Tech by VICE

HackerRank Finds the 'Best' Coders in Wyoming, Washington

But take that with a grain of salt.

by Michael Byrne
Jul 29 2017, 1:00pm


According to a blog post published this week, user data from Hackerrank reveals that the sharpest coders in the country are based not in Silicon Valley but in Washington and Wyoming. This is based on scored coding submissions from 2015 and 2016 representing 450,000 unique users. Submissions encompass eight programming domains, including but not limited to Java, Python, data structures, and algorithms.

For those whose hobbies may not include solving intense algorithm problems, Hackerrank is a platform that provides code challenges. Users are able to choose from a deep selection of problems, some related to fundamental algorithm design and some related to the mechanics of specific programming languages, and then submit solutions in code, which are then sent through a gauntlet of automated tests. Points are awarded depending on the outcomes of those tests. Naturally, users are then ranked based on their current accumulation of points.

It's a niche pursuit, certainly, but it's also pretty popular among developers and, particularly, developers faced with the technical coding interviews that serve as the gateway to many engineering jobs. Sites like Leetcode and Codefights offer similar platforms.

I requested additional details from Hackerrank about raw data and methodology, but haven't yet heard back.

According to this week's post, its findings are based on simple scoring averages for each state. Given that, the results don't seem quite so wild. Figure there are vanishingly few developers in Wyoming compared to California or Washington and its easy to see how a small pool of strong talent could push the state's ranking to second place. While nice for a headline, I'm not sure that position is really all that meaningful given that you could fit the entire population of Wyoming into Oakland alone.

Indeed, the Hackerrank post notes that California is among the states with the highest number of site users while Wyoming has among the lowest.