The Risky Business Trivia Game FAQ

This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document is maintained by Michelle A. Hoyle ( It is normally posted on a monthly basis to the IRC Games mailing list maintained by Eingang. Copies are also available on the Games page available at

Table of Contents

Section 1: What Are the Risky Business Games?

What Is Risky Business?

Risky Business is a high-speed trivia question and answer game where up to 20 people can challenge other players on their knowledge of people, places, events, and things. Unlike many organised games, Risky Business can be played at any time of the day or night against people from all over the world. This is accomplished through the magic of the Internet Relay Chat. If you do not know about the IRC and how to use it, please consult the primer which will explain how to connect, where to obtain clients, and how to navigate and communicate on the IRC.

In order to cater to as wide an audience as possible, several different versions of the Risky Business trivia games exist. For those who think they have an encyclopedic knowledge of the world around them, they should try regular Risky Business. For those with a passion for music -- rock, jazz, classical, metal or otherwise -- give Music Risky Business (#musicrb) a try. For those who are interested in popular culture, try out Popular Risky Business (#poprb), with questions drawn from the world of music, literature, television, and movies. Finally, the last addition to the line of Risky Business games is #Einstein, which aims to be a game with more of an academic basis for its questions.

Currently, there are approximately 1200 categories providing players with about 47000 questions for Risky Business. Music Risky Business, a relatively newer game, has approximately 320 categories providing players with about 12000 music-related questions. Popular Culture Risky Business incorporates some 20492 questions from 521 categories. Finally, Einstein, our academic version of Risky Business, is home to 482 categories, comprising some 20000 questions.

The Gameshow Hosts

The scoring and questions are controlled by a 'bot, which is an independent C program designed to work on the IRC. Depending on where you are playing, the name of the robot host and its shorter nickname will vary. The following table illustrates the different robots and their nicknames.

   | Game         | Server         | Robot Name |  NickName  | Gender |
   | #RiskyBus    | EFnet          | RobBot     | Rob        | Male   |
   | #RiskyBus    | UnderNet       | RobBot     | Rob        | Male   |
   | #RiskyBus    | DALnet         | ReneeBot   | Renee      | Female |
   | #MusicTrivia | DALnet         | MzBot      | Mz         | Female |
   | #PopTrivia   | DALnet         | XallaBot   | Xalla      | Female |
   | #RiskyBus    | Starlink       | ReneeBot   | Renee      | Female |
   | #MusicRB     | Starlink       | MzBot      | Mz         | Female |
   | #Einstein    | Starlink       | EinsBot    | Eins       | Male   |
   | #PopRB       | Starlink       | XallaBot   | Xalla      | Female |

In all cases, a player answers the question by saying "[NickName], <answer>." For example, Renee, <answer>, where R* means that any variant of Rob or Renee will be recognised as a response aimed at the appropriate 'bot. <answer> is the answer to the question. Hereafter, the host will be referred to as "R*" or "R*bot". Insert the correct name for your variant of Risky Business.

RobBot and Renee/Xalla/Mz each have a different personality, influenced by the particular quirks and eccentricities of their owners. Renee/Xalla/ Mz are all female and love to talk about chocolate, Switzerland, and people and places in Canada. You might try asking Renee about poetry, songs, or Eingang. RobBot also likes to talk about chocolate and Eingangs, but he has much different things to say. The 'bots also make cheap psychoanalysts.

Where to Play Risky Business

There are four different places where you can indulge your need to play Risky Business. DALnet, a splinter network, offers you the chance to play Risky Business in what was originally a Star Trek like environment. DALnet currently hosts about 45,000 users on about 30 different servers. You can access DALnet at

These channels are currently unavailable on DALnet.

The newest network for the games is StarLink, organised originally by a group of women. StarLink differs from many other IRC networks in that it does not allow any sex or software piracy channels. This is still a relatively new network, but quite friendly and reasonably free of lag. You can access a StarLink server at Denver.CO.US.StarLink.Org. New players to Risky Business might consider starting on StarLink or DALnet, as they are much smaller and tend to be friendlier than the EFnet.

These channels are currently unavailable on StarLink.

The most common location is on the group of IRC machines known collectively as the EFnet. Most client software for the IRC comes with a list of EFnet server sites to which you can connect. An example of an EFnet server site is EFnet tends to be quite crowded, lagged, and prone to netsplits.

