We will soon be releasing version 2.2 of the PL/SQL Challenge, with these major new features:
Quizbook: Quiz as PDF
- You can't write a good quiz in five minutes. Maybe 30 minutes, when you include the time it takes to write verification code, test that code, etc. More like an hour. So, as you might well imagine, I have spent many hours over the past several years writing quizzes (and lots of other developers have, too, since over 200 quizzes have been submitted by others!).
- Many developers are ready to take the time and make the effort to play each day, but many more probably don't have the time or commitment or discipline to do any more than play occasionally, and use the website to look over quizzes and learn lessons from them.
- Moving from passive learning (reading documentation or books) to active learning through competition helps identify all sorts of nuances, bugs and areas for improvement in the technology covered by the quizzes.
- It is extremely difficult to come up with a way to offer quizzes that makes cheating impossible, but also extremely difficult to prove that anyone actually is cheating.
- It's hard work to support and maintain a website that is available 24x7. Oh yeah.
- There's so much about the Oracle technology stack and running websites that I do not know. The PL/SQL Challenge could never have survived as long as it has without the help of my friends at Apex Evangelists.
- I sometimes wonder how long I can keep up the flow of five new quizzes each week that are of sufficient quality to be used as a way to rank PL/SQL developers.
- Three new quizzes a week: rather than offer a new quiz each weekday, cut back on the volume by publishing a new quiz on, say, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I will have to provide 40% fewer quizzes and players will not have to commit as much of their time to compete. The big question for players is: how important do you think it is to have a new quiz each day?
- Keep doing a daily quiz, but offer a mix each week of three new quizzes and two "used" quizzes – played sometime in the past (at least six months, probably, so that they will not be fresh in anyone's mind).
- Rather than post a new quiz each day, publish all the new quizzes (whether it be three or five) on, say, Sunday. They must be completed by the following Saturday, but you can choose when to take the quizzes. You might have a few hours available on Tuesday afternoon, so you do all the quizzes in one sitting.
- Rather than offer rankings on all quizzes taken, define only certain quizzes as competitive. Each player makes a decision to compete and to do so, you must register with a credit card, pay a small fee. If a person wants to compete under two accounts, they will have to go to much greater lengths to hide their identity (and they'll also have to pay more money). Sure it is still possible, but much less likely, I believe.
- For all other quizzes, you take them, you accumulate points for the effort, but you are not ranked. One advantage of making this distinction is that we can publish many more quizzes that will help you deepen your expertise (and highlight the knowledge of others), since not all quizzes will have to meet the criteria needed for competition. For example, "quick" true/false quizzes don't work well for the daily quiz, but can be very handy in reinforcing knowledge or exposing gaps.
- Your real name (that provided on your credit card, which must match your registration information) will be displayed in rankings. You can't "hide" behind a player name.
- Zero tolerance for aberrant scoring: everyone takes qualifier quizzes to verify their performance during the previous month (and, likely, for the quarterly championship as well). Highly aberrant patterns (such as extremely fast and extremely accurate) that cannot be reproduced lead to lifetime expulsion from the competition.'
- What have you learned from the PL/SQL Challenge?
- What do you like best about it?
- How do you think it can be improved?
- How can we get thousands of Oracle technologists to play?
- Why don't your co-workers play now?
- What can be done to get your manager to see the value of the PL/SQL Challenge, and actively encourage all members of the team to participate?