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Consult this section to see if you can find the answer to your question! If you have a question you would like to see added to this list, contact me about it!

KotH Creation

KotH Marking Alternate Answers Running a KotH Interface Questions Other Questions and Important Things

KotH Creation

Q: How do I make a new KotH?
A: Open the program, go to the File menu, and choose "New KotH". You must not be running or editing another KotH. If you are, you will be asked to close it before you can create a new KotH.

Q: How do I edit the properties of a KotH I have already created?
A: Open the program, go to the File menu, and choose "Open KotH" to bring the KotH into the program. Then, from the KotH menu, select "Edit Properties". You will be prompted for a password if necessary.

Q: What does it mean if a KotH is password protected?
A: If a KotH is password protected, only those who know the password will be able to open the KotH in the editor. This prevents people from changing KotHs maliciously, or from looking at the answers ahead of time. Please note that it does not prevent people from self-running the KotH, so feel free to password protect any KotH you will be distributing online. Also, please do not use any passwords that you use to protect other sensitive data (emails, forum passwords, bank accounts, etc). I don't want to hear any crying.

Q: On the first tab in the editor, what do those KotH Defaults mean?
A: Any question that is added to the KotH will automatically assume these default values. If you are adding a bunch of questions that have similar properties, set them up here before you create all the blank questions.

Q: How do I create/delete/change order of questions?
A: On the second tab in the editor (the Questions tab), click the Modify Questions button. Here you will be presented with a screen that lets you add a bunch of blank questions in bulk. You can also delete questions, change the order by highlighting a question and clicking the arrows, and even randomize the order of all questions in the KotH.

Q: Why would I want to randomize the order of questions?
A: Use the randomize feature to make a simple KotH double as a set of flashcards! Set up some easy questions, randomize them, then take the test. Re-take the test after randomizing the order again, and try to beat your best time! Those interested in learning Japanese (or those who want some practice) should consider running the sample Hiragana and Katakana KotHs in this manner. It should be noted that the questions will be renumbered to remain sequential after the randomization.

Q: What is the distinction between a bonus question and a normal question?
A: Not much, really. They are both full questions as far as the system is concerned, except bonus questions will always "tag along" with their associated normal question when question orders are changed. Also, if a normal question is deleted, all associated bonuses are also removed. You should only really use bonus questions when it is a continuation of a past question, and even then its only purpose is to let the participants know that this question is related to a previous question.

Q: What is the Introductory Text?
A: This is spouted off to each participant of the KotH when it starts being run. You should use this space to provide any special context or instructions to the user about the upcoming challenge.

Q: What does "Allow Infinite Answers" mean?
A: When this is selected, the user can enter as many answers as they can before time expires. However, it will still only accept "Number of Answers Required" correct answers. As an example, if your question was "Name 4 of the 7 deadly sins", if "infinite answers" was off, the program would accept only 4 answers (correct or not), and then would not let the user enter any more. If "infinite answers" was on, the user could type as many guesses as they like, but the program would only accept the first 4 correct answers it encounters. Typically this option is used if "Points to Deduct for Wrong Answers" is on as well.

Q: What does "Allow Chat" mean?
A: In a lobby-run KotH, sometimes people try to ruin the KotH by shouting what they believe to be the correct answer into the lobby. If you so choose, you can prevent any lobby-based chat from taking place while a question is being asked (the host can still post messages however). Once the question is done being asked, chat resumes as normal.

Q: What does "Allow Negative Scores" mean?
A: You may have "Points to Deduct for Wrong Answers" set to some value, but you don't want a participant to lose so many points that he actually earns a negative score for the question. If this is off, all question scores will be clamped to 0. If this is on, a participant can earn an overall negative score if he provides more incorrect answers than correct answers.

Q: How do I erase answers for a question?
A: Select the answer in the list, then press the delete key.

KotH Marking

Q: Can the bot award marks that are not integers?
A: No. Only integer values are accepted.

