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Dealing with unruly behavior and trivia cheats


How to deal with unruly players?


When a trivia night is running smoothly it is the trivia host’s dream……however, things can and occasionally do go wrong and you may find yourself, as a trivia host, faced with the dilemma of how to deal with a player in your trivia contest who is being unruly or cheating. Either way, the player needs to be dealt with in an appropriate manner that will not further antagonize the situation and end in a satisfactory conclusion for all parties involved. The manner in which you should deal with an unruly player in your trivia night depends on the trivia contest itself and the nature of the behavior.

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Dealing with cheaters at your trivia night?

With the advance of smart phones and internet on the go, the trivia night has become riddled with cheats, who for some unknown reason, would rather sit and type the questions into google than have a try at using their brains to work out the answer. As much as this seems pointless there is a good chance that in any trivia night you run there are cheaters and you, as a trivia host, need to deal with them in a manner that befits the crime.

No matter what the occasions you need to establish ground rules for your trivia night and these need to be clear from the offset. Announced it over the mic that cheaters will not be tolerated, devise your trivia in a manner that means cheats cannot prosper (i.e hand in every 5 questions) and above all else just make it clear on all hand outs etc that mobiles are discouraged.  The use of a wireless buzzer game system is a proven way to prevent people from researching answers.  By the time the player finds the answer on the internet, they are left in the dust by 5 questions at least!

Now, if the Trivia is any sort of serious event, maybe an international quizzing event, a serious quiz with a high prize or a contest where its all about high level trivia (quiz-bowl etc) then the cheats need to be removed straight away. The whole credibility of your trivia event will be ruined if the trivia night is found to be corrupt. It also sends a clear message to all. Be careful, make sure you have proof and if needs be refund any entrance fees to the players you are getting rid off……they need to be removed.

The difficulty comes with the trivia nights you may be running in bars. Not only do you have to consider that as a trivia host you prime aim is to get players into the bar and make sure they stay there. Not only do you lack the authority to remove players but the bar owner may not be too keen on your starting to remove players. You need to keep a handle on cheating however to ensure everyone enjoys your night and keeps coming back….a fine balance you will agree. So how can it be done?

First things first you should have established your ground rules. If after a few rounds you suspect there is some cheating re-mention the rules on the mic to re-establish just where you stand on the issue. If there are still problems ten its time to act and the best idea is, if you know for certain a team has cheated, is to either deduct points or to discount there score.

I have found the best way to handle this is wait until the end. That way the team doesn’t leave, they are still buying drinks and they think they are getting away with it. Simply do not read out there score and see what happens. I have found that 70% of teams won’t question you as they will realize the reason you have not read out there score is the reason they know….they have been caught. The other 30% may argue and may not return to the quiz but in over 10 years of doing this I have never had any trouble.

If you can't beat them

If you can’t beat them, join them

Now, this is a worst case scenario, one that I’ve considered in the past but have never had to actually use…..but it is good to be prepared for anything  just in case.  If there is some venue where you just simply cannot keep the players from cheating, why not make that part of your format?  This means you will have to significantly increase the difficulty level of your questions and answers, but it can be done.  Simply make a game where players have to find the answers on the internet.  There!  Done!  If you can’t beat them, then join them.  Yes, this means making an adjustment in your format, but it is better to do this than have angry players who create a scene due to cheaters, which will also cause your booking client to be very unhappy with you for not controlling the situation.  So, it is better to join them, than lose the money!

Unruly Behavior and dealing with it

Remember as a Trivia host you are mainly there to provide entertainment and keep the players in. If the trivia night turns nasty and there is drunken, loud, abusive or threatening behavior then remember it is not YOUR job to deal with it. The bar owner and security should deal with it. I have seen many trivia hosts announce over the mic that people need to be quiet and stop being aggressive/abusive… only ends in worsening the situation. Keep alert of the situation and if things are turning sour alert the bar owner and bar staff and allow them to sort out the scenario.


All in all you need to clamp down on cheating to make sure that everything remains above board and the trivia night is treated with the respect that it deserves.

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