Interview of a JetPunker #10 - Stewart
First published: Saturday February 13th, 2021
Hello dear JetPunkers!
It's now time for the 10th interview! And no, you aren't dreaming, Stewart accepted to be my 10th
victim interviewee. Thank you a lot, Stewart!
Just a few words before starting. First, it's the 10th interview, so I'll probably write an other little blog to resume the begining of this awesome blog adventure.
And then, several times, on Reddit, in ASA on the Discord server or on JetPunk itself, Stewart talked about him, so maybe you know some of the informations presented here. But I'm sure you will learn more again about one of, if it's not the most popular JetPunker! Enjoy!
baptistegorce: Hi Stewart! Would you like to be my 10th interviewee...? (qui ne tente rien n'a rien, mais là, c'est vraiment haut...)
Stewart: Great! Thanks so much for this Poirot! 😊
baptistegorce: You're welcome! I'm honoured. (Wow...! How is it possible?!)
Stewart: Are you ok, Poirot?
baptistegorce: Yes, yes, of course...! So let’s start this interview! First, could you present yourself on JetPunk quickly for our readers who don’t know you (if it’s possible to use JetPunk and not know you)?
Stewart: Well hello there! I'm Stewart, I'm 22 and I'm from somewhere in the United Kingdom. My JetPunk days started in the middle of January, over 5 years ago now, and somehow I have managed to climb to #5 on the top quizmakers list. I'm generally known for my SVGs and my randomised quizzes, but also more recently due to my work developing JetPunk with new features behind the scenes!
Are you the Quizmaster’s brother? No, more seriously, can you clarify your links with JetPunk and Quizmsater?
Stewart: Haha, thankfully not! I know there was a rumour going around that I was Quizmaster's (Dan's) brother, but this is not true. I am in no way related to, or affiliated with Dan and his brother. I am simply a part-time employee for JetPunk, although I have spoken with Dan but I've never met or seen him. Generally most of our communications are just about JetPunk. Given the chance someday I would happily meet the man I work for though!
baptistegorce: Can you tell us quickly how Quizmaster contacted you to work for JetPunk?
Stewart: Well... this is not a "quick" story by any means, but I'll try to summarise. So it all started in October 2018, prior to this I had emailed Dan a few times, not often, but I suppose I was a known entity to him. Before October 2018, I had been monitoring a particular FAQ page we had on JetPunk where a lot of users asked questions about the site and asked for help. I chose to do this voluntarily because I had the extensive knowledge of how JetPunk worked from a user's perspective, having pushed it to it's limits on many ocassions.
In October 2018, I emailed Dan offering to improve this page and add lots of questions people asked repeatedly to try and help the community. He was glad to take the free labour, however due to technical complications we decided to do this on the JetPunk subreddit instead of directly on site, this is also where I took over control of the subreddit, since Dan didn't know much about Reddit. You can find the work I did on the subreddit here: JetPunk Wiki. Dan seemed rather impressed with the work I had done, and was pleased that users had a portal to go to for answers to common questions.
Moving on to January 2019, when a user named IAB suggested to Dan to make a Discord server. Dan had no idea what this was or what to do with it, so he created it and I volunteered to take control of it, since I'd gained his trust through the JetPunk subreddit and the through the wiki. This is why my life as the JetPunk Discord Admin begun! This also started more frequent communication between me and Dan, as he had a portal to get feedback from users without having to talk to them.
Between January and May 2019, Dan and I emailed on ocassion about JetPunk stuff, and I continued administrating the discord and gained friends from it. In the meantime I was looking for a summer internship between university years, but was struggling to find anything I wanted. This happened to come up in an email with Dan where, in June 2019, he said JetPunk might be able to offer me something for the summer! I was absolutely amazed and excited by this, and after thinking for a week about it, I gladly accepted the offer.
And so, over 6 weeks in July and August of 2019, I worked full time for JetPunk as their first ever employee! During this time I worked on features such as Random Maps, User Blogs (first draft) and Quiz Analytics. After the 6 weeks were over, Dan said he was overwhelmed with just how much I was able to achieve in 6 weeks, and said I could continue to work on JetPunk if I wanted to. Since I had university still, I didn't do much more until December 2019, when I spent two full weeks of Christmas holidays inventing and working on Tile Select! This brand new quiz format would prove to be a challenge to create, and by far my most ambitious project to date.
This brings us to 2020, of which many of you are more familiar with what happened. From major updates to Languages on JetPunk, to new minigames and the massive SVG Update, I continued to work in my spare time on JetPunk while managing my final year of university too. You can read about the changes in the JetPunk 2020 - Year in Review blog.