Q: How does the bot automark a response?
A: All self-run KotHs are automarked, and any lobby-run KotH questions that have the "auto-mark" property will initially be auto-marked as well. Given a particular answer, the bot will match up the user's response to the primary answer and its alternates. All punctuation and spacing are removed, and capitalization does not play a factor (even with "exact" on). If the answer is not specified as "exact", the program will also remove all instances of "the", "an", "a", and "of" from the answer (if exact is on, the bot will leave these articles in). If exact is off, the user's answer is allowed to deviate from the correct answer by one "error" every 5 characters. An error is defined as replacing a character, removing a character, inserting a character, or swapping two adjacent characters (for those computer nerds interested, I use the so-called Damerau-Levenshtein edit distance). If exact is on, the user cannot make any spelling mistakes.

Q: When should I mark an answer as exact?
A: If you are looking for the name of a product where one or two small changes makes a difference in correctness, then you should mark the answer as exact. For example, if you are looking for "Guitar Hero 2" as your answer, with exact off, "Guitar Hero" will be accepted (since it is counted as only one spelling mistake for missing the last character). If this is not what you want, then you need to mark exactness (your alternates here should be GH2, GHII, and Guitar Hero II as well). In this case, if someone misspells Guitar, the bot will mark it as incorrect (though, in a lobby-run KotH, it is easy for a host to adjust the marks if he is inclined). You should, of course, also mark an answer as exact when you are doing KotHs based on spelling or something similar, or KotHs involving numbers (though if an answer is a number under 5 digits, no spelling mistakes are allowed in either case).

Q: How are bonus points awarded?
A: Each question has a field called "number of answers required", which tells the program how many answers it is expecting the user to enter. If the user answers this number of correct answers, the program will award bonus marks as specified by the question. This feature is only available on auto-marked questions, of course.

Q: What does "all or nothing" mean?
A: Sometimes, you may want the user to enter a number of items from the list, but only if they get everything right do they get points. If they do not list all the items, they should get zero for that question. A question's "All or Nothing" field lets you do this. With this feature, you can make questions such as "Name 4 of the 7 deadly sins" worth 1 mark if they name 4, and 0 if they name 3 or fewer. Note that in questions with "all or nothing" turned on, the individual marks for each answer become meaningless.

Alternate Answers

Q: What is an "alternate answer"?
A: Each correct response to a question has a "primary answer" and a list of alternates. The primary answer is what will be displayed to each participant as what they should have entered, but the bot, when auto-marking, will also "secretly" accept any answer listed in the alternates (and appropriate misspellings of, if "exact" is off) and credit the participant with a correct answer. This list can be as long as necessary.

Q: How do I set alternate answers?
A: After entering an answer for a question in the KotH Editor, highlight the answer in the box and click the "Edit Alternates" button in the answer properties area. Type in your accepted alternate answers here, one per line.

Q: How should I use the "alternate answers" feature?
A: Poorly made KotHs will leave the user frustrated when the auto-marking does not accept what he believes is an accepted answer (note that this problem can be remedied in lobby-run KotHs, since the host can adjust marks after the question has been asked, but in self-run KotHs, the auto-mark has the last word). You should think about which answers should be accepted. If the answer is a person, be sure to list their last name only (if you want to accept it), as well as any nicknames you feel are appropriate. If there are any well-known synonyms or alternate names for an answer, list them here. Please note that you do NOT have to list slight spelling mistakes if you have "exact" turned off (for example, if the correct answer is "accommodate", you do not have to list "accomodate" and "acommodate" in the alternates, since these simple spelling mistakes will be handled by the bot). However, if you do choose to list these slight deviations as alternates, the program will still mark correctly.

