ACM Boston Preliminary (BOSPRE) Site Managers
The following is a list of site manager responsibilities. This list need
not be followed verbatim, but should be used as a checklist.
Although the list looks long, that is because it is an exhaustive
checklist including exhaustive explanations.
A person day is needed to reserve the rooms,
get a few student assistants, deal with the caterer,
build a single simple web page from an example, and acquire a printer,
plus a few other odds and ends.
So including contest day,
you should be able to host 5 to 10 teams in two person days (not
counting student assistants during the contest).
Also note that since you will not be involved in judging, and the
only action that requires professorial security is receiving and
storing the problem statements, you can delegate as much as you like
to trustworthy students. You can also delegate most of the before
contest work to computer support staff and administrative assistants.
Bob Walton, firstname.lastname@example.org, Wed Aug 15 02:13:42 EDT 2018
- Things that should be done starting a month
before the contest, in case something does not go smoothly:
- Reserve rooms and space. You need a room capable of holding
at least 5 teams. This means 15 seats and Wi-Fi that
can support 10 laptops, plus room for you, a printer, and
an assistant or two. In general, each team has 3 students
and 2 laptops.
- Telephone communications between the judge and site managers
is important during the contest. Be sure your cellphone works
in the reserved rooms.
- Make a public/private ssh key pair and send Harvard the public
key. The private key should NOT be passphrase protected.
- Find or acquire a printer that can be accessed from the room
and also from a laptop or computer in the room.
Get the printer client
software and documentation.
Harvard will provide
you with a PRACTICE-TEST-ACCOUNT and PRACTICE-PRINTER-REMOTE-ACCOUNT
that can be used with your private key to test your printer,
and then later with a separate CONTEST-TEST-ACCOUNT and
CONTEST-PRINTER-REMOTE-ACCOUNT for use on contest day.
You wil be sent a passwords for your test accounts, but the
printer REMOTE-ACCOUNTS will only be accessible by using the
private key whose corresponding public key you sent Harvard above.
- Make preliminary arrangements with your contest day assistants.
You should have at least 1 student assistant available during
most of the contest, and more if you have a lot of teams.
On contest day there will be practice problems for teams that
are new to programming contests, and ideally some of your
assistants can learn to walk such teams through a practice problem.
The BOSPRE Practice Facility can be
used to learn about this. Also see the
Practice Problems Help File.
- Be sure your school network management staff knows you will
be depending on the network on the contest day, so it does
not blindside you with scheduled network down time. You
may want to have someone on call for network problems on
- Find a caterer, decide what you are going to spend per lunch,
make a budget, and decide on the contest fee. Fees are usually used to
pay for catering, and not much else. Another possible use is
janitor or computer/network support person overtime if required,
and it is also possible to purchase a printer with the money if
The current fee is $75, which pays for catering for 3 team
members, with only a little left over. Its best to have good
food that will be remembered favorably, without being extravagant.
- Know how you are going to solve the parking problem, and
take early action if necessary. A good solution is to
have any team needing a parking permit email a particular
person who will buy the permits the day before the contest
and give them to you in time for contest day registration.
Usually only half the teams will need permits, and typically
one does not charge extra for permits.
- Set up a web site to communicate with the teams coming to your
contest site. Tell Harvard the URL of your site so Harvard
can link BOSPRE to it. Ask Harvard for examples from
- Be sure your web site has your travel directions, parking permit
contact information, and fees (including to whom any check is to
be made payable). Also, if appropriate,
some information about what coaches can do with themselves
while their teams perspire (for city schools this is not
necessary as the web already suffices, though a short list
of hints or URLs might be helpful).
- Note that Harvard will maintain the mailing list
adm<email@example.com> which includes
all site managers, the Harvard people, and any helpers the site
managers want to put on the list. A second mailing list,
includes these people plus all team coaches.
Coaches coming to the contest will be invited to use
this second mailing list to arrange a coach's lunch if they want
to. But this will not be paid for by the contest management.
- Harvard will be sending you handouts by USmail or UPS.
These handouts will be sent a week before the
contest, and will consist of a few help files that
are posted on the web, plus the problem statements.
