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Author Topic: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?  (Read 3782 times)

Ian Wallis

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How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« on: June 10, 2024, 10:22:40 AM »
Something I'm wondering about:

When a game finishes and not all the questions were used, how quickly would they be put back into gameplay?

Some examples:  when a Match Game 7x game was finished in just three questions, would the unused question still be there for the next game, or would they completely change them out and do the unused one later?

Does everything have to be laid out in advance and approved by Standards & Practices?  There were instances on Match Game where a question had to be thrown out because a celebrity kind of gave away their answer, and Ira would come on stage with a couple of other cards that would be put into the mix.  There was another time where the machine malfunctioned going into a tie-breaker and the second tie-breaker was used rather than the first.  Maybe the rules for questions used on that show wasn't that strict?

I know for shows like Jeopardy, their boards are laid out well in advance so questions wouldn't be put back into the mix that quickly, but does it vary from show to show?

Anyone know?
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Loogaroo

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2024, 01:20:08 PM »
I'm sure this is heavily dependent on the era, but modern shows generally stack material for each episode, with plenty of overage and backups to work from in case they're needed. At the end of the season, anything unused goes back into the pool for consideration for season 2.

In the rare event that more backups are needed than were allotted for the episode, they'll generally go into unused questions from previous stacks, but that typically requires a randomization of multiple questions to select one, just so there's no accusation of favoritism by choosing one question over another.
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JasonA1

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2024, 01:29:07 PM »
does it vary from show to show?

Yes, it absolutely varies. I've worked on modern shows where every episode's worth of material is put together before we tape with no recycling, and shows where it was deliberately designed to start recycling at some point in the season.

Going back, I've seen some paperwork from Match Game '7x and Super Password. Both shows went into the studio with a pool of games that were considered complete units. In MG's case, they had 8, and more or less played them in order, though you'd see instances of them skipping one. Without comparing specific episodes, I can only imagine they would do that because the answers to one question ended up being similar/leading to what was expected for a question in the skipped game. The show's bible accounts for being able to drop questions on the spot, should that happen. But at least in what I saw, if question A wasn't chosen in game 1, round 2, you wouldn't see it until the next airing week, at a minimum.

Nowadays, I imagine Jeopardy! can go awhile before recycling, because they have so much time, material, etc. But ages ago, scans were posted of the show 1 material from 9/10/84. And season 1 was reportedly like a lot of modern season 1s, in that they had less staff, less time, etc.

Looking at those scans, I can see the unpicked $500 Inventions clue didn't replay in any extant episodes. The $500 Foreign Cuisine clue (A stew of various meats, or an old "Jeopardy" category) played on November 26 as a $300 Trivia clue with one phrase added (...a jar of mixed flower petals, or...). The entirely-unplayed Number, Please category showed up again on October 3. Two clues from the unplayed DJ! category Weights & Measures showed up on October 22. Two of the others showed up in May 1985. The unplayed $800 Notorious clue didn't replay in any extant episodes.

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Otm Shank

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2024, 06:25:48 PM »
The Password+ bible has this...

    C.  Main Game Material
        The producers will present NBC Compliances and Practices with two matches of five puzzles each, for each one match needed on the show.  NBC Compliance and Practices will then select one of the two matches for the show.  This shall be done before it has been determined who the next contestant challenger shall be.  If a programatic conflict occurs, the producers will attempt to avoid the conflict by skipping the conflicting puzzle.  If, however, the producers feel this is unsatisfactory, they shall replace the puzzle by offering a pair of alternative puzzles to Compliance and Practices which will then make the selection.

    D.  End Game Material

        The producers will select two Alphabetics games before it is determined who the next contestant challenger shall be.  NBC Compliance and Practices will select one of the two which will then be played by whichever of the two contestants wins the game.


So in the event that there were 3 or more puzzles burned off as unsolved/host blooper/technical error, there is an unused set of puzzles to draw from, rather than arbitrarily reaching back into the discard pile. In the art-card era, I'm assuming both sets are prepared to go, rather than having to create one on the fly.

TLEberle

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2024, 06:52:08 PM »
A production company would want to have extra material on hand for just those reasons. (J!6 being a premier reason/means of execution)

Upside is when you have the 400-0 blowouts you save the fourth puzzle, send it back into the process and load it into a new stack.
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chris319

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2024, 02:49:09 PM »
On P+ we went into the studio with 72 puzzles for two taping days. This meant the physical artwork had to be prepared for 72 puzzles.

