Suggested Change for SC rules (2018)

Ongoing language-learning challenges, and team challenge logs (but not individual logs)
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iguanamon
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Re: Suggested Change for SC rules

Postby iguanamon » Mon Apr 09, 2018 2:53 pm

If I remember correctly, in the original challenge this was a bone of contention. Many members preferred to read online- blogs, magazine type articles, news sites, etc. and "how would these count?". This is what I, and I'm sure I'm not alone, do a lot of in my reading in Spanish and Portuguese instead of reading actual "books". Reading a hundred actual 300 page novels in the timeframe of the SC would be challenging even in one's native language.

The stats provided above by tiia and emk's observations, and as I remember Serpent backing up as well in her observation, seem to support that the lower number of pages is doable and provides the same noticeable boost in ability. I may be wrong here, but I think it would be a good idea to give people a realistic target to achieve rather than a "worthy" one that few would be able to complete. Perhaps a solution could be found in renaming "books" to "reading units" with each reading unit being equivalent to the 50 page definition. In this a way, a standard novel would be worth 6 reading units. 100 reading units would complete the challenge and be the equivalent of reading about 17 standard 300 page novels. This is still challenging for most people to do (especially in L2) and the evidence both empirical and observational seem to suggest that doing this would still give the participants a dramatic boost to their language abilities.

Web pages could be counted by defining a standard page to have x amount of words. These days, I'm sure a web page's words can be counted in some way by a computer.
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Re: Suggested Change for SC rules

Postby emk » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:17 pm

rdearman wrote:Did some quick calculations from the DB. It seems that of the 153 Participants last year, 82 of them read at least 100 pages (e.g. won the challenge) in at least one language,

Wait, I'm confused? Is this a typo? Or are you saying that 100 pages was enough to "win" the challenge?

rdearman wrote:This means a whopping 88% of people who took the challenge and posted at least 1 page in the results won. In my humble opinion if 88% of the people who take the challenge win, then it isn't very challenging. If we use word count 1.5 million words at 250 words per page = 6000 pages. We had 10 winners in that scenario and 5 winners if you go up to 10,000 pages. So more than 10% won at 1.5 million words.

I think that 5,000 pages or 1.25–1.75 million words is a pretty reasonable range for a challenge. The second challenge had an option to do twice that, if people wanted. But 5,000 pages seems to get a pretty significant benefit.

Once you push up to 2.5–3.5 million words, you're looking at a pretty substantial amount of reading even for (younger) native speakers. For L2 speakers in the A2/B1 range (the target of the original Super Challenge), it's pretty brutal. I'm totally OK with offering the original Super Challenge as a "double" option or something, but I think it's a very high baseline.

If you try to push for 5–7 million words (100 books × 350 pages/book), that's getting pretty intense even for native speakers.

I do agree that "50 pages = 1 book" is silly. But so was "100 pages = 1 book". I always counted by pages, and just aimed for 10,000 pages. (And I had a fixed conversion for BDs, based on the fact that most averaged about 150 words/page.)

rdearman wrote:CAVEATS:
* I'm using 250 words per page.

French novels are typically about 350 words per page. I actually did a bookshelf survey and counted a whole bunch. :-) I believe US novels tend to run about the same. I don't think the difference between 250 and 350 matters much, though.
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Re: Suggested Change for SC rules

Postby rdearman » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:30 pm

Sorry, yes a typo.

Still a significant portion of people did successfully complete the challenge. The number of "reading units" or "book" is a configurable option. Films are easier since they are normally standard at 90 minutes. But books have a much wider range. Because I was looking at the configuration, I wondered about the 50 pages = 1 book thing.
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Re: Suggested Change for SC rules

Postby NoManches » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:50 pm

rdearman wrote:
NoManches wrote:So I think the idea of allowing people to read the EQUIVALENT of 100 books and allowing people to watch the EQUIVALENT of 100 movies is a good idea.

Yes, but my point is. What is the definition of a book?
Women’s fiction usually runs from about 75,000 words up to about 120,000
Crime novels usually run a bit longer anything up to 130,000 words is pretty standard.
Fantasy novels can be long – up to 180,000 or even 200,000+.
Most memoirs are in the 70,000 to 100,000 word range
Popular non-fiction 70k to 120,000 words is about typical.
Young Adult fiction usually is in the 50k to 70,000 word range

If the lower range is 75k, then with 250 words per page then a "book" is 300 pages. We currently use 50 pages for a book.



Ahh okay. I kind of missed your point when I first read your post (I need a few cups of coffee before my brain functions properly).
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Re: Suggested Change for SC rules

Postby Serpent » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:34 pm

It should be noted that many of us signed up with at least one strong and one weak language (or language family :D), so that the percentage of "winners" is not that relevant. Someone's best score is not necessarily in their main target language.

