Don’t forfeit! Don’t cheat!
May 21, 2020 9:45 PM   Subscribe

While bar trivia, quiz apps, and other online sources garner fame and millions of fans, LearnedLeague largely flies under the radar. But to its players, it’s more than just a game.
posted by Chrysostom (60 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
LL is largely the measure by which I rank my own trivia acumen. Not weekly pub trivia, not Sporcle. LL.. But I often worry how honest my competitors are. That's probably a greater reflection on my own insecurities than a signifier of a vast cheating scandal. It's probably because I have an actual Jeopardy! champion as a "second cousin" of my account, brought to the game by the referrer of my referrer.
posted by moviehawk at 9:57 PM on May 21


This season I got relegated back down to E which is nice because I can start winning sometimes again.

(I'm bad at trivia. I know a lot of random esoterica, but I have really bad coverage of a lot of categories)
posted by aubilenon at 10:10 PM on May 21


I don't have the fortitude to engage with something like this, but I do praise everyone who does. It's a legitimate pursuit, and I do a fun-only bar quiz every year at a party (not THIS year, obviously!) where answers are often shared to win points but also for laughs which are judged by someone outside the main point scoring. It's great fun, so I get the format, and yay people with knowledge who can do this!
posted by hippybear at 11:31 PM on May 21


I get the feeling I'd be thoroughly mediocre at this, but I tried out the Video Games one and crushed it, so there's one category I should be pretty strong in.
posted by Merus at 2:54 AM on May 22


This season I got relegated back down to E which is nice because I can start winning sometimes again.

This is my third season in A after being promoted from a seventh-place finish in B due to realignment. So far, I've done just well enough to avoid relegation, despite having the worst two seasons of my LL career for total correct answers. I don't actively seek relegation, but it would be nice to return to a more competitive field and "earn" my way into A.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 3:53 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


I really enjoy having a trivia game where the clock's not always on. I generally read the questions in the morning, keying in the answers over lunch. It feels amazing and like a real victory when you dig up an answer that's something YOU KNOW YOU KNOW but it's just buried too deep. Also its interesting to see how the rankings pan out over the season. It's one-on-one brackets and the primary score is determined by wins, losses, and ties -- so it's way more important to beat your opponent than it is to get answers right.
posted by voiceofreason at 4:35 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter's Own Etrigan hosts a daily-during-the-season podcast (LearnedLag) where he and his wife go over the questions the next day.

Also, we have a MetaFilter private rundle. The new season just started, but you can hit me up for next time if you want in. We've settled in at about 16 players.

If you would like to let people know that you're on LL, and/or connect your LL name to your MetaFilter name, there's a list of Mefites on LL on the Wiki.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:03 AM on May 22 [6 favorites]


I’m terrible and have been in E forever but I feel like people take it more seriously. I am the person at pub quiz who will ask you to put your phone away. There’s no fun in looking it up!!!
posted by affectionateborg at 5:23 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


I don't actively seek relegation, but it would be nice to return to a more competitive field and "earn" my way into A.

If you’ve survived for two seasons, you’ve earned your way into A.
posted by Etrigan at 5:42 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


It is my first season and I lucked into a 9(6) yesterday. I will not do as well today.
posted by sibboleth at 6:08 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


The leaps between the rundles are just brutal -- if you've stuck around in A for over a season, that's not a mistake. I seem to flip back and forth between killing it in C and getting my ass handed to me in B. I'm pretty sure this is because folks get way harder to defend. I was Rundle C champ once pretty much exclusively on defense, coming in seventh in raw correct answers, but in B if I don't get 5 right I'm probably going to lose regardless of how I defend.

I think this is traditionally the point in the thread where we start offering referrals. We just started a season so you're going to need to wait a few months to get started but I have referrals to burn if anybody wants one, just MeMail me.

This is also my opportunity to publicly apologize to Huffy Puffy (and the universe generally) for not being able to hang in there with the private rundle. The community aspect is super fun but it turns out my poor brain CANNOT HANDLE defending two people at the same time.
posted by range at 6:15 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]


On the private rundle: this season we have 6 in A, nobody in B, 3 in C, 5 in D, and 1 in E.

