18 August 2010

Official Announcement: Forgiveness and Corrections Policy

I will be implementing this policy in the coming weeks, but I wanted to inform you now, because as of today, I will no longer make any manual adjustments to scores due to mistakes or errors. It is simply not possible for me to spend the time to do this. You will see this same text on the Rules page very soon. So here goes....

Forgiveness and Corrections Policy

It is sometimes difficult for developers to play the quiz every day, especially when they go on holiday. Players worry about a significant setback in their rankings.

In addition, players sometimes make mistakes, press the Submit accidentally, or even encounter a problem with the submission of an answer. Yet due to the volume of players on the PL/SQL Challenge, it is impossible to respond to each request for correction.

In response to these scenarios, the PL/SQL Challenge offers a "forgiveness/corrections" policy as follows:

For up to ten days in a quarter, we will adjust a player's quiz record as follows:

1. A missed day will not count as a zero score; instead you will be given a score equal to the average of all scores for that day.

2. A zero score will be replaced with a score equal to the average of all scores for that day.

3. If you missed or scored 0 points for less than 10 days (let's refer to the balance of those days as "FD" or "forgiveness days"), then we will change your score for the FD lowest ranking days in the quarter to match the score of the ranking on that day that equals your average ranking throughout the quarter. In other words, if your average ranking is 125 then on a day in which you were ranked 250, we will identify the score of the person ranked 125, give you that score, and then re-rank.

In conjunction with this forgiveness/correction policy, we will no longer make any manual corrections to scores due to errors on your part or on the part of the website. The above policy will automatically adjust your score to give you maximum possible "recovery" from your ten "worst" days in the quarter. I realize that this may cause some frustration and hurt feelings, but it is the only viable policy for running the PL/SQL Challenge when there are 1300+ daily players!

The adjustment for missed and zero score days will happen at the end of each day. If at the end of the quarter you have not "used up" all ten forgiveness days, the "lowest ranking days" algorithm will be used for the balance of days.


  1. Will this policy be implemented backwards? So if I missed a day in the previous quarter, will my lifetime score be corrected?
    I'm asking this for the people who had vacation in June (mine was in July/August, so that will probably be this quarter).
    Just curious. I'm not good enough to be in the highest ranks :-(.

  2. I hadn't been planning on going back to the first quarter. Given that we did the playoffs, I don't like the idea of mucking with the rankings.


  3. 10 days in a quarter...a overwhelming amount for poor Americans-with-a-handfull-of-holiday-days, but we Dutch players with our "loads" of free days a year and a habit of taking a holiday of 3 weeks will have a hard time ;-) as far as the Challenge concerns, not for any other reason...

    I know I have now, I have already missed two days too many because of my delightful holiday in sunny France where the Challenge did cross my mind, but I could resist the urge to play using my way too small-screened smart phone (I did once, worked fine nevertheless). Still...I like the forgiveness policy! Good job.


  4. Hi.

    I am very sorry how late I am commenting on this, but there are a few things in this forgiving policy that worry me. First of all, I'd like to say that I am all for a forgiveness policy, but such a policy must me as fool proof as possible.

    What strikes me the most is using two different methods for those who don't answer at all and for those who do answer and but fail with the answer.

    As I understand the competition, the rank is based on the score, higher the score, higher the rank. But advanced questions score higher than intermediate and beginner questions. This means that a person missing only advanced questions will benefit more than a person that misses only beginners questions.

    Then you are going to use the average rank to score those who fail a question. But some might be low in the rank, just due to the fact so many people answered the question correctly, just quicker than you. 10 points difference, might be 200 places different in the rank. But on another day, the same difference in rank could be 500 points difference.

    I have a small suggestion (i realize it is very late bringing this up). Why not use the same way that is used in some sporting events. A persons 10 worst questions (or 15% of them) are forgiven, or basically not counted in the final rank. These would be divided equally among the type of questions. Worst scored questions of each type would be dropped out, and ranking recalculated. I think this way would be the most equal way of doing things.

    Ingimundur K. Gu├░mundsson

  5. Re: Toine's comments: if I set up a forgiveness policy to match the Dutch commitment to quality of life AWAY from a computer, well, let's just say that there wouldn't be a whole lot of days left on which to perform rankings. You've just got to decide where your priorities lay. :-)

    Re: Ignimundur's comments: very good points. I looked at just ignoring N number of days in the ranking process, but to be honest that was a fairly complex adventure given our design. I will give your feedback some thought, but at "first glance" I have this reaction:

    1. Remember that this rule is applied to everyone, so I don't think there will be all that much shifting around in rankings.

    2. I expect that there will be enough variation in the way people answer questions and miss quizzes that the impact of the difficulty level of the quizzes will be minimal.

    Regards, SF