Interesting Results from the Pew Research Center Web IQ Quiz


Image from Wikimedia Commons

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, Pew Research Internet Project conducted a multiple choice quiz to find out the extent of what Internet users really know about the web. The results have been quite interesting. These results were based on the quiz conducted on September 12-18, administered on 1,066 adult users of the web.

The following are highlights of the quiz results:

A good majority of Internet users have correctly answered most of the questions.

This good majority could and should be better, though. It’s unexpected that only 83% of those who answered the quiz could identify Bill Gates. Also, less than 80% are aware that PDFs can be sent as email attachments by any email program. This is rather unusual considering how PDFs are supposed to be very common. Perhaps those who responded to the question with the wrong answer may have just mistaken PDF with something else or were not familiar with the term even if they are already aware that it’s possible to attach almost any type of file to an email.

By Wilgengebroed on Flickr [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Wilgengebroed on Flickr [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Many people who don’t use certain Internet services or tools are still familiar with some terms related to them.

As mentioned by Pew Research Center’s report on this “web IQ” quiz, a substantial majority of the participants were not Twitter users but they know that hashtags are used with Twitter. Also, a comfortable majority, at 60%, correctly answered the question on whether or not Twitter posts or tweets are limited to 140 characters. These results reflect the kind of comprehensiveness most Internet users experience as they consume information online.

Respondents are weak in computer and Internet history.

Information about past computers and major Internet players apparently escape the recollection of most Internet users. Less than half of the respondents (42%) correctly answered the question on which university was the first to be on Facebook. Also, only 36% correctly answered the question on what year the iPhone was released. Moreover, only a few remember Mosaic as the pioneering web browser, as only 9% gave the correct answer when asked to identify the first widely popular graphical web browser.

Younger Internet users are more knowledgeable.

Expectedly, the younger respondents of the quiz turned out to be more knowledgeable compared to the older ones. The younger respondents, at ages 18-29, got more questions right compared to those in the higher age brackets. However, they still struggled with relatively difficult questions like identifying persons, defining technical terms, and knowing historical details about computers and the Internet.

The words “Web” and “Internet” are not synonymous.

Only around 2 out of 10 people who were quizzed in the Pew Research Center study knew that there’s a difference between Web and Internet. This is not really surprising considering how these two words are used interchangeably at present. Even famous bloggers and online personalities may not really know their difference. It won’t even be sh

More of a web trivia quiz, not a web IQ determiner.

After examining the said “web IQ” quiz, it’s difficult not to wonder if it really reflects web IQ because of the nature of the the questions asked. The questions were more on trivia or memory of facts. They don’t really measure IQ in the same way IQ is perceived in general. IQ tests don’t ask people if they can identify supposedly well-known people in photos. They also don’t delve into historical details. Yes, these are our own contentions but we also acknowledge that the Pew Research Center is not making any grand claim that their “web IQ” quiz is conclusive and authoritative. These quiz results, anyway, aren’t comparable to the unflattering survey results from the 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators Report of the United States National Science Board.

By Sgt. Mark Fayloga [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Sgt. Mark Fayloga [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to compare your “web IQ” to those of the people who participated in the Pew Research national survey, you can take the online quiz yourself. After taking the quiz, your score will be compared to the results of those who were part of the supervised national survey, not with those of others who completed the quiz online. Find out if you’re in the position to criticize other Internet users’ lower “web IQ.”