And that brings us to today, where I continue to work on JetPunk in my spare time, on top of my actual full time job. Sorry for not making this a "quick" response :)
baptistegorce: What is the thing you made for JetPunk you are the proudest of?
Stewart: Well I mentioned a few above, and I've made quite a bit it's hard to single out one thing. I would say the single thing I'm most proud of is The SVG Guide. It was part of the mega SVG Update that took me months to make, with the guide alone taking 4 weeks to write. It was hard to write it in a comprehensive fashion while making it approachable and also look nice. However, it was all worth the effort, as now I get a lot fewer questions about SVGs, and when I do 90% can be answered by directing them to the SVG Guide. How many people it has truly helped is unknown, but it's impact is surely felt among the quizmaking community.
baptistegorce: Could you present quickly your school and professional career?
Stewart: So I won't mention my school or university specifically, but I studied a 4 year course in Mathematics at a British University. This ended in summer 2020, where I then got a full-time job as a software developer (again not revealing the company). The best bit is, that without my prior work on JetPunk in 2019 and 2020, I would never have gotten my current job! So I really have a lot to owe to JetPunk.
I continue with my full-time job, where I currently work-from-home, while doing a few hours of JetPunk developments each week as well. It can be hard to manage this time, especially when everybody always seems to want something from me on JetPunk, without realising I have a full-time live to deal with.
baptistegorce: What do you think about the “foreign” JetPunk sections (recent quizzes, active quizmakers,…)?
Stewart: Well, I think they are a vital part of our community, even if they're not as profitable as the English side of JetPunk. It's part of the reason I work with many translators to translate much of JetPunk into the featured languages! Before January 2020, there were only 6 featured languages, and much of the non-English site was still actually in English. Over the course of a couple months we translated hundreds of phrases and words into 9 languages, including the 3 new featured languages Polish, Dutch and Finnish. These wouldn't have been possible without the translators, and I am forever grateful for them.
In terms of quizzes themselves, much like English there are a lot of lower quality quizzes, but also it's hard to know what's a good quiz and what's not when you don't speak the languages very well. In terms of active quizmakers, I would say a massive shoutout to Elboy, whose recent French Rebus puzzles have been mindblowing.
baptistegorce: Do you have big projects or quizzes in preparation?
Stewart: I don't have any big quizzes in progress at the moment, unfortunately with real life and JetPunk life there's little time left for quizmaking nowadays.
However, I am currently working on a new secret project for JetPunk which only a small number of people know about. I can't reveal details yet, and I won't confirm or deny any suggestions for it as of now. It'll take several weeks for me to complete though, so don't get too hyped about it yet :)
baptistegorce: Do you spend more time moderating JetPunk or creating quizzes?
Stewart: As mentioned above, I don't often get much time to create quizzes nowadays. So the majority of my time is either moderating, making improvements in general or dealing with the Discord.
baptistegorce: What is the quiz you are the proudest of?
Stewart: Well for this I have two, the first is purely based on technical achievement, because I feel it really pushed the boundaries of what was possible at the time on JetPunk. That is Giraffe Jigsaw Puzzle (and the series of them in general). It was mighty complicated to get this to work how I wanted, but I've always liked it.
The second, probably more important, quiz which I am most proud of is my Monopoly series. In particular British Monopoly Board - Map Quiz. This quiz took days and day of work to get the SVG not only looking amazing, and it is still my favourite SVG I've made to date, but also under the previous 400kb limit for SVGs. You see, it's only recently that the limit was increased to 600kb in the SVG Update from last year, and before I started at JetPunk there was no way for users to upload SVGs of anything more than 400kb, so you had to try really hard to get it below that, and I did! I just really love the way that SVG looks.
baptistegorce: What is the most important event in your own life of a JetPunker?
Well this has been mentioned before, but easily it is becoming a developer for JetPunk. Being able to create things that a whole community can benefit from, just fills me such pleasure and honour. I used to get this feeling from creating interesting quizzes, but actually seeing people use your creation to make new creations is just a completely unmatchable feeling. Without this, I wouldn't be the person I am today, and I wouldn't even have my current real-life Job either!
baptistegorce: How did you discover JetPunk?
Stewart: I discovered JetPunk as most people probably did, during a bored lunchtime at school with friends. Back in January 2016 a friend and I were searching random things on the internet and came across JetPunk, we decided to compete to see who could do better. I ended up making an account and continued playing, he only ever played at lunchtimes. Later that month, I decided I wanted to make my own quiz, and so I posted it and shared it with my friend. From there I just got more and more into quiztaking and quizmaking, and the rest is history!
baptistegorce: Would you change something in your JetPunk adventure if you were able to do it?
