News sites embrace interactive quizzes

john travolta mispronounces Idina MenzelAs news organizations get more comfortable with digital publication, they are also warming up to interactive possibilities. A spate of highly trafficked quizzes in the past few months drew notice from The New York Times, where one expert points out how “games… can depict how things work and systemic issues that underlay stories.”

Among the examples:

The nytimes.com’s own dialect quiz called “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk,” based on a Harvard linguistics study, was created by a news intern. It was the most-viewed feature of 2013 on nytimes.com.

Time.com recorded its highest Internet traffic day ever with How Much Time Have You Wasted on Facebook?, which reviews your Facebook history to deliver its verdict.

Slate.com’s Adele Dazeem name generator ridicules John Travolta, who mangled the introduction of singer Idina Menzel before 40 million people on the Academy Awards telecast. It was the most popular feature in Slate’s 18-year history.

Other examples abound. The Wall Street Journal contributed an SAT comparison quiz. Atlantic Media introduced a custom-made competition, Bracket Madness, to coincide with March Madness.

And likely more to come. As Joshua Benton of Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Labs told the NYT, “It is the gamification of content. Take the same dynamics that lead games and social sharing to be addictive and use them in a way to connect to content.”