Errichto's blog

By Errichto, 9 months ago, In English,

What do you think about Topcoder's policy regarding (not) revealing the author before the round? This time I was allowed to announce I'm an author (btw. do participate in SRM 727!) but it was generally forbidden so far. Should it stay that way? Cons of announcing the author:

  1. Every problem setter has their own style of problems. Some people will skip rounds of some setters because they don't like some type of problems. So one should carefully choose rounds in order to maximize their rating.
  2. Knowing the problem author might help you in solving a problem, e.g. when you know this author loves flows.
  3. Rounds of new setters aren't that attractive so they might get fewer participants.

My opinion is that one's rating doesn't matter much so (1) isn't important. Similarly, I'm fine with the fact that you can read problems in CF but decide not to participate — it doesn't affect me much.

If we want to deal with (2), we would also have to forbid any personal references in the statements. I wouldn't want that.

The last thing (3) is actually fine in my opinion. The author should try their best to prepare nice problems and his/her reward will be high participation in his/her next round.

Pros of announcing:

  1. Hopefully more participants in general. As an author, I want my round to get many participants and thus I announce it on CF and I invite my friends on facebook or in person. Let's also note that usually a problem setter and thus his/her friends are highly rated — in some way they make the contest more prestigious and indirectly increase the participation in the future.
  2. I don't have to hide from friends that I'm preparing a round. While it's normal to not show statements, solutions, etc., it's very hard to ensure that nobody sees that I use topcoder software or that I'm current coding in Intelli (what implies Java that I use only for TC). I'm talking mainly about programming camps where I'm usually not alone in a room. On the other hand, I once talked with Petr about this and he gave a good counterargument: a setter is paid for their work and there might be some requirements, also about keeping something secret.
  3. As a participant, I'm more eager to attend rounds of some authors. If I like their problems, I'm more likely to skip classes or stay awake until 3am. Thus, I prefer to know.
  4. Other platforms reveal everything and nobody complies.

My opinion is that authors or particular problems should be secret only for big important contests like IOI, acm regionals and WF, TCO. We usually know who authors are there but every detail matters there and thus we shouldn't know the exact author of each problem. And reasons about high/low participation don't matter there.

What is your opinion?

I wrote two comments to create a voting, but I think discussing arguments is much more important.

 
 
 
 
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9 months ago, # |
Rev. 2   Vote: I like it -400 Vote: I do not like it

Upvote this comment and downvote the other one if you think round authors should be secret.

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9 months ago, # |
Rev. 2   Vote: I like it +493 Vote: I do not like it

Upvote this comment and downvote the other one if you think round authors should be revealed before a round.

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    9 months ago, # ^ |
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    Lol nice way to increase your contribution. Upvote if you agree with me hahahahaha

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      9 months ago, # ^ |
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      Yeah, that's why he proposed to downvote the other comment not to upvote it.

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9 months ago, # |
  Vote: I like it +11 Vote: I do not like it

And what about point distribution?

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    9 months ago, # ^ |
      Vote: I like it +11 Vote: I do not like it

    You can see it in the topcoder system 5 minutes before the contest, what is fine, right?

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9 months ago, # |
  Vote: I like it +18 Vote: I do not like it

Maybe this way we will know more about when the next srm will be because there's nobody who regularly announces them, I also don't receive emails from them and the single way to find it is to go to clist.

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9 months ago, # |
  Vote: I like it +5 Vote: I do not like it

Maybe we can have topcoder acccount like csacademy to make announcement about SRM without revealing the author? After all, topcoder does promote SRM in emails and on their on their facebook page. This is another and more effective way to do it.

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9 months ago, # |
  Vote: I like it +18 Vote: I do not like it

There is one more pros — this way the author can get personal feedback, a feeling that people are excited about the round, maybe a few thank yous afterwards. The emotional feedback from the round used to be a great motivator for me, but these days nobody cares much about the writer (at least this is the feeling I got from writing rounds this year).

I have actually suggested announcing problem writer before the contest (again!) to Jessie a couple of weeks ago, and she said they were going to do it. However, we should not start to announce the writer on Codeforces before this decision is made official by Topcoder, because keeping your identity secret until the end of the match is part of the writer's contract.

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    9 months ago, # ^ |
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    Sounds too much like NDAs to me.

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    9 months ago, # ^ |
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    I completely agree about the personal feedback thing.

    And yes, we shouldn't announce authors on CF before there is an official agreement about it. (This time Gaoyuan and Tim allowed me to.)

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9 months ago, # |
  Vote: I like it 0 Vote: I do not like it

I agree that revealing the author doesn't affect negatively the rounds. However, what about making it optional instead? A spoiler-type button that you can click if you actually want to know the author.

