We’re glad to present our first post about our activities as Community Advisory Board (CAB) members . One of our roles is to be the voice of the community and funnel their needs to the proper channels by holding monthly meetings with topcoder staff. So far we’ve had three successful meetings and we have good information to share. You can expect to receive monthly updates of the meetings where we discuss how to solve important issues in order to improve our well-loved community.
What’s Going On
We held a very productive onsite meeting during TCO14 at the Appirio offices. We had the chance to meet the topcoder staff who are coordinating and helping with the CAB. We had the opportunity to express our feedback straight to the source. During this meeting we established starting points to work with. We called them a “Wish List”, where we stated the main issues we’ve noticed in the community (website, social, technologies, and so on) and what would be that wish, that change we want to see. We can summarize them as follows.
- Onboarding challenges and new members. The idea is to smooth the learning process in topcoder challenges, as well as making easier the understanding of the flow and process (registration, submission, etc).
- Data Problems. We need more problems for algorithm and marathon, more frequency as well. The teams are working on incentive programs.
- Clear Payments. It’s a known issue that some payments get stuck for long time for some competitors, and the payment methods may be slow. The payments department is committing to answering forums more regularly and answering emails. Acknowledgement will happen, even when the problem may take time to fix issues raised by the CAB included errors when requesting payments, possible support for new payment methods, and delays in TCO and DR payments.
- Cohesive Website. Since the merge of Appirio and topcoder happened, the website was updated. There have been lots of concerns from the community regarding to the cohesiveness, being hard to navigate and find old elements sometimes. Topcoder will be working on the interfaces in 2015, starting with the most impactful areas. Topcoder is committing to clear, regular communication to CAB and the members about the long-term plans.
Session #3 Recap
This week we held our third monthly meeting to work with one new topic mainly, onboarding with learning challenges. There are interesting ideas from our brainstorming session we plan to follow closely, so we can decide which to prioritize and implement.
- Get new users into the challenges quickly, rather than sending them over to read lengthy text or watch videos.
- Have “starter” challenges similar to F2F in scope and time commitment. Starter challenges can help members “learn by doing” in an environment that is specifically for new members. This helps new competitors get familiar with the process and understand how to ask questions and submit through the website.
- Guide members through the process with tours/pop-up tips, etc. as they compete.
- Document “standards” via text or videos that help members understand common submission or process expectations and why they are important. Examples:
- Deployment guides for assemblers.
- Mobile design orientation guidelines.
- Outlining vectors for logo challenges.
- Once a member has gone through “starter” challenges, encourage them to continue down a path of success. Somehow show a progression they could follow (maybe recommend a type of challenge such as F2F before they jump into full-scope challenges).
- Switch from “Practice Rooms” to “Practice Problems”, meaning that you’d be able to find types of problems easier (sort by ability, sort by type) in the arena, and make sure they are easy to complete (i.e., not just submit it but also “Run System Test” to verify it’s correct).
Our next meeting will be focused in the New Member Activities. We want to clarify the Topcoder learning process for newcomers to keep them motivated competing in the platform.
We’ve been working so far with feedback from TCO members and from our daily online activities within forums and clients pool as copilots and competitors. We’re planning to create a communication highway for handling direct requests, suggestions or any thoughts you would like to share with us.
For now, feel free to write in the CAB dedicated forum. We’ll be pleased to hear any ideas/thoughts you have about improving the community in any aspect.
It will also be very helpful to capture information through these surveys. We appreciate if you take the time to fill it (choosing the most appropriate one for you):