I want to promote the option of virtual participation in contests, since I noticed it's not used as often as it could be. Perhaps it's just not something people keep in mind, but I'm sure that if you use it often, it will help you a lot.
What does it do? It allows you to compete in past contests as if you were actually competing when the contest took place — there are only two differences:
- it's unrated
- there are no hacks and so far, no pretests
Virtual participation is a great way to compete without worrying about your rating. Instead of making a fake account that you then throw away, you can just participate with your real account with no risk. If you care about embarassing yourself with poor performance, don't worry about it. Nobody cares.
Virtual participation is also a great way to train. Unlike regular upsolving, you have a timer, so you can't just take your time trying stupid shit or overthinking. This way, it's much better for training fast thinking. Taking your time with problems can also be useful if you want to learn more difficult things or try to solve a problem in the best way, not just in some way, so I'm not saying to disregard that, but combining both ways to train is surely better than just sticking to one.
Are you in div2 and do you want to train above your level? Virtual participation is the way to go.
Do you want to train for ACM as a team, but don't want to or can't meet up with a physical computer? Instead of making one team account, you also have the option of creating a team, adding your CF handles to it and trying virtual participation as a team.
The main disadvantage of virtual participation right now is that the format doesn't perfectly correspond to normal CF rounds. During the contest, the scoreboard you're shown is ACM-style, but it's back in CF style when it ends and your score in the final scoreboard follows the rules of the contest. More importantly, the judging is also ACM-style: there are no pretests. It would be a useful improvement for CF if this was fixed and virtual participation always followed the real contest rules, i.e. for CF rounds, the results during the virtual round would be shown just on pretests and updated to what they'd be after systests when the contest ends.
So, what do you do?
- Click "Contests" or "Gym".
- Pick a contest you haven't tried. Click "Virtual participation" under its name.
- Set the starting time (default: up to 5 minutes from now), click "Register".
- Improve your competitive programming skills!