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Is Brilliant deviating from its original mission?

I've been an user in Brilliant since a long time and I have experienced the changes this awesome website has gone through. One of the main reasons I joined and continued doing Brilliant is for the fun of problem solving, and trying to improve my skills. However, ever since the implementation of the news-feed system, the number of good problems posted in Brilliant has been decreasing exponentially. A few months ago Brilliant was one of the best sources for some really nice olympiad problems. I am really sorry to say this, but it isn't anymore.

Take the geometry section, for particular. The geometry section has disappointed me the most. A good geometry problem should contain some angle-chasing, finding some cyclic quadrilaterals, etc. A good geometry problem isn't something you can just bash out. What's the fun of that? The problems I receive in my feed are mostly calculation based. The approach to most of those problems are obvious, all one has to do is fill in the details and make sure the calculations don't mess up. Very few of them look interesting to me.

In general, the quality of problems shared by the Brilliant staff are deteriorating day by day. Very few of the problems posted nowadays make a good olympiad problem. My reaction to most of them is like "oh, I know how to solve this! I just have to use cosine rule on \(\triangle ABC,\) then on \(\triangle ACD\) and that will give me \(CD.\) I hope my arithmetic calculations are correct!" That's not how a good olympiad problem should be. A good olympiad problem is a problem which you don't know how to begin. People try various approaches, some of them fail, some of them give partial progress. People plug in small values to observe some patterns, then try to prove them. That is the fun of a good olympiad problem, which the 230p-300p Brilliant problems used to provide. Oh, and a good problem shouldn't contain too many tedious arithmetic calculations, which most of the problems posted in Brilliant nowadays do. What's more, I find many of the user submitted problems, even those assigned with a rating, faulty. Now I'm not blaming the staff for this, I understand that they are sincerely trying to make Brilliant a better place. I just like to point out that their efforts (atleast in my opinion) are in the wrong direction.

Here's what I suggest. The current system need not be abolished. It makes the website more community-based, and is nice. The lack of good problems is what I'm concerned about.

A few days ago I saw a set containing sorted problems for the week. Now that is a step in the right direction. Every user should have the ability to post a problem, but only a selected few appear in the weekly sets. Rejected problems are kept unrated, but people can feel free to solve them. Some of the problems might also be shortlisted for future use. The staff should also start posting new better problems, I believe, although that would be probably asking too much of them. The problems, however, should be more similar to those that would appear in a good mathematical olympiad.

Does anybody have any other comments / ideas regarding this issue?

Note by Sreejato Bhattacharya
3 years, 3 months ago

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I also agree that problem quality has decreased, but the Brilliant community is now closer to a community than ever before. I appreciate this and the effort put forth by everyone, both staff and members. I saw Calvin's sets of the week, and those were nice problems. Perhaps like you said there could be an organized, professional weekly set, but I'm not sure about restricting problems too much. There was already a note about selecting moderators that could ban/remove flawed problems, and this would probably help with overall quality. Also, the staff have posted a few notes about how to write a good problem and how to write a good proof. I think these efforts will definitely help to professionalize the community. Overall though, I like the site a lot. Justin Wong · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Justin Wong I do support this news-feed format, it makes the website more community based. What I'm concerned about is the overall lack of good problems. Very few users in Brilliant post good problems. And to be honest, it isn't easy to regularly keep posting good problems. Ever since the weekly problem sets have been removed, the staff has stopped posting good problems, and the quality of problems in Brilliant has been decreasing. Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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Okay, I think it should be possible to sort of make everybody happy, the "old format" folks and the "newbies" (which includes me). Better filtering options might be able to allow each user to tailor his/her own "Brilliant environment". For example, perhaps it's possible to simply shut off the reshares so it doesn't clutter up the stream. As another example, an "Olympiad problems only" option that lets users see only Olympiad-level problems, the kind apparently the old format folks prefer.

Unfortunately, no button or option can miraculously create brand new Olympiad problems out of nothing. I support the "wretched, unwashed masses" of contributed unrated problems, because a number of them are gems that should and do eventually reach the level of "Olympiad problems". Gotta have some kind of a fecund pool going here, even if the old-format folks would rather turn a blind eye to that inconvenient mess. Michael Mendrin · 3 years, 3 months ago

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MCQ system is the worst. Tahsin Ahmed · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Tahsin Ahmed Why so? :O I actually like the MCQ system. Many good problems might not have a numerical answer. Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Tahsin Ahmed Could you explain more, @Tahsin Ahmed? Silas Hundt Staff · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Silas Hundt I was trying to explain that a problem shouldn't have options.I am sorry if my language sounds rude in last comment Tahsin Ahmed · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Silas Hundt Why should there be some options when you are trying to solve a problem?? We are not doing our math book exercises here. Tahsin Ahmed · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Tahsin Ahmed I agree with @Tahsin Ahmed as such many people guess the answer rather solving it properly .And the questions are always low rated . Abhishek Singh · 3 years, 1 month ago

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@Abhishek Singh What about this here Gautam Sharma · 2 years, 4 months ago

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@Tahsin Ahmed I agree that MC questions aren't perfect; I would like to be able to put the answers I have in some order so I can make them look nice by having the numerical answers in increasing order, as well as the ability to add in a "None of the above" option. Trevor B. · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Trevor B. There should also be the opportunity to add more or less possible answers, in case there is a question that doesn't need four or needs more than four (e.g. a quadratic equation always has 0, 1 or 2 real solutions). Thomas Jones · 3 years, 1 month ago

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Whenever I want a number of good problems I visit the best of feeds....thats a really nice collection.... Eddie The Head · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Eddie The Head The "Best Of" feeds rarely share a nice problem nowadays, especially the Best Of Geometry feed. Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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Yes, maintaining a set of "Calvin's Picks" or the such is a really good idea that I think should be kept. However, it is demanding quite a bit from him... Perhaps when these "moderators" that Brilliant claims to be implemented later could help with the problem picking. After all, I think that was in their job description: spreading good problems, if not making their own.

Anyways, I've been trying to upgrade my own problems' qualities. I was originally working on Geometry problems, posting mainly Geo's but now that you mention it, I can still see that my problems are not up to your par. I guess I'll just need to try harder! Currently I'm working on creating Algebra/Number Theory problems, so hope that those will be better. Daniel Liu · 3 years, 3 months ago

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I agree with you the problems in geometry are not challenging anymore.And also they only involve knowing equation and just solving Mardokay Mosazghi · 3 years, 3 months ago

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Even i dont know how to get my problems shared.. I do post problems, but no one seems to know about them, however much i try. Ashu Dablo · 3 years, 3 months ago

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What do you think of my problems? :D Finn Hulse · 3 years, 3 months ago

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I think that the reshare ideology is not as good as voteup ideology. It is a hurdle for me in finding better questions as many pages are filled with reshares as i foolow many people Megh Parikh · 3 years, 3 months ago

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Now, I would try to post good problems now. I just don't know how to get my problems noticed. @Sreejato Bhattacharya But you can try this problem & let me know if it was good enough! Ameya Salankar · 3 years, 3 months ago

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I think brilliant.org shoul be back with its old format that is uploading weekly maths probelems Anubhav Singh · 3 years, 3 months ago

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@Anubhav Singh I don't think so. Brilliant should continue their newsfeed format-- it makes the website more community based. Also, this format doesn't have a competitive environment like the last one did. All I'm asking for in my note is that the problems should be similar to any typical maths olympiad (and I've seen two or three good problems in the past two days :) ). Sreejato Bhattacharya · 3 years, 3 months ago

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