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I have become a big fan of Brilliant.org since being introduced to it this past August. In the new year, I have made a very concentrated effort to dedicate two hours of every morning to working through problems and studying various topics that I become interested in. While it has helped me push past some of the blocks that I have run up against in traditional math education, there are some things that remain the same.

Often when learning math, there is that moment in which an example is being worked through and you become completely lost at a step. It's not for lack of concentration. It's not for lack of effort. It just wasn't explained why one step was the next step. When it happens, we are left wondering whether the author of the example must think that the reasoning is so obvious that they shouldn't have to explain it and, if this is the case, what should have learned first in order to make this obvious? Adding complete detail can be incredibly tedious which is why I applaud Brilliant.org for using a wiki as the framework. Someone can come through and start a topic's wiki at a high level and provide a few hastily done examples, the next person can come through and realize that there should be more detail and provide it. In a traditional wiki, this editing pass is managed by talk pages where editors can discuss a change before it gets made. This is important for a couple reasons : 1. It helps new editors understand how current community members are thinking of the topic, 2. it helps new editors feel welcome to participate in that conversation.

These conversations have been proven to help with every open platform, whether its open source software development communities or wiki communities. On Brilliant.org, I am honestly not sure where to have that conversation to say "Hey, I understand that this step works, but I don't understand how you figured that out. I am sure I am not the only one, so lets think about what we can do to make this a better resource. I am happy to help." So this is why I'm posting a note here. If I am misunderstanding the features, please help me by commenting below.

Note by Scott Cambo
8 months, 1 week ago

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When it happens, we are left wondering whether the author of the example must think that the reasoning is so obvious that they shouldn't have to explain it and, if this is the case, what should have learned first in order to make this obvious?

In such cases, I strongly recommend you to make a comment in the solution, since you will not be the only person facing this issue. Ideally, the solution should be written so that others who can't solve the problem despite having enough familiarity with the underlying concept, will be able to understand it.

In the cases where you come across a new technique / concept, and hence are unfamiliar with the "basics", I recommend looking at the wiki page, which help provide an understanding of how these approaches work. If that is still insufficient, you can leave a feedback comment explaining the issue (E.g. How come they added and subtracted \( \frac{b^2}{4a} \) to the equation?). Subsequent wiki editors can then build on these issues which you highlight, and answer your question.

Calvin Lin Staff - 8 months, 1 week ago

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Hi Calvin, I really appreciate the response. I speak in particular about the wiki pages as the commenting for the solutions works pretty well at the moment. After you mentioned this, I just realized that there is a link to provide feedback about the wiki at the bottom. This is excellent, but I'll say that I don't think that I would have found that if you hadn't mentioned it. When I was looking for some way to comment, my intuition was to look somewhere around the "Edit" button for that part of the wiki. I also may have been ignoring the bottom of the page, because the way that the rating and feedback are designed and placed at the bottom of the page, it looks more like a footer where you would expect the copyright information (and other things we have trained ourselves to ignore). I would love to see the feedback link become more visible so that users find it more easily. When I clicked it, there was this whole conversation happening about the topic that I wish I had known was going on.

As a fan of Brilliant.org, I would like to make these suggestions : 1. If there will not be a "talk" pages like there are in most wikis, then making it easier to find ways to seek clarification about a topic would be great. 2. Moving the feedback and rating interactions to be placed near the edit buttons. It should be just as easy to provide feedback and ask for clarification as it is to edit the wiki.

Again, thank you for the comment, Calvin! This is what makes Brilliant.org a pretty great place.

Scott Cambo - 8 months, 1 week ago

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