Another good use of the alternates feature is if you want to provide the user with some extra information for each answer. If the question is "Who is the NHL's all-time leader in goals?", you may put the primary answer as "Wayne Gretzky (894 goals)". Clearly, this is not the answer you expect the user to type, but then in the alternates, you can list all accepted answers ("Wayne Gretzky", "Gretzky", and maybe "The Great One" if you so choose). Then, when the answer is given after the question has been asked, "Wayne Gretzky" is accepted, and the user gets to see the extra information that the primary answer provides. I recommend using the alternates in this manner often, whenever you have extra information that supplements the answer to a trivia question.

Q: Why couldn't I just input all accepted answers as separate answers?
A: Well, in theory, if the question only had one answer, you could. To continue my example above, if you enter "Wayne Gretzky", "Gretzky", and "The Great One" as three separate answers (each with 0 alternates), and then set "Number of Answers Required" to 1, the questions will be auto-marked exactly the same way. However, the user will be presented with those three answers at the end of the question in a "The correct answers were:" message, which may lead to some confusion (the user may think "why are there 3 correct answers here?"). Additionally, you will not be able to handle questions where the user is expected to answer multiple times in this way. Conceptually, it is best to think of separate answers as distinct, separate entities, and use the alternates feature to handle synonyms, abbreviations, or shortenings of the answer.

Running a KotH

Q: I've downloaded a KotH from the internet, or I want to try a sample KotH bundled with the program. How do I run it?
A: Open the KotH via File Menu -> Open KotH, then go to the KotH menu and choose "Run This KotH". A window will open, which tells you about the KotH, and gives the introductory text which tells you about any special instructions you should follow. To ask the next question in the challenge, type "next" in the chat window, or click on "Ask Question" on the right toolbar. The question's basic properties (time, points, number of answers expected) will appear above the question, which will be printed in bold. Answer the question, and be sure to enter each distinct answer separately (i.e., press enter between answers; don't separate them just with spaces or commas). When time is up, or when you have provided the required number of answers, the program will show you the marks earned. Continue until the KotH is over!

Q: What does the line above each asked question mean?
A: You may see a line like: [1:00, 4 + 1 points, 4 answers]. This means that the question has a time limit of 1 minute, there are 4 points (plus 1 bonus) that can be earned, and the program is expecting 4 correct answers from you. You may also see the following in some cases: LIMITLESS ANSWERS (which means that Infinite Answers is turned on for this question; you can enter as many answers as you want before the time limit) and NEGATIVE SCORES (which means that it is possible to earn negative marks for this question). If the host has decided each incorrect answer will deduct marks, you will see that value in parentheses next to the "points" section; for example, [1:00, 4 points (-1 incorrect), 4 answers, LIMITLESS ANSWERS]. This means you can enter as many answers as you like, but you will lose 1 mark for each incorrect answer (though the final result will be clamped at 0, since NEGATIVE SCORES is not displayed).

Q: Can I stop a KotH midway through?
A: Yes, you can save a "KotH In Progress" by going KotH -> Save KotH In Progress at any time. You can resume this KotH later by opening it back up via File -> Open KotH In Progress. This works for self-run KotHs and lobby-run KotHs alike! (If you are trying to open a lobby-run KotH back up again, though, you must start a lobby first: see below.)

Q: How do I start a lobby-run KotH?
A: Open the program, then go Network -> Start Hosting KotH. If you need to, you can change the port number, but you really shouldn't ever have to (if you don't know what this is, you should never change it). A lobby will come up, and people can begin to connect to you! To start running a KotH, open one via the File menu, and start to run it via the KotH menu as above.

Q: How do I connect to someone hosting a KotH?
A: Open the program, then go Network -> Connect to a Host. You must enter the host's IP address and port number (if he has changed it from the default). The host must know his IP address, so he can give it out to people he wants to participate in his KotH. There are lots of ways to find your IP, the easiest probably being

Q: I am trying to host a KotH. I tell people my IP address and port number, but they can't connect to me! What gives?
A: You are probably connecting to the internet through a router. You will have to set up port forwarding to allow people to connect to you. If you don't understand what this is or how to do it, don't worry; there is a very easy-to-follow explanation and full instructions for the vast majority of routers at I understand this step is a bit messy, but it is a one-time cost of probably 5 minutes, and ONLY the host has to do it (people who just connect and participate will never have to do this). Once the port is forwarded properly the first time, you will likely not have to address it again.