My perception is it has tended to skew more towards A over time, possibly because if you’re in one of the lower rundles it’s not as fun to have to deal with A rundlers dropping 9(6)’s on you. And we’re doing this for fun.

I do want to thank the folks who keep coming back. I appreciate it. 16 is better than 6.

(I also have plenty of referrals available.)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:32 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


I love bar trivia and have, since the lockdown started, built and been ever improving my own trivia site. There are no questions on the site, though - only a mechanism for putting in answers and having them scored by a host. The idea was to replicate the experience of bar trivia - a sheet of paper with lines on it where you place your best guesses. It was designed to work well on phones, so that everyone could be logged into Zoom on their computer and not have to switch windows to put answers in. On the agenda for the next release are enabling multiple people in different locations to be on the same team. First there will be chat, and eventually audio (or maybe video) chat using WebRTC. Did you know that there's really no such thing as a free public STUN/TURN server? Anyhow, we've been doing it every Wednesday, for friends, but once all of the kinks are ironed out I may open it up to other people so that they can host games too.

The UI is probably on par with LearnedLeague - I only recently added a background image!
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:37 AM on May 22


I actually took a short break because I got tired of being stuck in A, always being so close to relegation, and never getting relegated.

I'm competitive in B! Never quite at the top, but in the upper half, and yet, I get promoted.
posted by anem0ne at 7:50 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


I run a trivia night over Zoom and I try to keep the questions light and fun, because I can use Zoom's breakout rooms feature to drop in on the teams deliberating and if a question is dull they don't seem to be very enthusiastic when arguing about it. But I do try and plant seeds of clues in the question the way LL does, so it keeps me on the ball as a question writer. One of my teams has a Jeopardy champ now and I've referred a couple of people in to LL so it also keeps me honest about plagiarizing questions from there or the J! archive. But for a lot of LL answers, if I don't know the answer and see the answer I often don't remember it later because it wasn't that interesting or unexpected. Just a random name I can't hang on to something else that's interesting.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:26 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


From the comments here, I wonder if there's a reason why people get stuck in A and not relegated. The people at the top of the A bracket want somebody to beat. They need people who will struggle convincingly but still lose. I mean, that's the whole point of "no forfeiting", you have to sit there and get beaten, even when you know you're going to get humiliated. I expect that they make an effort to hang onto reliable jobbers in the A bracket, because they never know if whatever random fresh meat they pull up from the B bracket is going to pan out.
posted by notoriety public at 9:05 AM on May 22


I expect that they make an effort to hang onto reliable jobbers in the A bracket

How would that be done, in a system that will always relegate three people and always bring up at least three new ones?
posted by Etrigan at 9:12 AM on May 22


How would that be done, in a system that will always relegate three people and always bring up at least three new ones?

How many are in the bracket? And is the relegation/promotion done strictly on a well-ordered points scale? Doesn't sound like it, per anem0ne's statement of "never quite at the top but in the upper half". One thing they could be doing is preferentially pulling back up former reliable jobbers rather than new meat. That's a great way to keep the jobber jobbing, periodically rewarding them by throwing them back down to B for a season before bringing them back up for another round of jobbing.
posted by notoriety public at 9:20 AM on May 22


The relegation/promotion rules are here (sections 9 and 10). They're fairly complicated, but the upshot is that nobody is hand-selecting anyone for promotion or relegation - it's a set formula based on your rank last season. It's possible to get promoted (like anem0ne) despite not being in the top 3 when enough people in A rundle quit the league or sit out a season that the size of the rundle falls below the 26-player minimum:
In the case of any vacancy in a 26-player Rundle A roster, the first open spot is available to any returning rookie eligible for Battlefield Promotion. Second are players who were eligible for Rundle A in the previous season but did not play (with preference beginning with the most recent players), and then spots will be filled by the next-in-line finishers in the previous Rundle B based on regular season record. This will continue until there is a full roster of 26 for Rundle A.
posted by theodolite at 9:43 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I was reading those rather than continuing to speculate. Depending on the relative frequency with which people sit out a season from Rundle A, it could explain the power vacuum which could cause a modestly-ranked Rundle B finisher to get pulled in.