Stewart: Absolutely not. If I changed something, I may not be where I am today, and I (mostly) really like where I am today on JetPunk. I think I struck a good balance of excitement at the start, a good amount of time as a user, and then slower shifting into an administrator of the site. But without all the earlier JetPunk experience I don't think I'd have ever gotten the chance to become a developer for JetPunk.
baptistegorce: Did you have “mentors” at the beginning of your JetPunk adventure? Did you consider some JetPunkers as examples? Who?
Stewart: At the very early stages of my JetPunking days, I managed to get myself in an email group with Relessness, Quizzer6794, Scambigol and Gamer1162. Of course, at the time, reless was #1 and the others were big users, though not as big as today. This gave me a resource to learn and ask complicated questions very early on, and without this I wouldn't have been able to get to grips with the quiz editor so easily.
Single-handedly the most helpful person here was Quizzer6794. They were very very helpful in emails at explaining the basics, as well as giving tips for improving in the future, and they definitely made me a better quizmaker.
I still have no idea how I, a small JetPunker with a couple thousand takes, managed to become email-friendly with some of the biggest users. It still boggles my mind to this day what stroke of luck I had.
baptistegorce: Have you worked on the friends feature? What do you think about it?
Stewart: I personally didn't work on the Friends feature, although I did know roughly what was planned for it. Most of it was done by Quizmaster, with some fixes and adjustments made after it was live by me.
I like it, and I think it has a lot of potential to do great things for JetPunk. Of course, it's at an early stage right now, so it needs time to be developed further.
baptistegorce: Sensible subject: what do you think about Sporcle? What are the JetPunk advantages in your opinion?
Stewart: Well, tricky question due to the political affiliations with it. But, politics aside. I think Sporcle as a quizzing site is fine overall. They have some really unique and good quiz types like their "Minefield" quiz format, but they're a lot more business-focused than user-focused, which often means their site is more difficult to use, more focused on advertising and generally lower quality. But overall, it's just a different business model to ours.
I think JetPunk excels when it comes to it's usability, and it's flexibility and possibility regarding SVGs, which seems to be very limited at Sporcle. Also, JetPunk seems to have a much stronger sense of community due to being a smaller site, and has a more prominent non-English side to it as well. I think they both have merits and flaws, but overall I prefer JetPunk's focus on users and content rather than money.
baptistegorce: If you had to choose just three JetPunkers for their quizzes, who will it be?
Stewart: Over the years my favourites have changed quite a bit, but I'll highlight 3 in particular who I find beyond amazing. Despite the fact kiwirage is my current favourite, I don't think it's fair to mention only the biggest users, so I tried to avoid them for this.
1 - IAB. Their determination for these massive SVG quizzes is beyond inspiring, and all their quizzes seem to impress the whole community. I may not know many world subdivisions, but it's hard not to appreciate the quiz and others.
2 - Etanna. Perhaps not somebody you've heard of, but they are somebody I came across in 2018 and have enjoyed many of their quizzes. In particular, I have always enjoyed Country Names Created by Chemical Elements. I'm not sure I even know why, but I just get such enjoyment taking this quiz of theirs.
3 - Berney. British made, I always seem to enjoy Berney's quizzes. In particular, I really like their Word Morph series, as I enjoy just sounding everything out and being surprised just how weird some of the sounds we make are, especially when they can morph into other words! I've kept up with them since 2018 or so, despite the fact they've been on the site much longer than that!
baptistegorce: And for their blogs?
Stewart: I must admit, personally there aren't that many users who are "known" for their blogging as of yet. You have the obvious ones of Malkiboy (before his purge) and of course you! However, a couple users stand out to me as a step above the rest when it comes to informational blogs, presenting information in such clear and concise ways.
1 - HelveticaBold. I've been subscribed to them for several years, and I'm very glad they've migrated to blogging now, because each and every one of their blogs I find myself learning something new, and it's always intriguing.
2 - Jiaozira. A long time fan of Jiao, they're very well known for their quizzes, but I particularly enjoy their blogs too. In fact, their most recently created one about learning languages was truly amazing. The formatting, the content, the tone and everything was just so well executed. Really made for a refreshing change.
baptistegorce: Could you tell us a JetPunk fun fact we don’t know (or several ones if you want to)?