Q: Can people join/leave a KotH in the middle of it being run?
A: Yes. Those people who join late will be able to jump right into the action; if they join while a question is being asked, they will even get to answer that question with the remaining time on the clock. If they have missed past questions, they will be assigned 0 for those. Those people who get disconnected or leave during a KotH will still have their scores in play, and if they reconnect with the same username, they will pick up right where they left off automatically.

Q: How can I kick people from the room?
A: If someone is spoiling the KotH or spamming chat, and you want to get rid of them, just type "/kick username" (where username depends on the user) in the lobby, or type "/kick" in the answer window for that person. Only the host can kick people from the room.

Q: How can I delete someone's scores from a KotH?
A: First of all, that person must not be in the lobby. If they are and you want them to leave, kick them. Then, highlight that person on the leaderboard and press the Delete key. All scores for that player will be permanently erased, and his answer window will be removed from play. If that person rejoins chat at a later time, he will be assigned a fresh set of scores. Only do this if you really want that person's scores removed for a particular reason.

Q: How do I ask a question as the host in a lobby-run KotH?
A: After starting a lobby, loading the KotH and running the KotH, an interface will pop up on the right side of the screen. In the "Question Administration" section, click which question you would like to ask from the drop-down box (you can ask the questions out of order if you so choose), and click the Ask Question button. Typing "next" in the lobby will not ask the next question during a lobby-run KotH.

Q: How do I add or subtract time from a question as it is being run?
A: Enter the amount of time you want to add or subtract in the box under the timer at the top-right of the program, and press the + or - button.

Q: How can I cancel a question?
A: At any point, you can cancel a question that has been asked -- or is currently being asked -- by selecting it from the drop-down box under Question Administration and clicking Cancel Question. Questions that have previously been asked will be marked with an [a] next to them. All marks awarded for that question will be erased, and it will remain in the list as an unasked question (which you can re-ask later if you so choose).

Q: How do I mark a question as the host in a lobby-run KotH?
A: After time expires for every participant, the message "TIME is up for everyone!" will appear in the lobby. The program now enters a "tallying phase". The host is free to look through the answer windows, look through the marks that were assigned by the bot, and change the marks (see below) if he sees fit. At the bottom of the right-hand panel, the host will see the message "x Pending New Marks", where x is the number of participants in the KotH. This means that there are x new marks for the last question waiting to be committed to the system. Once he is satisfied with the marks, the host clicks "Submit All Updated Marks" at the bottom of the right-hand panel. The correct answers are displayed, and all the marks that were awarded are shown in the lobby. The next question cannot be asked until the marks from the previous question are submitted.

Q: How do I change the marks for a question that has already been asked?
A: The host selects the tab of the player he wishes to change in the answer window, and then selects the question he wishes to adjust from the box underneath the chat area. The current marks for the player are shown next to this area (if there are more than 4 correct answers for a question, you can click "More Answers" to pop up a full listing). The host simply types a new number in the box corresponding to where he would like to assign the points. At the bottom of the right-hand panel, a message will be updated, saying "x Pending Changes", where x is the number of pending mark adjustments waiting to be committed to the system (view them by clicking View Pending Updates at the bottom of the panel). When the host is ready to submit, he clicks Submit All Updated Marks.

Q: When I change marks, the boxes change to red or green. What does this mean?
A: A green box indicates that the mark in this box is higher than the current system's score for that person/question pairing, and a red box indicates that the mark is lower. Once you commit changes to the system, all boxes become white again because these are now the most up-to-date marks in the system.

