How Does Sporcle Prevent Cheating at Live Pub Trivia Nights?

(Last Updated On: March 2, 2021)
How Does Sporcle Prevent Cheating at Live Pub Trivia Nights?

We’ve developed a Cheating Robot that is invisible. She sits in the corner while you play and watches to make sure you don’t cheat. Don’t cheat; you don’t want to see Cheating Robot angry.


You’re still reading? Guess we didn’t convince you. Okay, okay, there’s no Cheating Robot and there’s no easy solution to cheating.

We here at Sporcle believe that the vast majority of trivia players do not cheat. Most people who play pub trivia do so because they have fun competing and they like to connect with friends over mentally stimulating diversions. Winning a gift card or cash prize is just the cherry on top of the sundae. However, we are also realistic: some people are so determined to win that they’re willing to become losers who cheat.

Sporcle has developed a few ways of dealing with cheaters over the years, for both in-person and virtual live trivia events.

How does Sporcle prevent cheating at live pub trivia – in person?

First and foremost, the host lays out the ground rules: here’s what cheating is, and it’s not acceptable!

Generally the rule at all of our in-person pub trivia events is that phones need to stay out of view and off the table until after a team has turned in an answer. If it’s impossible for you to not look at your Instagram comments every 30 seconds, then pub trivia may not be the game for you. As we implement contact-free scoring, rules regarding phone usage will change slightly.

The consequence for having a phone out varies based on the host and the event. If the event has a cash prize, you can bet the consequence will be more severe and teams will be given fewer second chances.

Of course, a consequence is only useful if the offending team is caught in the act! All of our trivia hosts are trained to keep an eye out for cheaters. When someone’s glancing down at their crotch every few minutes and smiling, it’s probably not because their pants are funny – it’s because their phone is in their lap.

Lastly, preventing cheating is a team effort. Many hosts rely on waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and other teams to be their eyes and ears. So if you are at a trivia event and you see something, then say something! If you feel comfortable talking directly to the team in question, let them know. If you’d prefer not to call them out directly, tell the host what’s going on. The host will take it into consideration with the other pieces of info they have gathered and will decide what to do. Keep in mind that they may silently disqualify the team in question, so even if they don’t make an announcement over the microphone, your concern was still heard and considered!

How does Sporcle prevent cheating at live pub trivia – online?

When it comes to virtual live trivia, cheating is a lot harder to predict and prevent. By nature of the format, everyone playing the trivia game is already on a device that connects to the internet. The temptation to tab over to Google is very present.

Additionally, during the virtual live trivia games Sporcle runs daily via Zoom, teams spend approximately 50% of their time in a private chat room with only their teammates. It’s a great opportunity for friends and family to spend time together! Unfortunately, it’s also a great opportunity for cheaters to cheat. The host cannot monitor the activity of teams while they’re in the breakout room because the host can’t see or hear teams during that time.

Because of this, most virtual live trivia games do not award a prize based on which teams got the most answers correct. Instead, everyone who plays one of Sporcle’s virtual live trivia events gets an entry into a randomly drawn weekly giveaway and teams who win 1st place get double entries. The more you play and the more you win, the more likely you are to win the giveaway – but cheating doesn’t help significantly.


No one likes a cheater, especially during trivia. All of us here at Sporcle will keep doing our part to set clear expectations for all participants and stay attentive in the hopes of identifying most obvious cheaters. We appreciate the honesty of all of our participants who choose not to cheat, and are grateful for those who apply well-intentioned peer pressure to a competing team who’s tempted to look up “just this one question.”

Do you have suggestions for spotting a cheater at a pub quiz? How about a story about the time you caught a competitor in the act? Share it in the comments below! We’d love to hear your ideas and stories!

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