Frequently Asked Questions
What is Buzzword?
Buzzword is an exciting online game of knowledge and recall from NAQT, the leading provider of quiz bowl questions. Buzzword will challenge the depth and breadth of your knowledge in an engaging, audio-based format and let you compare your results with those of players at your level from around the world.
I’ve never played quiz bowl. Should I play Buzzword?
Yes! Buzzword is designed to be fun for everyone who enjoys knowledge and learning, regardless of quiz bowl experience. It’s available at several difficulty levels. Try a sample game—we bet you’ll like it!
Can my child play Buzzword?
It depends on how old they are. Due to U.S. federal regulations, Buzzword is limited to players who are at least 13 years old. We are unable to make exceptions to this policy, but if your child is too young now, Buzzword will make a great 13th birthday present!
Can I discuss Buzzword on social media or with other players?
You can always discuss Buzzword in ways that don’t include any information about specific questions, and we hope you’ll tell your friends about it.
Once a Buzzword game is completely over, you can discuss questions freely in any medium. These questions will never be reused in any competitive event (though they might be available for practice).
Before a Buzzword game is over, do not discuss questions at all (even in private, even with other players who have already played).
“Over” means that the time period to play has ended, so no one else could possibly play. If you’re not sure when that is, wait for the email that says “Results Finalized.”
NAQT has an official Facebook group for the Buzzword community, but within the above rules, you can discuss Buzzword anywhere. Feel free to use buzzword.
Registration and Levels
How much does Buzzword cost?
Each standard 50-question game costs $5, each standard 10-question game costs $1, and each 48-question Practice Buzzword game costs $3. In seasonal play, there are discounts for full-season registrations.
Sometimes other games are offered at other prices and/or lengths.
Can I register partway through the week? Through the season?
Yes! In seasonal play, you can register for Buzzword any time before the week’s game ends.
You can play any number of weeks during the season. Your season ranking is based on your best weekly performances (with the specific number of performances counted depending on the length of the season), so if you miss a week or two that’s fine, and even if you miss more than three weeks, you’re still very welcome to play however many you want.
If you’re not sure how many weeks you want to play, it’s fine to register for some weeks of a season, then later come back and register for more. (However, the discount for registering for an entire season is only available if you register for the whole season at once.)
What difficulty levels are available? Can I play multiple levels?
Level A is the easiest available level. Level D is the hardest.
Each level’s questions are completely separate, and you can play as many levels as you want, even in the same season.
Popular Culture and Sports seasons are at a level intended to be fun and appropriate for fans of those topics. Specials’ difficulty levels vary widely and will generally be indicated.
Can my team play Buzzword together?
Buzzword is an individual competition, so your players can play Buzzword individually, but not together—that wouldn’t be fair. Read the next question too!
I’m a coach. How can Buzzword help my team improve and have fun?
We have so much to say about that, we wrote a whole page about it!
After I have buzzed in, how long do I have to type my answer?
15 seconds. If this time runs out, whatever you have typed so far will be considered.
Do I need to play the whole game at once?
No. You can play the game one question at a time. Each question will be read only when you’re ready. You can resume games you did not finish (as long as the tournament hasn’t ended yet).
What if I am disconnected or close my browser while listening to a question?
In this case, you won’t be able to give an answer to that question. While we understand this may be frustrating, maintaining the time limit to answer each question is important to ensuring that all players have as equal a chance at the questions as possible.
Are there powers and interrupt penalties (“negs”) as in regular quiz bowl?
Not exactly. Powers have been replaced by the range of 0–10 additional points depending on how early you buzzed. There are no interrupt penalties, nor any other way to lose points.
What constitutes cheating at Buzzword? How does NAQT ensure the integrity of competition?
Briefly, if you think something might plausibly be considered cheating, it’s cheating.
While we have made reasonable technical efforts and policies to protect against cheating, we accept that we cannot absolutely guarantee the security of an online competition. Fundamentally, we need to trust players, and players need to trust each other, to play responsibly. Cheating isn’t impressive and it isn’t fun.
NAQT considers any intentional, active effort to obtain any form of help or assistance in answering a question to be cheating. This includes—but is not limited to—any sort of Internet search while playing, giving answers to or receiving answers from any other person, looking up any information while playing, receiving live assistance from another person while playing, and attempting to manipulate Buzzword technology in any way that confers an advantage.
NAQT reserves the right to investigate and ban players for cheating, abusive behavior, excessive protesting, or other malicious actions. Bans may extend to in-person NAQT events, including (but not necessarily limited to) national championships. NAQT may pursue additional remedies such as notifying coaches, school administrations, or other authorities of relevant cases of cheating.
