?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Well, the revision continues, and the bug-hunt with it. It does annoy… - John C. Kirk — LiveJournal

May. 31st, 2003

12:11 am

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

Well, the revision continues, and the bug-hunt with it. It does annoy me a bit that I am finding this many mistakes in the lecture notes and the book. I recognise that people do screw up from time to time, but there is something of a double standard here. If I tell the lecturer/authors about an error, then they'll say "Oops, yes, you're right, sorry about that", and update the slides, or add an errata page for the book. If I make a mistake in the exam on Tuesday, then I'll lose marks - they won't give me the same opportunity to correct it. And I'm under a lot more time pressure in the exam, with no resources aside from my own memory, whereas they have much more flexibility.

It seems to me that a fairer approach would be to set up a credit scheme. E.g. for each mistake that I spot in the lecturer's notes (or in the exam itself, for that matter), I should be given a "freebie", i.e. I don't lose marks for making one mistake in my exam. In the case of the book, these mistakes would typically be corrected in the next printing, so they could say that for each one I spot, I get a discount off the price of the next printing/edition, up to the point where I get a free copy of the new book. Bruce Schneier has done something similar with his book "Applied Cryptography", saying that he'll send a free copy of the source code to anyone who reports an error (which you would normally need to pay for). And as rileen mentioned, Knuth will pay money to people who report bugs in his software, or errors in his book - details. Which would probably explain why these people are highly respected professionals, rather than hacks.

It just gets frustrating - I think "If they're so smart, and I'm so stupid, then how come I can rip holes in what they've written? Or if they're not so much smarter than me, then how come they've all been given PhDs, when I get rejected?" I know that's unfair - if I wanted to do a PhD in algorithms then I'd probably be accepted. But it does annoy me. And as I find more mistakes, the tone of my email shifts. E.g. I started out by saying "In figure 3.27, the task decomposition seems a bit odd." That section now begins "Frankly, figure 3.27 is a complete mess." I may edit that again before I send it, but I've already exercised some restraint by not adding "I can only assume that whoever wrote that was drunk at the time."

Gah. Still, anger can be a positive force, if it's channelled correctly. I'm now getting into the mindset of "Hah, I'll show them who the expert is round here. I'll write the best damn exam paper they've ever seen!" And maybe I can get a job as a proof-reader in the future...

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:rileen
Date:May 31st, 2003 01:19 pm (UTC)
(Link)
future...

:-) - LOL :-)

Well, if you write a 'perfect paper', you won't have to wait till July to know that you've secured the distinction.

Btw, as you well know, getting accepted for a Ph.D is much less about how smart you are than your 'official' qualifications & proposal .......
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:rileen
Date:June 2nd, 2003 07:26 am (UTC)

Trouble with 'freebies' ......

(Link)
Btw, if you want to have a 'mistake for mistake' scheme, how would you make it fair? Can't reward only those who detect/report the mistakes in notes, since the mistake puts all students at a disadvantage. You could award everyone, which is ok in an absolute grading system such as ours, but pointless in a relative one.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:johnckirk
Date:June 2nd, 2003 07:30 am (UTC)

Re: Trouble with 'freebies' ......

(Link)
Well, I don't see that as a problem. For instance, I've now emailed Raphael with a list of issues (about 10 minutes ago), so once he's looked through them he may well forward them on to the rest of the class (but let me know if you want an advance copy). So, in that way, everyone benefits from the correction, i.e. they're not at a disadvantage. However, the person who actually spotted the mistake should get extra credit, since they've done more work. Alternately, I could have kept quiet, and used the "inside knowledge" to leave everyone else at a disadvantage in the exam, so this provides an incentive to report the error, without losing out.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:rileen
Date:June 2nd, 2003 08:00 am (UTC)
(Link)
Well, to split hair further :-) ....... if you keep quiet, you **potentially** leave others at a disadvantage, whereas with the rewarding scheme, you're guaranteed to get the advantage of a pardoned mistake. Moreover, if more than one person spots a mistake, who reports it first depends on various factors like in what order do you read the material etc ........

Anyway, i guess this is now beyond the point of being fairly pointless :-) - we'd be better off revising for tomorrow. Good luck, not that you seem to need it ;-)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)