Archive for August, 2013

Preliminary Results of Typeracer’s “Typo Analysis” Project

Posted on August 28, 2013. Filed under: TypeRacer News |

Hi everybody,

As I’ve written before, part of our vision is that Typeracer be more than just a game; we hope to make it an effective and fun tool for improving your typing speed. This is one of the main ideas that inspired Typeracer founder Alex Epshteyn, who decided to create Typeracer because he thought he typed too slowly!

We are confident that just playing Typeracer will help you speed up your typing while having fun. But, just saying “play Typeracer more” is not a satisfying answer for some people who are serious about improving their typing speed, and of course that’s not the perfect answer

Playing Typeracer should help most people type faster--hopefully as much as Canadian user "bblaise", whose improvement is shown here. But, we hope we can do more than merely provide a place for people to practice.

Playing Typeracer should help most people type faster–hopefully as much as American user “bblaise”, whose improvement is shown here. But, we hope we can do more than merely provide a place for people to practice.

.

So, we are currently working on developing the best typing tutorial available on the internet. That’s the goal, at least. One of our first steps, aside from talking to some of the best typists in the world, is to try to understand what slows people down. One of the biggest problems for most people, of course, is that they make typos. I am determined to figure out why. In order to answer this question, I first need to know what mistakes people are making.

So, I did some research. Dozens of Typeracer users participated in my experiment, in which they basically did some typing without fixing their typos, and sent me the results. I’m a bit slow, and haven’t finished yet, but here are some of the initial conclusions/results.

1) About 15-25% of all mistakes are on short words (3 characters or less). Words like “the” and “of” and “is” are words we’ve typed a million times before, but we still make a lot of mistakes on them. This is probably a result of people trying to type faster than they can actually handle. Also, for the fastest typists (approximately 90wpm and above), mistakes on short words made up a larger percentage of their total errors (25%, instead of 16% and 17% for the other two groups).

2) About 10% of mistakes occur on long words (8 or more characters.) Of course, long words are less frequent, so we might expect fewer mistakes here, but I still thought this was a bit surprising.

3) About 15-30% of typos are omissions of a single letter, such as typing “mjor” instead of “major”. Typists in my middle speed group (approximately 70-90wpm) made the most mistakes here (30%).

4) Nobody had a big problem with punctuation or capitalization. Each of these problems accounted for just 2-5% of typos for all users.

5) About 10% of the mistyped words are existing English words. For example, some people typed “to” instead of “too”, or “this” instead of “his”, or “build” instead of “built”. This seemed surprisingly high to me, and it suggests that people’s mistakes are sometimes more mental than mechanical.

We've crunched a lot of numbers to understand the kinds of typing mistakes people make--and we're still not finished!

We’ve crunched a lot of numbers to understand the kinds of typing mistakes people make–and we’re still not finished!

6) Slower typists are much more likely to accidentally hit a neighboring key. For example, instead of typing “civilization”, one typist typed “cibilization”. For my slowest group (around 40-60wpm), 21% of their errors were of this kind. For the medium group, this number was 9%, and for the fastest group, it was only 5%. Not surprisingly, I suppose, these slower typists have more mechanical problems, and the fastest typists almost never have these problems.

7) The biggest mistake for my fastest typist group (by far) was adding extra letters to an otherwise correctly-typed word. I participated in the experiment myself, and typed “shasll” instead of “shall”, and “arazor” instead of “razor”. For my fastest typists, 46% of their mistakes were of this kind! Also, I think I know where these extra letters came from: 63% of the time, the added letter was a letter that also appeared elsewhere in the word (most common), or in the next word (also very common). For example, instead of “through”, one user typed “throught”, so that letter “t” got typed twice.  Or, instead of typing “spin and”, one user typed “spind”, so the “d” from the second word got typed twice. It was not common for typists (especially the fast ones) to incorrectly add a totally random letter.

8) Slower typists are more likely to have multiple, consecutive errors. Ten percent of the errors of my slowest typists occurred in a series of incorrect words, but for my fastest typists the number was half. Fast typists seem to catch their mistakes more quickly, not letting themselves get caught up in “bad momentum”.

