Problems of the Week status

The 'Problems of the Week' section has not been updated for three weeks. Are we witnessing the demise of this section (which appeared to be quite popular) or is it just in hiatus while the 'Today' section is being given the spotlight?

Note by Brian Charlesworth
1 week, 1 day ago

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Before this change happened, the first thing people would see when they entered Brilliant is the Problems of the Week section. Now it is replaced by the Daily Problems sections. Now let's talk the pros and cons of this change.

The pros:

  • It allows users to understand more about a particular concept. The Problems of the Week could not do so. Only the problems are there, you can not dive deeper to understand more.

  • It makes for a more interesting experience. Instead of taking a pen, paper, a calculator and other stuff, you can read more about the subject, then use the knowledge you had for the problem. When taking the Problems of the Week, some users feel stressed, I would assume so.

  • And because it makes for a more interesting experience, people would be more interested in trying out Brilliant. (And that is where business steps in.)

(- The illustrations are better. It shows their full potentials at illustrating stuff, which is good for the visuals. Some people can't stand looking at long passages without a picture. So the pictures help them understand the concept better.)

The cons:

  • The Daily Problems are not challenging. People come here not only for learning, but also for putting their skills to the test, and from doing Problems of the Week, they could learn more tips and tricks for solving math problems.

  • People are no longer creating problems in their pastime because the problems are created by staff, the community have no control over what they want to see and solve.

  • The staff does not take inspirations from popular community problems and discussions. So you would not see something familiar about the community when you are solving Daily Problems.

( - It ruins the surprise of seeing your problems on Problems of the Week. It felt very delighted, satisfied. It made your day or even your week. If your problems were on Problem on the Week, it means your problems are well received by the community.)

My suggestions:

  • The Daily Problems and Problems of the Week should coexist one another, but instead of Problems of the Week, it should be Problem of the Fortnight. (The name sounds bad, I know.) You don't want to solve 29 problems a week. Solving 43 problems every two weeks sound better, right? Not really. But the Daily Problems provides a more fun learning experience, while Problems of the Week puts your skills to the test. Both concepts are good, and one should never replace the other. But it happened. I hope Brilliant could see the problems it is facing right now.

They said that teachers should learn from their students. It is not wrong.

Thành Đạt Lê - 1 week ago

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Great analysis! I can see how the 'pros' you mention will help draw in more users, but as your 'cons' outline, they don't provide much of a challenge, which is where the 'Problems of the Week' (which had been very popular) and Community problems would then prove useful. I don't understand why they can't keep all the sections so as to satisfy all Brilliant members; perhaps their operating system can't carry the load and they have to choose one over the other as a result, but if this is not the case then I think that they have made a bad decision.

Brian Charlesworth - 1 week ago

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If Brilliant can get even more personalized for each person's use, it would be great.

Thành Đạt Lê - 6 days, 13 hours ago

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I believe the "problem of the week" is being replaced by the "problem of the day"

Steven Chase - 1 week, 1 day ago

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That does look to be the case. I suspect the Community page is on its last legs too: there appears to be increasingly fewer problems being created by the community and a decreasing participation rate in those problems as well. I think that there are just a relatively small handful of hard-core members left who engage in the Community section, so it may soon make no business sense for Brilliant to keep maintaining it. When that happens this site will have little draw for me, which is regrettable but I realize they're just doing what they feel is required to make the site financially viable. The shift from Community to Content is nearly complete.

Brian Charlesworth - 1 week, 1 day ago

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Oh man, I hope that is not true. The "Community" page represents the overwhelming majority of my interaction with the site. Maybe we should start archiving our problems? I've got almost 500 of them now.

Steven Chase - 1 week, 1 day ago

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@Steven Chase I don't think we would need to worry about archiving. We can already access our problems by way of our Posts option as well as by using the Search function on our names, and I can't imagine staff eliminating our problems and means of accessing them. But while our past problems will (most likely) remain in circulation, my concern is losing the ability to create new problems: the POTWeek section used community-created problems almost exclusively, while the POTDay section appears to only use staff-generated problems, so if this is the direction they're going then they won't rely on the community's contributions anymore, making the option to create problems expendable. (This would also eliminate one of the incentives for posting problems in the first place, further dampening the rate of problem creation.) This option must be quite a drain on their system, so it makes little financial sense to maintain it for the relatively few members who are now still using it. I may be overreacting here, but the 'Community to Content' shift has been going on for some time now and this assessment strikes me as the natural progression of their plan for this site.

Brian Charlesworth - 1 week ago

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@Brian Charlesworth Sir, even I have noticed the shifting trend from "Community to Content"......Also, some people who had been active during the last two years have resurfaced and were surprised by the changes too............Consider this note............

Aaghaz Mahajan - 1 week ago

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@Aaghaz Mahajan Good to see such a lively discussion in the note you refer to! Yes, it must look like a completely different site to someone returning after a two year absence. I think staff would have been happy to have kept the site as it was if that could have been financially viable, but the feedback they were getting from newer members was a desire for more courses, more individual learning, and more privacy in general, so that is the direction they have taken. To make a business work you have to give the majority of the members what they want (especially if they are willing to pay for it), even if it might disappoint a minority of others. That said, I'm still surprised that they appear to be ending the Problems of the Week section; it seemed to be extremely popular.

