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How to handle it when mistakes happen

Added: 23 Jun 2023

Author: One Stop Trivia

"The Quiz Master Is Always Right!"

This is a quote often used and repeated by quiz masters to show their control when hosting a quiz. The question today though, is what do you do when you have made a mistake? Because we all make them at some time. Once you have been hosting for a while, you will have made mistakes on more than one occasion.

The usual way of finding out you have made a mistake when you are hosting is when your contestants let you know. I have been to many quizzes, and have seen many good quiz masters fall apart a little when they realise they have made a mistake, as they see it as a personal attack on their control of the quiz. The vast majority of the time, this is not the intention of the player. They just want to get the point(s) they feel they are due.

If you control your quiz flow well, you can deal with mistakes quickly and simply usually, with the minimum of fuss, by following these steps:

Be sure of your questions: Make sure you know the answers to them. When writing your own questions, be sure to source your information from reputable sources, and double check it to make sure it is correct. Normally if I cannot confirm information is correct, or have different answers from different sources, then I don't use the question. Also make sure your questions are clear in what they are asking. So many times I have had to ask for clarification on questions.

Know your crowd: If you know your crowd, and have regulars, you can usually trust that if they are calling out an answer, there is good reason for it. I know certain players in my quiz have extremely strong knowledge on certain subjects, so if they question something, I will be sure to check it again.

Control the flow: Usually, mistakes will be called out as soon as the player calling it out realises there is a problem. If you are willing to stop the quiz there and then to deal with it, feel free to do so, but if you are in the middle of something, don't hesitate to tell the players you will check it in a moment when you are more comfortable doing so.

Use your resources: Don't just assume you know better and claim your answer is correct no matter what. Almost everyone these days has a mobile phone, so use yours to check the answer. Check it yourself to your own satisfaction, and one checked let everyone know the outcome.

Deal with players fairly: When it comes to adjusting the points, make sure it is clearly communicated what the changes should be, be it adding extra points, removing points for wrong answers, or occasionally, if you have really made a mess (it can happen!) then get rid of a question, and everyone gets a point no matter what to balance things out.

Essentially, just do not assume you are infallible, be willing to listen, and deal with it quickly and efficiently if you do make a mistake. And learn from it going forward!

These tips will help you in the event of a mistake. Another option is for you to use pre-made, pre-tested questions/quizzes. The ready made quizzes I sell on the site have been checked and used in a trivia night with myself as host, so any mistakes have already been pretty well checked and corrected, although as with the above, I don't claim to be perfect, so if there are any mistakes let me know and I will get them fixed.

Finally on this subject, I find many sites with question databases do not have a way to let them know when they have made a mistake, so the question just keeps getting shared. This always annoyed me, so in my questions database on OneStopTrivia there is a way to report problems so I can again check them and fix/update where necessary. You will see 'report error' buttons on all questions, picture rounds, music rounds, and quiz packs and all reports will be checked and any required fixes will be made.

This for me is an important topic, as for a player in a quiz, it always feels bad when you know you should have earned a point but the quiz master would not listen to you, especially if that point would have made the difference between winning and losing!