Do YOU want us to continue with the Ruby Challenge for Newbies?

by on August 9, 2010

Do YOU want us to continue with the Ruby Challenge for Newbies?

RubyLearning has been conducting the monthly Ruby Programming Challenge for Newbies for over a year now and so far 11 challenges have been completed. The 12th Challenge is in progress. All this was possible due to the extensive support we got from Rubyists across the world.

However today, probably due to lack of time or other commitments, not many experienced Rubyists are willing to set a Ruby challenge for the newbies? So, what do we do with the newer challenges? Do we dis-continue with the challenges? Do we change it from monthly to as an when? What are your suggestions?

Newbies, do you find the challenge interesting and useful – what are your thoughts?

In the meantime, are you interested in setting a Ruby challenge for the newbies? If so, do email me at satishtalim [at] gmail.com.

Do post your thoughts and suggestions. I am hopeful that we would be able to continue with the challenges.

Update

11th Aug. Based on the feedback received, I have decided to continue with the Ruby Challenges. However, these challenges may not be monthly but as and when. It’s now up to the Ruby community to help me out with setting the challenges. Let’s do it!

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Posted by Satish Talim

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Uplawski August 9, 2010 at 11:25 am

Not remembering to have ever participated in the challenges or even in the creation of new challenges, I believe, that there are enough challenges around for everybody to engage into.

Having, furthermore, not found much enthusiasm to help RubyLearning.org expanding beyond the limits of the core-language course, I deem a frugal link to http://www.codegolf.com and comparable sites a worthy replacement.

As far as my opinions are concerned, I am repeating myself. I would though consider any input valuable, which helps to understand the new programmers’ attitude towards the challenges.

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Sid August 9, 2010 at 11:48 am

Not having participated in any of these challenges I wouldn’t be able to say much but I would be extremely delighted if there could be some sort of mentoring program in place of or along with the challenge which would allow newbies or new adopters to work with experienced developers, purely to come together and build something fun, even some sort of online collaboration program would be cool. As someone fairly new to the Ruby/Rails community I’ve been eager to work with experienced developers and I guess there would be others who feel the same way.

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Srikanth P S August 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm

We should definitely continue it.

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Gautam Rege August 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I have always enjoyed RPCFN – keep this going. I’ll try to help out some more with submitting challenges. (I must admit, I have been a little less involved)

Keep this effort going!
- Gautam

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Dmytrii Nagirniak August 9, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I expressed what I think in a separate blog post believing the challenge should live on but in another format. (The comment box was too small for that). Let’s do community real-world application development challenge!

http://dnagir.blogspot.com/2010/08/ruby-challenge-for-newbies-reborn.html

Cheers.

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Tim Inman August 9, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Please don’t stop. I wanted to participate in the last one, but didn’t find the time. I’d still love the chance to get involved in the next one.

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WC August 9, 2010 at 4:23 pm

As a professional in another language who is learning Ruby, I found the Game Of Life challenge to be an excellent opportunity to learn some Ruby and get feedback on how I could have done things better, as well as see how others did it and their recommendations. And looking back at previous challenges has been very nice, too.

If there were another challenge that I was interested in, I’d probably enter another fun entry. I would love to see weekly challenges, but if you’re having trouble getting mentors for montly ones, I can see that wouldn’t be possible. Sadly, I don’t have the knowledge to run one myself, yet.

I just checked out CodeGolf, and I don’t think it’s a replacement for this. The only emphasis there is keystrokes. Here, the emphasis is on writing better code.

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Rohit Sasikumar August 9, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Definitely. Do continue with it. I must say having some experience with ruby, the challenges weren’t a cakewalk for me. So this is more of a Ruby Challenge than Ruby newbie challenge. But lets make it once in a month kind of thing.

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Michael August 9, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Given the nature and scope of the last few challenges, I think these challenges may be better named “journeymen to masters” challenges.

Aside from the nature of the challenges themselves, I don’t feel I’m a newbie proper any more and so don’t participate on those grounds alone. As for setting a challenge, I would be interested, but am unaware of how you source the contributors, so perhaps expand upon that on the website somewhere so that potential judges can quickly find out more.