Be sure Harvard knows the USMail address to send these too.
- Things that should be done a few days before the contest:
- Tell your caterer the final numbers.
- Make the final update to the web page, print it, and
make copies. You need 3 copies per team plus some
- Harvard will send you a few days before the contest
a PLAN that has all the host site managers names and phone
numbers, host site account names, and the judge's schedule.
The PLAN lists your CONTEST-TEST-ACCOUNT and
Also the practice problems will have been installed and
will be submittable in the contest test accounts.
- Have your assistants practice a bit with your
contest test account and practice problems.
- Use the contest test account to test the printer.
The contest printer REMOTE-ACCOUNT uses the same private
password as the practice printer REMOTE-ACCOUNT.
- There are instructions for what to do in emergencies:
e.g., if the network completely fails. These are
Print these out now, skim them, and put them in a
safe and accessible place.
- The PLAN also contains the name of your site manager's
judging account, which can be used to view all the files
and directories the judge creates, but which CANNOT be
used to write these files and directories. This account
has the public key you sent Harvard and can be accessed
only by using the corresponding private key that you kept.
- Things that should be done just before contest day.
- Be sure you have gotten the problem set. If not, get it by
email and print.
- Double check that the test account works.
- Double check that the printer works using the test account.
- Things that should be done on the contest day:
- Follow the `PLAN' you are sent.
- Continually monitor your site printer.
- On a public terminal, log into your test account and
scoreboard program running
so as to give a public display of the scoreboard.
- Register the teams as they arrive. This means
check them off a list, give them all the handouts
EXCEPT the problems, accept the registration fee
(e.g., $75), hand out parking permits if appropriate.
Note: occasionally you may have to take an IOU: do so.
- As soon as teams arrive, they may set up their laptops
and practice. Student assistants who know
enough can help teams that need assistance.
- Hold a pre-contest meeting with everyone. This
should be very short. You introduce the contest
managers and assistants. Everyone SHOULD have printed
out and read the handouts already, and everyone SHOULD
have tested their contest accounts before they came.
But many will not
have, so take a few questions politely, but do not turn
this session into a tutorial for the unprepared.
- End this meeting EXACTLY at 10am by giving out the
problems. WARNING: You cannot answer any question
about the problems verbally: all answers must be
put on the scoreboard where all teams can see them.
You can answer non-problem-specific questions, e.g.,
about how the editor, compiler, and debugger work,
and you can talk about the demo and practice problems.
- During the contest you can contact the contest judge by using
hpcm_sendmail in your contest test account
to propose clarifications of problems to be put on
the scoreboard. You may tutor teams having trouble with
the system software or with the submission procedure.
WARNING: You cannot answer any question
about the problems verbally: all answers must be
put on the scoreboard where all teams (including those
at other sites) can see them.
Note that contestants who want to submit questions about
problems have an email procedure using
hpcm_sendmail for doing so, and such
questions go to the contest judge.
- Identify teams that are doing very poorly and have them
work a practice problem, on which you can give them as
much advice as they need.
- Note that Harvard will only provide judging and
clarifications related to questions submitted by
(usually these are subtle problem clarifications or problem
Harvard will not have the manpower to deal with teams
doing very poorly.
- At the end of the contest, the final scoreboard will
be printed twice by the judge to all site printers.
(The public scoreboard
is not updated during the last contest hour in order
to hide the winners.)
Make (e.g. 20) copies of the final scoreboard for the
The final scoreboard also appears under the name
contest/scoreboard.final relative to the
judging directory in your site manager's judging account.
- Have the end of contest meeting. First announce the winners
(down through the best team of each of the first N schools,
where N is a close upper bound on the number of
schools going to regionals),
and then hand out the scoreboard. Give out ACM handouts
(e.g., tea shirts). You can then do any of the following
if you like: (1) go over the basic solution ideas of
some of the harder problems; (2) show some of the more
interesting submitted solutions; (3) take a survey
of which problems were hardest, more interesting, etc;
(4) whatever else strikes your fancy.
- We do not hand out individualized participation certificates or
give out plaques any more.