2016 saw many changes here at Topcoder from new scorecards to a new TCO Bonus Stage to the Wipro acquisition! There was a particular group of members who helped influence some of the changes that you may have noticed throughout the year here at Topcoder and that is your Community Advisory Board.
As their last task, I have asked them to put together their thoughts on the year as well as a list of items that they had brought to the Topcoder Team and had successfully implemented or accomplished. Without further ado, i turn this blog over to the 2016 CAB!
Working with CAB has been an amazing experience. The Topcoder Team has been receptive to all of our ideas and suggestions, and my fellow CABbies have done an awesome job addressing community requests.
And CAB extends beyond just the five of us. Meeting old friends, playing video games with Topcoder staff, or getting dinner and just hanging out with fellow competitors at TCO made for one of the more enjoyable weekends of my 2016. The Topcoder community isn’t just a gathering of developers; it’s a gathering of friends too. I’m extremely proud to have represented the community over the past year and I look forward to seeing Topcoder reach new heights in the future!
Being a CAB member this year was a great experience. It gave me a better perspective on how things work on the other side of Topcoder that I couldn’t see before. Many times we were consulted about potential future changes that would effect our community and I am glad that our opinions were valued. The thing that I liked the most was getting to know the community better (old time members and newbies) and being able to help guide them, bringing solutions to their issues and involving them in important decisions. Thanks to the track leaders for solving the brought up problems, to the best captain – Nick, my fellow CABbies, and to the awesome community who supported us!
For me to be a CAB member this year, has been a life changing experience. I think I have become closer to all my Topcoder companions. Not everyday do we have the chance to be the voice of thousands of people. Even when this wasn’t an easy task, I appreciated this life opportunity. Topcoder and CAB has taught me a lot, turning me into a better professional and person.
Design Track Accomplishments
Following the suggestions and feedback of designers for us the CAB members, these are the improvements that have been accomplished in 2016:
- Istockphoto declaration: designers only need to specify now the URL of the photo, without the photo ID and name
- Unregister feature is now available on contest’s page, not only in Online Review
- The First to Finish design challenges had a long feedback time and sometimes the evaluation was not done fairly. Solution: F2F were replaced by private tasks or small challenges.
- The challenge listing page was difficult to scan for active challenges and time left for a challenge was confusing. Solution: this page was redesigned and will be live in the next weeks.
- The Digital Run was removed and we were looking for an alternative. Solution: so far the Blitz program is seen as a replacement and a reliability bonus for designers will also be tested from Feb 1, 2017.
- Some members expressed the desire to be blog contributors and this is now possible, you just have to reach Nick Castillo.
- It happened before often that client didn’t respect timeline, a problem you members underlined. Solution: Adam has insisted on educating the clients and we rarely see delays in round 1 feedback/winners announcement now.
- Final fixes were too large for first and also second place winners. Solution: Adam has talked to copilots and they are now offering payments for larger fixes and always ask if they think is fair.
- Some of the wireframe challenges required 1080 x 1920px resolution, which was an issues as wireframes were focusing on concepts. It has been communicated to be careful about screen size requests across all challenges and this issue didn’t appear anymore.
- The new design uploader had many issues, failed often and it took a lot of time to upload source files, but that was fixed and we now get 1 confirmation email for receiving the files and 2nd confirmation email for upload complete. Also the drag & drop feature was added to uploader.
- Sometimes at checkpoint, the ideas were revealed to other competitors. As a solution, Adam has talked to the copilots to prevent that from happening anymore.
- Speed of response from support was a problem for long time – it took even 2-4 weeks to get issues solved. This has changed with the new system since April, so now we can write on Slack support channel or email email@example.com and the response is usually less than 2 hours.
Thank you to Topcoder and my fellow CABbies for giving us this opportunity to work together to improve the platform. It’s been a wonderful 12 months. With each passing day, as the platform matures, Topcoder strives to meet the expectations of the community and working with CAB to help Topcoder in this endeavor has been excellent.
Being a CAB member has helped me appreciate how Topcoder tries to balance a strong passion between community and clients, and it was very exciting to have been involved. Also working among strong CAB members giving their precious time to discuss the future of Topcoder was very humbling.
Ever since I have been a member I have always wanted the best for Topcoder. The desire from the side of Topcoder to consider all our ideas is a great confidence that there is a better time coming for Topcoder. My gratitude for the community that we represented, for the Topcoder staff and my CAB friends! I wish you all a happy new year and great achievements in moments to come.
Development Track Accomplishments
The following are the undertakings of Dev CAB this cycle:
- Members no longer need to specify Copyright information in files
- Spelling mistakes in submissions would no longer count towards score deductions
- Sleeker and comparatively faster support
- Let members know about Marathon matches early on to allow adequate publicity and participation
- Bug Hunt contests will now launch 24 hours ahead of schedule without revealing the app to look for bugs to allow members across time zones to participate and not give undue advantage to members that lie in the same time zone as the contest launch time – only in scenarios where spending additional 24 hours on the timeline would not affect project delivery.
- Provide link to Unregister from within contest page itself
- Bug Hunt Specification Reviewers can no longer compete on Bug Hunts themselves thus preventing them from getting a head start on the Bug Hunts.
- Code Track Final Fixes to no longer be pro bono and to attract additional compensation
- Provision of the ChangeLog feature for the Topcoder platform to announce to members changes to platform that are too minor to go out in blog posts yet significant enough to make an impact.
- Revamp of the Code Scorecard
- Removal of inactive or not-up-to-mark reviewers from the review boards and opening the review boards to get in new members.
I would personally like to thank this year’s CAB for all of their efforts as they took time out of their own schedules to meet with the Topcoder Team and truly turn this platform into a place where our members are happy to participate. We all know that there is a long road and still much to accomplish and now that the 2017 CAB Nominations are closed, I for one am looking forward to who will be the ones to continue the progress of this and past year’s CAB groups!