RhymeZone Newsletter, Issue 3: February 4, 2001
IN THIS LETTER:
Writing a poem for your loved ones on Valentine's Day is a time-honored tradition, and a great idea: A poem is a cheaper and more creative gift than a box of chocolates, and it doesn't promote tooth decay. But reading *other* people's sappy love poetry might not be your idea of a good time. So instead of offering a collection of Valentine's poems on our site this year, we have decided to make a mockery of the whole tradition. My friend and I have created a new site for RhymeZone that asks people to compose what we call "Valentine Slams": rhymed couplets that express romantic sentiments in the first line followed by a bitterly mean resolution in the second line.
A good Valentine Slam is literally semi-romantic -- the first line is amorous, the second line heartbreaking or just mean. A few examples from recent submissions:
Your lips enchanting, eyes sublime
There are already 150 submissions like this from your fellow users. On the Valentine Slam site you can read all of them and submit your own. More interestingly, you can vote on which of two submissions chosen randomly by the system you prefer -- a computerized poetry slam of sorts. We've developed algorithms for gathering and interpreting this voting data, constantly reranking the poems based on all the votes received. (No dimpled chads here!)
Your voting data will help determine the winner of a contest to be held on Valentine's Day. (You have until FEBRUARY 11 -- a week from now -- to submit an entry, so that all entries get enough exposure to the voting process before judgment day!) Check out the site to view the magnets you'll get if you're one of the winners, and check back on Valentine's Day to see the winning entries!
Want to build your vocabulary? Here's an experimental new site on RhymeZone which I hope to develop over time into a practical learning tool. It's a platform for taking adaptive, automatically generated multiple choice tests generated from databases such as dictionaries.
What does that mean? Well, try it out by clicking on the "verbs" test. The system will present you with a definition and 4 choices for verbs, one of which matches the definition. You can plow through a few dozen questions or jump between categories -- to nouns or adjectives, for example -- at your leisure.
All the while the system will remember your score for each category. More importantly, it will learn how to make the questions for each category more challenging based on your answers and the answers of your fellow users. In particular, the system anonymously records your choices to learn how to select the best distractors, or wrong answers, for each question in future versions of the system.
You can also study state capitals, greek gods and goddesses, French verb infinitives, and periodic table symbols in this manner, with many more data packs on the way. Got an idea for a quiz subject you'd like to study for? Send it here!
While this has nothing to do with words and rhyming per se, we thought you might enjoy a creative puzzle game to play during study breaks or bouts of writer's block. Boxcar Blockade is a powerfully addictive twist on a popular board game, Railroad Rush Hour, in which you have to clear the way for a red boxcar to leave a railyard by sliding various other cars vertically and horizontally. As you play, the game counts your each and every move, daring you to match the shortest possible path, which it knows in advance. At any time you can cheat by asking it to show you this path.
What makes this game really cool are the hundreds of boards that have been designed by machine to torment you. The beginner's levels can typically be solved in under 15 moves, but the computer-generated levels under the "vicious" category require as many as 100. Remember, if you find them hard, don't blame us -- blame our computers, which generated them and offer their apologies.
Thanks to everyone who has submitted documents to RhymeZone's new User Submissions feature. I apologize for the time it takes before your submissions appear on the site and for occasional errors in the submission process; we do have to look over the entries before they're posted.
A couple people have asked about viewing the letter grades that users can assign to submissions they read (and for that matter to any document posted on RhymeZone). If you've submitted a poem that appears on the site, you can see the average letter grade you've received from readers just beneath your submission. And you can now view a grade chart by clicking on the number of graders that appears next to the average grade. For example, this author...
...has received many times more A's and A+'s than anything else. Great work!Happy Valentine's Day!
- Your friends at RhymeZone (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Click to go back to RhymeZone or go to the help page.)