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Imagine an app that presents a number of questions and answers to a user. After each question the user can rate the answer (easy/medium/hard).

Based on the rating, the question is either:

  • Not shown again ("easy")
  • Shown again in a while ("medium")
  • Shown again soon ("hard")

I'm debating if the wording for asking the user for a rating should imply what that rating entails.

Example A, simple:

Rate this answer:

() Easy
() Not sure
() Hard

Example B, implying further action:

Rate this answer:

() Easy
() Repeat in a while
() Repeat soon

There is an additional UI component that shows the state of each question, so after a while the user could find out that "hard" questions are repeated more often.

I like the simplicity of version A, but indicating the result of the action (i.e. the rating) would also make sense. Are there any guidelines for those kinds of things?

Note: I've thought about combining the two ("Not sure, repeat in a while"), but that's too much text.

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Isn't it the question that the user is rating as easy or hard and not the answer? As in: "Was this an easy question?" –  JonW Feb 7 '13 at 8:58

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Assuming this app is some kind of flash-card learning tool, I'd be hesitant about making the connection explicit between the rating and seeing the question again. I think about it like this: the user just had a really hard question, and didn't enjoy it. Then, right away, you give them an opportunity to not see that question again. Even for a user who has deliberately chosen to learn this material, it's an opportunity to chicken out, right at the time they're most likely to. And you'd be giving them that opportunity to chicken out after every question. Maybe I'm pessimistic about the human spirit and drive to learn, but it seems like you're stacking the odds against your user.

I think an option that stacks the odds the other way would be good: something like this.

How did you find the question?

  • Too easy for me
  • Just right
  • Challenging

If "How did you find" is too idiomatic for your audience, "The question was..." would be a decent replacement. If you're still keen on the idea of showing the result of each option, I think again it's important to go for something that weights it towards the right answer:

What do you think of that question?

  • Too easy: don't ask this again.
  • I think I've got that one, but test me again later.
  • I need more practice.

Now chickening out on a hard question requires actively lying, and the "it was hard" option is more of an identification with how the user feels. In one of my apps I'd be quite happy with the switch from a 2nd person question to a 1st person answer, but if you don't like that, it's easy enough to keep the idea while rephrasing the answers.

What do you think of that question?

  • Too easy (I won't ask it again)
  • Just right (but I'll test you again later)
  • Challenging (I'll give you an opportunity to practice soon)

And as a final note, I'll just plant the idea that maybe you could avoid the question entirely, judging the difficulty by how long it takes the user to answer and how often they get it right.

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+1 for your final note. By rating each question I'm essentially answering twice the amount of questions, pretty annoying. Estimate the difficulty on time taken and whether they get it right or wrong. You won't be 100% accurate (I might go and grab a drink while the clock is ticking) but it'll be a better experience. –  mattdempseycom Feb 7 '13 at 16:05

Example A is rating and doesn't indicate result. So result should be explained somewhere in separate rules section, maybe in more details. Thus you'll have rating and reference to result descriptions.

Example B is not rating, its title is confusing, so it should be changed, e.g.:

Repeat this answer?

() Never
() In a while
() Soon

The choice between rating and actions depends on other application features.

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