An alternate group of machines form a network known as the Undernet. On the undernet, netsplits, hacked channel operator privileges, and such like are relatively uncommon due to the structure of the network. Your same client software for EFnet will also work wonderfully well for the Undernet. Some common Undernet sites are or

You're not sure which network you're on? A quick and easy way to tell is by using the /lusers command. If it comes and reports to you that there are over 30 000 users connected on 70+ servers then you're connected to the EFnet. If there are fewer than 30 000 but more than 15 000, you are likely on the Undernet. DALnet will report around 40000 users. To change servers, type /server machine_name, where machine_name is something like or

A Description of the Game

A game consists of six categories of five questions each. The questions are worth 400, 500, 600, 700, and 800 points respectively. The game host provides a question for players to answer. The first player to correctly answer the question increments his/her score by the point value of the question. An example of typical question and answer exchange appears below, where ReneeBot is the gameshow host and Eingang is a player.

<ReneeBot>Question 27 of 30:Jackie Robinson began his professional 
+relationship with this minor league team.
<Eingang>Renee, Grog 

Along with the normal questions, there are also two special questions during the game. These appear randomly during the course of the game and are awarded to the user with the last correct question answered. Thus, if "grog" was the correct answer for Question 27 above and Question 28 is one of these special questions, then Eingang has the opportunity to answer question 28 alone. Eingang also has the opportunity to bet either all accumulated points or, if Eingang's score is below the point value of the question, the point value of the question. Betting is accomplished by saying "R*, wager". R* will then ask you how much to wager and you can say "R*, x", where x is the amount of your bet. If Eingang answers the question correctly then the betted amount is added to his/her score. If Eingang incorrectly answers the question, the amount of the bet is subtracted from his/her score.

In addition to betting as described above, Risky Business offers players the option of trying to steal points away from another player. This is accomplished by saying "R*, steal x", where x is the name of another player. You can steal up to the amount that the other person actually has. The 'bot will ask you how much you want to steal and you can say "R*, x", where x is the amount you want to try to steal. Both players then must /msg the 'bot with their answers. Scores are modified according to the following table:

  Answer:Thief    Victim  Score Changes:Thief  Victim
         Right    Right                  1/2X    1/2X
         Right    Wrong                   +X      -X
         Wrong    Right                   -X     +2X
         Wrong    Wrong                   -X      0
Where X is the amount that the Thief tried to steal.

After 30 questions (6 categories of 5 questions each), any players who have a positive score greater than 0 are allowed to participate in "Final Terrible Trouble." A Final Terrific Trouble question is randomly selected and the players have 70 seconds to message the bot (/msg R*bot x) with the amount of their bets. A player can only bet as much as s/he has. After the bets have been received, the final question is displayed and the players have 50 seconds to message their answers to the 'bot.

If there is a tie for first place, the game goes into "Overtime Terrible Trouble." In Overtime Terrible Trouble, a special category is used. All questions in this special category have a non-decimal numeric answer. The player closest to the correct answer will win the points. If the tie cannot be resolved in 3 overtime rounds, nobody wins the game. (This mechanism is only in place on the DALnet/StarLink 'bots)

StarLink/DALnet Game Features

The trivia games on StarLink/DALnet are slightly different than the trivia games on the other networks. StarLink/DALnet 'bots feature the "ungive" command which allows a "we give up" to be extended for a period of time. Renee and her friends also notice when players leave the channel and mark them as being absent for Terrible Trouble and Danger Zone questions. In the case of Terrible Trouble, players who have left the channel will be penalized a random number of points between 1/4 to 3/4s of their score prior to Terrible Trouble. Renee and her friends offer a hint feature and auto-advance the question after 60 seconds. Finally, Renee and her friends also feature a tie-breaker Overtime Terrible Trouble round.

Section 2: Controlling the 'Bot and the Channel

R*bot Commands/Game Commands

A number of commands can be issued by players to R*Bot. The only real commands which should be issued on the channel to R*Bot are "R*, we give up", "R*, ungive.", or "R*, show hint". The first of these will cause R*bot to cease accepting answers for the current question after 10 seconds have elapsed or another player also issues the "we give up" command. This command should be used with caution and only after ensuring that the remainder of the channel is ready to give up.

The following list of commands should be sent via a private message to R*bot. This can be done by typing /msg RobBot cmd or /msg ReneeBot cmd, (or whatever the name of the robot for the variant of Risky Business being played) where cmd is one of the following:

* help 
    This provides the current list of commands to which  R*Bot will 
    respond. This command might be disabled due to users attempting 
    to flood the 'bot through repeated help requests.

* we give up Causes the bot to display the answer to the question in 7 seconds unless someone guesses the answer or gives the "ungive" command. If two different players issue the "we give up" command, the question answer is displayed immediately.

