China has called for a clampdown on online quiz shows which have surged in popularity in recent months.

The country’s media and publication regulator said there was “vulgar and tawdry” content in some of the quizzes.

Companies should avoid promoting extravagance or sensationalism and focus on spreading “healthy, beneficial knowledge”, it added.

On some occasions, up to six million people have been logged in to play an individual quiz.

At least two of the leading apps are now displaying messages saying that their quizzes are being halted temporarily.

How do these quizzes work?

The games tend to follow the same format as quizzes such as HQ Trivia, which has become very popular in the US.

Played on smartphones in real time, they are free to enter and anyone can download the many quiz apps which have popped up.

Hosted live by a real quizmaster, competitors have to answer a series of multiple-choice questions.

You typically only get ten seconds to respond (presumably to try and limit cheating). And getting an answer wrong means you’re out.

Those remaining at the end of the quiz share the prize money.

How much can you win?

Rival companies have tried to out-do each other to attract players, leading to an escalation in prize money.

In January, quiz app Chongding Dahui (which roughly translates as “the race to the top”) started offering a prize of 100,000 yuan (£11,240; $15,750) for its nightly quiz.

That prompted others to weigh in with even bigger prizes – and so far billions of yuan have been up for grabs.

But, because so many people are playing each quiz, there are often tens or hundreds of thousands of winners, meaning the payout can be relatively small.

Winnings are usually sent directly to WeChat or Alipay accounts – the two dominant digital payments businesses in China.

‘Self-achievement… and a way to earn money’

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