Norway Quizwall experiment ends with more quizzing than commenting

Is that one-liner worth it?

Earlier this year Norway's government-owned broadcaster embarked on a stern Lutheran experiment with story commenters. Before being able to post a comment on a story, they would need to pass a reading comprehension quiz, to prove they had read it all.

(Much like Keith in Mike Leigh's Nuts In May who had chewed each piece of food 72 times.)

NRK said that this was to ensure that commenters didn't veer dangerously off-topic... which was not what NRK wanted at all. Look what happened to Keith when people stopped obeying the rules!

"We suspect some readers just skimmed the headline before heading for the comments section. That is not what it is for," the broadcaster said. The experiment attracted worldwide interest from publishers.

Click to enlarge

The quiz-to-comment was only introduced on a subset of stories, but now NRK has published some findings from the experiment.

The quiz noticed an average error rate of 72 per cent. The main takeaway was readers viewed the quiz as a memory game. Their attention was thus spent on the quiz rather than on composing wise and witty comments.

If the goal was deter comments, then it partially succeeded, for the experiment didn't necessarily improve the quality of the contributions. Not that it deterred fun one-liners. One journalist turned off the "quiz wall", dismayed that the quiz favoured those who were "the most eager with the most time on their hands".

So what do you think? Wait! Not just yet.

Here's a little quiz:


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