These are the rules of the rare entries contest, a game of knowledge, searching skills and tactics.
1. The Game
For each of the questions above, your objective is to give an answer that (1) is correct, and (2) will be duplicated by as few other people as possible. Feel free to use any reference material you like to research your answers; but when you have found enough possible answers for your liking, you are expected to choose on your own which one to submit, without mechanical or computer assistance: this is meant to be a game of wits.
The scores on the different questions are multiplied to produce a final score for each entrant. Low score wins; a perfect score is 1.
If your answer to a question is correct, then your score is the number of people who gave that answer, or an answer I consider equivalent.
A wrong answer, or a skipped question, gets a high score as a penalty. This is the median of:
- the number of entrants
- the square root of that number, rounded up to an integer
- double the largest number of entrants giving the same answer (right or wrong) as each other on the question
2.1 More Specific Variants
On some questions it’s possible that one entrant will give an answer that is a more specific variant of an answer given by someone else. In that case the more specific variant will usually be scored as if the two answers are different, but the other, less specific variant will be scored as if they are the same.
2.2 Scoring Example
Say I ask for a type of flying vehicle described in a Voyage extraordinaire. There are 27 entrants: 19 say “balloon”, 2 say “hot air balloon”, 4 say “helicopter”, 1 says “Victoria”, and 1 says “flying saucer”.
The 4 people who answered “helicopter” get 4 points each. Since “hot air balloon” is a more specific variant of “balloon”, those who said “balloon” get 21 points each, and those who said “hot air balloon” get 2 points each. “Victoria” is not a type of flying vehicle, but the name of one individual balloon, and Jules Verne never described a “flying saucer”, so these answers are both wrong. The persons who gave them both get the penalty score, which is the median of:
- number of entrants = 27
- sqrt(27) = 5.196+, rounded up = 6
- double the most popular answer’s count = 21 x 2 = 42
or in this case, 27.
Entries must be emailed to me personally by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not send your answers to the mailing list or forum I used to distribute the questions!
In general there is no penalty for errors of spelling, capitalization, English usage, or other such matters of form. Sometimes a specific question may imply stricter rules, though. And if you give an answer that properly refers to a different thing related to the one you intended, I will normally take it as written.
Once you intentionally submit an answer, no changes will be allowed, unless I decide there was a problem with the question. Similarly, alternate answers within an entry will not be accepted. Only the first answer that you intentionally submit counts.
Because entrants may have read some works only in translation, I will be lenient with regard to foreign spellings of toponyms and proper names. As far as characters are concerned, slightly different versions of their names (e.g. Peter instead of Pierre) are acceptable, but names that are completely different (e.g. Harding instead of Smith) are wrong.
Works by Jules Verne should be referred to by giving their French title.
Questions are not intended to be hard to understand, but I may fail in this intent. (For one thing, in many cases clarity could only be provided by an example which would suggest one or another specific answer, and I mustn’t do that.)
In order to be fair to all entrants, I must insist that requests for clarification must be emailed to me, not posted in any mailing list. If I decide to clarify or change a question, all entrants will be informed.
3.3 Supporting Information
It is your option whether or not to provide supporting information to justify your answers. If you don’t, I’ll email you to ask for it if I need to.
If you provide any explanatory remarks along with your answers, you are responsible for making it sufficiently clear that they are not part of the answers. The particular format doesn’t matter as long as you’re clear.
In the scoring example above, “balloon in Cinq semaines en ballon” would be wrong, just like “Victoria” would be wrong; “balloon (e.g. in Cinq semaines en ballon)” would be taken as a correct answer with an explanation.
4. Meaning of commonly occurring terms
These are general rules that apply unless a question specifically states otherwise.
4.1 Voyage extraordinaire
A “Voyage extraordinaire” is any of the novels published under this title, including the posthumous ones (re)written by Michel Verne, or any of the short stories published in a volume of the Voyages extraordinaire under the name of Jules Verne.
4.2 Work by Jules Verne
A “work by Jules Verne” is any published text written by Jules Verne, and intended for a general audience. This includes poems (even though Verne never meant some of them to be read by others), and excludes private correspondence as well as interviews given by Verne.
When I say “character” I mean a fictional character.
A “movie” can be any movie, whether shown in theatres or on television, or issued directly on video. This excludes tv series, mini series and the like. Whether something is a movie or a series is determined by its listing in the Internet Movie DataBase.
“Country” means a nation that was/is independent at the time relevant for the question. Dependencies are not independent countries. Whether or not a place is considered an independent country is determined by how it is listed in reference sources.
4.6 Web Pages
If I ask for material on the World Wide Web, what you cite must already have existed before the contest was first posted.
As moderator, I will be the sole judge of what answers are correct, and whether two answers with similar meaning are considered the same, different, or more/less specific variants. I will do my best to be fair on all such issues, but sometimes it is necessary to be arbitrary.
I may rescore the contest if I agree that I made a serious error and it affects the high finishers.
Results will normally be posted within a few days of the contest closing. They may be delayed if I’m unexpectedly busy or for technical reasons.