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How I Became HackerRank #1 In Two Hours

HackerRank #1 In Two Hours

My ranking on Hacker Rank is #1 for Java programming and it only took me two hours. For every question on the HackerRank site, there is a discussion area. In the discussion area are the answers for the questions; often posted by moderators of the site. I only found out about this feature because I was using the site normally and looking for more information about a problem I was trying to solve.

What I did was go to the discussions, copy the code and paste it to the answer box without even reading the questions. I passed every single question perfectly and I am now ranked #1 for Java programming. It took two hours because there was still some fiddling with braces, and semi-colons.

HackerRank question about Java Stacks.

HackerRank question about Java Stacks. Under discussion contains the answer. Top right shows 913 points, rank #1

Solution under discussions which passes the test without even using a Stack.

Solution under discussions which passes the test without even using a Stack.

Motivations For Getting The Ranking

Recently I saw a Bloomberg story linked on Hacker News where it said that Wall Street is frantically looking for programmers. In this Bloomberg article there was the following snippet:

So last year, Furlong, 30, enrolled in a three-month coding boot camp that uses HackerRank, a web platform that trains and grades people on writing computer code. After earning a top ranking for Java developers globally, Furlong was hired by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in December for its two-year technology training program.

I was left wondering are companies really hiring based off Hacker Rank ratings, when you can easily manipulate the ratings? Are these companies aware the answers are provided by the website?

HackerRank Is Buggy

One major issue I have with the HackerRank is that the site itself is extremely buggy. Many times I had to reload my browser or refresh the page as the Java compiler within HackerRank got confused. Other times the questions were worded poorly and had obvious English grammar mistakes. Much of the time I spent trying to solve problems on Hacker Rank was battling with standard in, rather than solving problems.

Any abomination of code will pass the tests as long as it outputs properly. The site does not teach proper or idiomatic Java. It simply teaches you to craft your solution to pass their auto-grader.

The HackerRank compiler is black box. Code that ran perfectly in my Eclipse IDE often broke the web site. Due to these limitations, the programmer is often spending half the time fighting with the Hacker Rank website, rather than learning.

Master Java In 3 Months?

I spent four years working as a Java programmer and I was not close to being the best Java programmer on my team. There is simply no way somebody can become the best-globally-ranked-Java-programmer with three months of boot camp experience.

First of all, Hacker Rank only “teaches” the basic Java language features. There are no tests for using an IDE, a server such as JBoss, or version control software. There are no tests where you work with more than 100 lines of code even.

Personally I am getting tired of seeing all the stories about mastering programming in 3 months through a boot camp. Mastery only comes through experience, practice, and patience.

A programmer’s merit has never relied on rankings, and there is no reason to start now. If a person is claiming to be a top ranked programmer from Hacker Rank you should know this person is likely a fraud.

21 Comments

  1. Dillon Reedy

    October 29, 2016

    Post a Reply

    Thank you brother for saying these things, I’m tired of running into people in my field (I got a software engineering degree, and have been a developer for a year now) that are saying “oh I did a fucking boot camp and so now I fucking know programming”. It’s a mix of emotions, from cringe to anger.

    None of these dumb mother fucks know the hardships of going through deploying a node js web application through aws or the theory behind the system. They will at best learn how to take in input and spit out output in a console application.

    Just fucking frustrating…

    Email me back to let me know how you feel in response if you want.

    Kudos!

    • rampage101

      November 1, 2016

      Post a Reply

      Yea, I am also annoyed when I see stories about easy programming is with the boot camps. Having spent 7 years in school for computer science (4 years bachelor’s, 3 years master’s), it is frustrating to see people say that the same can be completed in 3 months. Three months is one semester of school!

  2. Anshu

    October 30, 2016

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    Ha ha! Those are test /practice challenges with given solutions. The companies do their recruitment from competition challenges and not practise ones 🙂

  3. Pedro

    October 30, 2016

    Post a Reply

    You should try participating in one of the competitions. They range from 1 hour to 1 week long and posting solutions while they are ongoing is forbidden. The rank obtained from those has a very different meaning (though there can still be cheating – multiple people working under a single alias, for example).

    Any questions under the practice section are there for, obviously, practice. If someone needs help with a solution, the discussion section is a valuable asset. Obviously any rank derived from the completion of practice questions is meaningless and as you showed it can be easily gamed.

  4. Rami James

    October 30, 2016

    Post a Reply

    This is really what I expect from the current wild-west mentality that surrounds BootCamps and online training venues for coding. You can’t substitute real world experience with anything else. I’ve been a developer for almost twenty years and am still learning new things every day.

    The idea that you could come out of a BootCamp or website with anything other than utterly basic Junior developer level knowledge is completely laughable.

  5. anon

    October 30, 2016

    Post a Reply

    That’s the downside of being a fake engineer. Real engineers handle the problems that they run into on these sites. Fake ones get frustrated and write a retarded blog post about the problems.

    • rampage101

      November 1, 2016

      Post a Reply

      I don’t think many “real engineers” as you say spend much time on ranking sites. What would be the incentive for good Java programmers to compete here?

  6. MM M

    October 30, 2016

    Post a Reply

    Oh man. “HackerRank” is just a joke. Someone should fuck their shit up for using the word “hacker”..

    A bunch of shit smart ass sales people who are probably better off promoting pyramid and Ponzi schemes.. Fuck those guys..

  7. Egor Suvorov

    October 30, 2016

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    > First of all, Hacker Rank only “teaches” the basic Java language features.

    That is absolutely correct. However, HackerRank teaches language-independent stuff as long as you do not cheat. Say, classical algorithms or data structures (from some textbook-based Algorithms 101).

    Probably one will never need anything similar in their career, however, I believe that that stuff is _one of methods_ for sharpening debugging (like in “debugging hidden bugs with no debugger or good stack traces”) and reasoning (like in “prove that this complex invariant holds always”) skills, which are quite useful in real world as well. Obviously, this is not everything that programmer needs, and there are other ways of learning them. I personally feel that automatic testing systems (like on programming competitions) do a good job in forcing people to write “always-correct” code, not only “looks-like-correct”.

    • rampage101

      November 1, 2016

      Post a Reply

      Actually there site is decent for practicing I think. I just don’t see how companies can be hiring off those scores, or why HackerRank is in charge of hiring. If the site was just about making programming a game, I would not have any problems at all with it.

  8. Dustin Rodriguez

    October 31, 2016

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    But… experience is EXPENSIVE. We (the readers of Bloomberg, employers, people looking to get hired, etc) don’t WANT that to be true. Therefore, it is not.

    Next you’ll be telling us those 1,000+ studies saying that open floor plan offices destroying productivity weren’t flawed. Or that the ones showing productivity benefits of remote work are true. Get with the program.

  9. kuszi

    November 2, 2016

    Post a Reply

    If you like to have fun solving problems (and to improve your skills rather than your rank) let join us at SPOJ (Sphere Online Judge).

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