* ungive If someone gives up too quickly, issuing this command will give the players a little extra time in which to submit an answer. This command can only be issued once per question and "we give up" commands after an "ungive" command will have no effect. (This only works on DALNet/StarLink)

* show hint If available, displays a hint for the current question. First hint is usually the number of letters and words in the answer. 2nd hint, if available, shows you some letters in the answer. Each call reduces point value of question by half. Make sure to ask before you use this! (Only on StarLink/DALnet)

* show question Messages you the current question. On the StarLink/DALnet, when a player joins the channel, the current question is automatically re-sent to the channel.

* show categories Messages you the list of categories for the current game, plus indicates what category is currently being played.

* show comment Messages you the comment for the current category. Comments are intended to provide some information about the content of the category and sometimes will also indicate the category author.

* show scores Displays the current points accumulated by the players for the current game.

* show top wins Will send you the list of the 10 players with the greatest number of wins.

* show top scores Will send you the list of the 10 players with the greatest number of points in a single game.

* show stats nickname Will send you a summary of a given user's number of wins and highest score.

* free channel Will remove +m, +i, +s, or +k modes in case the channel gets stuck in one of these modes.

* show version Show the current version of the game bot (Only on DALnet/ StarLink)

* reset question Sometimes R*Bot forgets that somebody has answered a question and she doesn't want to properly continue. This will force the bot to go on. (Only on DALnet/StarLink)

* note [comment] This can be used to inform the game administrator of bugs in the categories. Please be sure to include the category name in your comment. These comments are saved to a file. This command can only be used by messaging the 'bot whereas the above commands will also work on the channel.

Channel Operators & Game Masters

Channel operators are users entrusted to maintain order on the channel as well as correct errors and notify the administration in the event of errors or mishaps. If you are not on the bot op list and think that you qualify, contact the appropriate game administrator.

People are granted operator status on EFnet/Undernet by Mach ( For StarLink/DALnet, you need to contact Eingang ( Usually, operator privileges are granted to people who have played the games for awhile so that their behaviour can be evaluated.

We do not find it amusing if people are constantly asking us for operator privileges for the games. Being an operator is not just a status thing, it is also a responsibility. If you just want to be an operator because you think it is cool, please do not even bother to ask. In fact, in general, operator privileges are granted automatically to people deemed capable of assuming the responsibility for managing the channel.

We cannot stress the importance of operators behaving appropriately. With so many games running, it is impossible for the game administrators to monitor all the channels all the time. As such, we rely on the operators to enforce the rules, particularly the rules regarding language and conduct on the channel. The games are designed to be family-friendly. If you are an operator or would like to be an operator, please be sure that you are also committed to this.

If you think someone is abusing their operator privileges or perhaps using them to cheat, please feel free to contact the appropriate game administrator with details of the problem.

Channel Rules (For Everyone)

Thousands of people have played our games, from countries all around the world, at many different times of the day and the night. In order to make sure that everyone has a good time, we have formulated the following rules which lay out guidelines for proper behaviour from all the users of our game channels. With so many games running, it is impossible to monitor all the channels all the time. Therefore, we rely on the operators to enforce the rules, particularly the rules regarding language and conduct on the channel. The games are designed to be family-friendly, which means we do have restrictions on language and content, for the comfort and enjoyment of all.

Channel operators are users entrusted to maintain order on the channel as well as to correct errors and notify the administration in the event of errors or mishaps. If you think someone is abusing their operator privileges or perhaps using them to cheat, please feel free to contact Eingang with details of the problem.

The most important rule for our game channels is that all people on the channel must be treated with respect, be they just regular game players, operators, game hosts ('bots), or game administrators. Treating people with respect means being polite, obeying the rules, and contributing in a positive way to a healthy channel atmosphere.

If you find yourself in a position where you are being verbally attacked, flooded, or otherwise harassed, please ask the offending party to cease. If they fail to cease, make use of the /ignore user@host -all command to ignore any message, public or private, coming from them and report to the problem to one of the game channel operators. Do not bother to respond to the person.

If you have a fight to pick with another user, please do it off channel or in private messages. Respecting other people means letting them enjoy the game without being subject to any personal problems you might have with other users. This would, of course, include any slights aimed at people on the basis of the colour, religion, sex, or age.

The games are meant to run in a "family" atmosphere, which means, ideally, no profanity or vulgarity at all. The users on the channel range in age from 10-80+. While the majority of us are adults and can handle language that is a little blue, it would be better to keep such language to a minimum. Going hand in hand with this is a caveat on language of a sexual nature. Vulgar comments or comments of a sexual nature are prohibited. This injunction also extends to the development of categories for any of the games.

