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Meet the Geeks! It’s Lea Popielinski!

Published January 19, 2022

In our ongoing “Meet the Geeks!” series, it’s time to introduce you to a member of our Editorial team, Lea Popielinski!

By the time ​​Lea was hired at Geeks Who Drink, she’d already been writing and hosting weekly trivia nights for nine years. You might not have run into her at your local though — not unless your local is also part of the virtual world of Second Life. “I know this is totally nerdy, but there’s actually a trivia community in Second Life,” she said. “You go in with your avatar, the host pastes questions into a scrolling chat, and everyone answers by typing. At the end of the night, you can win a very, very, tiny amount of money out of the host’s pocket.”

When she saw a job posting for a quiz editor at Geeks Who Drink, she was sure to mention her virtual experience. “It was a big part of my application,” she added. It worked: she’s been part of the Editorial Team for over four years. (She’s also the person who ensures that no one mistakes, say, Ponda Baba for Po Nudo in one of our Stars Wars theme quizzes.) We talked with Lea this week about editing our questions, about being the annoying know-it-all in conversations, and about what makes Geeks Who Drink’s theme quizzes the best.

How did you originally find out about Geeks Who Drink? I’d been to a couple of their quizzes in New York and Los Angeles. I wasn’t a regular, but I knew they were quirkier and sassier than most pub quizzes. That’s everything I knew about them before seeing a job posting.

Has your job changed since you were hired four-plus years ago? I still have the same job title, but the responsibilities have changed. I’ve always been the Theme Quiz Editor-slash-Associate Editor. Editing quizzes has always been part of the job, but I’ve also been a proofreader and have provided pronunciations [for some questions or answers] in the daily quizzes, and I’ve done some of the social media stuff. I’m in one of those positions that ends up being a grab bag of stuff that needs to get picked up, and if it fits in with what I do, then I pick it up.

After reading through literally hundreds of quizzes, do you have a favorite fact that you’ve learned at work? That’s a tough one. I’ve mostly just noticed that there are things that come up in conversation and I’ll think “Oh, I know that…and by the way, here’s another annoying trivia fact.”

Does that happen more or less than it did when you started? Probably less, because everyone I know is a trivia nerd, both at work and in Second Life. I’m surrounded both in virtual life and in real life by people who, you know, already know everything!

Have you been able to build on those Second Life trivia experiences in your day job? I have no problem saying that this job has made me a much better trivia writer. I’m much better at recognizing good questions and good material now — and I wasn’t bad then either.

Do you approach a Theme Quiz differently than you do one of our Daily Quizzes? Yes. With theme quizzes, I really try prioritize the difficulty level. I want to have a couple of questions in there that the casual fan who came along with their Serious Fan friends can answer, and each round can build on that until the final round, and that’s where I don’t mind being a bit brutal. We want something for people who have maybe seen half of the episodes of a TV show, for people who know everything there is to know about this property, and everything in between.

Do you have a favorite theme quiz? I really enjoyed writing and editing the RuPaul’s Drag Race quizzes. Another thing I try to prioritize is getting a good balance of seasons and characters, to make sure that everybody who should get covered does get covered. That was one of the themes that I had no familiarity with before I started on the quiz, so the process of learning about this universe and this fandom just felt like the best kind of research project.

So you’ll watch a show or a movie series because you worked on a quiz about it? I do that before we write the theme quiz! I have to know what the writers are talking about in order to edit it, and that can’t be done unless I’m already familiar with the material. I’ll try to watch the entire series before we start a quiz. And, even outside of the work involved, I like having the opportunity — or the excuse — to do that.