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Some Thoughts on Solutions

I have recently began to write solutions for Brilliant problems I solve, partially to practice my LaTeX and partially to actually have written down my thought process on problems. My first solution was a very bad solution because I had misread the problem, but still arrived at the right answer. Sometimes, I make minor typos in solutions, but in a significant number of solutions, I see typos that the solution-writer says, "Oops! I meant to say this when I said that !"

Another problem I have had happen to be before (and also about \(30\) minutes ago) is that I have planned to write solutions for problems and prepared to do so, only to see that there had already been solutions written. My solutions are usually reasonably straightforward and (I thought) obvious, but when I click on "Enter Discussion", I see that nothing similar to my solution had been posted, so I am forced to leave a comment on an existing solution with my solution or less-known method.

So I have \(2\) ideas for solution writing on Brilliant.

First: I would like to be able to edit a solution that I have written if there is a typo or something minor that needs to be added. There would be an option to edit a solution, and the source code would appear. The writer could make edits to the solution, and those edits would be subject to approval by a moderator. If a solution is completely rewritten, then a moderator would have the ability to decline the changes. Something else that could be possible is that a person other than the solution writer could propose a change (it would only be for typos or minor errors) to a solution. The person would write a comment that could be reviewed by a moderator and then applied. Obviously, this can be done in the comment section of a solution, but my opinion is that the comment section of a solution is for other people to ask about methods, theorems, etc., not to say "You misspelled this!"

Second: I would like to be able to see what other people's solutions are before I write mine. Sometimes, I spend a half hour writing solutions, and time isn't a thing I have a lot of. If a solution already exists that is my method, I can see this and not waste a half hour writing a solution. Alternatively, if there are existing solutions and no one has used my method, I can write a solution knowing that I have contributed a new idea. Obviously, this could be prone to abuse. People could copy others' solutions and try to pass it off as their own to hoard upvotes. A way to combat this is to make the solutions appear from oldest to newest, top to bottom when someone enters discussion. They can see the original solution and scroll down until they see a method they like and give it its deserving upvote.

Anyone agree?

Note by Trevor B.
3 years, 8 months ago

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Another possible solution to the seeing solutions before writing them problem is to have each solution give one or two key concepts or theorems or techniques, and allow potential solution writers to access these. This would also help with hints, where a user could pay points to see a key technique for solving the problem. Finally, this could help people reading solutions understand the key points that they should remember. Daniel Chiu · 3 years, 8 months ago

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I do strongly agree !! Upendra Singh · 3 years, 6 months ago

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One of the things I am particularly curious about is whether people actually would rather see other solutions before writing their own. When we first launched solution discussions, you automatically could see the solutions before writing your own and people really didn't like it. Peter Taylor Staff · 3 years, 8 months ago

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@Peter Taylor Thank you for the response. I'd understand perfectly if the idea about seeing other solutions wasn't implemented, but for me (but I'm not sure if for others), I need to know if the solution I'm writing will take a long time. If my solution has already been posted, I would see it and use my time another way. I rarely have time to sit down and crank out a large solution, which, depending on the amount of LaTeXing to be done, may take over an hour. If you also display the solutions in order chronologically (until votes are made public), people would see the newest solutions and would be able to see who came up with the best solution first. And even if there is copying, it's not like it has (major?) monetary implications. You don't qualify for prizes or get points for writing solutions, so it doesn't help you cheat to get to a prize.

Thank you for considering my ideas. I hope that the Brilliant team does what they think is best to improve solution writing. Trevor B. · 3 years, 8 months ago

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I'd really like to know what other people think about this. If you have an idea, please respond. Trevor B. · 3 years, 8 months ago

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@Trevor B. Hi Trevor,

Thank you for putting so much thought into the current pitfalls in our solution submission flow. We will consider all of your points seriously the next time we revise the solution discussion system. Peter Taylor Staff · 3 years, 8 months ago

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