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Ideas for the future of TPU

Posted by Psion [send private reply] at November 20, 2002, 10:28:54 PM

More ideas about possible changes to TPU, submitted here for the record and to hopefully spark discussion (probably not much):

The major problem that TPU faces in this day of widespread Internet access gives no way to make sure that the people who show up and declare themselves to be "members" meet minimum qualifications. I think it's necessary to implement measures to stigmatize people who aren't seriously interested in programming to the point where they either start learning to be good coders or leave.

To this end, one idea I've had is ratings of members' accomplishments in programming. One possibility is to have regular mechanisms in place where member projects are showcased, with feedback from other members possibly determining some rating of the project members.

I really dislike having complicated measures that begin to approach the role of "grades" in traditional schools. This really shouldn't be necessary, but I think there really is a social crisis everywhere now with young people not having as much self motivation as their equivalents did a decade ago. It could also be effective to just set up mechanisms to let everyone know what everyone else is working on and maintain an atmosphere of excitement. So-called "projects" where 10 people put up a web page and "come up with ideas" for months would not be counted as accomplishments of any sort, only actual code produced.


Posted by mop [send private reply] at November 20, 2002, 10:40:44 PM

Good idea, I think seeing each other's work would motivate more people. Just as long as this is still kept as fun.

Posted by Neumann [send private reply] at November 20, 2002, 11:25:39 PM

Throwing in buncha comments to stir up the discussion. This ain't no flame, I believe this is generally a good idea, I just want to clear up some things.

Here I go.


"only actual code produced. "

This annoys me a bit. I do believe programming is more that writing code in an editor and compiling it.

And also, I've hard times figuring out how this would motivate teens into programming? Maybe it's just me being not competitive enough. If a teen programmer doesn't care about one of his project being rated, he won't bother submitting his project here and risk getting flamed of badly rated.

I think I would like to hear about a clearer definition of the rating system you are thinking about. YPN style ratinh is a big joke. People giving ratings are usually not objective but you can't force people into being objective. How do you plan to solve that? Having

Things also get complicated if some people are parts of bigger, multi-user project having nothing to do with TPU? How do you rate that?

But that idea, along with "TPU-sponsored projects" could give rather interresting results.


More to come tomorrow.

Posted by gian [send private reply] at November 21, 2002, 01:45:44 AM

I think that Topcoder-style competitions (possibly not technically the same, but similar in concept) are actually more effective for this purpose. It gives people motivation to learn, and to participate. Perhaps some sort of integration, so that ratings show up in your profile or something would be nice.

Posted by CViper [send private reply] at November 21, 2002, 05:18:47 AM

Having showcases for members would be a nice thing. It would give the possibility to show your skills, but still it dosen't force anybody to do something specific, eg. as in competitions, where you would have to do something you maybe don't know too much about.

And you can use a nice showcase at other places too, maybe even when looking for a job?

Posted by Psion [send private reply] at November 21, 2002, 07:07:41 AM

Like I said, I don't like the ratings bit. I just think people who do nothing should somehow be clearly humiliated enough to start learning in earnest. =)

The "actual code produced" bit is to combat the past situations, of which I know Neumann has seen dozens, of TPU members starting "projects" and creating web pages of the type I mentioned, only to never actually do anything. It's hard to rate how their "planning" is going, but code produced is easier to see. We don't want such "projects" that are really more like publicity projects than programming projects to appear as suitable "showcase items." Planning is good, but without programming, it doesn't do much to teach the programming skills that will benefit teenagers most. As for "TPU-sponsored projects," it could be a possibility with oversight to make sure a project is only "sponsored" once significant code has been written for it. This isn't software engineering. This is all for fun and learning, and people who only pretend to play the game spoil it.

I think we could ditch the ranking/scoring idea and try to use plain old social motivations. We could let project members schedule big "beta release parties" or whatnot on IRC, make "events" out of projects coming out, add in opportunities for everyone to view the source code and ask the creators questions about how they did this and that, etc.. Hopefully this would inspire people to get involved and improve their skills.