I wonder if there's a regular phenomenon of people fighting their way up to A, and then getting completely crushed there, with many deciding to drop out having seen what the endgame is like. That would cause a regular updraft from B, and possibly make it hard to get "legitimately" relegated amongst all the other people trying desperately to get relegated without quite technically forfeiting.
posted by notoriety public at 9:48 AM on May 22


This sounds both fun and intimidating and I've hosted/written pub trivia and been on Jeopardy!
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:51 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there's a regular phenomenon of people fighting their way up to A, and then getting completely crushed there, with many deciding to drop out having seen what the endgame is like. That would cause a regular updraft from B, and possibly make it hard to get "legitimately" relegated amongst all the other people trying desperately to get relegated without quite technically forfeiting.

I mean, the standard of play across LL is so incredibly high that even being in Rundle B is both impressive and difficult. I mean, this is a league where even Ken Jennings is regularly beaten - his career standings are 428-272-152.

Speaking as someone muuuuuch weaker at trivia than, apparently, most mefites - I'm a low D/high E player myself - I just kind of have to embrace my awe for the standard of play and the capabilities of fellow league members in order to keep from getting demoralized. I'm not even bad at trivia by normal-life standards - I've won plenty of bar trivia and the like. I imagine it's an even starker contrast for higher-level players, who (I'd guess) are probably "the one who is good at trivia" in the rest of their life but then get regular ego checks handed to them online.
posted by mosst at 10:14 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


I bet Colin Robinson plays LL.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 10:45 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Greetings from rundle E where I live full time and managed to forget what day it was yesterday and forfeit against a fellow MeFite!
posted by cortex at 10:50 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


I didn't really understand the forfeit rule until I got moderately jobbed by a player who forfieted a lot. If the player is on the weaker end of the rundle it's not a big deal. But if they would normally do well, then selectively forfieting distorts the standings because of the everybody-plays-everybody-once rule. In my case I missed promotion by one point, to two people who had forfiet wins against the same player, who then returned to play the last day and crush me with a 9(6). You can (correctly) point out that if it was that close I can blame nobody but myself, but it still stings when you know the next two people above you got a free 2 points.

Also I'm pretty sure Metafilter has a pretty even distribution across the rundles, but there's a heavy selection bias since folks in higher rundles are probably more likely to try to find a way to work that fact in (looks at self in mirror).
posted by range at 10:52 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


am pretty sure Colin Robinson writes all mini-league finals.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:03 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Having fun comparing my answers to Mick Mulvaney

I didn't know what Rick Gates looked like either, man.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 11:18 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


I’m in my second season as an A and so far have tied twice, so I guess I really need to get better at assigning point values this round.
posted by padraigin at 11:49 AM on May 22


I expect that they make an effort to hang onto reliable jobbers in the A bracket, because they never know if whatever random fresh meat they pull up from the B bracket is going to pan out.

This is such a bizarre conspiracy theory. Having known a handful of A Rundlers, my experience is that they're either very serious about Being The Best At Trivia (and so sandbagging would be completely anathema) or they're very laid back about the whole thing. The only time I've heard of anyone being suspected of sandbagging was when suspected cheaters who were close to making the championships (which are done live with a proctor watching via video and screenshare) suddenly started losing.

This would be especially weird given the way that the leagues are scheduled. You only play each person in your rundle once per season (not even that if the rundle is particularly large). So you're proposing a world in which dastardly A Rundlers so love beating up on poor B Rundlers that they throw matches (forgoing that pleasure) just to possibly get a chance of doing it again in a couple of months when the next season rolls around.
posted by firechicago at 2:37 PM on May 22


Oh, I don't think there's a conspiracy to drag at-best-B-level players up to A. It's just the way the math works out, and it sucks. When you end up being a 'jobber', it's easy to get discouraged and kinda just want to take a break, especially after, like, four back-to-back seasons of it, where you feel super proud that you get a 9(6) only to see that it's a tie, and most of your wins are (F), so.