9) Fast typists are much more likely to make mistakes on rarer words (this was kind of subjective, but I used my best judgment.) My medium and slower typists made only 1% of their mistakes on these less commonly-used words like “etiology” and “mozzarella”, but 7% of the mistakes made by the fastest typists were made on these words. This provides support for what I have always suspected, which is that one reason fast typists are fast is because they have familiarized themselves with the common letter combinations and words–maybe just by typing a lot. So, when they type a word they might have never typed before, they have more problems and can’t keep up their super speed.

10) Fast typists are most likely to have problems with single letter reversals. For example, they might type “teh” instead of “the”, or “refelctions” instead of “reflections”. This kind of mistake accounted for 34% of the mistakes made by my fastest typists, but for the other typists, it was just above 20%.

These are just some of my tentative conclusions. I need to do more analysis, and probably collect more data (if I have time). If there are any statistics buffs out there, or anybody wants to see my data, let me know.

Our next step is to try and see how this insight can translate into practical suggestions that can be implemented, in order to help people type faster.

Happy racing!

David Pritts (valikor)
Typeracer Administrator

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Typeracer International Ready for Next Step–Seeking Typist Volunteers from Around the World!

Posted on August 17, 2013. Filed under: TypeRacer News, Universes |

Not a good way to translate, but it was the best we could do at the time.

Not a good way to translate, but it was the best we could do at the time.

As some of you may remember, Typeracer International was first created in 2009. At the time, we used Google Translate to automatically translate the English texts into all the other languages on Typeracer. We’ve made an effort to improve these, and people have offered to assist, but we didn’t have enough resources to coordinate this kind of large-scale project while also keeping up with fixing bugs, developing new features, staying compatible with new browsers, etc.

German polyglot Emil Krebs spoke 68 languages, but we at Typeracer do not. So, we need your help!

German polyglot Emil Krebs spoke 68 languages, but we at Typeracer do not. So, we need your help!

We hope that in the future, Typeracer can use real content from all of these countries and languages, and make Typeracer truly international!

We hope that in the future, Typeracer can use real content from all of these countries and languages, making Typeracer truly international and showcasing the beauty of our world community–in the one way we at Typeracer can!

The good news, though, is that we are now ready to take on this project! Of course, the Typeracer team does not speak 50 languages, so we can’t do it alone! As I mentioned last week, we will be looking for volunteers to oversee the collection of texts in other languages, and this project is officially launching now!

We hope to create small teams to collect texts in each language. Each team-member will contribute his or her favorite texts, as well as review the texts suggested by other users in the same language; this is to assure quality, meaning that the texts should be fun, interesting, and appropriate (no profanity, no offensive content, and nothing that is unsuitable for young users).

After all the members of a language team have approved all the texts (and removed any that they can’t agree on), the team leader (to be selected by the Typeracer team) will submit them to the Typeracer team for use on the site.

If you are interested joining the team to improve Typeracer in your language, please contact me at david@typeracer.com, and I will add your name to the list and provide more instructions. In the meantime, start collecting your favorite quotes! (Of course, if you don’t have time to review texts, etc., but still want to submit your favorite quotes, you can email them to me, and I will send them to the relevant language team, once it has been created!)

Thanks, and I look forward to racing some of you in other languages soon!

David Pritts (valikor)
Typeracer Administrator

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TypeRacer turns 5 years old and reaches 1 million users!

Posted on August 8, 2013. Filed under: Guest Column, TypeRacer News |

Today makes exactly 5 years since TypeRacer began accepting signups for user accounts, and coincidentally, we’ve just reached the milestone of 1 million accounts created! I want to thank everyone for signing up and racing over the years: you guys have literally changed my life!

To celebrate our 5 years on the web, for one day only the next week, we’re dropping the price of premium accounts to only 5 dollars! You have two options if you subscribe today: $5 for one year ($12/year thereafter, if you choose to keep the subscription), or $25 for the next 5 years!  (If you have already subscribed and would like to lock in the next 5 years for $25, please email us, and we’ll gladly change your subscription.) Please subscribe and help us celebrate our birthday by racing with your personalized avatar:

Cool avatars

Some of the avatars that are available to premium members

(Update: In response to one of the comments, I’d like to mention that you can always tell Paypal not to renew your subscription automatically. Just log into your Paypal account, go to Profile > My money > My preapproved payments, then click on your TypeRacer subscription, then click “Suspend” or “Cancel.”)