Brian Charlesworth - 1 week ago

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@Steven Chase Find other websites that provide a similar service. To be honest, I have not found one single site that is comparable to Brilliant's old model.

Gennady Notowidigdo - 6 days, 1 hour ago

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Didn't Andrew Hayes(or other staffs) send you a mail about the change?

X X - 1 week ago

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Yes, but I didn't read the whole email because I got other things to do.

Thành Đạt Lê - 1 week ago

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I was disappointed about it when I got the mail, because really few people go to the community page and see our problems.

X X - 1 week ago

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@X X Okay, this is just a side note, but does this discussion sound like the discussion about the YouTube algorithm?

Thành Đạt Lê - 1 week ago

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@Thành Đạt Lê Sorry, but can you explain what is happening about the YouTube algorithm?

X X - 6 days, 10 hours ago

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@X X Well, the YouTube algorithm prefers quantity over quality (i.e. channels that post videos frequently, more than once a week over channels that post actually excellent videos which take time.)

This created "content farms". These channels post videos at least three times a day on a daily basis and these videos are just compilations of short clips so that the videos are at least 10 minutes. There is a rule in YouTube that forbids duplicates, but it views the whole video and not the separate parts because there would be misleading. There are many videos talking about this topic on YouTube, obviously.

Thành Đạt Lê - 6 days, 10 hours ago

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@Thành Đạt Lê Thanks for telling me!

X X - 4 days, 10 hours ago

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@Thành Đạt Lê Yes. Fortunately, with YouTube, they can take a hit when they lose viewership. With Brilliant, they may struggle to stay afloat, as they have to totally change their ways to rake in new customers and keep their current base.

Gennady Notowidigdo - 6 days, 1 hour ago

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@Gennady Notowidigdo But I think, with YouTube, they are surely able to drag some new customers, but really few of them would stay for over a week.

They claim that they have over 6 million users, but I think that is quite misleading.

X X - 4 days, 10 hours ago

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@X X All of this leads me to an unusual solution: Getting Brilliant even more personalised. From the important features like the Daily Problems and Problems of the Week to the less important ones like the Wiki of the Day and the Featured Members.

Thành Đạt Lê - 1 week ago

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No, I never got an email about this. Did they mention why the 'Problems of the Week' section is being eliminated? And did they mention anything about the option to create problems for the community?

Brian Charlesworth - 1 week ago

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Hello, Brian. I will send you a copy of the email. You can still create problems for the community through the "Start contributing" button at the bottom of the "Community" tab.

Andrew Hayes Staff - 1 week ago

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@Andrew Hayes Thanks for passing along the email, Andrew. While I know that we can still contribute (and how to do that), my concern is that without the incentive of having problems elevated to POTW status, members will feel even less inclined to bother posting problems, further accelerating the declining rate of participation on the Community section. Just as other features have been eliminated due to waning use, it's not hard (for me anyway) to foresee the same fate for this section. While regrettable, this would just be a byproduct of the evolving nature of this site (and the new users it is attracting) with the goal of making it financially viable. That said, I will hang around to see how the "renewed Discussions experience" you mentioned in the email manifests, in the hopes that it might revive in part the community "vibe" from years past.

One further question, if I may: you mention that past community problems that "are currently archived in the Problems of the Week and Challenge quizzes" will be integrated into existing wikis. Will community problems not so archived be gradually culled, or will they still be able to be accessed through our Posts and via the Search feature? @Steven Chase asked me whether we should be privately archiving our past problems, just in case.

Thanks again for your response.

Brian Charlesworth - 6 days, 21 hours ago

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@Brian Charlesworth Do not expect the website to follow through with your concerns. While I did not expect them to eventually "disappear" the Community section, I saw most of it coming; I can understand Brilliant's intentions to do all this (they are a for-profit company, after all), and I respect their decision in all matters (including "removing" the Community section), as it would've been highly suspect for them to keep the Community section AND post courses for money. My advice is to not stress too much and demand from the website things they cannot and will not give, but rather to find other outlets that provide the service you want to be using; Reddit would be the first place to go, but I haven't found anything that is comparable to what Brilliant does.

Gennady Notowidigdo - 6 days, 1 hour ago

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@Gennady Notowidigdo Brilliant is still a unique and worthwhile site, and I sincerely wish them success, but with the changes they've implemented they are now catering to a different clientele than in the past. So many members who I have enjoyed interacting with have left, and the Community section is grinding to a halt. If there were another site that provided the same experience that Brilliant did two or three years ago I would quickly join it, but as you have found, such a site does not appear to exist. I've been an active member for five years, so it's hard to break the habit, but there's not much left that I find particularly engaging here.

Brian Charlesworth - 5 days, 15 hours ago

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@Brian Charlesworth Thanks for your message. I am thinking of creating a similar website to StackExchange, but would like to adopt the old forum-style format with LaTeX enabled on it; this forum would only be expressly for mathematical stuff, unfortunately.

Gennady Notowidigdo - 5 days, 14 hours ago

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Looks like I have been vindicated. Brilliant is about to go full subscription mode, and I've spent the last year preparing for this... by not giving them any money at all and making a YouTube video on Brilliant moving away from their original business model. And now? Looks like I may be saying goodbye to a once-"Brilliant" site (pun intended).

Gennady Notowidigdo - 6 days, 2 hours ago

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