Thanks to tiia for finding those posts :) I forgot that we had considered changing it to 50 books/100 movies or 10 actual books/100 movies :)

I definitely think that if we make any changes, the book and movie challenges should remain balanced. (well I normally can't read 50 pages in 90 min anyway, but it's still relatively balanced as of now)

Also, I know that many see the break between the challenges as an opportunity to do something different and prepare for the next challenge. So honestly, April is way too late for making any major changes. They should ideally be discussed before the previous challenge ends.
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Re: Suggested Change for SC rules

Postby MamaPata » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:30 pm

Serpent wrote:Also, I know that many see the break between the challenges as an opportunity to do something different and prepare for the next challenge. So honestly, April is way too late for making any major changes. They should ideally be discussed before the previous challenge ends.


This seems really sensible to me. I can definitely see the logic of both increasing the numbers and keeping it the same, so I'm fairly easy. But for me, it seems wise to do one more with the current system with the aim in mind of using this to work out how people want to continue. Then we can look at the results, knowing that we are going to use that to work out what will be best next time. (Also I think the point about language families is quite important and it would be worth considering how to take that into account).

I also got a little confused by the data descriptions. Given that I did two (one where I succeeded and one where I didn't), am I both part of the 88% that managed and the 12% that didn't? Or because I succeeded in one, does my failure in the other not get counted? Because given how people have talked about the SC, 88% seems quite high.
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Re: Suggested Change for SC rules

Postby Elenia » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:52 pm

Well, coming from a person who failed the challenge...

I quite like the idea of 'book units', but in all honestly I don't really care how many pages the 'unit' equals. Fifty pages seems ridiculously low, yes, but I know that I'm not signing up to the challenge so that I can say I've read one hundred books. I'm signing up as a motivation to read more, as a way to be able to track said reading. Like emk says, the end number of pages is what's important for me. 5000 is a pretty good end number for me personally: Goodreads shows me that in the past six years I've managed to read more than 5000 pages once. Otherwise, my amount has been capped at 3.5K words. That's all the books I read, including books in English. Granted, I start a lot more books than I finish in any given year and Goodreads only counts finished books for these stats, but that still says something about how much I achieve. I read fairly well in three and a half* languages, I am not a struggling A2/B1 reader, but this challenge is still a 'challenge' for me.

(Plus I see the 'challenge' as being a challenge to get learners going for native materials rather than something that should be difficult for most to achieve. We're all doing this for fun and because we want to, no call to go turning people off or making them feel they need to be more advanced before taking the plunge.)

*The half is German. I'm still not entirely sure how I can read in German, but I'm not complaining.
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Re: Suggested Change for SC rules

Postby sfuqua » Tue Apr 10, 2018 12:11 am

As long as the book units add up around 5000 pages, it seems to me that there shouldn't be a big problem.

The current super challenge numbers are near to some other big, round numbers.

1 million words reading is about 4000 pages with the old 250 words per page rule.
1 million seconds listening is 166.67 hours.

If I do my arithmetic is right.
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Re: Suggested Change for SC rules

Postby Serpent » Tue Apr 10, 2018 12:47 am

MamaPata wrote:(Also I think the point about language families is quite important and it would be worth considering how to take that into account).
Well, yes. A family can be weak or strong relative to other language families, but within the family there are also weak and strong languages. I think a lot of what rdearman deemed as "winning" was maintenance or reading for content, often in English or FIGS.

Naturally I think they're totally worth counting... I just doubt that everyone who's read 100 "books" has achieved their goals. Remember also that while the bot can't distinguish between regular, half and double challenges, people can still pick one of these and specify that in the registration thread.
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Re: Suggested Change for SC rules

Postby luke » Tue Apr 10, 2018 1:08 am

sfuqua wrote:1 million words reading is about 4000 pages with the old 250 words per page rule.
1 million seconds listening is .


1,000,000 mark is nice, round, challenging, achievable, and extensible.

Using "words" and "seconds" would eliminate some of the confusion of calling a number of pages a book when it's not, or saying something is not a book when it is. (The "reading unit" helps, but that still invites questions like, "what is a reading unit")?

Reading a million words, is a recognizable achievement. Listening to 1,000,000 seconds is also a feat.

The word/second approach would leave room for people doing double, triple, and greater challenges.

Forum members would have to decide if the competitive angle helps them. Personally, the achievement in and of itself is enough for me. Competition doesn't add anything to my motivation, but I do recall posts in which someone was inspired to push harder to keep their rank.

A non-terminating challenge would also be interesting. Just like posts accumulate over time, words or seconds could continue to accumulate. Language learning is often a non-terminating activity. ;)

Following this line of reasoning makes me think that a forum feature where one could track their "words" or "seconds" would gain interest. One could do that with the measuring sticks we can put in our signature or a post, but signatures have size limits.

If there were a "seconds" and "words" measurer, it would also help to include a "start date". In that way, people who like competition could agree on a time range and see who did the most "words" or "seconds" in that time range. Everybody wins :)
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