Which (blank) are you?
Online quizzes go viral with silly, but entertaining questions about your personality.
FOR a compulsive online quiz-taker like Chrissy Noh, the temptation was too great to resist: “Which sandwich are you?”
After answering a series of unscientific, seemingly unrelated questions, which included selecting her favourite doughnut from a line-up of frosted pastries, the New Yorker had her answer (grilled cheese). And she’s not the only one who’s comparing herself to sandwiches lately.
A recent explosion of silly online personality quizzes, most of them created by the young social media mavens at Buzzfeed. com, has Americans talking about which of the 50 states they really ought to be living in and which Harry Potter character they really are.
Buzzfeed says the quizzes are smashing traffic records and generating more Facebook comment threads than any viral posts in the site’s history.
Experts say the phenomenon is not surprising, given the ageold fascination with that central question – “Who AM I?” – and a desire to compare ourselves with others in a social media-obsessed society.
On a recent snowy day, the 37-year-old Noh admitted that she and several friends spent the afternoon taking quizzes and texting each other screen shots of the results.
“It turned into an all-day group text message fest, where it was just picture after picture of, oh, what rapper are you?” she says, laughing. “What career should you actually have? Which sandwich are you? Which member of One Direction should you marry?”
Personality quizzes have been around for decades, gracing the covers of women’s and teen magazines with questions designed to lure us in. Nor are they new to the Internet, where online quizzes can be found aplenty on sites like Zimbio.com, among others. But the recent wave of quiz popularity can be traced directly to Buzzfeed’s New York City headquarters, where a team of about 100 content creators have been producing one to five quizzes every single day for the past two months.
The most popular quiz – “Which State Do You Actually Belong In?” – has generated about 41 million page views. (The site has since added “Which European Country Do You Actually Belong In” for folks outside the United States.)
“For our most viral quizzes, the results have to be meaningful in some way,” says Summer Burton, BuzzFeed’s managing editorial director. “It’s not that they are scientific. It’s just that what they say means something to people as far as their own identity.”
A scroll through the “QUIZZES” page on Buzzfeed.com reveals a bewildering assortment, many infused with pop culture references. Which celebrity cat are you? Which pop diva? Which Girls character? What career should you actually have? Which generation do you actually belong in? What kind of dog would you be?
The intense push to pump out as many quizzes as possible started a couple of months ago after Buzzfeed editors realised that a quiz called “Which Grease Pink Lady are you?” ranked among the most-trafficked posts of 2013. Then, in mid-January, a quiz called “Which city should you actually live in?” went viral, and the whole venture just took off like wildfire, Burton says.
The ability to create a quiz was encoded into Buzzfeed’s in-house content management system a little more than a year ago. Essentially, any staff member has the autonomy to create one. There are no specific rules regarding quiz-making, but each one follows the same age-old general format: You start with the results and work backward based on general personality traits that go with each answer.
“If you take a Parks And Recreation quiz and you get Leslie Knope, then you’re very enthusiastic,” Burton says. “It’s almost like you pick three or four adjectives, and then those kind of go into figuring out what the answers for each question are going to be. And assigning them to a result.”
Staff members generate the quiz ideas themselves and create the entire thing on their own, though they do receive an edit and feedback before the quizzes are published.
The trick to creating an addictive personality quiz is similar to the art of writing a good horoscope. It has to be broad and allencompassing, yet make people believe the answer applies to
Feeding a craze: Personality quizzes are all the rage online nowadays thanks to the fun ones at social news and entertainment site, buzzfeed.com.
John egan says he takes online quizzes partly because he’s curious about himself and because he wonders how his answers will stack up against his friends’ answers on Facebook.