Proposal: Algorithmic Competitive Programming

There are a number of places on the Web for competitive programmers to ask and answer questions:

  • The Competitive Programming topic on Quora gets a lot of activity, and attracts expert contributors.
  • Online judges and other puzzle sites have their own forums and Q&A areas.
  • Other Stack Exchange sites (including Stack Overflow) can be used for good-quality questions about competitive programming code.

Does the competitive programming community need another Q&A site?

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  • StackExchange doesn't want another competitive programming website. I created a similar proposal some time back. It got a lot of traction (all my Area 51 rep is from that), thanks to codeforces users. Got scrapped by SE mods suddenly. – Vinayak Garg Dec 15 '16 at 17:39
  • @VinayakGarg Stack Exchange will create the site if there's support from the CP community. They just have rules about how much activity is required from a site before they'll let it into beta. They don't want to create a site if it isn't going to succeed. I took a look at the old site on web.archive.org/web/20140220131558/http://…, and it looks like there was some interest, just not enough. I think it's possible to gather enough people this time around. Do you want to try? – RedGreenCode Dec 15 '16 at 18:51
  • If I remember correctly, the site had more activity then the archive version. And important thing is, it was shut down unexpectedly while the activity was still going up. Anyway good luck for the proposal :) – Vinayak Garg Dec 16 '16 at 6:36

No, we do not. Any question that would be on-topic for a competitive programming site would be on-topic for Programming Puzzles & Code Golf. Creating this site would just drain audience from PPCG - it's a dupe.

In addition, the SE model doesn't work well for competitive programming. The only reason PPCG has been so successful is because we don't exactly use all SE features as intended, and users have gone to great lengths to try to make the system work for us (including writing near-overhaul user scripts). An external site would be better than a new SE network site.

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  • Well, personally I do not support you. Competitive Programming has two parts: Algorithmic thinking and Programming. While Code Golf supports programming part (except CP imposes a lot of restrictions on the language, e.g., must use C++/Java), the algorithmic thinking is still missing. And trust me, getting the algorithm from a cryptic question is not easy. – hola Nov 8 '17 at 17:28

I think the unique features of SE would benefit competitive programmers who are interested in asking and answering objective questions about solving competitive programming problems. However, it will be difficult to overcome the inertia of the existing CP sites, and get people to dedicate their time to a CP.SE site.

The existing sites all have problems:

  • Despite its history of expert participation, Quora CP has too many subjective questions, silly questions, and debate questions. Quora doesn't have strong question quality standards, which makes it difficult to build a professional community.
  • Stack Overflow is better than any other site for focused, code-oriented questions. But competitive programmers have to be constantly alert about how they ask their question details there, since there's a cultural bias against CP on Stack Overflow. (Some high-rep users consider it frivolous and wasteful).
  • Programming Puzzles & Code Golf and Puzzling both prefer to run their own contests. They don't really want to discuss other people's contests, and that would be the main purpose of a CP.SE site.
  • Code Review isn't a bad option. It is even now being used to discuss CP solutions. But competitive programmers will always be just a sub-community here. It's not the main focus of the site, so it's not the best place to build a unique competitive programming community. However, it may be a place to start building a code-oriented CP community that could later move to CP.SE.
  • Online judges can set up their own communities (e.g., Topcoder Forums). But they don't have the benefits of the SE software. And those communities are fragmented, since each community tends to attract only programmers who use a particular online judge.

I think CP.SE would do best by focusing on how to solve specific competitive programming problems. It would be like a specialized Stack Overflow, where all of the coding questions related to programming puzzles rather than real-world code. Discussing algorithms could also be on-topic as long as they were algorithms that tend to come up in programming contests. (We have CS.SE for general discussion of algorithms). CP.SE definitely shouldn't allow general CP questions like "How do I improve my skills." Quora has those covered.

So my prediction is that the success of CP.SE will be based on people's willingness to ask and answer detailed questions about solving competitive programming problems.

Here's a blog post that I wrote with a more in-depth discussion of this topic: Do We Need a Stack Exchange Site for Competitive Programmers?

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    To respond to a point made on your blog post re PPCG and copyright concerns: while it's true that external competitive coding questions haven't taken off on PPCG, copyright concerns is a part of that. It's just hard to tell unless you follow the site very regularly or can see deleted questions. It's also worth noting that the site culture has changed since 2013. In particular, the tips tag is a widening of scope which could support some of the questions you mention. (It is, of course, still true that a community fragmented between PPCG and CR wouldn't be as cohesive as a single-site one) – Peter Taylor Feb 5 '17 at 22:37
  • I just asked two questions on two different SE sites (with positive votes): cs.stackexchange.com/q/83505/20415 and math.stackexchange.com/q/2510446/154508 – hola Nov 8 '17 at 17:31
  • @pushpen.paul Well-asked questions generally don't get downvotes. However, you're also not getting any answers. I'm still not convinced that it's best for these types of puzzle questions to be spread across the SE network. I think they would get more engagement if they were collected in a dedicated SE site, to be looked at by people who have opted in to seeing them. – RedGreenCode Nov 8 '17 at 22:12
  • You are correct. ... and found one more question asked: codereview.stackexchange.com/q/77003/31050 – hola Nov 10 '17 at 15:18

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