Robert Važan

Which programming competitions are worth your time?

Veteran competitive programmer's advice on the best, not necessarily the most popular, programming competitions to invest yourself in.

I will now show you my list of the best world-wide programming competitions that are open to professionals, not just students.

So here's my list:

These competitions are open to everyone. The competitions are very transparent, automatically judged, and very fair. CodeChef has its 10-day challenges in addition to timed contests. Google Code Jam and IPSC are both timed contests, which is good if you have little time to spare.

I hesitated to add Facebook Hacker Cup to the list. It has schedule where 2014 competition actually starts in 2013, which made me miss the competition. More importantly, Facebook insists on integrating the competition into Facebook website, which makes it really hard to access. You cannot even view the full scoreboard without logging into the website first. That's not very good when you want to use your ranking to look better in the eyes of your prospective employers, investors, or girlfriends.

I cannot recommend TopCoder Open, because of its association with NSA, hidden scoreboard (so girls don't know whom to chase), developer-unfriendly website (which is business-friendly, on the other hand), the omnipresent smell of money, trading of your private information, and the really awful java tool you have to use for everything from reading the problems to uploading your solution.