Q: What do the categories [Host] and [Bonus] mean?
A: "Bonus" is where bonus marks are awarded (if any) for a question. The system will automatically tally bonus marks for any auto-marked question and put it here. In the case of "All or Nothing" questions, or when a user misses a required answer, the bonus section will be negative such that the total score for the question is accurate. "Host" is a catch-all category for when the host chooses to award points to a user for reasons outside of providing a correct answer. If you want to award points to a user for a question, but it shouldn't rightfully count as having provided one of the correct answers, award it in the Host category.

Q: Can I edit the properties of a KotH (by adding more questions, changing existing properties) while it is being run?
A: In a lobby-run KotH, yes, the host can add questions to the KotH in progress, or change the properties of any unasked question. He cannot remove questions from a KotH in progress. Simply click KotH -> Edit Properties as before and perform your changes here. You can only add questions to the end of the list, and you cannot change the order of any of the currently entered questions. If you are unhappy with a question, you will have to skip over it and leave it unasked.

Q: Can I save logs of the chat and answer windows?
A: Yes. Select the appropriate menu options from the File menu.

Q: How can I "finish" a KotH when all the questions I want to ask have been asked?
A: There is no finished state, per se, because there is always the option for the host to add more questions to the KotH in progress and continue (even if all past questions have been asked). If you are officially finished with the KotH, you can inform the participants of such in the lobby, and then save your results (see below). In a self-run KotH, the KotH is finished when all the questions have been asked, because there is no option to add more questions in this case.

Q: How can I save the results?
A: In the KotH menu, select "Save Results". You may choose a variety of options here, including spoiler-proofing the answers and results for forum posts. The result is saved as a text file, which is easy to read and distribute.

Q: What happens if the host gets disconnected? Is all progress lost?
A: No. Whenever marks are submitted to the system, the system automatically saves a backup of the KotH in progress. If the host gets disconnected, he should restart the program, create a lobby as usual, then select "Open Backup KotH In Progress" from the File menu. You can then resume the KotH from the last time any crucial data was committed to the system. It is worth noting that the host does not need to wait for the full lobby to reconnect to him (indeed, he doesn't have to wait for anyone to reconnect) before opening the backup; as people reconnect to him over time, they will be automatically reassociated with their old scores and can continue to participate. The program will not automatically reconnect the participants; each participant will have to manually reconnect with the host. The program will have saved the last username, IP, and port you have used, though, so it should be painless to do so.

Q: What do the different colors on the answer window tabs mean?
A: If there is text on a tab that you haven't read, the name on the tab will be colored red. When you click on the tab to read, the color will change to one of two colors; if no question is currently being asked or tallied, it will change to black. If a question is being asked, it will change to blue. This lets you see at a glance which tabs have responded to the question; if any tab is black, they have not responded. The remainder of the tabs have responded (and you haven't yet seen the latest answer given on red tabs). This lets you feel free to click around and read answers on tabs while still knowing which tabs have given answers. Once the marks are submitted for the question, all blue tabs will revert to black.

Q: What does it mean when an answer is given in red?
A: Answers given in red in the chat window are required answers. Participants who do not provide this answer will score 0 for the question. Note that you do not need to mark answers as required in the case where there are as many answers listed as are required (for example, only 1 answer listed, but only 1 required). It is only recommended to use this feature in rare cases where one answer out of a list is required, and others are not.

Q: What do the different colors of text mean in the chat window?
A: Messages sent from the host are displayed in green, while messages from everyone else are displayed in black. Questions are given in a dark blue font, and all chat which takes place during that question is also displayed in dark blue (instead of black). If a message was not "processed" by the bot, it is displayed in orange. This happens when a question is being asked and a participant types a whisper message (starts the message with //), or when he gives more answers than the question allows. These messages are not automarked, nor do they increase the number of answers you have attempted, but both the host and the participant can still read them.

