The Unwritten Guide (Or The Untold Story, You Choose) Of A Good (Badass) [topcoder] – 11/2013
@enreeco – Enrico Murru
Here I am, 1 year and a few weeks have passed from the first time I joined [topcoder] (there have also been a second time…but it’s another story). Look for me on the site, I’m known as ForceLogic (formerly known as Enreeco…you got it, I have 2 accounts..this is the same “other story”).
This is the very first community in which I take a significant part: it’s not because I’m antisocial, solitary or because I speak a terrible English, but only because I lose interest in the things I do really quickly.
Things changed when I met [topcoder].
It seemed strange that I could be paid for my Force.com knowledge, for things I usually did (and currently do) at work, but being away thousands miles.
At first I thought I was not able to compete, and seeing the myth of Jeff Douglas (talking about Salesforce, his blog was constantly one of my landing pages when googling about Force.com) made me think I couldn’t lose time in things I couldn’t handle.
I was absolutely wrong!
Lucky thing is that I bookmarked the site and, randomly, one month later I decided to come in and examine in depth what [topcoder] really was.
A new world opened to me! I started coding in the weekends or during the nights, learning whatever technology I wanted to learn (there is so much choice you can choose the techs you prefer!).
I already was a good Force.com developer but the [topcoder] experience increased of a significant 30% my analysis and coding speed and quality, and made me learn part of the Force.com platform that I didn’t know.
Once I felt confident with Force.com challenges, I started with other technologies (pure JS client scripting learning different JS libraries, server side programming in Java, desktop programming, HTML5), ending with my favorite techs (as of now), AngularJS and NodeJS and Bootstrap to give a nice style (I’m an engineer and usually I make the things working without attention to their beauty…believe in me, libraries such as Bootstrap makes you feel a good web developer), thanks to Jeff, Dave, Mike and Kyle, the first [topcoder] masters I met at the beginning of my journey, with the great support of Tim (my [topcoder] Bro).
They are not the only ones I have met in this year, but I cannot name all this great guys one by one (and you’ll meet them when you’ll join the cause).
The real question is: What is [topcoder]?
- A community?
- A developers hub?
- A bunch of mercenary nerds?
- A place for gods of web development?
- A showroom of cool code?
- The Devil (when I’m completely absorbed by a challenge I actually think it is!)?
The best answer I can give is: [topcoder] is a constant challenge!
You can be a very noob and you win a challenge even if you are competing with the best of the bests!
Suggestion number 1: Never be afraid to compete!
In this scenario, every one must give 100% of his capabilities, from 50$ projects to 1M$ projects (just kidding, no million dollar challenge…as of now!), nothing is certain, once you lower your guard, although you are the very best, you can lose with shame (It happened to me more than once!).
Suggestion number 2: code each challenge with the same passion and frenzy as it is the first you do!
Remember that you are not the only one competing and think that all the other submissions will be at least as good as yours, so try to enhance the solution with cool stuff, document your code and make cool video demo (“a video worth a thousand documentation pages“, cit. @eucuepo).
Suggestion number 3 (only for non English speakers with an English knowledge as low as mine): don’t be shy!
Make a video speaking English, in 2 or 3 video you will acquire confidence (even if reinventing English grammar) and you will please the judges (seeing a solution running is different than only reading a doc!).
Suggestion number 4: have fun, sometimes leave apart your familiar skills and dive into something you actually don’t know (I made an AngularJS + NodeJS challenge without even knowing anything).
You may hate what you learned or lose badly the challenge, but at least you are now aware of that tech, and believe me this is a great success for your skills!Suggestion number 5: during challenges, make questions as much as you can, even if it makes you feel dumb. It can happen that your “dumb” question triggers a thread of cool stuff or ideas or new point of views.
Suggestion number 6: always complete your tasks but if you can’t do it (sometimes could also be a matter of time…we have a life!) tell it to the admins and submit anyway. Something cool could be present in your code that could be used away. This doesn’t mean that you have to submit every garbage you produce, so try to figure out if what you did could have at least a single bit of value!
Suggestion number 7: when you are “feeling down” because you are not kicking asses, take a deep breath, let it out slowly, take a break, take another breath, relax your mind…the next time will be better! [topcoder] is growing up, so there will be more and more competition but you will grow up with it and you’ll being soon to master the technique of being a badass [topcoder].
Suggestion number 8: join actively the community and try to know other [topcoders], the fact that you compete with them doesn’t mean you are enemies! And watching their submissions is another source of power (feel like a vampire).
Suggestion number 9: I can’t find a 9th point, but cool lists on the web have at least 10 points…
Suggestion number 10: if you haven’t already done, join us!