The profanity rules do not constitute a violation of the American Constitution regarding free speech. The rules for free speech only apply to printed materials and areas of public congress. With these games, the administrators are inviting you into a private space and therefore are exempt from the rules regarding free speech. If you find their rules intolerable, you do not have to visit their "home."

We recognize that, at times, the game can be extremely frustrating. We would like to suggest that you make use of the following fun and clean expletives to express your displeasure: Krunk! Aaaargh! Ack! Wok?! Eep! Krunkola!

Channel Language
The official language of all the game channels is English. Unless the game category calls for something in a foreign language (in trivia or Chaos), all conversation on the channel and answers submitted to the bot should be English. Derivatives of English, such as Singlish, are frowned upon. The games are open to people from all over the world, so be friendly! Use proper English!

Category Complaints
Please refrain from complaining about the Americo-centric categories. The games have been running for a number of years now and most of the original players who contributed categories were from North America, which does the tilt the balance of play in their favour. Complaining about it, however, does not do anything and just annoys the other players. Instead of complaining, why not check out the category writing FAQ and write your own categories for inclusion in the game? This is a much more productive action than just complaining.

The operators are on the channel to ensure that the game runs smoothly. Operators are drawn from the pool of regular players. Asking an operator to op you is pointless and futile. If you are a regular IRC user, you probably already know how annoying it is to be constantly asked for access on a channel. If you are interested in becoming a channel operator, check out the FAQ on how to become a operator and apply!

Game bots and Errors in the Game
The game bots are programs, albeit programs with some degree of sophistication. The game bots have no idea of what is really right and what is really wrong. All they can go by is what was programmed into them by the category writer. Therefore, when the bot claims that the answer is "Aplpe" instead of "Apple," there is not much point in abusing the bot about it. Often channel operators will fix your score in such cases. If not, you yourself can report the problem using the "/msg botname /note answer x in category y should be answer z" so that it will be eventually fixed. Please do not bother to message one of the channel operators to reset your score. If they are paying attention, they will likely fix your score without prompting.

Flooding is defined as the rapid dumping of material to the channel or to other users via private messages, or repeated ctcp commands aimed at another user. Flooding often includes dumping ASCII art pictures to the screen, large pieces of conversations, textfiles, repeated pinging, etc. With the advent of colours in Ircle, mirc, and Pirch, dumping large amounts of coloured text to the channel can also be construed as flooding. We would request that you keep the use of colours to a minimum, since not all clients support colour.

Bot Commands
Most of the commands that can be issued to the game bots on a channel can also be sent to the bot via a private message. Repeatedly issuing "show scores", "show categories," etc. on the channel can be annoying. Use the /msg command instead to accomplish the same thing.

Idling on the game channels is not permitted except by the game administrators and the game show hosts ('bots). Most of the channels have a restriction on the number of users allowed on at a time. If you are idling there, you are probably preventing other users from playing.

Cheating often depends on the game being played. In general, however, the use of scripts to provide answers to trivia questions, solve Boggle boards, or provide Chaos category answers would be construed as cheating. There are some scripts around to help you play the games, such as the Boggle script and the IRC Game Machine (IGM). These scripts do not store answers of any kind, and thus are permitted. In a game such as Acro, cheating would include collaborating with other players on your acryonym expansion, using multiple nicknames or logins, or exchanging information about authorship of acronyms for the purposes of gaining points. For all the games, using multiple logins or multiple accounts to play is considered cheating as is using a search engine to look up material or keeping lists of answers. Cheating does not make the game fun for other people and, if you are caught, can be embarrassing and will result in a ban from all of the games. (See also the discussion of this in April, 2000's EinLetter. )

Electronic Terrorism
This category of behaviour includes nuking, sending people viruses or other programs when they join the channel, and spamming for other channels, networks, games, or anything that doesn't have to do with our games. In the case of nuking, firewall logs will be collected and sent to your ISP and you will be banned from all of the games. If you're auto-dccing people files when they join, you'll be told to stop and will be banned until you do so. You may be directed to an appropriate help channel on viruses or IRC for instruction on how to do this. If you're spamming inappropriately, you'll be asked to stop and banned if you fail to stop.

Revealing Answers
In the trivia games, there are moments when it is inappropriate to reveal the answer to a question, especially during the final round and during a steal. Please pay close attention to the status of the game before typing your answer.

