kostka's blog

By kostka, 15 months ago, In English

I wasn't aware of how few people participate in SRMs nowadays (reference).

What happened to this platform and can they try to change something to come back?

But seriously, every time I see an announcement of a new round, I grab popcorn and see what was wrong this time.

 
 
 
 
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15 months ago, # |
Rev. 2   Vote: I like it +521 Vote: I do not like it

can they try to change something to come back?

Every time I thought about participating at topcoder, I opened their site, cried a lot attempting to navigate and decided that I'll try again some other time.

So I guess they should make the interface more user-friendly

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    14 months ago, # ^ |
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    +100, CF interface warm and easy.

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    14 months ago, # ^ |
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    I agree. Even i tried couple of times but returned back seeing we have to download some software or something to participate(I'm not really sure if its software) and can't see the info regarding contest easily on their website. I must agree its not user-friendly and which is why i've never participated.

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    14 months ago, # ^ |
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    But it had 2-3 times more participants when it was only accessible with web start applet...

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      14 months ago, # ^ |
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      Maybe CF wasn't as popular (or didn't even exist) back then.

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        14 months ago, # ^ |
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        I guess that's pretty much the reason

        When there is no alternative, you're going to cope with the problems and get used to it.

        But new people have no reason to struggle meaninglessly and the old ones retire so the audience diminishes

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      14 months ago, # ^ |
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      But at least topcoder.com was once upon a time actually navigable (see Wayback Machine) and you could find information about contests and the applet there.

      Nowadays, the way to participate is to check hmehta's blog for announcements and discussion, memorize the URL arena.topcoder.com to participate and use clist.by to obsess over your rating. Not exactly how a platform is supposed to operate, right?

      The arena has always been a funny Java applet, but at least the website was normal and SRMs were a prominent feature of the platform. Now it feels like a secret.

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15 months ago, # |
  Vote: I like it +216 Vote: I do not like it

For example, I've never tried Topcoder because it's very hard to use if you are a newcomer. Somebody should explain how to take part in contests or practice there. Codeforces, Codechef and Leetcode are very user-friendly, imho.

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15 months ago, # |
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I guess user interface, I still haven't figure out how to enter into contest and find problem there?

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15 months ago, # |
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Personally for me, I couldn't find previous contests and problems for a while, understanding how to submit was complicated,too.

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15 months ago, # |
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Topcoder must work on their interface. It's too confusing for someone visiting it for the first time to take part in the contests.

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15 months ago, # |
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Sorry, if it is offensive
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    14 months ago, # ^ |
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    I can bet it is just the reverse.

    No competitive programmers were included in the design or implementation of this project. Any resemblance of creators of this project with competitive programmers is entirely fictitious and coincidental.

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15 months ago, # |
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Sometimes I wonder if Topcoder even has contests because I can't find my way through the labyrinth interface.

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    15 months ago, # ^ |
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    I have a theory that Topcoder hate us with a passion so they keep f*ing up their website just to drive us away from the platform.

    • Go to topcoder.com and tell me if you think this is a place for competitions.
    • I have bookmark linked to a page that contains some useful links like Upcoming matches, Match list or Editorials. It used to work until one day they decided to redirect that page to another God knows what place.

    It's sad to see how such a prestigious platform has declined but they deserve every single bit of it.

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    14 months ago, # ^ |
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    Its a bugaboo to find bugaboos on Topcoder.

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15 months ago, # |
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only red coders use topcoder because only red coders can navigate topcoder

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15 months ago, # |
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I find the Java applet much more intuitive and usable than the Web Arena, despite the fact that the applet was written decades ago and last updated in 2014. We can also use plugins in the Java applet. I use the TesterDream plugin, a plugin that allows me to code and compile/run against all sample test cases locally.

While I agree that the quality of the tasks are better in the older days, the short duration of the contest is appealing to people with poor time management skills like me. If people are interested, I can create a video/doc documenting how to:

  1. run the applet: how to downgrade JDK to make it run since it is not compatible with the latest Java version, how to work around with the security issue, etc.
  2. navigate through the applet
  3. use plugins
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15 months ago, # |
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Topcoder is the daguerreotype of competitive programming.

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15 months ago, # |
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One line:- They need to have a better and simple website, like other popular platforms.

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15 months ago, # |
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They say that "we'll renew web arena", "we'll support C++17" but never does.

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15 months ago, # |
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I really don’t understand why red coders still do TC. Why? Don’t you have better problems to upsolve?

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    15 months ago, # ^ |
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    On one hand, it's more fun to compete with others than to practice on your own.

    On the other hand, Topcoder is like that first small coffee shop in town with an old grumpy owner, where people used to gather and enjoy coffee together. Time flies, more shiny coffee shops appear and people are attracted by the higher quality coffee and customer service they provide. Still, some of us still can't help but pay a visit to that old shop every once in a while to reminisce about the good ol' times.

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      15 months ago, # ^ |
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      I started CP in 2014, and at that time TC was already not a deal, so I have no nostalgia with it ofc. I think I did the first TC contest around 2016/2017, which I guess is the last season to like TC in a serious manner. Maybe it means I'm not old enough here, but I think I am. I don't really know.

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        15 months ago, # ^ |
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        CF was introduced in 2010 and I believe it had gradually taken the spotlight from TC for a few years later. I take a look at peak Div 1 participation in TC and a lot of them, if we exclude tournament rounds and a few others with prizes, fall into 2010-2014. So yeah, it all makes sense with your comment.