I still like LL.
posted by anem0ne at 3:02 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]


It's a lot of fun. I'm a solid C rundler now that I've learned to trust my instincts.
posted by notsnot at 3:10 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]


I live in a Westminster and still managed to miss the first question of this season! Hope that’s not an omen.
posted by rewil at 6:14 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


Tying with a 9(6) is just absolutely the worst.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:21 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]


I was on my College Bowl team, and really it was more just fun and social for me - I contributed here and there, but wasn't great. There were Jeopardy champions on both my team and a neighboring school's, who have since went on to win multiple times , and are fan favorite all-stars.

I'm a permanent E Rundler , the one time I got moved up to D I had almost a winless season. It's funny, it very much mirrors my college bowl experience - just there for the fun of it and love of trivia and learning things.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 8:21 AM on May 23


I just started my rookie rundle, and it's been a humiliating reminder so far that I've got a lot to learn. I think that as I get accustomed to the question writing, I'll get better. But that's going to take some time and patience. (And fewer opponents that get all six questions right)
posted by parliboy at 9:12 AM on May 23


It can vary a lot over the course of a season, too, don't give up hope!
posted by Chrysostom at 1:17 PM on May 23


I came out of the Rookie rundle in E and spent the next 6 seasons bouncing between E & D. I gradually got better at defense, and picked up some very helpful pointers from Etrigan's podcast and have been solidly middle C for the last 3 seasons.
posted by ElGuapo at 5:30 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


This season I got relegated back down to E which is nice because I can start winning sometimes again.

Oh hey I just found this thread. I was in the upper part of D last season but not a top three finisher and got promoted anyhow. And now I am just getting killed in C. I think the reason promotions from B happen a lot is that there have been (maybe more regularly lately) people getting kicked out for forfeiting or cheating (probably cheating), so you get more people leaving A than maybe leaving B. I don't know. I am someone on the LL ORC (official rules committee) and we've been discussing maybe having more (or fewer) sanctions for forfeiters. As the league has gotten bigger, just leaving it up to Thorsten/Shayne's whim doesn't really work as well as it did when the league was all his friends.
posted by jessamyn at 11:07 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


I definitely would not want *fewer* sanctions for forfeits.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:10 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Man, fuck math questions.
posted by Etrigan at 8:25 PM on May 28 [3 favorites]


Heh. The discussion thread for MD4 Q5 is seven pages long now. People have feelings about that number sequence that mostly aren't actually about that number sequence, is my takeaway.
posted by cortex at 2:27 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


People have feelings about that number sequence that mostly aren't actually about that number sequence, is my takeaway.

Just for the record, I got it right, but it isn't trivia, and it wasn't a particularly elegant sequence. It was just "x to a random power, plus a different random number". I would have been more okay with, say, ((x^2)*2)+2, but (x^4)+2 isn't a thing. I want the answer to be a thing.

And then, the very next day, to have another math question that's only just barely "trivia"? Blah.
posted by Etrigan at 2:50 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


Math is my best (well second best,now) subject in LL and I think it's specifically because it isn't trivia. Got the first one,did not get the second. Kinda mad at both of them.
posted by jessamyn at 3:17 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


I’m sorry, but I cannot cosine this line of argument.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:34 PM on May 29 [4 favorites]


ಠ_ಠ
posted by jessamyn at 4:45 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


hold up a secant, let's not get off on a tangent
posted by cortex at 7:35 AM on May 30


I'm still upset that I recently blew a ≅950-game no-forfeit streak stretching back to 2010. Still have not cheated though!

Jessamyn and I recently co-smithed an LL One-Day Special about Stand-Up Comedy. It was much more difficult to write a 15-question slate than you'd think. But, over 1200 people played it, so the effort was much rewarded (with no prizes, fame, or cash)!

Many years ago, I smithed an Animation mini-league for LL, when it was much smaller. That was amazingly fun but also enormously time-consuming. And as far as recaps went, I ignored my smithly duties for the ML, but Jessamyn wrote a great recap for the One-Day.

