08 February 2011

One, Two, Many Types of Quizzes?

In other threads on this blog, players have expressed for more other kinds of quizzes:

"Can we have puzzles about how to implement requirements or solve problems in PLSQL, just like we have (lets say acm contests in c, c++, java)? I know its not an easy kind of stuff to implement the same, but if we can start working towards that may be down the line 4-6 months we can try to conduct a set of 4-5 puzzles and give some time (2-3 days time frame) to solve the puzzles and submit the source code."

"I just got a couple of single answer quizzes wrong and my score dropped significantly :( Reason, not careful enough. Is it possible to publish a quiz having 10 or may be greater or less questions every month that can be kept open for few days? And those that answer all of them correct get a significant score boost. This could be an opportunity to those that got wrong mainly due to carelessness and also those that missed many quizzes."

In the current (through 1.9) architecture, it is hard to add such quizzes (or, as we are calling them here in the PL/SQL Challenge development team, "competitions") because the underlying DB design is not flexible enough.

That's the bad news. The good news is that we are at this very moment putting the website and backend code through a comprehensive refactoring so that we can offer a wider range of quizzes, both in terms of content (SQL, APEX, etc.) and form (puzzle problems in which you submit a solution, instead of choosing an answer; multiple quizzes; true-false questions; logic puzzles; - and polls!).

With 2.0, when you visit the home page, you will then see a list of the open competitions. You pick the competition and take the quiz or solve the problem or whatever it is the competition requires. Here's an early glimpse:

I hope this sounds good to you. Please feel free to post any ideas you have on this topic here, and hopefully we can integrate them into the 2.0 development plan. I also hope to provide a beta testing site in a few weeks.

Regards, SF


  1. Hello All,
    That sounds well, but I think that mixing the two types of things in one and the same competition does not make much sense ...
    You simply have no common measurement unit
    to score such different challenges as observing a missing semicolon versus solving a real problem (like the one of Finn, see the February 4-th blog) ...

    I think that the PL/SQL Challenge should remain along its current basic lines, but with more supervision exercised so that really trivial questions that just could make experienced developers err out of missing attention only and NOT out of missing pl/sql knowledge will be as few as possible ... and scored as low as possible...

    Maybe more than 3 levels of difficulty would be welcome, because in the last weeks the INTERMEDIATE level tends to grow fat and its "collection" is currently composed of quizes which are extremely different regarding their difficulty, from the BEGINNER MINUS up to ADVANCED MINUS or even ADVANCED.

    Another separate competition for "solving problems" would indeed be welcome, but that is a totally different thing than answering a short question in an as short time as possible.

    Finding the best solution to a (non-trivial) problem is a process that may take a longer time
    and I think that a good developer, even after having released an initial version of a solution, usually pressed by time in the real life, that same issue continues "to germinate" in his brain and will for sure generate a chain of better and better solution versions over time ...

    Comparing the two is just comparing a 100m race
    with a Marathon ... they are completely different things.

    Thanks & Best Regards,

  2. Sounds interesting.

    I hope there will be different rankings for different competitions and not like the person that wants a "score boost" for such quiz.
    When you answer wrong, your ranking drops, isn't that normal?

    And...a lot of people have a full time job and solving a puzzle will take more time than the five minutes for a daily quiz.

    But probably I'll participate in other competitions, because it's fun.

  3. Don't worry - all quizzes are organized into different competition categories (daily quiz, playoff, etc.). Rankings will be performed WITHIN a competition category, but not across.

    I fully plan and expect that the PL/SQL Challenge rankings will always primarily be driven by the daily quiz, just like it is now.

    I don't want to get into more gradations of levels of expertise. It is self-declared and I don't think many people want to spend the time sorting out how they see themselves in a rating of 1-10 or something like that. It's really not that important. What matters is how you do on the quizzes.

    Finally,there will ALWAYS be quizzes that seem trivial to some perhaps many developers. You will answer quickly and get back to work. Nothing wrong with that, right?