Update 2: Due to the high demand, we’ve decided to keep this offer open for a full week (until Thursday, August 15th). Thanks to everyone who subscribed!

I’d like to also personally thank David Pritts, who signed up (as valikor) as soon as TypeRacer started accepting signups, has completed over 23 thousand races in the last 5 years, and has recently joined me as the second member of the TypeRacer staff!  I asked David to write about his experience on TypeRacer as a 5-year veteran, and about some of the future improvements we have planned. David, thank you, and happy anniversary!

– Alex

Happy Birthday Typeracer:  A personal account of Typeracer’s past, and a look at its future

by David Pritts

Like many others in my generation—when personal computers began to become common—I first started typing in elementary school, with games like “Mario Teaches Typing”, and later using typing tutors like Mavis Beacon. Looking back, even 15-20 years later, I can still remember playing the Mavis Beacon “car game”, where fat, juicy mosquitoes would splatter on my windshield with each typo, at times leading to my horrific death. Luckily, computer games at this time had very bad graphics, so I was spared the bloodshed after each crash.

Does anyone remember this typing game?

Does anyone remember this typing game?

By middle school—probably when I was around 12-years-old—I typed about 80wpm; at the time, I was quite proud of this, because I was just surpassing my father, who had been using computers for years. By high school, I typed maybe 115 wpm, and would occasionally go to one of our school’s computer labs during my free periods and play on the software that was used for typing classes. There was, I think, something refreshing and relaxing about the whole practice; after all, computers, unlike people, are predictable. The keys that you press always correspond to the letters that come up. It doesn’t require a lot of thinking. You just go. By the end of high school, I would say that typing had become one of my hobbies, albeit kind of a boring one. I had learned the Dvorak keyboard by this point, and could type “fluently” on two keyboard layouts (Dvorak and Qwerty), but there were no competitive typing games online, and no communities for typing enthusiasts. I considered launching such a website, actually, but this idea—like a thousand others—disappeared into the hungry abyss that is my mind.

typeracer_beta_logo

Old Typeracer logo (Holiday and Beta edition)

Fortunately, though, I was being a typical American college student one day, procrastinating with my schoolwork, when I stumbled across a new typing site called www.typeracer.com. The site was quite good, as it allowed users to race in real-time against users all over the world. All the data was stored in cookies, though, with no permanent records; there were no user accounts, and there was no way to communicate with other users. At the time, each user could occupy an unlimited number of positions on the leaderboard, so this “fastest typists” list was often dominated by the 2-3 fastest typists of the hour.

The old scoreboard system only worked well for a few people at a time.

The old scoreboard system only worked well for a few people at a time.

Or sometimes, if certain people wanted to boost their egos, they would find a time when nobody faster was logged on, and they would completely dominate the leaderboard. It was nice for some people who wanted an ego-boost.

At the time, I may have been a little overly enthusiastic.

At the time, I may have been a little overly enthusiastic.

The game was a lot of fun, but the site was still in beta, and needed a lot of work, as there were a lot of random bugs.

Typeracer's growing pains

The countdown timer exploded and teleported to the bottom of the screen. These were among Typeracer’s growing pains

Huh? Typeracer still needed a lot of work.

Huh? Two different scores? Typeracer still needed a lot of work.

Dangerous times. This was like the Wild Wild West phase of Typeracer history.

Dangerous times. This was like the Wild Wild West phase of Typeracer history.

Over time, though, Typeracer became more stable, and added more features. The scoreboard became more fair, only displaying each user’s highest score. The biggest day, however, was August 8th, 2008. This is when Typeracer introduced permanent user accounts, officially bringing it into post-beta.

A few old-time users will remember this day.

A few old-time users will remember this day.

