So, I hear you are interested in LearnedLeague?
Yes, I am, but I have so many questions.
Questions, about a trivia league? Delicious.
You’re not helping.
Fine. Where should we start?
Well, I read the Washington Post article that everyone posts and I read the LearnedLeague FAQ and OK, so I get that LearnedLeague is an online trivia league. I get that it’s invitation-only. I get that it’s six questions a day, played at my convenience (with the time constraints of the match day), for 25 match days. And I get there’s defense.
This is actually a really good start. Where to clarify then?
Well, can we start with the defense thing?
OK, you should do that, I’ll wait here. Probably play some Hungry Hungry Hippos. You know, the usual.
[finishes reading] That makes a lot of sense.
Wait, how much is this going to cost me?
You mean monetarily, or in terms of your soul? Because I have to say the latter is harder to quantify.
No, just the money part. [shakes head dismissively]
Well, here’s what the Commissioner says on that: The league is free to join and to play as a rookie. After one’s rookie season, membership must be maintained through the payment of annual dues. Standard membership in LL is $30 for one year. (One year is four seasons.)
OK, that’s good. And you say I’ll get a notice to pay after my rookie season.
Yes. People who collect money tend to be good about letting you know that they would like your money. It’s sort of one of the core principles of the capitalist system.
I’ve seen a lot of people talking about flags. What’s the deal with flags?
Well, there’s this.
But seriously, a good flag is important. There are many awful flags in LL and you do not want that life. At all. (Beginning in LL82 (Fall 2019), all new players are now assigned one of 26 generic flags, corresponding to the first letter of the player’s playername. Once a player converts to full LL membership, at that point they will be able to choose a new flag or upload a custom design of their own.) So, down the line, consider picking out a good one from the standard set, or, using the rules of LL for flags and having read this, then use this app to make a flag (the flag rules page explains how to save it to submit.)
(Side note: Many of the more “quirky” real-world flags are already in use in LL. If you suspect you’re being clever, someone else in the league probably is as well. It’s not good form to use an already claimed flag.)
Flags, got it. OK, so there seems to be some obsession in the League with the mantra of “Don’t Forfeit. Don’t Cheat.”
“Don’t Forfeit. Don’t Cheat.”
It’s like a shibboleth with you people.
Hey, that’s offensive! We prefer the term LLamas.
[eye roll] Why is this so important to you?
[ears perk up, straightens non-existent tie, looks off into the middle distance]
I’ll tell you why. [slightly patriotic music swells in the background]
You know why people like playing LearnedLeague? It’s not just the questions. It’s the idea of competing against someone else and seeing how well you did. And if the person you’re playing against doesn’t play, you’re essentially just playing tennis against the wall.
Sure, it’s better than not playing, but it’s nowhere as much fun. It’s a commitment. You get email reminders (set at your interval once you join the league). You hopefully will have people nudging you to play (because people know it’s important). If you don’t think you can commit to this, then please don’t do it. Because you’re letting down your opponents, and that’s not fair to them.
Now, as to the DON’T CHEAT portion. One would hope this would be self-evident, but as it is one of the cornerstones of the league, it is apparently not. This is a league built on trust, which is why it’s built on referrals and vouching. We can’t know if someone is cheating, but we would certainly hope that we would refer people who would be able and willing to uphold the highest standards of integrity. Like the wall in tennis, Google will remain undefeated in trivia contests. That doesn’t mean you should be using it. It’s cheating and any effort to rationalize it still comes back to the fact that it’s cheating. So play it straight and trust that everyone else is as well. It’s a leap of faith, and if you can’t make it, this is probably not right for you. And I can’t blame you, after all, it is a leap of faith.
Wow, that was kind of moving.
Very good. What’s the deal with MiniLeagues and 1 Day Specials (1DS)?
They are off-season events. By being a member, you have access to them, but there is no requirement or expectation that you play them. But if you do sign up for a MiniLeague (and you’ll get notification emails about when to register), then you are making a commitment similar to the expectations of regular League play in terms of not forfeiting. And in playing, no cheating would be hopefully obvious again.
Written by LearnedLeague members at the Commissioner’s request (MiniLeagues)/approval of the proposal (1DS), these are themed rounds that range from generalist (G) to subject specialist (R) to oh goodness, what did I ever do to you? (NC-17)
“Smiths” usually provide you with a note as to their thinking about their proposed difficulty level and a general sense of what they want to do.
Seems reasonable. Anything else I should know?
Yes, it should go without saying, but don’t be an a-hole. Seriously. There are a bunch of really intelligent, trivia loving people in this league. “Woofing” at them on the board is not going to sit well. During your rookie season, feel the place out. Talk less, smile more. If you’re not sure, refer questions back to your referrer. As a general rule, if they wanted you in the League, they also want you to enjoy your being there as well.
So, how do I sign up?
You just need a referrer, a valid email address, and, eventually, a flag choice. Then wait for Thorsten to email you. That’s it!