Writing Challenge Specs

When a user visits Topcoder and is browsing challenges, it should a pleasing experience for the user whether they are an experienced Topcoder or visiting for their first time.  At Topcoder, we strive to provide clear and concise challenges in a consistent format.

 

As a copilot (or anyone writing a challenge spec), you should always follow these guidelines:

 

  1. Don't assume users know everything you do, because they don't.  Write the spec in a way that any user (new or old) can understand what is needed in the challenge. Don't assume people will figure out the missing pieces.
  2. Always start with a very brief and simple intro. Get the users attention in the first 2 lines and give them a clear sense of what this challenge is about.
  3. Be precise with the goals of the challenge.
  4. Make sure it's easy for the user to get started.  Include environment setup, access to required assets, and anything else the user will need to be successful.
  5. Be specific about the requirements. Itemize the requirements so it's clear what will be tested and validated against.  The reviewers will use this during the review process.
  6. Be clear about what the user needs to submit and what will be reviewed.
  7. Always start with a spec template.  Don't make up your own format/style of specs.  We want to be consistent.

 

Spec Templates

We have a catalog of templates that should be used when writing specs.  Please always start with these. If you feel you need a different format, please raise the issue in the copilot forum. Refer back to the template repository below to make sure you are using the latest since these will change.

Here are the templates.

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