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Problem Development | Reply
Perhaps there should be a message board devoted to the sole
purpose of discussing problem development. Potential topics
might be how to expand the tester to cover different types
of problems or test solutions in unique ways, as well as
possible changes to how problems are presented to contestants.

For example, I'd like to propose one feature. Currently it
seems that problem descriptions can only be presented as
plain text. How hard would it be to change that to some
sort of pseudo-html? That would give problem designers much
more flexibility in describing problems. For instance, it
would allow us to control layout better, by using
proportional width fonts for the descriptions, fixed width
fonts for code and examples, etc. It would also be very
useful to be able to embed (small) figures or images. I
understand that if the total size of the problem description
in bytes becomes too large, it would affect the scores of
those with low bandwidth in a negative manner. But, if you
impose some sort of reasonable limit, and add some technical
tricks (I have a few ideas), you can get the text to the
user at the same speed as currently, while letting figures
load at leisure (and a size limit could be imposed on
figures). I have a couple of problems in mind where it
would be very difficult for me to describe the problem
without presenting a diagram, and would make it much harder
than it needs to be for the contestant to solve it without
having a figure to present a good example.
Re: Problem Development (response to post by Logan) | Reply
I would add that it would also provide a way for people to give feedback to the problems. ie the 250 should have been a 500, 500ptr was badly worded, etc.

The problem designers would then have some feedback to improve future problems and TopCoder would have a better idea of what makes a 250/500/1000pt problem.
Re: Problem Development (response to post by Pops) | Reply
Yes, I'd like to see feedback as well. Another idea I have
is that the names of problem developers should appear at the
end of each problem description.
Re: Problem Development (response to post by Logan) | Reply
These are good ideas. Do keep in mind the bandwidth concerns.

It seems like it is difficult to continually come up with reasonable problems. Problem developers deserve recognition, but it might be better to post their credit after a contest so that contestants familiar with the style of the problem inventor can't infer any hints as to a typical solution. Might be a little far fetched ...
Re: Problem Development (response to post by wyzmo) | Reply
Or, even better, you get bonus rating points for guessing who developed it. Seriously though, more information about the designers is appreciated, and the ability to express opinions about problems would be great. Perhaps even some sort of rating system, for difficulty, quality of problem explanation, etc.
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