Jeopardy! fans are upset at the trivia show again, this time for asking extremely obscure questions.
For a long-running show about answering trivia questions, Jeopardy! has proven to be a constant source of drama for fans. When fans tuning into this NBC show aren’t debating whether or not Ken Jennings or Mayim Bialik are better hosts, they are arguing over the questions that contestants must answer. And on a recent episode, a question referencing the Neal Stephenson novel Snow Crash led to every contestant losing thousands of dollars and left fans across the internet arguing that the question was unfair.
Jeopardy! host Ken Jennings posed the question, mentioning that “Neal Stephenson coined this word in his 1992 novel Snow Crash” and that “it was later shortened by a company to become its new name.” The correct answer is “metaverse,” with the author coining the term in his cyberpunk novel decades ago. More recently, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg changed his company’s name to “Meta” even as he invested heavily in the burgeoning field of virtual reality.
None of the Jeopardy! contestants got the answer correct, and the winner emerged victorious because she didn’t bet as much as her rivals. However, every contestant getting it wrong led to some negative online discourse over how fair these questions are.
To this fan, the math is simple: Jeopardy! has an extensive screening process to help ensure everyone is ready for the kinds of questions they will get. And if three people made it all the way to the final question and had no idea what the answer was, maybe the question was unfair.
This user, meanwhile, feels like Jeopardy! questions have gotten too “esoteric” over time. While this may very well be true, we’re not sure if that description really applies to this question. Especially because the company using the shortened version of the answer for its new name happens to be one of the largest and most influential companies in the world.
Deciding to get in on the fun, the original writer of Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson, decided to chime in on Twitter. He specifically called out Jeopardy! host Ken Jennings for the “obscure” question, most likely as a tongue-in-cheek reference to how old his novel has gotten. However, considering that the novel predicted much of our current world in ways that other cyberpunk media such as Blade Runner never could, we like to think it is still very relevant.
Playing along, Ken Jennings pointed out that the novel is a classic one that Jeopardy! contestants should be proud of. He also jokingly referred to the impossibility of knowing whether that was really Neal Stephenson or not. This is in reference to controversial Twitter CEO Elon Musk eliminating legacy blue checks (used to verify the identity of famous or otherwise notable people) for anyone unwilling to pay for them.
Ultimately, we have to take Ken Jenning’s side on this one. This was a final Jeopardy! question that simply relied on contestants having some basic knowledge regarding one of the most influential genre novels ever written. And honestly, if you’re throwing popcorn at your TV because the book-loving trivia host asked a trivia question about a book, we respectfully submit that this might not be the best television show for you to watch.