|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (September 2013)|
|Slogan||Mentally stimulating diversions|
Type of site
|Created by||Matt Ramme|
|Launched||July 4, 2007|
|7,730 (October 2014[update])|
Sporcle is a trivia quiz website on which users have a set time limit to name all the items within a given subject, such as presidents of the USA or the countries in Europe. Anybody with a Sporcle account is able to create a quiz. The site was launched in July 2007. According to website founder Matt Ramme, the name of the site is inspired by the word oracle. Offices for the website are located in Seattle and San Francisco.
The website was founded in response to Ramme's desire to learn trivia and his accompanying frustration that there was no existing website suitable for his needs. Sporcle's mission statement is, "We actively and methodically search out new and innovative ways to prevent our users from getting any work done whatsoever."
Many games on Sporcle require the user to name all of the items within a given subject — such as presidents of the USA, Best Picture Oscar-winning movies, or countries whose names are also legal words in Scrabble. Items can be named in any order and the user has a preset time limit. In some games each answer corresponds to a specific question or hint from a list, and in many such cases they must be answered in order unless the user explicitly skips to a different question. In other games questions are not revealed until previous ones have been answered, and there are other variations as well. Quiz times can range from 30 seconds to 20 minutes. After 7 seconds, under the timer the words, "give up?" appear. The player can then click it and it will reveal all the answers but the quiz then ends.
In most quizzes, wrong answers are ignored for scoring purposes but must be deleted by the user from the answer box before another answer can be typed, whereas a correct answer clears the box automatically. Two alternative formats were introduced in April 2011, suitable for questions or quizzes with a limited range of answers (e.g. US states, multiple-choice questions): a wrong answer to a specific question can prevent a second try, or any wrong answer can end the quiz (nicknamed a "minefield").
In March 2012, Sporcle released the "clickable" quiz, which is played by selecting the correct answers from a given set of choices, all displayed continuously, rather than typing. When specific questions or hints are used, they appear one at a time in sequence after the user selects the answer to the previous one. In this case only the answer corresponding to the specific question is accepted; buttons marked NEXT and PREV allow the player to postpone or return to a question, but a wrong answer prevents a return. In other quizzes the correct answers must be selected in a particular order without specific hints. Still other quizzes allow the correct answers to be clicked in any order, but some of the choices offered are wrong answers. If the quiz is not a "minefield", then the number of clicks is limited to the number of correct answers. Still another variant, introduced later in 2012, requires choices from two or more different lists to be correctly associated.
In June 2013, Sporcle released the new "slideshow" feature, which is played sequentially with each question displaying a different picture.
The games in Sporcle fall into 15 categories: Entertainment, Gaming, Geography, History, Holiday, Just for Fun, Language, Literature, Miscellaneous, Movies, Music, Religion, Science, Sports, and Television. Each category has a number of sub-categories as well. As of November 11, 2013, Sporcle has about 35,000 games (both published and user created) that have been played a total of over 1,000,000,000 times (between both online plays and mobile app plays). The 500,000,000 milestone was reached on April 23, 2011, and the 1,000,000,000 milestone was reached on April 12, 2013.
In 2013, the most popular quiz on Sporcle was "US States" which had been played over 11 million times. Other popular games with over 5 million plays included "Countries of Europe", "Countries of the World", "US Presidents" and "Countries of Africa", and the non-quiz game "Clickable 1-100 Mines", where the player must click randomly numbered buttons in the correct order within a time limit.
Despite Ramme's expectation that Sporcle would appeal to older users, the website has become particularly popular among students, with many admitting to checking the website frequently for recently added material. As the slogan "mentally stimulating diversions" suggests, the website is often used to procrastinate; however, the website also has educational value. Some frequent users have been known to use the word as a verb – "Sporcling" – to describe their use of the site. Students often use the site to study as well, mentioning quizzes relating to anatomy, the periodic table of elements, languages, geography, and other academic subjects as useful for their learning.
