SecondThread's blog

By SecondThread, history, 6 months ago, In English

Focus is a Virtue

I know current geopolitical events are on the top of a lot of people's minds at the moment. I wish for those involved the safety of their families, land, and heritage. I truly don't mean for this to come off as insincere, insensitive, or trying to diminish the importance of these events to people's personal lives.

But that being said...

Codeforces isn't the place for such debates and politics. I'm not saying these discussions don't need to happen. They do. But them happening on this surface is essentially well-intentioned spam. In particular, beyond the fact that Eastern Europeans and Russians are disproportionately good at competitive programming, this has really nothing to do with competitive programming, with the interests of this community, or with a competitive programming website.

This stuff belongs on social media, or places like Reddit and Discord. Or if, for whatever reason, we feel it really has to happen here, can we please at least keep it to one post, rather than half of the recent actions?

Alright, I've spoken my peace, bring on the flood of downvotes...

 
 
 
 
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6 months ago, # |
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image
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sic'im boys

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6 months ago, # |
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Can you please get back to grandmaster?

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Can't agree more.

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6 months ago, # |
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But I am sorry, I think everybody need to present their very important opinion on this situation everywhere. I think it's definitely crucial in a time like this, especially on codeforces. After all CP stands for "complex politics" as everybody knows. I think we definitely need more such blogs.

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    6 months ago, # ^ |
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    Posting from my fake account btw.

    I think both SecondThread and I agree that politics ought to be discussed. But do you really think politics is being meaningly discussed right now? All I see is a bunch of people yelling at each other for having different views. Nobody is changing their mind, it's just spam at this point. Reserve politics for another platform.

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6 months ago, # |
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If this would have written by a newbie, it would have gotten downvotes

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    6 months ago, # ^ |
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    all you care about is your contribution, but what about geopolitical situation? That's a thing you should care about!!!!

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      6 months ago, # ^ |
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      Its not about contribution. Whenever a newbie writes a blog, people without reading it start to give downvotes .

      Since its such a serious topic , people would have flooded the blog with downvotes

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    6 months ago, # ^ |
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    It had net 22 downvotes about half an hour ago, believe it or not

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Not downvoting because I get the sentiment, but to me, the Ukraine situation isn't "politics" like a new tax bill or "politics" like some senator in X country committed embezzlement. This affects peoples' lives in a very tangible way. And I don't think you can claim that CP is completely disjoint from current events-a lot of very talented programmers live in areas affected, not to mention Codeforces being a Russian website. At least one contest has already been postponed because of it.

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People obviously won't stop commenting and I can't see Mike closing such topics, that would be very bad. So just cope with it?

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All nuclear weapons are on high alert and you worry about your favorite codeforces becoming political ? Sorry, you're pathetic or ignorant.

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    6 months ago, # ^ |
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    How are you brother ? You are from Kiev. Love from Antarctica. I hope the situation get calm soon. Take care all of you <3.

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    6 months ago, # ^ |
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    Don't be mean... But agreed, Many people on this site are Russian and Ukrainian and this stuff affects every aspect of their lives right now (or at least will soon for Russians), if you don't want to read it don't

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Our friends in Ukraine cannot go back to programming, so no, we cannot. You are very insensitive and ignorant. If you don't like these posts, just don't read them.

In particular, beyond the fact that Eastern Europeans and Russians are disproportionately good at competitive programming, this has really nothing to do with competitive programming, with the interests of this community, or with a competitive programming website.

Right now we have 2221 people from Ukraine on this website (just for comparison, we have 2279 from the US). Every single one of them is affected by this and I want to make sure that they know that the community stands with them and condemns this war.

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    6 months ago, # ^ |
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    You are absolutely right. He will not understand the situation like sleepy Joe (both are from usa). God bless Ukraine. You guys are heroes.

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    6 months ago, # ^ |
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    The more you post on CF about a topic, the more you care about it?

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    Why dont you help by actions like donating for Ukraine Children instead approving spam of intentional blogs that might bring more conflict between Russ users and Ukr users who aren't even related to the army.

    By the way, I think if we let them make more blogs about Ukr-Russ, then it seems that they care about "the problem" instead of "Ukr people" or "Russ people".

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      I have donated to Ukraine and I try to help them in every way I can. Fighting with disinformation is one of them.

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This blog is mostly a bad argument, but I think there is a good argument stuck inside of it that needs a little help to get out.

