Did The Guardian miss a viral opportunity with their Ultimate Summer Pop Quiz?

summer pop quiz

Last Friday the Guardian published it’s ‘Ultimate Summer Pop Quiz’ – a typically original take on the pop quiz format with a gloriously, insanely difficult set of over 100 questions such as “The opening lines of which post-punk song were inspired by the above passage from Notes From the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky?”

Having only managed 31 answers (and 24 guesses) over the weekend, I took to the web on Monday to see who else was doing it – and if it was on the web so I could send it to friends.

Spot the link to the pop quiz... The problem? The Guardian hadn’t exactly made it easy to do so. The quiz was nowhere to be seen on Monday’s Music section homepage – instead it took a Google search for “Ultimate summer pop quiz Guardian” to bring up the specific page for last week’s Film & Music section. Even then, the link to the quiz (in PDF form) was so small and easily overlooked as placed in a completely different story that it took Google’s caching option to spot it.

So, was everyone talking about this quiz? A search for webpages linking to the PDF brought… one result, from the comments on a Guardian article… and it appeared that the comment in question was no longer there.

What a shame. This was perfect viral material. A quiz most individuals couldn’t complete, where half the fun was competing with your peers to be the first to find out that the uncle of Randy Newman who received 45 Oscar nominations was Alfred Newman.

What should they have done?

  • At the very least had a ‘button graphic’ promoting it on the Music section page – and pushed to have it on the main homepage as well (after all, I seem to remember it was on Friday’s Guardian front page)
  • There should have been an ’email to a friend’ feature.
  • Readers should be able to bookmark the quiz, ‘Digg’ it, etc.
  • Although the PDF is a nice format to email to others, there should also have been a more interactive format version where you could fill in your answers and then email the results to a friend (the answers aren’t revealed until this week’s supplement). You could even include an on-page calculator for the Maths section (“Take That claim to have sung a million love songs. If each song has an average length of three minutes, how many days would it take to sing them all?”)
  • There should be a discussion forum or thread devoted to the quiz and the searches related to it, linked from the quiz page. Imagine how much traffic that might generate – and how much higher the average time spent on the site.
  • Oh, and they should have twittered it, inviting people to tell them how they’re doing.
  • And if you really wanted to make this an event, why not turn it into a treasure hunt and litter the web with clues? Or red herrings?
  • UPDATE: Chrys Wu adds in the comments: “the quiz would have also made a terrific Facebook app along the lines of Flixster.”

I’m sure there are more examples you can think of.

But let’s focus on the really important question: how many answers did you get right? (PDF)

Person Alfred Newman
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3 thoughts on “Did The Guardian miss a viral opportunity with their Ultimate Summer Pop Quiz?

  1. keri davies

    I saw it in the hard copy of the paper and filed it for later because I’m on holiday soon.

    I’m amazed that they missed so many opportunities for online exploitation.

    A pdf is pretty feeble, isn’t it?

    Reply
  2. Chrys Wu

    Guardian.co.uk is so good in so many other ways, it surprising they didn’t launch this as an online game or do many of the other things you suggested. IMO, the quiz would have also made a terrific Facebook app along the lines of Flixster.

    Reply

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