Since then, we’ve seen massive expansion. The community has grown extensively, with typists all around the world registering. Many notable users from other typing competitions, including large-scale international competitions, have also made themselves present on Typeracer. Over these past five years, the changes have been enormous. Typeracer has improved stability, introduced score histories for all quotes, optimized the player matching algorithm, introduced global ranking, more skill levels, added an Instant Death accuracy mode, support for 51 languages, added premium accounts, the ability to export your race history, a school edition, the Pitstop, customized avatars, Typeracer scorecards, and much more.

I have lost to this guy countless times, but I did win once! Sorry, Sean, I am posting this screenshot!

I have lost to this guy countless times, but I did win once! Sorry, Sean, I am posting this screenshot!

During this time, I have personally improved my typing speed from around 120wpm to around 140wpm (it is becoming more and more difficult to get faster!) I completed 10,000, and then 20,000 races. I beat the world’s fastest typist one time (he beat me maybe 100-200 times, but somehow I doubt he took any screenshots). I also had the honor of racing against Typeracer legend Chimchimchim as he became the first person ever to complete 100,000 races on Typeracer!

The one and only Chimchimchim, completing his 100,000th race on Typeracer! It was good to be there!

The one and only Chimchimchim, completing his 100,000th race on Typeracer! It was good to be there!

In June 2013, I became Typeracer’s first employee. In just under 5 years, Typeracer grew into a game with 1,000,000 registered accounts (the latest number is 1,029,920)! There was too much work to do and not enough manpower to do it all, so it was time for Typeracer to expand. We have a lot of projects to work on. Typeracer supports 51 languages, but we are still relying on machine translations for most of these languages. Despite countless hours of work developing anti-cheating measures, people still have found ways to cheat on Typeracer. Although we have hundreds of texts, there are thousands of dedicated players who have performed a large number of races, so we’ve already outgrown this selection of texts. Moving forward, we will be working on all of these issues, in addition to continuing to develop new features. Let us know what you want!

Typeracer is going to be vastly improving its support for other languages.

Typeracer is going to be vastly improving its support for other languages.

The most important point, though, is that today is Typeracer’s birthday fifth birthday, marking five years since Typeracer left beta. We want to celebrate by offering a promotion (for today only), dropping the price for premium memberships from $12/year to just $5 for a year. We hope you will consider supporting us! In addition, we want to make today special by adding some new texts, and deleting a number of cheaters who have made Typeracer less fun. Lastly, we want to announce an exciting new project, which is long overdue: starting today, we will be actively working to transform Typeracer International into a more fun and useful venue for typing in 51 languages. We want to get rid of all the texts which have been translated by Google Translate, replacing them with new texts specific to each language. If you speak any other languages, and want to help put together a collection of texts in your language, please contact me at David AT Typeracer DOT com. The Typeracer crew looks forward to working with Typeracer’s one million users in order to make sure that Typeracer remains the best typing website on the internet! Thanks, everybody, for your support over the years, and let’s wish Typeracer a happy fifth birthday!

This balloon arrangement was put together a while back by Serbian Typeracer Zoran Markovic. I'm going to re-use it to celebrate Typeracer's 5th birthday. Happy Birthday Typeracer!

This balloon arrangement was put together a while back by Serbian Typeracer Zoran Markovic. I’m going to re-use it to celebrate Typeracer’s 5th birthday. Happy Birthday Typeracer!

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Old-time Typeracer User Wins $5000 at Cincinnati Typing Challenge!

Posted on August 1, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This past week, the final round of the Cincinnati Typing Challenge was held, with long-time Typeracer Megaracer Robert Price (Zapakh) winning the championship, and taking home $5000 USD. (The contest’s official website, and their Twitter have more details.) I have been racing against Robert for over five years; he created his Typeracer account on August 8th, 2008, five days after I created mine (and we did races before that, too). He has always been a formidable opponent!

Robert Price with his $5000 typing prize

Robert Price with his $5000 typing prize

In the first round of the contest, notable Typeracer user Sean Wrona (his Typeracer profile; his website) came in first place, typing 173wpm on a standard Qwerty keyboard (he dropped out later in the contest); Robert came in second. In the final round, typists were required to type on a new kind of mobile keyboard called the TREWGrip. They were given 5 days to practice. In this final round, and Robert came in first place–taking home a $5000 check!

Congratulations Robert!

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