Diehard Jeopardy! Fans Have Created a Database of Almost Every Question Ever Asked
For trivia fanatics, the mere half-hour run time of Jeopardy! fails to satisfy their hunger for meaty, bite-sized pieces of knowledge. The J! Archive, however, just might do the trick.
The fan-created database includes a total of 384,440 questions (as of January 10, 2020) from 36 seasons of Jeopardy!. They date all the way back to the beginning of Alex Trebek’s hosting gig in 1984, right up through this week’s special tournament featuring greatest-of-all-time contestants James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter.
According to Polygon, the website was founded 15 years ago by now-39-year-old patent attorney Robert Schmidt and is updated with the help of a small group of Jeopardy! devotees. One of them is Mark Barrett, who’s spent countless hours re-watching VHS tapes of episodes he recorded in the 1980s. He estimates that he still has around 150 taped matches to add to the archive—but there could be as many as 1400 matches still missing.
“The dream is that more games turn up through streaming services, or contestants with their own copies who upload them to YouTube and such,” he told Polygon.
The job is a little easier these days, since recent Jeopardy! seasons are available online and the archive's operators have automated the process of copying each question from the episode and uploading it to a template.
Even if it’s not quite complete, the archive is nothing if not extensive—and well-organized, too. Categorized by season, each episode includes the air date, list of contestants (names, occupations, and hometowns), and a clue board that matches the one on TV. If you hover over the money value at the top of a square, it’ll flip over to reveal the correct answer along with the name of the contestant who guessed it. If there are any wrong answers or color commentary from Trebek, you’ll see those, too. They’ve even noted the order in which the clues were chosen with tiny numerals in the upper right corners of the squares, and added boxes to reflect the contestants’ scores at the end of each round and commercial break.
For example, in the June 28, 2018 episode, Mental Floss science editor Kat Long entered the first commercial break in the lead after correctly responding “what is yuzu?” to the $1000 clue (“Ouzo is a Greek liquor; this is a 4-letter Japanese citrus fruit”) in the “Kitchen Confusion” category.
In other words, the site functions as a comprehensive transcription of the television show. For future contestants, it’s a fantastic study guide; for the rest of us, it’s just plain fun.