Stewart: One you may know is that the "Name the Planets" quiz once got over 20,000 takes in a single day (see here). What most people don't know is that this was because a school kid wrote a script to play the quiz thousands of times and cheat the system. They were permanently banned and the methods they used are no longer possible to achieve.
Another is that, a couple months ago, I actually broke JetPunk entirely for 45 seconds! I pushed an update live to fix something, and then I went to test it on JetPunk itself and the page wouldn't load. I checked Google Analytics and suddenly there was nobody on JetPunk at all! In a mad panic I quickly reverted the change and fixed the problem. That was not a good day.
baptistegorce: What are your passions in life, except JetPunk?
Stewart: Well, as a maths graduate I have a love for all things numerical. I love statistics and the trends of them, so in a time where we're bombarded with numbers of cases, deaths and vaccinations daily, this has been really interesting and exciting for me.
I also enjoy Minecraft, and have played it on and off for around 10.5 years now (started September 2010). Feels weird now how different it is, but I still enjoy playing it and the simplicity of being engrossed in a whole so simple, with so many possibilities.
Off the computer, I also enjoy Origami and Baking, both of which I've done for many years. My personal favourite to bake is a Lemon Drizzle Cake, which is a lemony sponge with a crusty lemon sugar icing on top. It's rather delicious :)
baptistegorce: You are at the origin of the JetPunk Discord server. What do you think about it?
Stewart: Well, this is a very tricky question to answer, with lots of mixed feelings. On the whole, it really has become a fantastic place full of (mostly) lovely people who are (generally) kind and helpful to each other. There are such interesting characters on there, many of which I never would have known without it. I have made many genuine friends from being on the server, and I eternally grateful for that.
However, I am the sole Admin of a server that gains anywhere from 5,000-10,000 messages on it every single day. I have done this role since the server's beginning in 2019. Along the way I've had help from some moderators volunteering to help keep the community safe. But, being responsible for that many people and that much activity, really does take a toll on you, and unfortunately there have been 3 instances where I have come close to leaving the server and retiring from the role as Admin. However, I am well aware that there is no obvious choice for a replacement Admin that's willing to take on the role, and because of this I sometimes feel stuck as Admin regardless of my wishes.
Despite these sometimes negative feelings, the majority of the time the server is a delightful place to be, with so much love and kindness shared round. As well as very interesting and often random conversations from people all across the world. I really haven't seen any place which is quite like it. The main downside for many users is that Discord is strictly 13+, so there are a handful of JetPunkers who are unable to join the server.
baptistegorce: Will we have surprises about the JetPunk development in the few next months?
Stewart: I don't doubt we will! I mentioned both Dan and I are working on separate larger projects, so you have these surprises to look forward to. But also, taking a look at 2020, much of that wasn't planned. All 3 minigames released last year weren't planned, the SVG Update wasn't planned, neither were many other changes. We kind of take things as they go, and we never really know what we'll work on next, despite having a list of many different ideas to choose from!
baptistegorce: Do you have fears about the JetPunk development?
Stewart: As mentioned in the "fun facts" question, I once completely crashed the JetPunk website for 45 seconds. The fact that this can happen so easily is a very scary thought indeed.
However, in general, my only fear is that people won't like what I make. Generally the opposite is overwhelmingly true, and people seem to be very happy with the changes I make. Albeit a minor group of users who constantly want me and never appreciate what they do get...
baptistegorce: Do you have a message to pass to the JetPunk community?
Stewart: Well, the pressure's on now isn't it! What do I say to a community who's done so much for me personally, and whom I've done lots for as well? I guess I can give one positive message and one constructive message.
First, whilst experimentation with quizzes and blogs are good to do, also remember to be respectful. This means consider who might be unhappy with what you've done, and if you're going to upset people, maybe it's not suitable.
Finally, keep being the amazing, positive and kind community I know you can be. I'm proud to be a part of this community, and I can't wait to see it flourish into the future, as a new generation of JetPunkers make their way onto the site.
baptistegorce: This interview is now finished! Thank you a lot! And you have been very prolific: congrats!
Stewart: Thank you very much, it was such a pleasure answering these questions!
Once again, thank you a lot Stewart for all this excellent work! You are busy with your life, and have many things to do on JetPunk, but you use a part of your time to answer serioudly my questions. I'm honoured and very happy about it.
As I wrote at the begining of this blog, I'll probably write a little blog about the IOAJ adventure (which is not finished yet...!) and yes, as promised, the 11th interviewee will be chosen with a WITJ. But be careful, I don't want to receive many messages asking me for publishing the new part of the game (n'est-ce pas, turnbacktwo...?).
Thanks a lot for reading, and have a very nice day!