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        15 months ago, # ^ |
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        I started doing TC in ~ 2010 and this makes me feel super old :(

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15 months ago, # |
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I tried to use applet. I used it without any plugin and I soon realized that you can not compete using built in editor. Its too difficult and no easy way of debugging.

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15 months ago, # |
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For me problem quality is the primary reason. I am able to deal with ancient arena somehow(thanks to Swistakk) and luckily during my six months of competing there, arena never crashed lol but while solving the problems, I don't really learn anything and I feel I am wasting my time :( . Now I don't compete there anymore, and just like u , I also grab my popcorn to see what went wrong this time XD .

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15 months ago, # |
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I think most people only do TopCoder for the t-shirts/TCO.

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15 months ago, # |
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I think TopCoder just need to move to a new platform like Google Code Jam did, one that can be easily navigated and used. But obviously TopCoder does not have the ability or willingness to do that.

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    14 months ago, # ^ |
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    Is there a single person who thinks that GCJ changed for the better?

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      14 months ago, # ^ |
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      I’m just saying that GCJ has the ability to get everything onto a normal platform

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      14 months ago, # ^ |
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      After a couple of iterations, the new platform is somewhat better than the old one. The changes that I like are:

      • A real judging server to support upsolving past problems (although people who use unorthodox strategies to solve output only problems might disagree)
      • Interactive problems
      • Country filter for scoreboard
      • A more modernized UI (if I neglect the huge useless round header that occupies 1/3 of my screen)

      If we strictly talk about how easy it is to navigate on the platform then I don't feel any improvement at all. Some seem to forget the public outcry when the new platform just came out.

      Edit: added point 2

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15 months ago, # |
Rev. 2   Vote: I like it +188 Vote: I do not like it

Thanks, everyone for raising your concerns and comments as well. We sincerely understand the points raised by everyone and the frustrations as well. A lot of things were planned for the new arena we were building in early 2020, but plans got derailed by Covid.

We have some plans to come back strong and are hiring a Competitive Programming Program Manager to just focus on CP on Topcoder and drive/manage the plans we have for CP.

There are some interesting updates coming to the website (navigation for CP in particular) and the web arena in particular. We really want to have them built and share with everyone asap.

Stay there and give us some more time to set things right :)

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    15 months ago, # ^ |
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    Hope you come back strongly.

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15 months ago, # |
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Even though, it has hundreds of great problems but the platform is not very user-friendly!

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15 months ago, # |
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They should buy codeforces license and do exactly same website as CF, keeping dark theme and original TC contest rules.

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15 months ago, # |
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An average Div 2 participant like me can't even navigate to contest page.

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14 months ago, # |
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For several years now, I sometimes make an attempt to write a topcoder contest, go to the site, mindlessly poke at it for a few minutes, do not understand anything, and finally close the site.

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14 months ago, # |
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Topcoder problems are good but their website is poor.I feel very sad.Because I like their problems but hate their user interface.

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14 months ago, # |
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Topcoder is still one of my favorites. I like that contest are only 1 hour 15 mins long, so doing simulation of them is really nice. Now that I'm working that makes it the main problem for practicing.

Older rounds also have a lot of great problems, but even now I sometimes find a problem I really like. A lot of problems have really cool ideas, and I feel it focuses more on ideas than other platforms. Like sometimes they only make N = 50, even though the problem is solvable for N > 100.000, because getting the idea for N = 50 is the hard part and/or interesting part.

Speaking of how to participate, every-time I switch my PC I make sure to follow this guide:

https://www.topcoder.com/thrive/articles/How%20to%20install%20The%20Arena%20plug-ins

It makes topcoder very usable. Only issue is problems that can have multiple solutions, tztester can't account for that. But otherwise you get passed / failed in the terminal. And you can code in whatever IDE you want since it generates the .cpp. (Also you need to clear previous data to test all things, but that can be dealt with).

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14 months ago, # |
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the java applet and Errichto's TopCoder plugin video (Linux but I did in win10, wasn't any trouble) and you are good to go! I actually like the applets' interface :)

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14 months ago, # |
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In the past, I was receiving e-mails to notify me about any new contest. Nowadays, it doesn't notify me and even if I open the website i can't know when is the upcoming contest there are these competitions that need money ig. Because of that, I asked my friend Bakry to notify me or call me every time there is a contest on Topcoder. But after some time he also can't know when is the next contest. :C

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14 months ago, # |
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Well. Yeah, I understand that for new participants getting to participate at all is the biggest issue.

But I know how to use Arena and still don't participate. The problems are just not worth it. Almost all the SRMs are one interesting problem + 2 rehashes of standard things or just really uninteresting ad-hocs. I don't see a point.

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    14 months ago, # ^ |
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    IMO these things are related.

    I think a problemsetter would be a lot more motivated to send quality problems to TopCoder if anyone actually participated there. Sending problems to a "minor" platform like this feels like throwing them away.

    Well, obviously there are other problems, like the fact that the tests have to fit in like 50 characters (and as I have heard, the entire preparation system is a pain compared to Polygon). Or maybe they even have coordination that actually likes boring problems about base 10.

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12 months ago, # |
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I agree with the comments above! I also would like to point out the case of AtCoder. They had been running contests for years, but it wasn't until recent (in my sense) that they opened up globally, writing problems and editorials in English, constantly making advancements in both UI and UX...

The writer pool used to be somewhat small but they kept writing interesting problems. They also held sponsored rounds every once in a while. It was very impressive to watch them grow, and I love the site!

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    12 months ago, # ^ |
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    +1 to it, I think that AtCoder is doing an amazing job and I wish them the best!