidal, but that also is challenging for a computer. After two months, we’ll see if the state of the art has actually improved by playing a game between a human team and an improved QB playing system (to avoid conflicts of interest, we won't use our system; the system will actually be the world's best QB system) at PACE NSC 2018.

To encourage people to write questions, we’ll offer the following incentives:

  • $10 for the question of the week: the best question written each week (as judged by us), we’ll make this public each week
  • $10 for every question used in the match at the PACE NSC expo game
  • $60 for the first place question writer (most questions equal in quality to the questions that won question of the week or used in expo game)
  • $50 for second place question writer (same as above)
  • $40 for third place question writer

For updates on future events in 2018, join our mailing list.