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Quixey Challenge: Fix a bug in 1 minute to win $100. Refer a winner to win $50. (quixeychallenge.com)
111 points by quixey on Jan 19, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments

I just won (#7 - foob) and I felt the need to post here to tell people that the person I spoke with from Quixey afterwards was very friendly and that I enjoyed talking to him. I was really just playing for the $100 but after speaking with him I felt like I should inquire about job opportunities. This is pretty much the opposite of what happened after my only other programming challenge experience.

I don't know if people saw this or not but a while back Instagram had a programming challenge inspired by the Darpa Shredder Challenge. They were offering a t-shirt for correct solutions and promised explicitly that every solution would get a personal response. They got more entries than they were expecting and didn't give t-shirts to everyone (which is somewhat understandable). What is much worse is that they didn't even bother to respond to correct solutions. I spent over an hour on it (including the bonus part) and they couldn't even send me a copy and pasted letter of something like "Thanks for playing! We got more attention than we expected and won't be able to give you a t-shirt but we do appreciate you playing." I would never consider working for a company that would respond to an unexpected number of solicited entries by simply ignoring them. I doubt that I'm the only person who was permanently turned off about Instagram by having my email and solution simply deleted without being looked at or responded to.

I guess they should have written something like "We promise a personal response to the first 5000 correct solutions."

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think you should have to sign-in to do the practices.

Agreed. I'm not at all interested in giving my email out just to see what this is all about.

Mailinator, anyone?

33mail.com is what I swear by.

I agree, we will get around to implementing more functionality for cookie-only users.

Why not make the logging in process easier? I don't want to register to your website, but I wouldn't mind authenticating with my Google open-id.

Agreed. This is where I quit.


Haha, just won- and the algorithm happened to be one that was posted on the front page of HN earlier this week! It just goes to show, there's no reason to get work done when you can be reading articles on HN- it could turn out to be important.

But I have to say, I haven't heard of Quixey before- it looks like they're building a search engine for software. Are they just trying to replace platform-specific app markets, or is it something trickier than that?

Right now, all your devices are magic wands. It would be better if they were genies. We do wish-to-spell conversion.

Unless this has been changed since last time, there should be a big proviso. You can only get money if you live in the US. This should really be made clearer, earlier.

We're currently sending to any PayPal email.

This isn't right - they gave money to people outside of US last two times.

Won the $100 :). It took me about 15 minutes start to finish. You have to do 3 practices then wait a bit before you can do the real thing.

You are given about 10 lines of code and need to change one line to make it correct. The problems are things like binary search, topological sort, shortest paths, etc.

$400/hour isn't bad :)

Doing this ONLY is python is a shame.

Agreed, I just lost because of improper python syntax. Hardcore C would be more fun, with memsets and frees such that bugs can exist in memory management.

Yeah. I'm no Python programmer, so I screwed up one of the practices by writing `set.push(node)` instead of `set.add(node)`. Luckily that didn't matter on the challenge itself (except for the wasted seconds checking all my assumptions about what the python functions were doing).

It sure would be nice if it didn't require Skype. Still, I'm enjoying doing the practices.

Does it actually require Skype? That's how they plan on notifying people, but there's also a big countdown board you can watch if you like.

I tried the practices, and I didn't like it because they don't provide sample input, and you can't test your changes in browser. Most of my seconds are spent copying and pasting, and setting up sample input. I guess other people are more perfect typists, but I make typos and so my solutions were often wrong if I didn't test them.

I don't think testing would be of much help. These challenges are so designed that there is precisely one error in the function and precisely one way to fix it and either you notice it or you don't. If you were able to test your changes on the fly you could just as well try all the different modifications you can think of (of which there aren't many) without thinking too much.

I also just won (gibybo) and am pleased with the process. Overall it was smooth and what I expected, although it would have been cool if the challenge problem I got had sample input/output like some of the practice ones.

My strategy for those who might benefit: I checked out the profiles of all the previous winners today and found that the challenge question was always one of three. I looked up the algorithms and practiced by implementing a python version of each, noting where the tricky parts were. Then when I entered the challenge I used my reference python version and compared them. I was a bit lucky in that the challenge code was roughly laid out the same way as I happened to do it earlier.

I don't really feel like registering for the practices, so how does this work? Do they give you a piece of code that has a bug in it and you're supposed to find it and fix it?

Yea, prettymuch. You have to complete 3 practice runs correctly first, and then you can do the actual challenge. (Over skype, apparently)

The practice runs were all 5-10 lines of python where exactly one line had to be changed or added to correct the bug. I didn't come across any syntax errors, just logic errors, so I finished the practice runs pretty easily despite having almost 0 python experience. (I did miss one because I was too slow though. I found the bug and correctly guessed at the python syntax to fix it, but it took me 67 seconds.)

Would it be possible to show some examples on the page? Like previously corrected bugs?

Good idea. Check out the video here: http://blog.quixey.com/2011/10/03/quixey-challenge/

Which is staged. I wonder whether the real challenges are in similar style and difficulty. Looking at the problem in the video it would help to just quickly pull out template code and compare it. Would help to have an easier way to know whether this is something I could accomplish or is completely over my head.

$100 bucks, I could need those.

similar in scope and, depending on your grasp of the algorithm and python, roughly the same difficulty +/- a little bit.


-1 fail and don't send me any spam on my email addy.

You're wrong on two counts:

"The algorithm will be implemented as a Python 3.x function". - The instructions page, the first item. (http://www.quixeychallenge.com/instructions).

About page: "Add Skype user quixeychallenge as a contact. A working microphone and speakers/headphones are required. [..] We'll Skype call you when it's your turn."

And since the registration form is required before you do anything, and it is one form needing an email address, I think that counts as 'telling you about the need for an email address before you get involved' too.

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