Quoting PFJ <paul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>:
Hi,i'm looking for opinions on the "worth" of programming contests as a way of judging the talent of potential software developers...Cons
To the list of cons, I'd add: - Most programming contests are not representative of the work developers do day-to-day. In particular, algorithm competitions are not at all representative. Topcoder's component design/dev/integration competitions may be more applicable but YMMV. Just make sure the process implied by the competition is comparable to the process you use for work. Further, competitions do not evaluate soft skills like teamwork, requirements elicitation and negotiation that professional developers use on a regular basis. - Documentation (user and developer doco) is almost never evaluated.- Testing skills are rarely evaluated. This is obviously relevant even if your
shop has a strong, separate QA department. - Contests often limit tool-support to a specific set of compilers, languages and IDE's. Often, tool selection (and adaptability) is a critical part of a professional developer's expertise that is not tested by these contests. - Time constraints measured in hours (as with many competitions, exceptions being TCO's component and marathon matches) do not adequately test time management skills. When a developer is applied toward a more complex total problem, with a longer time-frame, you don't know how they will deal with deadlines.- Contestants are not evaluated in a similar manner to how they are evaluated in a professional development position. As a result, they code to evaluation - if
they are evaluated only on algorithm correctness and speed, they code for algorithm correctness and speed, ignoring readability, robustness, portability and maintainability. This is not necessarily indicative of how they would perform professionally.Many of these concerns can be addressed if you conduct the competition (or have
influence into how it will be conducted), but you have to be aware of what is being tested and what aspects of a development position are being ignored. Also, if you are conducting the contests (instead of using a third party with an existing ccompetitor base), remember that the "find" part of your goal will be negatively impacted. ---------------------------------------------------------------- This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.
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