Giving Up
In the trivia games, it is possible to say "we give up" and have the 'bot go on to the next questions. The 'bots all ignore repeated "we give up" commands from the same user for the same question; so only say it once. Secondly, it is better to have a concensus on the channel before giving up; try asking if it is OK to give up before issuing the command.

All interactions are logged and will be monitored in the event of a complaint. Please abide by the guidelines. Repeated violations of the guidelines will likely result in a global banning from all the game channels with little or no warning. Permanent channel bans for any user are the right of the game administrators.

Finally, if you have any complaints or questions about the channel guidelines, please contact one of the channel operators first and then one of the game administrators (See the game FAQs for information on contacting game administrators). We do want the games to be enjoyable for everyone.

Section 3: Submitting Categories and Problems

Submitting Categories

We welcome new categories and additions to currently existing categories from players. Categories for any of the Risky Business can be submitted to Eingang via e-mail ( or submitted using our online form.

When submitting categories, the category name should be placed in the subject line of your message along with the keyword "Risky Business". The remainder of the file should conform to the following sample RiskyBus category file:

This is a sample Risky Business File and this is the comment.
This is a question.  How many characters can a question be? 
79 is an answer.  Can answers contain punctuation? Yes. 
" is not permissible in answers. How many answers can a question have? 
As many as will fit on a single 79 character line like this. 
Multiple answers are separated by the | character.  Questions / category? 
Numerical answers such as 0-20, 30, 40, etc should be entered how? 
How do you format answers containing people's names? 
first_name last_name|last_name 
There should be at least 30 questions in a category.  How do you name them? 
text body|message text 
Place the keywords Category or RiskyBus in Subject field.  
E-mail who? 
What is the email address for category submission?
Understand everything? 

The following additional comments are offered as guidelines to creating categories:

Reporting Bugs and Problems

Problems with a question or an answer somewhere? Or perhaps a bug in R*bot? Please send e-mail to Eingang and include the following information for a question/answer bug.

  • Category Name
  • Paraphrase of Question with the problem
  • Whatever correction is required

  • For a problem with one of the 'bots, try to include as much information as possible about what actually occurred before the bug and then what the bug was. Errors can also be reported online by messaging the 'bot "/note details of error or mistake."

    For a problem with one of the operators or with users on the channel, please send e-mail to Eingang including the names (user@host & IRC nickname) of the participants, details of the problem, location of the problem, and any actions that have already been taken.

    If the bots are missing or other urgent action needs to be taken, you can send e-mail to which mails all of Eingang's admins and co-admins for her games on DALnet/StarLink only.

    Section 4: About the Authors

    Who Are They?

    The Risky Business games were developed by the team of Mach and Eingang. Mach was a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of California at Davis. He is now working for Intel in Portland, Oregon. Eingang is a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of Sussex, in Brighton, England. Mach and Eingang also combined to produce some other IRC games such as Chaos, AcroPhobia, and Boggle.

    More information can be obtained from their home pages. Mach's home page is located at More information about Eingang can be found at

    Contacting the Authors

    Mach's e-mail address is Eingang's e-mail address is The mailing address for categories is

    Section 5: Other Items of Interest

    Other Items of Interest

    In addition to the IRC Games Information Server (, a number of other support groups and areas are available for Risky Business players and people interested in the IRC Games.

    Gigi44^ has slaved over her editor and her paint programs to bring the DALnet and StarLink game players the "Ein-Gang Pages", in which you can find pictures and short paragraphs about all your favourite players. The page is located at

    Eingang moderates an on-topic mailing list devoted to the games on her networks. Announcements of upcoming tournaments, machine problems, game upgrades, new games, etc. are sent to this list. To subscribe to the mailing list, send an e-mail to with "SUBSCRIBE IRCGAMES your_email@address" as the subject of the message. To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to with "UNSUBSCRIBE IRCGAMES your_email@address" as the subject of the message. Or use our online form.

    Sker has provided us with a bang-up script to help make your game playing easier when you're using a UNIX-based IRCii client. This script simplifies play on #riskybus (and variants), #acro, #chaos, and #boggle! Check it out at!

    For Windows users, check out Dwight Duensing's IRC Game Machine (IGM), which provides an interface to all of our games. (His WWW page seems to be missing so the latest version here in .zip file format is stored here at

    The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) did an interview with Eingang in the fall of 1994 about Risky Business. This sound (.au) file (6:11, 3megs) is now available via the Web.

    If you have a page or resource that should be added here, contact Eingang!


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    Michelle A. Hoyle
    About Risky Business, Last modified: November 25, 2002