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Topic #1037: Pondering puzzles on the front page
By Valerie Mates (valerie)

#1: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Mar 17, 2021

[From a Facebook thread.]

I was wondering how long we will have the "twenty restored puzzles from the database crash" section on the home page, so I plugged the numbers in to a calculator. At one puzzle a day, it will take 7.7 years. Wow.


I was looking at that because I was wondering why restored puzzles never show up in the Featured Puzzles section of the site, so I wondered if there was some detail in the database that was preventing them from being selected. But I checked and they can indeed be listed; they just don't tend to be chosen.

That surprised me, because 10% of the puzzles on the site are puzzles that were restored from the database crash, so there are plenty of restored puzzles that could be chosen. But I think the restored puzzles have a few strikes against them: They tend not to have descriptions and solvability ratings, and people tend to rate them lower. But eventually the system should start selecting them to be shown there. Probably it's already happened and I didn't notice.

In clearer language: Basically I was wondering why puzzles that were restored from the crash aren't picked to be featured at the top of the home page. It turns out that they can indeed be picked. But the restored puzzles tend to have lower ratings, so my theory is that they don't get picked as often because of that.


While I was looking at it, I was curious how many puzzles are in the pool of puzzles that have good enough quality ratings and other stats so that they *could* be picked for each of the categories on the front page. So I did a search in the database. Here's how many are currently in each pool:

Beginner: 5,771
Easy: 10,770
Intermediate: 3,571
Hard: 925
Brain-Busting: 51

I thought that was interesting.
#2: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Mar 17, 2021
Valerie, I don't remember ever seeing any of my restored puzzles (about 285) on the featured puzzle page.

How are featured puzzles chosen? Is it random within each of the difficulty ratings or does something else like quality or number of raters or solvers go into it?

Since most of my puzzles are smaller and easier, they probably fit into the first two categories. So a Mootpoint puzzle should show up at a rate of about 1.7%. At 4 beginner and easy puzzles each day, I think I should see one of my restored puzzles on the list every 14 days.
#3: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Mar 18, 2021
Brian - The code that selects the day's featured puzzles runs five times, once for each difficulty level. The criteria are:

* Beginner: Difficulty rating up to 6, minimum quality rating 2.9, rated by at least 15 people.
* Easy: Difficulty rating from 6 to 10, minimum quality rating 3.7, rated by at least 15 people.
* Intermediate: Difficulty rating from 10 to 13, minimum quality rating 4.0, rated by at least 15 people.
* Hard: Difficulty rating from 13 to 16, minimum quality rating 4.0, rated by at least 10 people.
* Brain-Busting: Difficulty rating from 16 to 20, minimum quality rating 4.0, rated by at least 5 people.

For all categories, in order to be selected, puzzles also have to have only one solution and be solvable by either color and line logic, moderate lookahead, or deep lookahead. That is, the code doesn't select puzzles that have a trivial solution or require guessing. It also doesn't choose puzzles where nobody has rated the solvability and uniqueness. The ratings for solvability and a unique solution can be the consensus of the people solving the puzzle; it doesn't need to be set by an administrator, but there needs to be at least something entered there - it can't be blank.

For each of the five difficulty levels, the system makes a list of all of the puzzles that match the criteria for that level, and then it selects two of them at random.

Yesterday when I was wondering why restored puzzles don't seem to be selected, I ran the selection code but limited it to only choosing from the ID numbers of the restored puzzles. And it did select puzzles that had been restored. So that code *can* select restored puzzles; it just doesn't seem to ever do that.

I am guessing that there aren't many restored puzzles with enough ratings and other settings that qualify them to be selected.

Just now I re-ran the code for selecting beginner puzzles and split it into restored puzzles vs. regular puzzles. There are only 24 restored puzzles that qualify for selection, while there are 5,748 non-restored puzzles that qualify. In other words, only 0.4% of the beginner puzzles that can be selected are restored puzzles. That would explain why they don't turn up very often!

So I think that over time more restored puzzles will start to qualify for selection, as they get more ratings and as their "Solvability" and "Logical" ratings get entered.

There are 638 puzzles by username "mootpoint" that qualify for selection as a beginner puzzle. Three of those were restored from the database crash. So that is about 0.5% of your selectable beginner puzzles. So if they aren't selected very often, it looks like it's because the restored puzzles don't have a lot of ratings entered yet.

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