Interface Questions

Q: How can I tell who is winning the KotH?
A: The leaderboard is at the bottom of the right-hand panel. The leaderboard, by default, sorts by number of points, but you can also sort by individual question scores by clicking on the question's column header. However, the host may choose to turn off the leaderboard during the KotH at any time (done via the Show Leaderboard in the Options menu on the host's machine), and if this is the case, the total results will not be available! You'll have to deduce who is winning based on the individual question scores, or just wait with bated breath until the end when the host decides to make the leaderboards visible again.

Q: How can I see how well I am doing?
A: Your individual question scores are recorded both on the leaderboard (along with your current total and ranking), and in a list at the bottom of your answer window.

Q: How can I see the responses given for each question?
A: In the middle of the right-hand panel is a section called "Response Details". You can choose a previously asked question from the drop-down box and look at which correct answers each participant in the KotH provided. You can adjust the display type by picking either "Rows" or "Columns" directly above the chart. For longer list-based questions, it can be entertaining to find out which answers were the most/least given, or which participants missed a seemingly obvious answer!

Q: How can I expand or shrink these controls?
A: You can click and drag the right hand panel horizontally. If you want to make the leaderboard or response details boxes taller or shorter, go to the Options menu and choose "Change Height of Results Displays". The program will remember these settings (and other customizable details about the interface) for the next time you use the program.

Other Questions and Important Things

Q: Does KotHBot support unicode characters?
A: It sure does. Keep in mind that end users will not be able to see certain characters if they don't have language packs installed, though.

Q: How do I turn off the sound effects?
A: When 10 seconds are left, one beep is played, and 5 beeps also count down the last 5 seconds of each question. To turn off these sound effects, deselect the appropriate option from Sound Effects in the Options menu.

Q: While a question is being asked, I want to enter a message that the bot will NOT try to mark. How can I do this?
A: Start your message with two foreslashes: //. This message will not be processed by the bot in any way; it will not try to mark it, nor will it count against your allowed number of answers. You can use this feature to take notes for yourself in the chat window (such as a running tally, or answers which may be correct, but you aren't prepared to enter yet), or to communicate with the host during a question. Say, for instance, you meant to type "7" as the answer, but you accidentally entered "7y", and the question is set up to only accept 1 answer. You can type "// oops, I meant 7", which will bypass the marking and answer count functions and be displayed in the chat window. Then, the host can read your message and make a judgment call whether to manually awarding you marks after the question has been asked.

Q: What tips would you give to people who want to make good KotHs?

  • Unless you have a very good reason for it, automarking should always be left on. Marks can be changed at any time (in lobby-run KotHs), so let the program do the bulk of the initial work for you.

  • Unless you have a very good reason for it, exactness should be left off for each answer. There are cases where exactness should be used, but on average it is best to let the program strip meaningless words and allow a spelling mistake or two.

  • Don't worry about words like "a", "the", etc, or punctuation/spacing when setting your answers (or giving them as a participant). If exactness is off, they will be removed. If your primary answer is X, you don't need to put "the X" in the alternates. If the primary answer is "the X Y", you don't have to add "the X-Y" to the alternates (or vice versa).

  • Consider the time it takes to read the question or let a linked image load when you set the time limit for a question.

Q: What are some important things to know about the program?
  • While a question is being asked, you can type an answer that will NOT count as an official answer by starting your message with "//". If a question is not being asked, you do not need to do this. Use this to communicate with the host "off the record", or to keep notes for yourself. These messages will appear in orange.

  • If you are answering a question with multiple required answers, enter each answer on a separate line.

Q: What's with all the emoticons all over the site?
A: These smiley images are popular in the AIM chatroom where the idea for KotHBot was born. They've become synonymous with certain people and chat memes that define the culture of the room, so it seemed like a natural extension to scatter them around the website! You'll see a random smiley next to the copyright notice at the bottom of the page each time you load a new page.

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