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Benoit Daloze August 9, 2010 at 9:12 pm

> We should definitely continue it.
Totally agreed.

These challenges have all been interesting, for everyone.
I believe it is a great way to learn and practice.

So it must go on !
- B.D.

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jerry anning August 10, 2010 at 5:51 am

Hi, Satish. I like the idea of the challenges. I think they are a good way to learn. I know, for instance, that I learned a lot when I wrote my first version of Life in the pre-Ruby days. If you can get some mentors interested, I think newbies could greatly benefit from pair programming with a mentor, possibly via IM or IRC, to improve their initial attempts after they post them.

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Steve August 10, 2010 at 7:07 am

I really looked forward to working on the last challenge, Game of Life. Unfortunately, I was busy with another Ruby project and could not work on it. I love for the challenges to continue even if it’s no longer monthly.

Thanks for setting up the challenges. Keep them coming.

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Sebastian Rabuini August 10, 2010 at 10:24 am

Hi Satish,

I really like the challenge. But… I’m amateur and programming is an art for me. So, some days I can write code, and another days I can’t write any line… I think that I’m not the proper people, but I find the challenge interesting and useful.

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Pratik Joshi August 10, 2010 at 10:36 am

I can see from the comments so far, that newbies would definitely like the Ruby Challenges to continue. I had heard that Ruby has a strong and open community. Where are these experts? I don’t see any comments from them? Are they willing to spare some time and set some more Ruby challenges for us? Come on guys!

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Cary Swoveland August 10, 2010 at 10:38 am

I’ve really enjoyed the challenges and have learned a lot, by both working on them and studying the solutions proposed by others.  In view of the large number of submissions to most of the challenges–the last two especially–and the the many well-crafted and innovative solutions, it’s clear that insufficient demand is not a problem.

Satish has made it clear that the problem is finding enough volunteers to conduct the challenges. That’s understandable, as it must take a great deal of time.  At the same time, I think there are various changes that can be made to help alleviate that difficulty.  The most important change, I would argue, is to separate the tasks of setting the challenges and reviewing/commenting on the solutions that are entered.

Is there any reason the person setting the challenge should also be the one who critiques the proposed solutions? I can’t think of one.  Separating these tasks would increase the pool of challenge-setters in two ways.  Firstly, experienced Rubyists would be more inclined to volunteer, since it would be less time-consuming.  Also, some candidates might be happy to set a challenge, but are loathe to criticise others’ work.  Secondly, it would permit some of the less-experienced Rubyists to set challenges (with a little help from a mentor).  Surely, many among us could set a good challenge, but are not qualified to critique submissions.  Naturally, I am assuming sufficient qualified volunteers could be found to review submissions.

I think it would also be helpful if there were a forum that would allow anyone to propose a challenge, even if they didn’t have the time, competence or inclination to set it themselves.  In doing so, it would be helpful to set out arguments for why the proposed challenge would provide a worthwhile learning experience, taking into account the amount of time required by entrants to prepare a solution.  One might also use such a forum to request that someone devise a challenge that targets specific Ruby programming elements (e.g. file i/o, inheritance, regular expressions).

Lastly, though It may be a tangential issue, I think consideration should be given to changing the name of the challenge to simply “Ruby Programming Challenge”–that is, dropping “for Newbies”.  I don’t think that would discourage newbies from participating, or for that matter, even significantly decrease their chances of winning.  The advantage is that it would encourage more Ruby veterans to offer solutions, especially those with a competitive streak, who have no interest in the “Just for Fun” category.  By displaying insightful solutions that exhibit solid programming practices, newbies and non-nubies alike would have much to gain.  Lastly, we certainly don’t want our fellow Challenge participants to withdraw from future challenges merely because they no longer regard themselves as newbies.
  

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Stephan Goldenberg August 10, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Not only continue, expand it. :) Guess I need a noob section. I was looking at some of the challenges and found none to be solvable for me, sometimes I didn’t even got the point / the problem.

But that’s just me. So, thanks for your hard work and don’t let it die.

