Bye Bye QuizUp!

April 10th, 2014 | Posted in It's All Geek to Me!

Regular readers of my blog probably already know this, but I am a bit of a Sherlockian, that being a scholar of the literary character Sherlock Holmes. In my particular case I am all about the original four novels and 56 short stories (aka the “canon”) written by Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I have a casual interest in the various films, TV shows and such featuring the Holmes characters, but it’s the original Canon that I am partial to.

I was pretty happy to find some months ago that the smartphone/tablet app “QuizUp” had a literary “Sherlock Holmes” category. This app is a trivia game where you play against another person in real time, answering 7 question pertaining to your topic with a 10 second time limit. The points you get for each right answer depends on the speed in which you choose the answer, each question having four choices. The Holmes category must have had about 300 questions that you cycled randomly through. I really got into playing. In fact the category just got updated with new questions the other day, and I wrote about half of them for the software company that makes the game. As of the writing of this post, I am ranked second in the world in the Sherlock Holmes topic.

Sadly, I’m never going to play the game again.

Once the topic got updated I started playing it, but found something odd. Not with the questions… the new ones were very difficult, needing an extremely detailed knowledge of the stories to get many of the answers right. I did not know some of the new ones, so obscure were the references. What was weird was I kept losing games to people who were at very low levels in the topic. These people never missed a correct answer, even though they had so few experience points, they must have only played a couple of matches at most. I’ve played over a thousand. This didn’t stop… I kept losing to people new to the game but who got perfect scores. At first I thought there must be a wave of serious Sherlockians who have just discovered the game, but these questions are so hard no way would anyone be able to answer all seven correctly, every time, having never had the questions before. Then, as the number of new players with perfect answers kept piling up, I deduced something was afoot.

I did a web search or two and sure enough, there are QuizUp cheat apps out there that allow you to jack up the number of points you get for each match and automatically enter the right answers for you. That’s what these new players are using. How sad is that? What possible entertainment value is there in a game that’s automated to cheat for you? I shouldn’t be surprised… the internet is rife with thieves and scam artists… but still, how pathetic. Sorry, just needed to vent.

Ah well, it’s a relief in a way. Now I can quit the game and not care about it. I might even be able to get more work done now!


  1. Jack Myhervold says:

    Loser’s like that would have to use “Cliff Notes” to write a report on an Archie comic book. Very good Holmes pic.

  2. anon says:

    Could be a good mystery plot, some Moriarty type keeps eliminating players who cheat at Sherlock Holmes trivia using canon killing methods.

  3. CChambers says:

    That’s a real shame and enormously disappointing (and infuriating), Tom. But on a brighter note I must say the illustration is superb! Nicely done!

  4. Tom Racine says:

    Huh…so weird. I just started playing that game and really liked it…but was having the same thoughts on it. Was getting beat on things that seemed a little fishy. I’ll never understand this sort of thing…it’s a TRIVIA game, fer chrissake. Just play it. Some people just have to win at all costs, I guess.

  5. That’s a shame. Why people gotta ruin everything! Man!

  6. A Nony Moose says:

    Actually, I think you were losing to quizup bots. They employ fake players to so that you never have to wait too long to play a match. In an obscure category like yours it’s highly likely that there isn’t an immediate match so they create a player. Unfortunately, some of those bots actually suspiciously get a lot of them right.

    • huawuban says:

      May be what they should do is to tell you that you are playing with a bot, so that the player don’t feel cheated. And at the same time, they should team the player with bots with different difficulty levels. Like ppl under the level of 10 can compete with easy bots and ppl under the level of 30 compete with middle difficult bots and so on. So that the players won’t get frustrated. Or maybe there can be a option to turn off bots teaming the the player wants.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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