There was a strict rule imposed by NBC that an individual password or puzzle could only be reused/repeated after 13 (IIRC) weeks. We kept track on index cards of the dates each individual password and puzzle was used based on the taping date (not air date). Each password (clue to the puzzle) and each puzzle was carefully checked and not used if the puzzle or a password within it violated this rule. If an individual password violated this rule, the puzzle was often rewritten and a different word substituted.

Checking the puzzles and passwords was a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. I believe Bobby Sherman may have used a computer for this on Super Password to get away from index cards.

In the studio Bobby would pick two puzzles to be played next. They would be presented to the rep from Compliance and Practices who would pick the one which was actually played next.

On MG I've seen Ira change the questions which were loaded into the question board.

chris319

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2024, 03:08:45 PM »
Quote
Does everything have to be laid out in advance and approved by Standards & Practices?

S&P is more concerned about the selection of material rather than the content. Questions can be written any which way provided there is no obscenity.

chrisholland03

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2024, 04:29:43 PM »
Quote
Does everything have to be laid out in advance and approved by Standards & Practices?

S&P is more concerned about the selection of material rather than the content. Questions can be written any which way provided there is no obscenity.

Well shit?


Jeremy Nelson

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2024, 02:27:50 PM »
Quote
Does everything have to be laid out in advance and approved by Standards & Practices?

S&P is more concerned about the selection of material rather than the content. Questions can be written any which way provided there is no obscenity.

Well shit?

But that actually makes sense. S&P doesn't have the trained ability to know what makes a good question or to suss out ambiguity that makes a certain question wrong or have multiple right answers. From a content perspective, they're just a human random number generator.

I'd imagine there'd be more eyebrows raised if bad questions kept popping up and causing the production to give make-goods to jilted players, but we haven't reached that point.
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TimK2003

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2024, 04:21:54 PM »

On P+ we went into the studio with 72 puzzles for two taping days. This meant the physical artwork had to be prepared for 72 puzzles.

There was a strict rule imposed by NBC that an individual password or puzzle could only be reused/repeated after 13 (IIRC) weeks. We kept track on index cards of the dates each individual password and puzzle was used based on the taping date (not air date). Each password (clue to the puzzle) and each puzzle was carefully checked and not used if the puzzle or a password within it violated this rule. If an individual password violated this rule, the puzzle was often rewritten and a different word substituted.


Well, that explains why Alphabetics used the last 10-15 letters of the alphabet sparingly in the bonus round.  How many X-words could they really use (X-Ray, Xenon, Xerox, Xylophone, ???...)

chrisholland03

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2024, 04:51:47 PM »
Budget saver:  Xerxes

SuperMatch93

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2024, 10:08:11 PM »
Budget saver:  Xerxes

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rjaguar3

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2024, 12:06:50 AM »
I've noted that even used questions are recycled back into gameplay sometimes after a year or so:
* Split Second: https://www.gameshowforum.org/index.php/topic,32502.msg383791.html#msg383791
* Sale of the Century: https://www.gameshowforum.org/index.php/topic,30673.msg367571.html#msg367571

This was probably more viable in an age before reruns and home video.

Matt Ottinger

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2024, 10:11:39 AM »
Vaguely related, but I miss talking about my old show.

On QuizBusters, we had a regular feature called a "Pop Quiz" where all the answers would begin with a certain set of (usually) three letters.  Since there are only so many combinations that would work (we needed 12 for each set, plus a backup), we had to reuse material.  We set it up so that Pop Quiz sets would be reused every five years, and even then they'd be tweaked and edited a little.  That way, no high school player could ever have gotten exactly the same Pop Quiz.

We also ended the game with what we called the Lightning Round (think Sale of the Century's Speed Round) for which we had a massive and ever-growing database of questions.  By the end, I think we were over 10,000.  Each year, those would be randomized and distributed into game sets.  We'd use about a thousand of them each season.  The entire set would be randomized each season, so duplication of a given question from year to year was possible, but these were mostly straightforward, unadorned facts ("Which planet is fourth from the sun?") so nobody ever really had a problem with it.
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Ian Wallis

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Re: How soon are unused questions recycled back into gameplay?
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2024, 03:44:39 PM »
I'm surprised that questions weren't reused more frequently.  For example, if a question was used on Match Game 74, who's going to remember if it's used again on Match Game 77 - especially in the days before VCRs were common?

Having said that, I do recall a Tattletales question or two being reused, but it was probably from the '70s version and the '80s version.

I recall questions on Family Feud and Card Sharks being reused (saw it on GSN), but again - once was on the network version and the other on the syndicated version.

Even Jeopardy - there's so much info on the archive site that it can't possibly all be memorized.
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