LL has been a great way to get my brain into gear for the past ten years. We're starting in on BP Trivia now.

OH! And sometimes, math IS trivia, as long as it isn't problem-solving. If the question is, "On a right triangle, what's the name of the opposite line to the right angle," that's (easy) trivia. If the question is, "Complete this impenetrable series of numbers," and you need a pencil and paper, then it's not trivia, it's a math problem... but it does get the brain working, since you can only use writing implements and paper.

(I wonder if drawing an abacus would be considered cheating? Lucky I know someone on the Rules Committee so I can ask them.)

I often find myself reading a question and then having to stare down at the floor until I answer it because my walls are full of maps.
posted by not_on_display at 7:18 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I've definitely not been able to turn around, because the book in the question was on the shelf behind me.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:45 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Okay, somehow I missed this thread. I clawed my way into Rundle B thanks to a battlefield promotion and while I've hung on a few seasons I definitely feel like that contestant on the reality show who Does Not Deserve To Be Here.

My Math record is currently 6-39 and the number sequence question was definitely not one of the six. What really astonishes me is that some weirdos in the forums* actually demanded more pen & paper math questions! I guess I'll take those people over the folks whining that ThOrStEn AsKs ToO mAnY RaP qUeStIoNs.

*of course, there are no weirdos on THIS forum
posted by zeusianfog at 5:37 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Oh hey some fellow has updated the wiki so now we know who it is that's winning the private rundle this season...

(This sounds like I'm being sarcastic but it's really really easy to lose track or just never know who's who. I only know about 50% of the private rundlers by MeFi name, and I run the private rundle.)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:22 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Oh, *that* guy.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:15 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, Etrigan is LearnedLag guy!! I feel like I just found out my parents’ neighbor is a famous author (...which did actually happen). It’s probably the podcast I listen to most regularly. How cool.

I keep bouncing between C and B, currently in C.

What I’m curious about, is how do they catch cheaters in LL?
posted by exceptinsects at 10:24 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


They are very cagey about how they catch cheaters presumably deliberately under the theory that if they say what they look for people can try to game that.
posted by aubilenon at 12:43 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]


Oh hey some fellow has updated the wiki so now we know who it is that's winning the private rundle this season...

Uh, sorry; didn’t mean to sic the Woof Gods on you...
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:28 AM on June 17


This is my worst season ever, I think.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:28 PM on June 17


I have three beers and four wins. I feel ya.
posted by Etrigan at 12:48 PM on June 17 [3 favorites]


There's been some debate on the LL forums about how the past few days have been some of the hardest EVER so if you're doing terrible, don't feel bad (also BP Trivia is fun, free and has no defense so feel free to come over and try it. New seasons start monthly)

They are very cagey about how they catch cheaters presumably deliberately under the theory that if they say what they look for people can try to game that.

I had some back channel discussion with Thorsten after I stuck up for someone who I was pretty sure couldn't have possibly cheated and he gave me a little bit of behind-the-scenes discussion about what he does (not really specifics but kind of broad strokes stuff) enough so I had to concede he was probably right. And yet, there are still people in the League who are just generally incensed that there are people who may be cheating, enough so we've had to make whole rules about not calling out cheaters in the Forums.

An awful lot of people get kicked out for cheating; I think every so often the number of expelled cheaters is made public and that does seem to pacify people a little bit. I can imagine it's tough to be in A and be kept out of the Championships over and over by people who regularly go 6 for 6 daily, and yet can't answer some basic stuff in a live proctored match. Or who suddenly seem to throw a match juuuuust shy of getting in to the Championships. There have been some lively debates over there.
posted by jessamyn at 5:13 PM on June 17 [3 favorites]


Didn’t Thorsten say recently that literally no one had ever admitted to cheating, no matter how much evidence he presented?
posted by Etrigan at 7:53 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Wait but if you're cheating it doesn't even let you submit answers!
posted by aubilenon at 8:27 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Look, I don’t know why that trash can was spelling out “Davy” in Morse code. It’s the first time it’s ever done it! And I don’t even know Morse code!

*coughs loudly*
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:27 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


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