Knowledge is used to refer to two related but distinct concepts:
- in the colloquial meaning, knowledge is any information, regardless of origin or nature, that a player has, and which they can use to answer questions correctly
- in quiz bowl contexts, knowledge is the subset of information which is suitable for use in quizbowl questions; this excludes trivia because it does not meet a standard of importance
Awareness of this second meaning is necessary when participating in discussions of questions and the writing/editing process and is inextricably linked to the definition of "importance". For example, assertions of what players "know" about a given author will necessarily exclude things like their date of birth or specific years of publication because these are generally considered to be "unimportant" and thus fail a key standard of "good quizbowl". In all other regards, though, this narrowed concept of knowledge is referred to in the exact same way as it would otherwise: players know things and have knowledge, and questions test knowledge, regardless of the definition being used.
- Main article: real knowledge
One subset of knowledge is so-called "real knowledge": information that a player gained from outside quizbowl. This excludes information gained through deliberate studying or through osmosis, and in particular does not include particularly artificial means of learning like list studying. "Real knowledge" implies the higher degree of conceptual knowledge that is needed for writing research papers, doing laboratory work, and performing critical analysis.
In recent years, "real knowledge" has been considered at odds with carding, though this is a false dichotomy: flashcards can be used to retain any kind of information, including "real knowledge". Indeed, the idea that knowledge can be divided into "real" and "fake" is specious: due to the nature of buzzer competition, how someone learned something cannot truly be tested under the auspices of "good quizbowl".
- Main article: Gettiering
A Gettier is a correct buzz on a question made by a player who arrived at the answer through an incorrect thought process of a certain sort: they correctly determined that a clue corresponded to the right answer, but were mistaken about how. The term is named for the "Gettier problem" of American philosopher Edmund Gettier, who introduced it to challenge the definition of knowledge as "justified true belief." Making a Gettier is called Gettiering.
It is generally held that players who perform a Gettier do not have knowledge about the clue in question.