Trivia Trickery: Control & Prevent Cheating

Person holding iPhone, black and white photo - Cheating has the potential of ruining a great trivia night, but if handled properly, it’s easy to stop it before it starts.

Prevention is your first step in making sure you host a fair and fun trivia night.

While some hosts hold on to players’ phones during events, we don’t recommend this. Not only is there a liability issue if a phone is lost or damaged while in your possession but people typically balk at the idea of handing over something that has essentially become an extra appendage.

Here are a few options we recommend to prevent cheating before it starts:

1) “SHAME” the players before the game begins.
That sounds harsh but it works. We make a very big point to address cheating when we discuss the rules before the event begins. Clearly stating that cheating won’t be tolerated (and how “uncool” it is) deters the majority of people who might have the urge to look something up. Remind players of this rule every few rounds.

2) Have the players “SELF-POLICE”.
Tell them to keep an eye on each other and to make sure cheating isn’t going on around them. IMPORTANT NOTE: we suggest asking players to tell YOU if they notice something, not to confront the other team directly.

3) If you have done the above yet still feel that cheating might be a problem, you can BAN the use of CELL PHONES during rounds.
This is still hard to regulate and won’t prevent cheating between rounds (like when they are working on their picture rounds) or bathroom-break cheating but it will make spotting cheaters easier since fewer phones will be out.

Having said all that, it’s generally pretty easy to spot cheaters.

People tend to get the courage to cheat after the first round, typically due to embarrassment over a low score. For example, going from getting two questions right in one round to a perfect score in the next is certainly a red flag. This doesn’t always mean the team is cheating but if a shift in scores like this happens, be aware. Keep an eye on their table and see if players are using phones in a way that might indicate they are cheating. As mentioned in the prevention tips above, other teams may also tell you they saw people on their phones looking up answers.

If you do catch someone cheating, it usually only takes one conversation to put it to an end.

We like to approach the team in a way that does not place judgment on them, but gives them the benefit of the doubt. Just saying something like “I want to remind you that you can’t look up answers during the quiz” usually does the trick. Don’t ever intimidate, use the word “cheat” or make them feel stupid. They know that they shouldn’t be doing it, all you are doing is letting them know you noticed. If it happens a second time, and you are sure they were cheating, we typically suggest disqualifying them from the game.

These tips should help keep your game honest. Above all, remind players that the game is supposed to be fun and cheating takes away from that.

Good luck and happy quizzin’!

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