Since October 2010, Sporcle has featured a 'College Rankings' competition on the site's home page, which tracks students registered on the site from a variety of universities, and ranks the top 25 schools according to their weekly usage of Sporcle.
Sporcle also features games that engage the ears with sound and music clips. There are speed challenges, word scrambles, and word ladders that are posted on a daily basis. Users may also create quizzes. Games can be found easily as they are filtered by category but also ranked by most popular, most played, newest, and favorites. Each game comes with recommended links to games in the same category. Users may also search for games with key terms and are presented with a list of user-created quizzes as well as those that have been published by Sporcle. All but a few published quizzes are made by users and verified by Sporcle administrators.
Quizzes can be played on Sporcle without registering as a member. However, score tracking, commenting, quiz creation, and some other features are only available to members. As of May 28th, 2015, users must have an account and must also be logged in to see quiz results. Registration to become a member is free.
Members can comment on games with critiques, suggestions for improvements, or just to announce their scores. Comments can be reported to the administrators and deleted if thought unacceptable. Other Sporcle members can rate these comments positively or negatively. Each week, Sporcle picks five comments that they enjoyed on their blog.
Members also can partake in challenges either against other members or the Sporcle computer, which will give you a score to beat before you begin the quiz. Badges are also awarded to members who achieve certain feats. These badges are displayed on the user's page on Sporcle. For example, the Ring-bearer badge can be earned by playing 25 or more Lord of the Rings quizzes.
Since September 2009, Sporcle has allowed all members to create quizzes. User-created quizzes are shown on the User Contributed Games page. On weekdays, 8 quizzes are published. Six of these are full-length quizzes and two are the Daily Dose (see Daily Dose below). These quizzes are all User-Created, save a few Daily Dose quizzes that SporcleEXP (the Sporcle Admin) creates.
Sporcle created something known as the Quizmaster Score, an algorithm designed to rate users on their quizmaking prowess. The Top 100 users based on their Quizmaster Score are shown on the User Created page under the tab Top Contributors. The Quizmaster Score is derived from several factors, which include (but are not limited to):
- The number of games created since the public launch of Sporcle's game creation tools
- Total number of times aforementioned games have been played
- The average rating attributed to those games by the Sporcle community
- The number of times the quizzes have been favorited
The Quizmaster Score may fluctuate each day as a user's games are played more, rated higher or lower, and favorited. The Quizmaster Score rankings are updated daily.
On February 23, 2010, Sporcle released a $2.99 iPhone application with 250 games, with a lite version available for free. On July 1, an update came out that added new games daily. As of February 2014, the game had a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Apple Store. Later in 2010, Sporcle released a similar app on the Android Market.
On October 22, 2010, the Sporcle administration launched a new daily series called The Daily Dose. Each day, three new games are published in addition to the normal daily publishings. There are three categories of Daily Dose games. The first type is the Mixed Word (previously known as Word Scramble), in which players are asked to unscramble a set of words (generally 10-15 words). These sets can be related by an unknown bond (known as Mixed Word: Common Bond quizzes), or by a bond specifically stated (i.e. unscramble the dog breeds). The second category is the Missing Word, a fill-in-the-blank quiz that focuses on a specific category (i.e. movies, adages, sports teams, etc.) The third is the Word Ladder, a quiz in which users are asked to change one letter from the previous answer to fit the answer to the next clue. These are often themed, though not always. There is also a Minute Morsel that is featured every day; it is a sixty-second sampling of an already-published quiz that is available only for that day. This is done to promote the replaying of old quizzes that may have fallen off the radar. Daily Dose quizzes are almost always published under the 'Just for Fun' category (except, of course, for the Minute Morsel).
Daily Dose quizzes are shown beneath the daily publications beside their respective categorical icon, rather than an icon representing the quiz itself. On May 20, 2012, Sporcle discontinued the publication of a Mixed Word quiz as part of the daily dose.
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