Every time a controversial world event happens, inevitably someone (and sometimes, many people) posts about it on Codeforces, and every time, people complain that Codeforces is a platform for competitive programming, and such posts don't belong here. So people get divided into two camps: A. political discussion belongs only on sites such as reddit, twitter, etc. and should stay off of Codeforces, and B. such discussion is fine here.

Personally, I'm in group B because, well... it's the null hypothesis. By default, anyone is able to type anything into the blog editor and hit "post", and if you think they shouldn't be allowed to do that, or there should be negative social consequences for doing it, then you need to provide a good argument for why you are correct -- for example, in the case of people posting solutions to problems of an ongoing contest, the argument is very simple: cheating makes contests less deterministic, and less deterministic contests are less fun. So fun is maximized when we don't allow people to leak the solutions of ongoing contests. You could also make the argument that in countries where rating affects your ability to get a SWE job, it also makes the hiring process in those countries less deterministic, which causes both companies and candidates to suffer.

"spam" is an interesting subcategory of things that people often want to remove from the platform, because posts like that live in a more continuous space -- there's no clear rules for what constitutes spam, but in the more egregious cases, it's generally obvious and uncontroversial that the post should be deleted. In the less obvious cases we see situations like what is currently unfolding, where the subjectivity of what is "interesting" or "relevant" shines through. These are the situations where I fall back to the "null hypothesis" philosophy. If you think the content doesn't belong on the platform, you need to show that the net impact of the post on the users of the platform (not just you) is negative.

Anyway, some arguments have been put forth that the political posts really are a net harm. To address the specific ones in this blog:

Codeforces isn't the place for such debates and politics. I'm not saying these discussions don't need to happen. They do. But ... this has really nothing to do with competitive programming, with the interests of this community, or with a competitive programming website.

This stuff belongs on social media, or places like Reddit and Discord.

These two snippets are basically the same argument, which in short is "this is a programming-related platform, for programming-related discussion. There are alternative platforms intended for politics-related (or general-purpose) discussion." I think this is the start to a valid argument, but not a complete one -- you need to show that it would be strictly better to have the discussion on a different platform than this one. And that isn't true. In fact, I'll provide some evidence for why I think the discussion is actually better here than on [insert social media platform here]. Keep in mind that the following things aren't my proof that the above argument is insufficient. They are me going even further and trying to demonstrate that in fact, the exact opposite of what the argument is trying to show, is true.

  • Some of the social media platforms you suggested are blocked in some countries (particularly China).
  • The average quality of discussion around these topics on Codeforces is far higher than on any of the alternatives you suggested. The only platform that I can think of which is comparable in this regard is hackernews. In fact, if you skip over the comments of low/unrated users, you are transported into a magical world where most comments are well-written, well-thought out, and coming from intelligent people. I've read most of the discussion around the Russio-Ukrainian war which occurred here, and I've also read some discussion on reddit and twitter. By far, the discussion here was more interesting and contained more distinct points and perspectives.
  • Codeforces is a small community compared to the endless sea that is reddit, twitter, etc. If you're Ukrainian, it's definitely a much bigger boost in morale to see comments coming from fellow users on codeforces than broader social media. As said by kostka,

Right now we have 2221 people from Ukraine on this website (just for comparison, we have 2279 from the US). Every single one of them is affected by this and I want to make sure that they know that the community stands with them and condemns this war.

To summarize, probably most of the people in group A are upset because this is a platform they go to in order to find content related to programming, and it's annoying to look at recent actions and see it full of stuff... not related to programming. And I understand that. I think these people just need to step back and consider, does everyone feel the same way they do? Should content be deleted from, or discouraged on this platform just because it bothers a proper subset of the users? I think the answer is no.

However, at the start of this comment, I said there was a good argument in the post, and it's this:

can we please at least keep it to one post, rather than half of the recent actions?

I've noticed the same thing, which is that whenever something interesting happens that gets discussed on codeforces, the discussion around it tends to get fragmented (and in the worst cases, duplicated) across multiple blogs. For example, recently the Go Study Round 1 had to be postponed, and 3 different blogs popped up discussing it. There has been a lot of speculation and misinformation surrounding what this contest is and why it was postponed, and the fragmentation of the discussion surrounding it made it harder for correct information to propagate around (see mine and dario2994's comments on those blogs. A significant part of the aforementioned misinformation was my fault, by the way, when I misunderstood something said by the coordinator and told some wrong information to a few of the testers. Sorry.)

