08 March 2011

Why don't we show the difficulty level of the question?

For a while, we showed the level of difficulty of the question (beginner, intermediate, advanced) when you took the quiz. Then we removed that information.

A player recently asked that we restore this data to the page, saying: "I think that was useful for us to decide how much time we should spend on a particular quiz option. For example, it is not worth spending 3 minutes to figure out correct answer for a doubtful option for BEGINNER level quiz, but it is worth doing so for ADVANCED level quiz. Isn't that information a fair one? I didn't hear about this in your blogs on why this was taken away."

Actually, I decided to remove the difficulty level for precisely the kind of thinking this player offered to me. I don't want to give you any "clues" to guide your answering the question - besides the information in the question itself.

You should determine the worth of your time playing the quiz independent of what I perceive to be the difficulty level. The quiz is the quiz; objective as I can make it. The assigning of a difficulty level is a rather subjective process, one on which I am challenged regularly by players.

So suppose I say it is a beginner quiz. That changes your approach when answering the quiz; you don't spend the 3 minutes on a "doubtful" option. You answer quickly and you get it wrong. Because, as it turns out when you see the answer, you don't think it is a beginner quiz at all. It was advanced! So you then need to ask for a score adjustment, or just feel a bit resentful and negative about the quiz.

Who needs that, right?

So take the quiz on its own merits and I think we will all be better off.

Cheers, Steven


  1. Hello Steven, All,

    Since in the last months there were some disagreements of the players (me included)
    regarding the difficulty level of some quizes,
    maybe a useful addition on the Survey page
    would be a question regarding "whether you consider the difficulty level of this quiz to have been chosen correctly".

    This is NOT the same as answering whether the quiz was too easy, too difficult or just right,
    ( inside its own difficulty level, supposed to have been chosen right )
    which is what we have now in the survey.

    Maybe such an option could add up to the decision of the reviewers team over time.

    Thanks & Best Regards,

  2. I totally agree with you Steven. Difficulty is a very complex issue, so better not influence the question. Which reminds me about the very complex answer on the quarter question (ADD_MONTHS). My thought there when I checked that one, is "hey, someone spent a lot of time coming up with this answer, while it is so simple. It must be correct...." Talking about judging the quiz by looking at things.

  3. Despite having "wasted" time being overly thorough with quizzes that ended up being beginner quizzes, I feel that the quiz works better without the difficulty displayed.

    Historically, I think there have been cases were displaying the difficulty of a quiz would have helped in clarifying the intent of the question. However, a well worded question can do the same thing, as I think was done with the recent trigger DML restart quiz.

    I think part of the problem is that we are trying to combine quiz complexity within a topic (ie basic/average/complex) with that topic's ranking on a scale of beginner pl/sql to advanced pl/sql. Each of these "values" are also subjective in their own right, but the combination of their subjectivity only makes the result more subjective.