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
// cpp code here ...

int main() {

}
```

Output:

// 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).
  • We expect that you have read through the entire Debugging module before posting.
    • If it’s a problem with publicly available test data (ex. USACO), we expect that you’ve checked the test case(s) on which your code is failing.

What to include:

  1. Link (as mentioned above)
  2. All of your code so others can run it.
    • formatted (as described above) and preferably commented
    • If there’s a section you think is wrong, mention it.
  3. What you’ve tried so far.
    • We expect that you’ve read everything in the Debugging module, especially the final section, before posting.
    • If you haven’t found a small test case on which your solution fails, we expect that you tried (but failed) to generate a small counter-test (as described in the above module). Include the generator code.
  4. Which test cases you’re failing on (for USACO, a screenshot suffices).

If you can’t figure out why your program is producing a particular output:

  1. Add print statements to your code and compare their outputs to what you get when you simulate your program by hand.
  2. Check for undefined behavior.

If we do not think you have read all of the above, we will refer you back to this post.

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:

8 Likes
Switching on the Lights
USACO Bronze 2016 Problem 1 Square Pasture help
2013 November Silver
File or terminal?
Welcome to the USACO Forum!
Question on Breed Counting (2015 December Silver)
Closing the Farm 2016 US Open Silver
USACO Bronze January 2020 Problem 1
Bronze 2019 US Open Milk Factory - Fails 9th test case
USACO Bronze, Ski Design
Why did the cow cross the road?
USACO Silver: Triangle
Bovine Genomics Help
Https://cses.fi/problemset/task/1068
AtCoder - Multiples of 2019
CSES Range Update Queries
Why does the USACO website keep telling me my answer on the sample input case is wrong?
Shortest Paths with Non-Negative Edge Weights : Why did the cow cross the road?
Intro to Sets and Maps (USACO Guide Bronze)
I am confused with Multiset/Set Upper_bound. Need help
Connecting Two Barns
What should I do before asking for help?
Distinct element in range using segment tree getting tle PLS HELP
Need help with the easiest problem on usaco
Working on a DP problem
LCA implementation
CSES Missing Number
CF- Good Subarrays Question
APIO 2011 How to solve Table Coloring Problem using DFS (Two - Coloring)?
USACO 2019 February Contest, Bronze Problem 3. Measuring Traffic
High Card Low Card Help (Greedy Algorithms with Sorting) [2015 USACO December Gold 1]
Help with "Convoluted Intervals " 2021 Dec. Silver
How to solve CSES Two Sets Problem?
Help on Moocast
2016 December Contest, Silver P3, Moocast
Clarification on Debugging Guidelines
Shortening Solutions for USACO
2016 US Open Problem 3, Closing The Farm
Link Cut Tree: Squirrel Cities?
Springboards USACO Gold 2020 January Contest
Hoof Paper Scissors Problem USACO help needed
Wa in 1 Tc in Usaco Silver 2013 US Open Gravity
Angry Birds Gold