Trivia expertise can sometimes seem like a prenatal skill. Some people just seem able to knock trivia questions out of the park, whereas others can’t be helped. But the experts will tell you that there’s no gene responsible for trivia prowess. Nor do you need a steel trap mind, though that would undoubtedly help. Instead, what’s required is curiosity, a willingness — if not a passion — to learn. And a bit of nerdiness doesn’t hurt.
So maybe you want to step up your trivia game, impress your friends at your weekly trivia night. Maybe you’re already an aficionado and just need new inspiration. Given that trivia questions can be about anything, and that the amount of information this anything comprises is almost infinite, where does one begin? The internet’s offered up two great resources: Wikipedia and Reddit.
On the former, Wikipedia, you’ll travel down self-invoked rabbit holes, hopping from link to link, reading somewhat dubious statements of fact. You’ll learn plenty, and you’ll be able to transfer a percentage of this knowledge to trivia. But the latter, Reddit, requires less autonomy. And it’s full of the most unlikely experts, all of whom spend way too much time answering obscure questions and relating random tidbits. Reddit is Janus-faced. On any given day, you’re a click away from the internet’s best and a click away from the internet’s worst. Those in pursuit of knowledge need to know where it’s safe to walk. Those in pursuit of knowledge for trivia especially so.
Here’s a list of subreddits you can frequent to hone your trivia skill.
7) Map Porn
Users in this subreddit are known as “armchair explorers,” and for good reason. Map Porn can take you around the world and back in time. Geography and history intertwined: good trivia fodder. Plus, some of these maps are less than geographical. You may not find a map of the self on here, but you can find a map detailing the size of metropolitan areas around the world. What’s the area of New York City’s footprint? Now you know. (About 19.6 miles.) And even if you don’t wind up needing any of the geographical or historical knowledge, you might surprise yourself with a bit of wisdom found in, say, the map’s legend.
This is a good resource for topical knowledge: It’s where Redditors turn for perspicuous explainers of often indecipherable current events. People ask questions about what’s going on in the news, and those in the know respond. Depending on the trivia host, you may face questions about these very same events, and if you’re out of the loop you’ll be screwed. Each thread is tagged with either an “Answered” or “Unanswered” label, so you can use your precious time wisely. Study up.
This subreddit’s value is relatively self-explanatory. Some trivia involves data, and this subreddit is dedicated to the best data visualizations out there — those that inform the most with the least. Visualized data is easy to process, and you can learn a great deal. Let’s say you want to learn about New York City’s impending L train closure, but you don’t want to read a whole article on the topic. There’s a data visualization for that.
This subreddit, too, is dedicated to bite-sized information. Posts are supposed to be single, fun facts accompanied by photos or GIFs. Easy for your mind to digest, though possibly less likely to stick. But most of these facts are at least cool enough to bring up at a cocktail hour, if not to bust out at trivia night. Like, for instance, this not-so-fun fact: Adolf Hitler’s nephew served in the United States Navy during World War II.
Today I Learned — TIL, for short — is one of Reddit’s most popular forums. There are almost 13 million subscribers, and for good reason. Users are supposed to share something fascinating they learned recently — so long as it’s specific. What percentage of all tickets for major sporting and music events go on sale to the general public? Here’s your answer. Good for trivia, good for the mind.
2) Ask Science
This subreddit, too, is a great resource. Its motto: “Got Questions? Get Answers.” If you’ve got a pressing science question yourself, take it here. Otherwise, kick your feet back and scroll. You’ll find something worth learning about. You can even filter by field. Ever wonder which of Earth’s countless microorganisms would survive on Mars? Look no further. Again, depending on your trivia host, science may or may not appear in your questions. But if and when it does, you’ll be ready.
Another self-explanatory subreddit, Ask Historians serves exactly the function you’d expect it to serve. As a result, it’s a great place to take your curious mind. Unless your trivia night’s theme is exceptionally narrow, historical questions will come up. In this forum, you’ll find a wide range of such questions — everything from the broad and simplistic to the extremely specific. Plus, Ask Historians hosts a weekly Tuesday Trivia feature. (Worth noting that there are several other “Ask…” subreddits, which, depending on your flavor of trivia, may or may not come in handy. And all entries are already in trivia form: question and answer.)