When it comes to Sporcle, curators truly do know best. In this blog series, some of the great curators of Sporcle share their expert opinions on curating, top-notch quizzes, up-and-coming Sporclers, and a wee bit of trivia.
How did you first get involved with Sporcle?
I followed a link to the Countries of the World quiz several years back from some forum. I played it, and loved the idea and format of quizzes like this (i.e. the kind we now call Classic), so I stuck around. I played quizzes on Sporcle off and on for a while, but became committed to it once I finally decided to start making quizzes.
Why did you decide to be a curator for your subcategory?
After I had been making quizzes regularly for most of a year, I noticed that the Geology subcategory had been around for a good while with no curator, so I applied for it and was thrilled to actually get it. Later there was a call to fill open curatorships, and I saw that Translation was open. It’s such a broad subcategory with such a wide variety of fun, creative quizzes that I jumped at the chance to apply for that too. I’ve always enjoyed learning about and trying to figure out how to take apart unfamiliar languages. Translation is wonderful because, while it overlaps with several of the other language subcategories, it also encompasses a really broad range of quizzes that might not be general-interest enough to sustain their own subcategory, but deserve some attention nonetheless.
What’s your favorite trivia fact having to do with your subcategory?
Geology: A site in Gabon’s Oklo region appears to have been a natural nuclear reactor some 2 billion years ago. That’s because the less common, less stable isotope of Uranium that is needed for a fission chain reaction has a shorter half-life than the more common isotope, and at that time, it would have been about eight times as common in any sample of uranium as it is now, which is why uranium must be “enriched” to increase this proportion before it can be used for fission reactors. Under the right conditions, this could (and apparently did) sustain a fission chain reaction occurring in the ground. The site is now known as the Oklo reactor.
Translation: I love the variety of ways people have of expressing laughter in different languages. While “hahaha” or variations on that are pretty common worldwide, there are some really distinctive ones. Basques write “kar-kar-kar”, Indonesians write “wkwkwkwk”, and Brazilians (but not people from Portugal) write “rsrsrs” or “kkkk”. Sometimes specific types of laughs don’t translate well. In French, for example, there is a particular laugh written “gnac gnac gnac” (pronounced something like “nyuk nyuk nyuk”) which is apparently intended to come off as sinister or evil rather than stoogely.
What are some of your favorite published quizzes from your subcategory?
Geology: No set of geology quizzes could be complete without the Mohs Hardness Scale. The scale itself may be a bit arbitrary in some ways, but it’s still a good introduction to a very useful tool for geologists identifying minerals in the field, and it’s something a lot of people will remember from their science classes. Find the Tectonic Plates by markassonne gives a nice alternative way to look at world geography.
Translation: Clickable Country Names in Other Languages by mrsmith is a perfect example of what makes a good Translation quiz, as it forces people to combine their knowledge and reasoning to figure out which country is written in which language. And nbsixer‘s Unexpected Translations: English-Spanish has a great list of examples of English and Spanish words with nothing in common except their spelling.
What are some of your favorite contributed quizzes from your subcategory?
Geology: Tom_the_Terrible‘s Relative Ages of Geological Units is one of my all-time favorites, because even if you don’t know anything about the subject, you can reason it out and learn a lot in the process. Ancient Fossils by gooicide is beautiful and a good introduction to several common or otherwise important fossils. And for those who love cheesy and/or nerdy humor, Esme‘s Finish the Terrible Geology Puns is a must-play.
Translation: I enjoyed Alcas‘s Spanish in Cryllic (Matching), and all the other quizzes in that series, because they requires you to use knowledge about at least two very different languages in order to put the answers together. PedroLoureno‘s Portuguese and Spanish are the Same, Right? is an excellent one for showing how different even these famously close languages can be. And kfastic‘s Body Parts in 4 Languages is part of a really clever series on different categories of things in four Western European languages. Finally, bhenderson79‘s Hogwarts Ancient Runes Exam shows how versatile Translation is as a subcategory. Not only is it a fun cryptogram puzzle in its own right, but the letters used weren’t chosen arbitrarily. They actually do have a (rough) correspondence to the transliterations of the runes used, so it can also serve as an excellent primer for players who would want to learn this ancient Germanic alphabet, but have no prior knowledge of it.
What are your favorite quizzes from an entirely different category?
The Oh the Irony series by bowsntoys has an interesting and generally quite funny collection of signs. Bolafssonify‘s Cheese Kurds is good for those who like their puns to be cheesy on at least two levels. And I have to give a mention to Fledermaus‘s Animal Battles for its use of animated .gif files and for answering age-old questions like “Would a cat beat an octopus in a fight?”
Which Sporcle Group do you frequent most often?
Probably General Discussion, but I find there’s not nearly as much discussion of high-ranking military officers there as you’d think.
Are there any Sporclers whose quizzes you think merit more attention than they get?
There are too many to name. Both Fledermaus and atakdog make some wonderful animal quizzes, and are obviously both knowledgeable and thorough when it comes to the subjects of all the quizzes they make. Aztlan_Historian makes lots of really interesting quizzes about often neglected subjects, like indigenous languages of the Americas, which tend to be hard but informative. Other difficult, but interesting quizzes (particularly in geology) come from cfxlspo and up-and-comer gooicide. Speaking of up-and-comers, while christopherjulia has been making quizzes for a while, he’s just now (deservedly) starting to get some notice. A few others that immediately come to mind for consistently making solid and creative quizzes are ZYX, gazzso, arcer, NO_r_WAY, and plkphoto.
Haiku or favorite Dad Joke (or both):
In flooded rice fields
Mobsters killed him with snow globes:
Pearl does a variety of media-related tasks at Sporcle, including blog writing, video production, and social media maintenance. She does research on penguins, enjoys snail mucus in her skincare, and once turned herself Sporcle Orange from eating too many carrots.