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. Under discussion contains the answer. Top right shows 913 points, rank #1
Solution under discussions which passes the test without even using a Stack.
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?
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.
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.