I’ve grown up reading Tom Clancy and probably most of you have at least seen Red October, so this book caught my eye when browsing used books for a recent trip. It’s a fairly human look at what’s involved in sailing on a Trident missile submarine…
I ran into a simple error last week and saved it to convert to a question. It’s another one where if you saw the error, it’s an easy fix. Minus the error it challenges you to visualize and understand how thing work. Overall I spent about an hour on it over the weekend and reviewing it today before submitting. I put a lot of effort into thinking about solution paths people might think of and deciding if I wanted to encourage each path or stop it (by adding a clarifying detail). I struggled to come up with what felt like were good but wrong answers. I tried to picture a beginner approach (who I think will find this a hard question) and the experienced approach (I think, if I got my clues right, will figure out the answer by elimination then say aha, but maybe it will just be aha). I swear I agonized over every word! And probably still got some wrong. I may at some point try to get a few people to vet my questions before I post (certainly smart to do so), but for now I’m enjoying the challenge of trying to get it right just doing it alone.
I’m looking for patterns, so I’ll call this one a “Question From Error Message” pattern.
My process was to use the error to decide on the final right answer, then start writing a scenario that would cause the error to occur. Then I wrote a couple wrong answers and that made me go back and add some clarifications so that the final right answer was (I hope) the only alternative if you sorted through it all. I was short of good wrong answers so I added some that would seem reasonable if you were new or desperate. Then back again,thinking what would I ask, what would I think? I found some gaps, but it’s hard to get them all.
It will probably be a week or two before it’s published, I’ll post a note here when it goes live.