23 January 2011

Help us Test Version 1.9 of PL/SQL Challenge

We have upgrade test.plsqlchallenge.com to 1.9 and invite you to help us test this release over the next week. We plan to upgrade our production site to 1.9 on 29 January. As you might expect with just a month since the upgrade to 1.8, this version does not offer major new features. Instead, we have added a number of "nice to have" features requested by players, as well as implemented many improvements to our administration pages.

You can log in using the same email/password you use on the production site. The quizzes shown this week are not the same as the real daily quiz. And remember: any data entered on the test site (user profile information, quizzes taken, etc.) will not be saved when we upgrade to 1.9 on www.plsqlchallenge.com. 

You will find below a list of new features and suggestions on how to use/test them. 

Single Correct Choice Quizzes
For those questions in which it is clear that at most one choice can be correct, you will now see different instructions, be only allowed to check one box (including "None of the above"), and will receive a score of either 0% or 100%, but nothing in between.The quizzes on 25 and 27 January are both defined as "single correct choice."

Players can now request an email with results of a specific quiz.
If the results for a specific day's quiz did not go out, if you missed it, if you simply want to go back and get an email with the updated quiz relates format (chagned in 1.8), you can now do so by drilling down to a quiz through the Past Quizzes page or Quizzes Taken in your profile. Then press the Email Quiz Results button.

Find Player
You can now search for players by name, country or ranking, and then view their profile.  You do not have to be logged in to do this.

Go directly from Quiz Survey page to Player Rankings page
After submitting a quiz, you can now ask to go directly to the Player Rankings page.

Display summary information from quiz surveys
You can now see a summary of quiz surveys after you drill down to a specific quiz through Past Quizzes or Quizzes Taken. We have also added charts to make it easier to visualize the results.

Recommendation descriptions are now displayedOn your public profile, any descriptions you provided for your recommendations are now displayed, along with the URL.

View Quiz on Same Day Taken
You can now view today's quiz after you have taken it through the Past Quizzes. You will not, as you would surely realize and expect, be able to see the answers or any explanatory text- until the next day.

Clear Quiz History
Not happy with your early days at the PL/SQL Challenge? Would you like to wipe the slate clean and "start over"? You can now clear out your quiz history prior to a date from the profile main menu page.

Review Submitted Quizzes
Players who submit quizzes for use on the PL/SQL Challenge can review them through the profile menu page. Simply click on "Review Submitted Quizzes" (currently at the bottom of the page). You can also send us comments about the quiz.

Copy Achievement
We've made it easier to enter multiple, similar achievements (say, if you'd written 10 books on PL/SQL :-) ).


  1. "Single Correct Choice Quizzes"

    Let's say there are 4 choices. I'm sure that 2 of them are definitely incorrect. I guess the answer of the other 2. If I miss why do I receive 0% if I have known at least 50%?


  2. If the question presents a set of mutually exclusive choices and we tell you that you can only select a single choice (so you know there is only one correct answer), then if you didn't make the right choice, you got it wrong.

    The more flexible model of giving you "partial credit" makes sense when there could be (and often are) more than one right answer, and the choices are not so clearly exclusive.

  3. "so you know there is only one correct answer"
    "be only allowed to check one box (including 'None of the above')"

    which means there are still 2 options for right answer (one or none).

    I don't see it fair but that's just my opinion.


  4. Hi Steven,

    I am not sure it is wise to have this "Single Correct Choice Quizzes" feature, as it breaks up the structure of the quiz. I don't know how it is in the US, but when I took my written drivers test, I got right or wrong for each choice and then the wrong choices were counted. It didn't matter whether the questions had multiple plausible answers or if the answers were mutually exclusive.
    In my opinion, the same rules should apply to each question, no matter the how the question is set up.
    Also, when you have a choice that is "None of the above", you have in fact an extra choice, and therefore you can't say that only one answer applies.
    Again, in my opinion you should either have all questions the way they are today, where each choice has a score, or you should turn them all into 100% questions (that is, you won't get a score unless everything is correct). A mixture of the two, is not a fair way of doing things, even though people will be warned.


  5. I definitely like the "Single Correct Choice" idea.

    The old way has this problem:

    Say a question defines a procedure and then asks: "Which of these answers show the output when the above procedure is run?" Then there are 5 answers, each with a possible output.

    This is obviously a "single correct choice" question. If you put a tick for one of the answers, you will either get 60% correct or 100% correct. But if you are in serious doubt you could tick "none of the above" and be certain to get 80% correct. I find that unfair that players can strategically decide not the answer the question and then get 80% correct score...

    I believe it is much more fair to recognize there are two types of questions - one type has possibly multiple correct answers and will be scored as normally, and the other type is the "single correct choice" (like a standard multiple-choice exam question) where you will have to get the one and only correct answer in order to get points.

    Just my 2 cents :-)

  6. @Steven

    About the "View Quiz on Same Day Taken" feature:

    Of course there should be "Hiding answers" in the column "Is correct".
    But is there any reason for "Hiding answers" in the column "You answered"?
    (Sure, I guess it just might possibly be misused in helping colleagues or something?)

    Anyway - if possible I would consider it a nice thing if I could see my own answers when I "View Quiz on Same Day Taken" :-)

    PS. I have seen several times on blog comments that players refer to "answer number three" or similar. Which doesn't really mean anything as the answers are rendered in a random order (right?)
    I can understand the random-ness during quiz time, but when it has become "archived", couldn't there perhaps be an "Answer ID"? Mainly to ease discussions on the blog about correctness of an answer?

