gojira's blog

By gojira, history, 6 weeks ago, In English

Hello friends!

I hope a few of you might still remember me. This old dinosaur participated in very early rounds of Codeforces, and before that did Topcoder for a number of years. I've been away from competitive programming for several years now, but the recently started Advent of Code rekindled the spark, and I proceeded to open Topcoder arena and participate in the recent SRM.

To my utter befuddlement, there were less than 100 participants in Div 1 in this SRM — and looking through recent match history, it seems to be a fairly standard participation rate for a while now. For comparison, back in the good days Topcoder Div 1 routinely had several hundreds of coders.

I've got to admit that seeing this saddened me considerably — I have a ton of fond memories of competing at Topcoder, like rushing those 250-pointers, taking perpetually unsuccessful stabs at 1000-pointers, the violent heartbeat as I pressed the "Challenge" button every time, the nervous fidgeting in anticipation of System Tests that would reveal who stood tall, and who was bound to fall. I have a lot of nostalgia for those days..

So, I wanted to ask y'all — what happened to Topcoder? Did most old-timers stop competing, and the new generation just does not know about it? Did the website redesign hide the Arena applet so deep that you can't find it? Is the Arena just not user friendly enough, so everyone ran towards shinier platforms (wink wink)? Are the problems not as fun anymore?

Share your story — why did YOU stop competing? :)

 
 
 
 
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6 weeks ago, # |
  Vote: I like it +53 Vote: I do not like it

I think my first CP experience was from a Topcoder SRM a few years ago, I used to grind it a lot when I was a beginner, but here are some of the reasons I stopped using it:

  • I don't really like using the applet
  • At least for the last contest I did, all of the input came from some stupid pseudohashing thing
  • idk if I can solve div1 medium, because I don't really know any algorithms
  • I just visited their website, and I can't even find the competitive programming section lol
  • codeforces popular and good, pog
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6 weeks ago, # |
  Vote: I like it +40 Vote: I do not like it

The UI is not user friendly, and it seems like their main attention is not CP, it's something else.

The Web Arena is horrible, the whole website has a lot of bugs and in general feels slow.

I used to think that only newcomers find it hard to navigate, not the old users.... but now i think...lol

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6 weeks ago, # |
  Vote: I like it +12 Vote: I do not like it

You can find some responses in this post.

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    6 weeks ago, # ^ |
      Vote: I like it 0 Vote: I do not like it

    Ahh thanks — I knew I could not be the first one to wonder this! (I did search by topcoder tag, but that post isn't tagged..)

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6 weeks ago, # |
Rev. 2   Vote: I like it +18 Vote: I do not like it

Y'all have valid points (and many more of those in flashmt's link), but I do wonder — are there so many high-quality contests on Codeforces or elsewhere these days that SRMs are not worth participating in anymore? Back in my days, we leaped at the opportunity to participate in virtually anything, and at least several years ago Topcoder's problem quality was very high. (I can't speak for now, as I have been away for a while — but I see misof setting most recent problems, and I have great respect for him as a problemsetter and educator.)

Another question I have is, what competition do people from the American continent, and especially UTC-4 timezone, take part in? The whole first page of Codeforces Contests right now shows me rounds starting between midnight and 6:35am (with literally two exceptions in half a year!). Topcoder seems to consistently conduct its SRMs at 8am or 9am UTC-4, which I imagine is a great timing for at least Europe/West Asia.

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    6 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    Gosh, I just realized misof even writes an editorial for every SRM, like the latest. I guess the website yet again betrays this effort by showing them in the blog instead of Editorial Archive :|

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    6 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    these days that SRMs are not worth participating in anymore?

    I regularly participate in SRM in Jan — March every year because they serve as qualifications for tco regionals. Before covid, they used to be onsite and it is fun. But from the moment I started participating covid came and became virtual on sites :sad:.

    Apart from ICPC regionals, these were the only consistent onsites in India (Codechef snackdown is the third and last onsite for people in India but it isn't consistent every year). TCO regionals are also relatively easy to qualify as well because not a lot of people bother about them.

    Also, topcoder admins are promising a better UI for the last 2-3 years not sure when is that going to happen.

    Pretty much my 2 cents on topcoder.

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    6 weeks ago, # ^ |
      Vote: I like it +17 Vote: I do not like it

    Having respect and being a good problemsetter are different things. And even if misof is a good problemsetter, he has to create ~9 problems per month (only counting div1) and, well, it shows. More than half of the problems are rehashes of well known problems or outright educational problems. I mostly stopped participating in SRMs, because it's just not that fun.

    AtCoder is (in my opinion) the best site right now, the contests are usually in 12 UTC on weekends, so should be ok-ish for your timezone, if you don't mind waking up :)

    Regarding "are there too many high-quality contests that we can afford to skip some" — yeah, I think so.