Five Years of Codetrotting

5 min read

1st March 2009, five years and a few days from now, we launched CodeChef. It has been a fascinating journey since then. It couldn’t have been anything else!

It is our anniversary month. And anniversary is a time of celebrations. And we did celebrate. You too joined by taking part in our Trivia contest and showed us how much you love us. It  is also a time for assessment and introspection for what has been done and what we intend to do. Let us start by doing the mandatory and the mundane of listing down what we did in the last one year so that we can conceal what we did not:

  • We moved into a new kitchen, to keep up with the growing love that we got from you and we are still acclimatizing.
  • We started reaching out to the young guns. This has been the single task that took a lot of our time and effort this year (since we did not do much otherwise, let us say so) . We also created this awesome video (okay we did not but the lowfundwala team did) that we want all of you to see, give feedback and share among the young guns that you know.
  • As a part of the above initiative, we added to our offering. We were keeping you on supper all this while.
  • We also extended our much touted Go for Gold program to the high school students in India to try and motivate them to do well at the IOI. We believe that cash, laptops and  a job guarantee are good to lure them to leave Physics, Chemistry and Maths and waste all their nights on coding.
  • While we went gung-ho about our initiative and kept basking in the glory of catching ‘em young, it was actually the effort of many of you who came forward as volunteers, to go back to your alma mater and take this forward. Stories of Nitin and Karan have been an inspiration to many and have tried pushing us as well to not sit on our asses and do something.
  • And in between all this hoopla that we created, our engineering team did silently do some work in fixing the bugs that you reported (that they had created), making the server infrastructure stable (they like toying with it often), thwarting attacks (yes we are showered a lot of love in the form of attacks as well) and also built up a few much needed and demanded features. Now you can use tags to make it easy for you to browse problems on CodeChef on category, author and difficulty – a feature demanded by you more than a year ago. That’s all in the feature list that we have for the whole year!
  • The challenge problem scoring was changed based on your feedback – we do care about your feedback so much and work on it as well (occasionally).
  • In our commitment towards our premier initiative, Go For Gold, this time we increased the number of students eligible for their ACM ICPC regional travel reimbursement, to top 75 as opposed to 50 last year – if it made any difference. We also gave ourselves a much needed break from work and travelled to all the three ICPC India regional sites and had a blast meeting quite a few of you. You can catch the glimpses here:
  • We opened up our telephone line to assist you to take part in the regionals of the ACM ICPC as well as try and answer your queries to help you sail in this world of competitive programming. Yes, if you get bored and want to have a conversation, just pick up the phone and talk us out of our slumber on 022 – 30797709
  • We revamped our Campus Chapters initiative and also introduced a lot of bugs in the registration page to make it more difficult for you to open one for your school or college.

And all this apart from the usual monthly and college contests, responding to your emails, procrastinating on most, reading the flak and the feature requests that we keep getting on various forums. That was quite a bit of work!

On a more serious note, listing down the things done is quite a task in itself. It is also extremely easy to bask and get carried away by mentioning all things glorious. However, it is only the mistakes, the failures and the mishaps that happen that keep us grounded and make us strive to improve. It was not entirely a dream run as it may have seemed until now. Be it the numerous intermittent hiccups during and outside of the contests (yes, we are still acclimatising to the new setup) or the infamous goof-up, there were not-so-bright days for us as well. Apology is only a way to convey that we care and that none of these were intentional. It does not undo the damage that was done. And we did learn from each one of them – we now know how not to do things. However, there are a lot of pending things on our plate that we have not been able to dish out including this, and one of them is also dealing with the cheating cases – still something that we are figuring things about.

No report card is complete without the backing of the numbers. So let us present some figures that will put the highlights of the year gone by in some perspective:

So, here we are after an year of moments of joy, pride, love, affection, glory, kudos, accolades… and after all the bragging, it is time for us now to be humble.

None of this would have been possible without some invaluable contributions and we take this opportunity to thank the special set of people who made this possible:

  • The content providers of our platform, the awesome panel of our problem setters and testers. The team has expanded to include the editorialists and problem translators as well – No matter what we try, we do not exist without you.
  • The SPOJ team for their diligent work to give us a powerful judge program and keep upgrading it and supporting our ever growing number of submissions – You do the hard work. We just decorate stuff around you.
  • The members of our discussion community, who lend their helping hand to other programmers and make CodeChef a flourishing community – You make us look like teachers. We do not have the answers that you do.
  • Different support staff and teams at Directi, that ensure that CodeChef keeps running 24×7 and keeps growing as well – You are the underrated and unappreciated lot. The CodeChef team takes the entire credit (and sometimes the flak as well) for all that you do (and that you don’t)
  • All the ex-members of the CodeChef team, who have toiled extremely hard to bring CodeChef to where it is today – It was your hard work that the pillars of this platform stand upon. We have just continued to build on them.
  • Finally, and most notably, each one of you for your constant evaluation, feedback and participation. You all make it happen.

Now, letting the accolades and critiques of the year gone by to sink in, let us also give you a peek into the future. So far, with now a biggish team of seven, we have mostly been firefighting and trying hard to make this platform better. We have been working on feedback, bugs, feature requests and also trying to be as responsive as we possibly can. Over this period we have realized the limitations that we have put on ourselves. While interacting with you all at various forums, we realize that there is a whole community out there willing to help us in this endeavour. And since this entire platform is being driven by the community, we intend to open it up to you to start contributing to the development of this platform soon. How and when is something that we still need to ponder and put our thoughts together. But we believe that the community has been doing a fantastic job of carrying it forward and they can probably do a much better job and help us drive its progress much faster. We will continue working on your feedback and we intend to take each and every point mentioned in this list and fix it.

The fifth year has given us some very good memories to cherish, and we hope the sixth will offer even more and that you all will be alongside us through the thick and thin, as you have always been.

In anticipation of a bright year, let us drop the ball and let the party roll in.

Warm regards,
Team CodeChef

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