Which (blank) are you?

On­line quizzes go vi­ral with silly, but en­ter­tain­ing ques­tions about your per­son­al­ity.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By MEGHAN BARR

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.

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