Google Puzzle Changes the Rules of Trivia Games

This article originally appeared on and is used here with permission

Picture yourself in the middle of a game of trivia, facing a question that doesn’t ring a bell. You rack your brain for some sort of clue, anything, but remain stumped. What do some of these words even mean?

But instead of admitting defeat, you quickly devise a plan. With your smartphone hidden in the palm of your hand, you fire up a Google search.

Soon after, as you’re piecing together the information in the search results, you have it! The answer to the question is right there at your fingertips.

Most people would consider this type of behavior to be inappropriate, maybe even grounds for disqualification. Internet searching is simply off-limits when it comes to trivia contests; it takes away all the fun.

But what if there was a trivia game didn’t only allow Googling, but was built on it? A game where the questions were challenging enough to expect some higher level web research in order to solve them.

Google has come up with just that type of challenge with A Google a Day, a daily puzzle that rewards creativity and savvy searching.

The Official Google Blog explains it further:

Questions will be posted every day on and printed on weekdays above the New York Times crossword puzzle. We’ll reveal each puzzle’s answer the next day in the Times and on, along with the search tips and features used to find it.

Just like traditional crossword puzzles, the difficulty of the questions increases over the course of the week, so by Thursday or Friday, even the most seasoned searcher may be stumped.

To give an example, here is a previous question, followed by Google’s suggestions for solving it:

“If a man has two swallows tattooed on his chest, how many inches has he sailed?”

“How to find the answer: Search [meaning of swallow tattoos on chest]. Results will show it means a sailor has sailed 10,000 nautical miles. Convert nautical miles to inches using the search bar to discover that a man with two swallows tattooed on his chest has sailed 729,133,858 inches.”

But we all know that Google isn’t in the business of fun and games, so there must be some other reason for creating this trivia puzzle. Some might say it represents a noble mission to teach information literacy skills to the public; others argue that it’s a clever attempt for Google to show off how great it is.

Ken Denmead of Wired wrote that this promotion of advanced search features is Google’s “ulterior motive:”

“Over time, Google has realized that people aren’t using Google to its full potential. Like taking your Lamborghini Miura to the corner store to pick up a lottery ticket, folks haven’t been truly putting the search engine through its paces.”

A Google a Day gives users a chance to learn and try out some of the more advanced Google search operators, including site:, filetype:, + word, – word, and many others, which are conveniently listed under “tips and tricks.” Participants will discover that there is much more to Google than just simple keyword searches.

And if you get stumped, you can always ask your friends for help on Google+.


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  1. This is actually the sad truth. Google has taken away the fun out of trivia. Its kinnda sad, but its happening for a long time now.
    I remember a couple of years ago I was playing Trivia on some irc channel and most people were searching the answer on google rather then actually play the game

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