I'm not much of a fan of TopCoder-style competitions myself. I think producing satisfying final projects after lots of work is better than coding a ugly-but-it-works solutions to a few small algorithmic problems in a tiny amount of time. Hopefully even more of these problems prop up as parts of larger projects, anyway.

Project showcase as a resume' building tool: Maybe, but anyone who just thinks of it this way will be missing the point! (Fun!)

Posted by Neumann [send private reply] at November 21, 2002, 08:44:03 AM

Okay. It's true I don't like the rating bit either. I think the don't care'ism level of today's teen is just too high. Although it may have a effect on some people, I don't think it would have had any motivating effects on me. I found motivation with my real-life friends who were not very interrested in join TPU.

By "TPU-sponsored projects", I meant project that could be started by some active TPU members and where anybody would be welcomed to contribute. It would be easier to rate members based on their contribution in those projects. I've already talked about this idea in previous threads in this forum section.

I can't speak about contests. I'm not competitive enough to find any interrest in that kind of thing.

Posted by CDR700 [send private reply] at November 21, 2002, 10:47:21 AM

My opinion (well if anyone wants it?) is that:

If we are going to draw a fineline between such things questioning must be as Universal as possible,otherwise TPU would end up in a hole. Pehaps and "evaluation" period (like 4 weeks) for the user,if during that time the administrators do not decide on having him added (it could be like a pending list, he would show up in red if he had not been pended for two or three days before expiration) he would be removed.Its a crude method in theory but it might just squeeze in a good number in prtactice?

Posted by Neumann [send private reply] at November 21, 2002, 10:50:31 AM

Think simple. What your propose is not bad but would require a good deal of organization.

Maybe finding a way to kick members that are not active enough would be a good way to keep things clean. You could do that now but with the current system 'not active enough' means not posting anything of the forum.

Posted by CDR700 [send private reply] at November 21, 2002, 11:05:10 AM

Not active enought woul have no implications except one huge one,as members that would go away for a while would get kicked!So whichever way you go there are complications.

Posted by Neumann [send private reply] at November 21, 2002, 11:07:11 AM

You are indeed right :)

Posted by taubz [send private reply] at November 21, 2002, 02:36:09 PM

I don't think most of everything said so far is a good idea. :)

Monthly TPU emails about what projects people are working on -- good idea.

Get rid of the programming questions forum -- questionable idea, but worth reconsidering.

Maybe we should start with that/those, and if we want to be more elitist (I use it in the negative sense) we can try other "stigmitization" methods.

- taubz

Posted by CDR700 [send private reply] at November 21, 2002, 04:07:12 PM

Something that should be always considered with an open mind is reprogramming of the philosophy of features that are not very popular to make the website more sleek. Maybe this would apply to some parts of the system?

Posted by mop [send private reply] at November 21, 2002, 06:08:05 PM

opinions of people shouldn't be forced onto others, people submit their work and their usefulness and activity is valued individualy from there.

If people were "stigmatized" that would take all the point out of this.

Posted by gian [send private reply] at November 22, 2002, 04:13:03 AM

We really need a way of having people showcase their projects here. Perhaps a scaled down sourceforge type deal for TPU would encourage people to actually share their projects with people and not just toil away and acheive nothing.
We could also have a list of everyone who's project is listed as "Planning" in type 24 font on the front page with "point and laugh" next to it.

"It could also be effective to just set up mechanisms to let everyone know what everyone else is working on and maintain an atmosphere of excitement"
I agree more with this one than the one about ratings or anything. I think that comments and criticisms are more useful than any sort of arbitrary rating system.

Posted by regretfuldaydreamer [send private reply] at November 22, 2002, 10:54:52 AM

I never put up planning pages. Any of my planning is done on paper and never htmlified. I think the showcase section is really good. To avoid people wasting time on it, allow no fancy formatting, have all pages follow the standard TPU layout and restrict their length to xthousand words.

Posted by taubz [send private reply] at November 22, 2002, 01:59:45 PM

Ask people to write up blurbs about their project. We send them out in a new TPJ and archive them here.

- taubz

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