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Jeff Savin August 10, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Hi Satish,

I had great fun with these challenges when I had the time to offer up some help judging them. Funny thing was, I considered a good number of the entrants to not be Newbies at all. Indeed, I was “Newbier” and learned some interesting tricks from some of the entrants.

I think the challenges offer a great and fun way to learn for all involved. Truth is, no matter how experienced we are, there’s always something more to learn.

I believe this challenge should continue. I think the “Newbie” moniker should be dropped. And I will try and dig a bit deeper into my empty time reservoir (which is quite shallow at the moment) and see if I can come up with a challenge to offer myself.

Thanks for all you’ve done Satish, keep up the great work.

P.S. Perhaps running these every two months would help with everyone’s time factors?

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Robison Santos August 11, 2010 at 5:44 am

I passed the last few months unable to participate of the Ruby Challenges due my work, but I looked at every one that was launched on the site…and for some I got the solution only when they were already closed.

Anyway, I think the idea of create a challenge to influence new Rubyist to work hard to learn how to develop things in Ruby is very good, but in some challenges I noticed the proposal was not for newbies and the task was actually hard for newcomers. And the number of participants had shown what I’m talking about.

In summary, I think you should continue, but with challenges made for newbies, showing that with just a little from the language you can make things amazingly simple. Because if you put something harder than a newbie can even understand how to start, and for that he can do a lot of research they will not participate and only that ones who already knows enough from the language will try.

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Michael Uplawski August 11, 2010 at 11:17 am

Pratik Joshi has expressed once again, what I have been wondering about, since the impact of Satish’s RubyLearning endeavor has become evident.

Does anybody care? Do we engage in yet another web-community that does not have any significance to ‘real-world’ software production?
This is still connected to the challenges-topic. I remember to have uttered and to have received responses (sometimes unrelated) that enunciated strange opinions on ruby-programming, opposition to established procedures or (even stranger) a variance in the reasoning, when we try to explain the oldest known facts…

Challenges, when offered to the masses, are probably meant to produce a rich variety of solutions, but we should not wait for natural evolution to prove one great and the other one less great.

We have mentor-opinions, but we are lacking expert-opinions!
I am repeating myself a lot these days (yesterday was the first time, that German TV talked about the impeding petrol-crises). I hope to be selling old hats, soon.

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Santosh Wadghule August 11, 2010 at 12:14 pm

I just started to learn Ruby. So we should definitely continue it. It will help to boost Ruby knowledge more.

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Gokula Murthy August 11, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Hope this will be helpful for anyone, not only newbies in Ruby. Please continue with this and much appreciated for your effort. Thanks to all.

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Himansu Desai August 11, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Agree with Cary Swoveland, Jeff Savin i.e. Definitely continue the challenge while dropping the “newbie” from the name. Also, since so many people (not just newbies) find this useful, why worry about the lack of participation from so called industry experts? This forum is about continuous learning and trying to expand the Ruby community – which is plenty.

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John Prince August 12, 2010 at 1:34 am

Yes, continue.

1. Drop the *Newbie* part in the name, since even an expert can gain perspective doing these challenges. Might encourage more involvement.

2. Focus on real problems and applications. I’m thinking that projects could come from something like Ruby Bounties (http://wiki.github.com/rdp/ruby_bounties/ruby-bounties) where people can simply suggest projects or parts of code that they’d like to be able to improve. [Ruby Bounties seems to have more challenging projects, but thats the idea]

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Dmytrii Nagirniak August 12, 2010 at 8:00 am

John,

I agree with, the Challenge should be closer to real world.
I believe the format of the challenge I described below would be very interesting.

http://blog.approache.com/2010/08/ruby-challenge-for-newbies-reborn.html

In two words: challenge developing a real product within a team.

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Joseph Wilk August 12, 2010 at 7:30 am

I would love to get involved with setting a problem. I’m happy to do any month including October and onwards.

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Satish Talim August 12, 2010 at 7:31 am

Thanks Joseph. I have written to you separately. Oct. 2010 would be fine.

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cga August 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Hi,

even if I’m late, even if I’m still sooooo basic with ruby and, of course, even if a decision has been taken on the subject…

…omm.. yes:

thanks for keeping it up!

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