Did you know that the man behind the popular Zuma Eskom meme actually runs an entire site based on trivia? Ian de Jager, 'Fun Master' and all round graphics artist and bottle washer at Trivia SA, tells us more...
Everyone knows work slows down drastically in December. For those office workers who don't get let off the hook to go home early, this often means spending hours trawling the interwebs for interesting news, factoids and laughs to keep you entertained.
Ian de Jager, one-man-band behind Trivia SA
Trivia SA is one of the best sites to do so, while increasing your general knowledge - you'll notice a "Did you know?" section at the top right, which rotates every 60 seconds to display a fact from the 350-strong database.
The 'SA' part of the name gives away the fact that the site is local - some of the sections are even run in Afrikaans. Even better? Most of the memes featured on the site are created by De Jager himself, so you're not just seeing a round-up of content that's already appeared everywhere else online.
Intrigued, I asked De Jager to give us the Trivia SA backstory...
What's the basic work flow or creative process like - how do you select what appears on the site?
De Jager: I'm very fortunate to be in the position to spend quite a lot of time reading up on diverse subjects, and I also visit a whole host of websites on a daily basis. I get most of my daily news from News24 and Maroela Media, and I then put a humorous spin on current affairs in the news - a good example of that would be the Zuma/Eskom meme. It's only recently gone viral, although I created the meme back in August 2014, when we had a spate of blackouts.
At other times, it's simply a case of being on top of the news. For example, this is my most-read article to date, with almost 30,000 readers on News24.
As I read the news about Robin Williams' suicide soon after his death, I wrote and published a trivia article on him within two hours.
We at Trivia SA have quite a Facebook following, and sometimes the participation of our followers leads to a hilarious article. For example, when I asked our Trivia SA followers to supply Afrikaans-sounding names to famous people, this was the result. The article was a huge hit on our website, with more than 10,000 views - and still counting.
It's a great mix of content. Please tell us about any exciting new developments in 2014 that have enhanced the website.
De Jager: Haha, take your pick from the diary I've kept since the inception of Trivia SA! I created the Facebook page on 28 January 2014, and the website on 2 June 2014. Click here to view our highlights or 'onvergeetlike oomblikke'.
A screenshot of the original Trivia SA main page
Impressive for a site that's not yet a year old! Please explain your strategy - what do you strive to do?
De Jager: In short, I love to educate and entertain people. I 'inherited' my love of trivia and general knowledge from my grandfather, and the website is dedicated to him. Possibly as a result of this, I strive to get the older and younger generations to really talk to each other. Your grandparents probably don't have a clue what 'YOLO' means. And if you're a teenager, you don't have an idea who "Decimal Dan" was - see below.
We're thinking of launching trivia competitions in 2015, in which we'll try to engage at least three generations to answer some of the questions.
Love that intergenerational approach. Wax lyrical on some of the site's highlights thus far...
De Jager: We have no awards yet, but here are some of my proudest moments in Trivia SA's short history:
Part of De Jager's new “Yellow Cards / Geel kaarte”, aimed at lifting the mood of the recipient. They get posted on Facebook
We convinced 9 Trivia SA followers from all over the world to bake a "Jan Ellis" pudding for Sunday lunch. Trivia SA had a little over 100 followers at the time, so that proves the power of the internet!
Early in June 2014, only a few days after the launch of the website, I took a chance and contacted the editor of News24 Voices - who kindly gave me the opportunity to write articles for them. Although I'm not a writer or journalist by any means, I have since managed to write 10 articles for News24 Voices. Double figures, yeah!
From out of the blue, the Beeld newspaper requested my permission to publish my Zuma/Eskom meme. It was published in print on 13 December 2014, and will be framed and hung in my office soon. I will admire this often.
Lastly, Trivia SA's nomination for the 2014 SA Blog Awards came as a very pleasant surprise, and I didn't expect such an accolade within six months of the website's launch.
Great accolades indeed. Let's move on to the state of the local online industry - does it compare internationally, are South Africans responsive to memes, online trivia?
De Jager: Unfortunately, South Africa still seems to be lagging behind a bit. Gauging from the feedback received from our Trivia SA Facebook followers, South Africans aren't really that 'tuned in' to Flickr, YouTube and various other social media platforms. The quality of South African memes is generally poor, and trying to find historical photos to go with South African trivia is almost impossible, since these are simply not available online yet. Online South African trivia is definitely in its infancy, and we here at Trivia SA will definitely strive to step into this void with a vengeance.
We look forward to it. What's next for Trivia SA?
De Jager: Up to this point, I've funded Trivia SA out of my own pocket, which unfortunately resulted in slow uptake. I would have liked to have a much larger audience by the end of 2014, but I wasn't in a position to advertise it widely. The unforeseen popularity of the website forced me to move the site to a faster and more robust server at Web Africa, which is obviously not cheap.
One of Trivia SA's most perplexing trivia questions to date… did you know you weigh more in Trompsburg (Free State Province) than anywhere else in South Africa? The reason why will be revealed in one of Trivia SA's upcoming trivia competitions...
We'd love to launch weekly/monthly online competitions in 2015 - with some awesome prizes for our followers. We have the questions, we just need the prizes! (I sincerely hope there are some sponsors reading this...)
Here's hoping! Lastly, with your finger on the pulse, what trends do you see as the biggest to come in 2015?
De Jager: With South Africans lagging behind our international counterparts, cell phone applications and interaction will feature a lot more. I think the older generation are much more comfortable with the 'older' technology, think PCs and notebooks, whilst the younger generation are much more tuned into social media by way of their cell phones and tablets.
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