I don't know of an obvious solution to this problem, but I can at least say this: when you are about to create a blog on codeforces discussing a recent event, please check to make sure there isn't already an existing blog about it.

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    " And I understand that. I think these people just need to step back and consider, does everyone feel the same way they do? Should content be deleted from, or discouraged on this platform just because it bothers a proper subset of the users? I think the answer is no."

    Boiling it doing to people just feeling bad about it is very reductive, it ignores the purpose of something, the purpose of codeforces blogs is to talk about programming, i.e. it was created with that in mind, now you could argue it has become much more than that now(memes, light-hearted post etc) but in my opinion, blogs on codeforces should (and do) have some objective definition, and in my opinion it is more than simply "A lot of people want to talk about something, hence it will be discussed on codeforces irrespective of how strongly it is linked to programming".

    Also, I don't think discussing the current situation should be banned from cf, just wanted to add more nuance to the situation.

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      6 months ago, # ^ |
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      I wrote a long and detailed explanation of my opinion, and then offered a short summary at the end. Then you quoted just the short summary, and claimed it was too reductive... what?

      Also,

      but in my opinion, blogs on codeforces should (and do) have some objective definition, and in my opinion it is...

      I think you may be misunderstanding the word "objective".

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    6 months ago, # ^ |
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    Well said. As sad as it is (or not), I fear that for some people a competitive programming platform might be the best way to get in touch with opposing views and exchange arguments.

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    6 months ago, # ^ |
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    Thank you very much! I subscribe to every word.

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    As I wrote in a blog post, I think the dilemma could be solved by adding an off-topic category in the list of recent actions. That should satisfy both A and B groups.

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    Yes, I strongly recommend to put one thing into one blog. Or at least, creating a topic, and all the blogs in the topic will be shown as a total. Though it will be more work to the developers of Codeforces, it is really annoying while finding nearly half of the blogs about the same thing.

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I mean you don't HAVE to open blogs you're not interested in; if not Russia-Ukraine then half the blogs are anime and memes either way...

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    6 months ago, # ^ |
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    I support having off topic discussion sometimes. But not based on very divisive topic such as politics. I don't think you can place anime at the same place as politics. Just think about how many people died for politics and how many died for anime.

    Many people wants to discuss about it with CF community. I wouldn't mind if CF had category section and people could follow topics for recent action. But as none exists like that I think it is better not to discuss those on CF as discussing will not have any significant impact on world but will ruin the CF experience and create divisiveness in the community. If someone is really that interested in that they may as well create a new discussion forum for CP'ers which also support emojis as I don't think CF blogs will change significantly in near future.

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I my opinion it is totally proper to discuss such things on codeforces. Denying community the right to discuss it is wrong

On the other hand I believe there is not need for many similar blogs on the same matter because it creates inconvenience for people who wants to use the site for its primary purpose
Ideally it would be possible to solve it with hierarchical forum structure or working tag search but... you know...

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It's sad what going on in Ukraine and one or two mega threads about it to inform people were ok but now almost all of the recent action is filled with it. and every country which is under war is feeling betrayed by the community and creating blogs asking why they didn't support their country. And also it's inviting trolls and contribution farmers. just check these recent blogs and tell me they are seriously trying to help or inform people.

https://codeforces.com/blog/entry/100426 https://codeforces.com/blog/entry/100427 https://codeforces.com/blog/entry/100430 https://codeforces.com/blog/entry/100423

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If there is a platform for people to have discussion, it doesn't matter what platform it is, People can discuss anything, If you don't want to have that discussion, then just downvote the blog or comment and move on. And i think it is completely ok to have such discussion here, this community includes all kind of people from all parts of globe and it is good have their opinions.

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yes, your contests are definitely more important than the lifes of thousands if not millions.

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    So we can only have one or the other, never both?

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Agreed.

I strongly recommend to talk less, for the sake of safety.

For now, any impulsive remarks may attract attention of KGB/CIA. If you become target, they will find you no matter where you hide.

And your rating is related to the harmness.

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    6 months ago, # ^ |
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    True words. My grandfather, which was part of KGB at the time, always said: "I do not kill civilians for fun, I do it for the travel. If I am told a Spanish guy said Lenin sucked it meant I would take a vacation to Spain to hunt him down"

    Always be careful what you say on the internet..