    Thanks for your great work :-)

  7. Hello Steven, All,
    I'd just like to revert to a previous idea that I have raised several times on the blog,
    namely, scoring the WRONG+UNCHOSEN answers with
    a specific weight, depending on how many(which percent) of the CORRECT ANSWERS were CHOSEN.
    It looks to me that such a method might work for both multiple right choice answers as well as for single right choice answers, maybe with some slight difference between the two, or maybe even the same way.

    I don't think that supplying the information that only one choice is correct is the best idea.
    While for specific quizes this is obvious from the quiz itself (like "What will be the output of ..."), for other quizes it may disclose too much information, while such quizes, though happening to have only one correct choice, are in no way different from those that have several correct choices.

    I don't bet on any specific scoring algorithm, but maybe something along these lines could work.

    Second, the idea of seeing the same day quiz
    is most welcome, and, if each player could see his own choices it would be even nicer, bringing back the functionality that existed in the past
    by pressing the browser's [BACK] button.

    Also, I'd like to ask a question that is not exactly related to the version upgrade:
    If a player submits a quiz and it happens that his question "earns the medal" for being effectively used in the Challenge, then what will happen with that player's scoring for the same day ?
    On one hand, he of course knows the right answer
    (well ... if the reviewers will not have "recosmetized" it to make it unrecognizable :):))
    On the other hand, by missing that day's quiz the player will lose in his percent of quizes taken, and of course in the total score.
    Some enlightenment around this issue maybe would be welcome, if not already done somewhere else.

    Thanks & Best Regards,

  8. Thanks for the input; we will see what we can get done this week.

    Regarding quiz submission: if your quiz is used, then you get to play it that day like anyone else - and hopefully you will score 100%. It's just a little benefit of being the author.

  9. Update: you can now on test (and soon in "prod") see your answers on the quiz you took today, plus all answer choices will show an ID # that can be used during discussions.

    Thanks and keep the feedback coming...


  10. "if your quiz is used, then you get to play it that day like anyone else - and hopefully you will score 100%". But be careful of the 'too-fast' answer correction.

    Just to point out that Jeff Kemp chose not to do the quiz on his day. http://jeffkemponoracle.com/2010/12/30/my-first-quiz/#comment-305

  11. That was very honorable of Jeff. I need to make it very clear to authors of quizzes that they SHOULD take the quiz that day. It is part of the "benefits" of submitting a quiz. Taking a 0 for the day certainly makes no sense! That's a stiff penalty when you are competing for a top spot. So take your quiz when it appears!

  12. > "you will now see different instructions, be only allowed to check one box. The quizzes on 25 and 27 January are both defined as "single correct choice"

    I do not see any changes in 2010-01-25 test quiz regarding "single correct choice".

  13. Hi, Steven

    A couple of further feedbacks on the 1.9 test site:

    - Thanks for the answer ID :-)

    - Thanks for seeing my answers on the quiz I took today, but now it seems to "Hide answers" in the "Is correct" column for all quizzes, not just the one from "today" ?

    - The "today" quiz is shown on the list (grid) on the "Past quizzes" page. But when I'm viewing a quiz, it is not on the "Change quiz" drop-down ?

    - In this blog you state that 25. january quiz is a "Single choice" quiz. I'm sorry, but when I took the quiz it showed up normally with "Which choice(s) do you think is correct" and normal checkboxes allowing me to pick several choices (rather than a radio-button which I would expect for a Single choice quiz :-) ?

    Otherwise looks fine :-)

  14. I wasn't aware of that. I thought I'd get the day automatically forgiven?

  15. Hello All,

    Jeff Kemp was very honest about not playing his own quiz, but, as Steven said, a player also does not deserve a punishment for being an author :)
    I just saw Jeff Kemp's web page, where he says that he was notified by e-mail about his quiz being chosen for the next day.
    Maybe NOT doing this notification and just letting quizes come in as a surprise for their own authors could be a reasonable way to proceed ?

    Thanks & Best Regards,

  16. Regarding "single choice quiz" for today: you should see some instructions, which are not appearing. We will check into that.

    And we do not change to a radio group, but if you try to select more than one box today, you will see a message: "You can only check one box for this quiz."

    I am going to remove all results for today so you can try again (if you have a moment and interest) and see if what I am saying is correct.

    Jeff, we don't have a mechanism for "forgiveness". You need to play the quiz - or perhaps we will automatically apply credit for authors, but that is not in place. In the meantime, I will make sure you have an entry for that day.


  17. You're correct, Steven.
    I do get this error message:

    1 error has occurred
    You can only check one box for this quiz.

    But I did not get any special instructions and the quiz still says "Which choice(s) do you think are correct?" - where the (s) leads me to think I can check more than one box.

    So yes - works fine, except that the special instructions are not appearing :-)

  18. I check "None of the choices are correct" first. Then I check any choice and press "Submit Answer". There is no "You can only check one box for this quiz".

    And in "Which choice(s) do you think are correct?" plural is not what I expected for "Single Correct".

  19. In new test version I do not see any of my saved ranking reports. Does it mean that we'll loose saved reports again?

    BTW, why there is "6. Portuguese Players" public report? Is it "racism"? :)

  20. Thanks for pointing out the issue with the reports. I am checking with developers now. I will try very hard to make sure they aren't lost.

    And add a report. :-)