How to ask for help on a problem

Here are some general guidelines for how to effectively ask for help on the Forum:

Basic Requirements

  1. Include a link to the problem. For problems that that can be found within the guide, just include the internal Guide URL (ex. Circular Barn).
  2. Format your post appropriately (especially language-specific code blocks such as the following).
// cpp code here ...

int main() {


If you don’t understand the problem solution conceptually:

These are great questions to ask in the Forum! Make sure to let us know what part of the solution doesn’t make sense to you instead of simply saying “I need help on this problem.” If you really don’t understand any part of the solution, that’s fine – you should specify this in your question.

If you’re wondering whether an approach will work, we expect that you’ve already attempted to implement it before asking on the forum.

If you need help debugging your code:

The Forum isn’t a free debugging service! We expect that you’ve tried your best before asking for help (though don’t be afraid to ask; the worst that can happen is we’ll let you know that you should try some more yourself first).

  1. Read through the Debugging module.
  2. Include what you’ve tried so far.
  3. Include your formatted (and preferably commented) code. (If there’s a section you think is wrong, mention it!)
  4. Include which test cases you’re failing on (for USACO, a screenshot suffices).

Note that if you’re getting a wrong answer verdict, you’ll likely be told to just generate a small counter-test and figure out why it isn’t working on your own. If you’ve already tried generating small counter-tests, include the generator code.

Closing Thoughts

Please don’t be afraid to ask for help on this Forum! We’re a friendly community and the worst that can happen is we’ll ask you to revise your question :slight_smile: