The Future of Power Query Challenges

Whether by email or in person at conferences, I've received a lot of requests for more Power Query Challenges.  You all seem to love testing your skills, and I really want to keep the Power Query Challenges going.  In order to do so, however, I need to evolve the format a bit to make it sustainable.

As awesome as the Power Query Challenges are, I was a bit unprepared for how much you all would love them, and how much time it would take out of my schedule.  And I'll be honest, that's why you haven't see any more so far - I just haven't had the cycles to do them.  Does that sound odd considering you're creating the solutions?

Why do the Power Query Challenges need to evolve?

The reality is that it takes me a good few hours to come up with the data set, come up with my own solution, then write up and publish both the challenge and solution posts that I do.  So that in its own is a bit of a time eater, but one that I'm prepared to do as sharing knowledge is part of what we do here at Excelguru.

The real killer though, was my original intent to read and review all of the submissions.  That part has already become unmanageable for me. Each of the first three Power Query Challenges has seen an increase in participation, with over 45 solutions provided by you all last time.  If you consider that it takes about 5 minutes just to open and review each submission, that's a good half day of work.  (And that's if they're easy to understand.)  Then try to group and write them up… I'm into this for probably another day.  I just can't put that much time into a non-chargeable service, as I need to earn funds to pay the awesome team that helps me do what I'm doing.

So the question I've been wrestling with is: how can I keep providing these challenges to you and still sustain the time I need to run my business?  So here's my thoughts…

What's the plan for new Power Query Challenges?

I still plan to curate and write up the challenge.  I still plan to write up my solution.  But rather than have you all email us with your solutions, I'm going to set up a post in the Excelguru Power Query forum with the original data.  If you want to play along, you can download the workbook there, and even upload your solution to that thread, with a short comment of how you approached the task - or what you think is special about your solution.

I see a number of benefits here:

  1. You can get your solution out there much more quickly than waiting for us to curate and post them.
  2. Solutions posted by others are available to you immediately upon submission (rather than waiting for use to share a link later).
  3. You can review and comment on the solutions posted by others (give kudos, ask questions, etc.).
  4. With a brief description, you can focus on the ones you feel are the most interesting to you.
  5. As it is a forum, it actually allows you a place to post challenges of your own, too.

Basically, it allows the challenge process to be a lot more "self-service", and isn't that what things are all about today?

I'm hoping that this might allow more interaction between the entire community around these challenges, without me becoming a road block to the process.  Do I anticipate fewer responses?  Yes, I do, only because people will read them before attempting it on their own, or may not share theirs if they see a similar solution.  I'm not sure what we can do about that, or if it's even an issue.

Your Thoughts?

I'm curious as to your thoughts on this approach. Will it work for you?  Do you have concerns about it?  Does it make it less attractive?  Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

5 thoughts on “The Future of Power Query Challenges

  1. Ken,
    I think the challenges are very worthwhile (and fun), and frankly its surprising that you were able to manage even three. That said, I'm happy to try your new format.
    One thing I would value though - how can we point out the most innovative or high-value solution from the group? That was one of the things I liked best about your curating the challenges.

    How about guest curators? (I almost volunteered last time).

  2. Ken, I love the challenge and look forward to more of them. You do whatever it is you need to do to make it as friction-less on your side as possible.

    I don't know much about your forums, but if there was a way to have a forum that allowed up-voting the community could upvote those that at least do the solution right and help you focus on the most innovative or unique solutions.

    Again, whatever is easiest for you. You need to make this enjoyable for yourself, not a grind.

    Looking forward to it!

  3. Genial Ken, espero que asi sea como comentas, hay muchas personas con una imaginacion increible para la resolucion de problemas. sls

  4. Hey guys,

    So guest curators is definitely an idea, and something that pretty much anyone can do when this goes into a forum environment. All it needs is someone to start a thread to review the entries. We could have one or multiple there.

    With regards to up-voting... I don't think we've got anything that currently exists, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be added to the board. There are polls, but they require a fixed set of questions, so that's not really ideal.

    For right now, I think we'll start this way and see how it evolves. 🙂

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