Please review the Ethics and Conduct section of the Buzzword Rules.
If you believe that inappropriate conduct has occurred with respect to Buzzword, please let us know at email@example.com.
What happens if I experience a technical or audio issue?
These sorts of issues are rare, but when they do occur, there are many possibilities, so we wrote a separate guide to them.
What else is there to know about the rules?
The above questions cover the main points, but you can read the full rules if you’re into details.
Questions About the Questions (and Answers)
What subjects are Buzzword questions about?
Buzzword questions are about the entire gamut of the human experience—a wide variety of academic subjects, popular culture, current events, and more.
Specifically, each academic question set is approximately…
- 21% science and math
- 20% history
- 18% literature
- 8% geography
- 8% current events
- 7% fine arts
- 7% popular culture and sports
- 5% theology, mythology, and philosophy
- 3% social science
- 4% miscellaneous and mixed topics
(Yes, we know that adds up to 101%. That’s due to rounding.)
Popular Culture has a distribution focusing on film, pop music, and TV, with lesser emphasis on video games, musicals, comics, and other popular culture. The distribution for Sports has heavier concentrations of football, baseball, and basketball, with smaller numbers of questions on hockey, the Olympics, soccer, and other sports.
How does NAQT decide what answers to accept?
- Last names are usually sufficient, unless they are ambiguous within the domain of the question. (For example, “Johnson” would not be sufficient for a question on U.S. presidents.)
- Obvious typos will generally be tolerated unless they create ambiguity within the domain of the question. (For example, if a question is asking for Henry VI, the answer “Hnery VI” would be acceptable, but “Henry VIi” would not be.)
- Capitalization does not matter.
- The NAQT Correctness Guidelines apply, except aspects that do not make sense for a game in which players answer by typing rather than speaking.
What if I feel NAQT has made a mistake in reviewing my answer?
You may protest if your response was ruled incorrect and you believe…
- Your response was equivalent to the stated answer.
- Your response was correct for all clues that had been read at the time you buzzed, was sufficiently specific, and was given after the first complete sentence in the question.
- The question had no correct answer.
Protests are reviewed by NAQT personnel and may be accepted or denied at NAQT’s discretion.
Are there bonus questions as in regular quiz bowl?
No. Buzzword is an individual game and bonus questions are a team-centric concept, so just as in NAQT’s Individual Player National Championship Tournament, there are only tossups.
Why do the questions say “For 10 points” even though they might be worth more?
Quiz bowl questions conventionally use that phrase to signal the last sentence of a tossup, and it’s a correct lower bound on a Buzzword score for that question (if a correct answer is given).
What are Buzzword leagues?
Groups of players who compete against each other (in addition to the entire field for their division).
Leagues can consist of players in multiple divisions, who therefore couldn’t otherwise be compared easily. They can also just be subsets of divisions, providing a convenient way to compare a particular group of people.
Depending on league settings, members may be able to view more detailed results about each other’s games, and awards may be given within leagues.
Players in leagues can choose whichever games to play they’d like. League results are specific to games and seasons, and will compare players who participated in those games and seasons. League members play the same questions as non-members in each respective game.
Is there a cost to join a league?
There is no cost specifically for joining leagues. Games cost the same for league members as non-members.
What types of leagues are there?
Public leagues are visible to everyone. Everyone can see the league’s information, members, and results. Anyone can request to join.
Private leagues are only visible to members and can only be joined by invitation.
How do I join a league?
You can browse the list of public leagues and find one to request to join. A league manager will have to approve your request (or reject it).
Private leagues can only be joined by invitation. If you know someone who manages a private Buzzword league, you can ask them (via your own communication channels) to invite you.
If you don’t find a league that interests you, you can create one.
If you are rejected from joining a league, find another league to join (or create one). Repeated attempts to join a league after being rejected are considered harassment and are grounds for a suspension or ban from Buzzword.
How do I create a league?
Fill out a form with basic information about the league. NAQT will review your proposed league and either accept it or discuss it with you.
All leagues, including names and descriptions, are subject to NAQT’s approval. If a league violates NAQT’s standards for responsible and ethical behavior, we will not approve it.
How do I invite people to my league?
When NAQT approves your league, we will send you an email with a link to the page from which to invite people. You can also invite people via the My Leagues page.
If someone turns down your invitation to join a league, do not repeatedly invite them (unless they tell you it was an accident and they need a new invitation). Repeated invitations against someone’s wishes are considered harassment and are grounds for a suspension or ban from Buzzword.
How many leagues can I join?
There is currently no limit. (Some leagues have an overall limit on their number of members, though.)