Christy Tucker
Outcome scores, comments disappearing from gradebook

We've been dealing with data disappearing from our gradebooks for over a month. I think we've officially hit the limit of technical expertise with our Moodle partner, so I'm hoping someone out there in the community can help. I know this is probably too technical of a problem for anyone to solve without access to our server, but even ideas on places I could suggest technical support look would be appreciated.

Our primary grading setup is unusual. We have a significant number of assignments set to No grade in the main grade field, but with three outcomes attached.

In mid-February, one of our admins was going through assignments with quick grading on and saving each one. There was a bug in 2.2 that prevented comments from appearing in the user report if the assignment was set to No grade like ours were. We upgraded to 2.3 in December, which fixes all comments added moving forward, but none of the old comments showed up unless someone opened them up and hit "save" again without changing anything.

Problem #1: Comments and outcome scores deleted by quick saving without changing anything

In a few instances, when the admin hit save, all comments and outcome scores were deleted. Our partner was able to retrieve the scores (but not comments) via the grade history tables). Does anyone know why a save in quick grading without changing anything would clear out all the data on a page? Even though we got the data back, we'd like to know what caused this so we can prevent it from happening again.

This happened in 3 different assignments, all in the same course. However, it didn't happen for all assignments in that course. The assignments all seem to have the same settings whether saving saved data or cleared it.

Problem #2: Comments are saved in the assignment table but not always the grade table

Even in the assignments above where they were able to retrieve the outcome scores, they weren't able to retreive the feedback comments. I went back to a December backup (before we upgraded from 2.2 to 2.3) and got the comments from there.

In that same gradebook, there are some comments for assignments that I can view when I open up the assignment itself but don't appear in the gradebook. Technical support says those comments are stored in the assignment table but not the grade table. They confirmed that we are set to have data copy from the assignment table to the grade table, but sometimes that isn't happening. It's not consistent though; most of the time it works, but once in a while it doesn't save correctly. Technical support has been able to replicate the problem, but not consistently, and we can't figure out the pattern.


  • What could have caused the initial data loss during a quick save?
  • What could prevent the comments from saving to the grade table?
  • Is there any other place data could be stored besides the assignment and grade tables? We're still missing some data, and our partner can't find it.
  • What else should we be checking (either what I can check from the Moodle interface side of things or what technical support should check on the server)?
  • Is there anything we can do to prevent data loss in the future? We're going to change our backup schedule, including exporting to another location so we don't have to trust our partner to do backups (since they're losing data), but it would be better to prevent data loss in the first place.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. As you can probably imagine, losing data from the gradebooks is a pretty significant problem, and we're very concerned about the integrity of grade data moving forward.

Picture of Emma Richardson
Re: Outcome scores, comments disappearing from gradebook
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

This sounds like the max_input_vars bug.  Try raising the setting for this variable in your php.ini file and see if that resolves the issue.

Picture of Bob Puffer
Re: Outcome scores, comments disappearing from gradebook
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Emma may be right but this doesn't sound like a max_input_vars issue to me unless you have a very large class because it sounds very much like you are using the assignment grading interface and not the gradebook to "quickgrade" assignments.  If that assumption is wrong then Emma's probably right. The reason max_input_vars blows out in the gradebook is that there is so many "inputs" submitted in the gradebook form.  That isn't the case in quickgrading from the assignment grading interface.

Don't have a solution for you but can tell you there's not another place where the feedback would be saved unless it was in the grade_grades_history -- there is no history table for assignment_submissions.

I don't think I would recommend fixing this problem by going in and saving every assignment submission unless you have only a few.  An SQL query would be much more reliable.

Christy Tucker
Re: Outcome scores, comments disappearing from gradebook

The disappearing outcome scores happened in one course that had only a single student in it. That's not what the max_input_vars error sounds like to me. And Bob, you're correct; they're using the assignment grading interface, not the gradebook, which reduces the chance that this is the error we're seeing.

They did find additional feedback in the Assignment tables via a SQL query. The only way we can figure out how to get that feedback into the gradebook is by adding it via the gradebook, so I'm manually copying and pasting the comments from the assignment into the gradebook. It's only 4 assignments with missing comments, about 20 students, so it's not an overwhelming amount of work. We still don't have an answer to why these comments won't save to the gradebook though, so we have no idea how to prevent it in the future.

Our current theory is that it's the same bug as MDL-35392, which doesn't have a solution yet. It does sound like other people are running into the same comment problem though.

Picture of Bob Puffer
Re: Outcome scores, comments disappearing from gradebook
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hope you voted for the issue and signed up for notifications.  No movement in the last 10 days and its triaged to moodle partners so its looking a bit dismal (IMO). Take note of the workaround, wanna leave feedback that's gonna show in the gradebook, turn off quickgrading.

Christy Tucker
Re: Outcome scores, comments disappearing from gradebook

I hadn't voted yet, but I should have--thanks for the reminder.

Our partner says they're working on it, and they do have a bunch of comments to test. It looks like it might be something in the content itself; we've seen comment text disappearing if it starts with an angle bracket, for example.

Of course, this is the same partner who told us point blank that they're not responsible for understanding how our organization uses Moodle, so I'm not holding my breath on a solution.

Thanks for your comments though.