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9 months ago, # |
  Vote: I like it +58 Vote: I do not like it

Does anybody really care about TopCoder SRMs these days? TopCoder doesn't really care about participants after all.

I think that if TopCoder wants to do SRMs in the future, they must at least do announcements on CF. Probably the easiest way to do it is to encourage contest authors to do it.

Other things (neither positive nor negative) don't bother me.

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    9 months ago, # ^ |
      Vote: I like it +76 Vote: I do not like it

    I care. Why wouldn't I? They still provide good quality problems.

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9 months ago, # |
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Lol, this is e-mail from 4 days ago.

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9 months ago, # |
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Was/is it actually forbidden? :)

I know it's customary to only reveal the author after the round, but to be honest, I don't think I've ever seen it written anywhere that it is forbidden.

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    9 months ago, # ^ |
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    Yes, it was. I used to announce my SRM's on CF and then I was told it isn't allowed. It still wasn't allowed a few days ago but the e-mail posted by Swistakk suggests it might be changed for good.

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9 months ago, # |
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I am curious why did you create 2 separate comments and ask to upvote one and downvote another. I don't see the difference between creating one comment which should be upvoted or downvoted and your approach.

If you decided to create 2 comments it would have been better to just upvote one or another — this way you would get more contribution and it would be more visible, how many people support each option.

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    9 months ago, # ^ |
    Rev. 2   Vote: I like it +5 Vote: I do not like it

    votes aren't really good for telling you about "how many people support each option", they're insanely inflated, 1 red vote is worth 15 green pluses, purple vote is 5 pluses, blue vote 3 pluses. You don't actually know how many people support it.

    I would guess there are at most 100 real votes on either comment.

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      9 months ago, # ^ |
        Vote: I like it -11 Vote: I do not like it

      What kind of drugs do you take?

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        9 months ago, # ^ |
        Rev. 10   Vote: I like it +31 Vote: I do not like it

        It's true, try going to some month-old blog no one will see, and vote on a comment. Wait 30 minutes to an hour and check the score again. That change is your real vote value. Some posts are "archived" though if they are too old, their score doesn't change, that's why all those 6 year posts from MikeMirzayanov have like 0 points.

        Check this blog from MikeMirzayanov, it implies red votes are worth slightly less than 15 times blue vote (I'm not entirely sure about blue votes being worth 3).

        http://codeforces.com/blog/entry/3649

        Thus, the value of a participant's vote now is delapnds on the participant's authority and the authority is determined by the rating. At this point I have to mention that the participant's authority is not influenced by his/her contribution. The votes' values do not differ dramatically: despite the fact that the red participants are 15+ times less that the blue ones, their votes' values differ less than their numbers.

        See this too: http://codeforces.com/blog/entry/51201#comment-355123

        Maybe you can be first to tell how much black-red vote is worth?

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9 months ago, # |
  Vote: I like it +15 Vote: I do not like it

Topcoder is dead.

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9 months ago, # |
  Vote: I like it +39 Vote: I do not like it

I think that's the smallest of the problems TC admins should deal with. The platform is horribly malfunctioning and it seems there is nobody to fix it.

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    9 months ago, # ^ |
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    I heard from topcoder admin that they’re hiring person to fix Topcoder arena. Currently the fixings are stopping but few months later is possible.

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      9 months ago, # ^ |
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      Did they already hire one or are still in the process? That should be me. I've read through it's source code so much recently that I feel like I know what's going on.

      Unfortunately they will need to rewrite their crappy backend first, because right now some rooms load 80 megabytes of room summary before they even let you get the problem statement.

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      9 months ago, # ^ |
        Vote: I like it +43 Vote: I do not like it

      That's more or less the tale we get for ten years already, so I won't put my hopes on it.

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9 months ago, # |
Rev. 4   Vote: I like it +59 Vote: I do not like it

Another pros (or is it actually a cons?) of NOT announcing: it introduces a whole new level of trolling.

Last time, when I was in Indonesian training camp for IOI 2012, there was SRM 556 early in the morning (like 8am, which is good for us since most of the SRM is late at night here in Indonesia). Therefore, the night before the SRM, our onsite training camp coach, fushar, asked the four of us (cc nathanajah, semicfly, imiro) to do the SRM together as part of our training camp.

The next morning, fushar said that he won't be joining the SRM as he has a lot of college works to do (he was still in college at that time). Four of us did the SRM together without any suspicion, while fushar was "doing his college works" in the same room with us.

After the challenge phase ends, fushar revealed that he was the author of the SRM.