For about 2 weeks up to yesterday, I conducted a poll on my sidebar. It's regarding what's known as the "bolded questions" which sometimes appear in treasure hunts. They are basically the same as the average hunt questions except that they're much harder to solve.
The bolded questions are a common feature of some hunts, e.g. the Kiwanis Treasure Hunts in West Malaysia. The first time I encountered those bolded questions, I found it a bit strange that the points allocated for those questions were much lesser than those allocated for the average hunt questions which were easier to solve. The explanation I got from the regular hunters was that the bolded questions were designed to "level the playing field" by tempting the stronger hunters to spend too much time on some tougher questions at the expense of losing the time to solve the other easier questions.
So in the end the strong hunters may find that they're able to solve the tougher questions and gain a few points from them, but losing the opportunity to solve the easier questions because of insufficient time! And because the easier questions carry more points, the regular hunters may end up with a lower overall score against the weaker hunters.
However, I have also noticed that many strong hunters no longer fall for the trick. Many of the strong hunters are strong not only in terms of solving questions and spotting answers, but also in terms of time management. Having been a passenger in a strong team, I was able to note that the master hunters would actually forgo the bolded questions after only a short time trying to solve them! They did so because they felt that it was not worth the time investment for the small return in terms of score. In fact, they'd rather take their chances with the other route questions.
In at least one of my hunts, I experimented with the bolded questions and allocated lower points for them. I was somewhat disappointed that over 90% of the teams did not even bother about them at all!
So what usually happens is that in spite of the extra time and efforts by the setter when setting the bolded questions, they would end up not even attempted by the hunters! And that is truly a shame; I would consider that a waste! In my opinion, if more points are allocated for the bolded questions, maybe the stronger teams would be more willing to gamble on their time in return for a, hopefully, higher score in the end.
Recently, I asked some master hunters about the bolded questions. And a few of them responded that they're big fans of more points for bolded questions, not the other way round. I must say that I'm inclined to agree with them. So I decided to conduct a poll on my sidebar.
I gave 4 choices about how successful answers to bolded questions should be rewarded:
1) Lesser points than the average questions
2) Same points as the average questions
3) More points than the average questions
4) Whichever way the setter decides
Only 28 people responded to the poll, and I suspect most of them were from KK.
It is interesting that no one opted for (1), although that's the norm of hunts where bolded questions are available.
6 people or 21% voted for (2), thus indicating that that is a better way to be fair to both the strong and weak hunters. There is no extra incentive to work harder to solve the tougher questions. It means that the stronger hunter may have to spend say half an hour on a single bolded question but risk losing an easy question (because of insufficient time) and end up on par with the weaker hunter!
15 people or 53% voted for (3), suggesting that more points for tougher questions is still the most popular choice. In my opinion, it is also a logical and fair choice. Striving hard to crack a tough riddle in return for a miserable reward has never really been agreeable to me anyway!
7 people or 25% voted for (4), suggesting that they're willing to let the setter call the shots. These are probably those who challenge themselves to survive in whatever jungle they're thrown into.
However, I feel that 28 people may be too small a sample to reflect the opinions of the entire hunting fraternity.
To the KK hunters, I think you can probably guess that you'll be seeing some bolded questions in my KK Challenge 6; and the kind of system I'll be adopting for the scoring.