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Google I/O snafu greenlights crap code, angers devs

Will 100 ugly step programmers go to the ball?

There are red faces across Mountain View today after angry developers pointed out a flaw in the Chocolate Factory's Code Jam competition for tickets to the Google I/O conference in June.

Tickets for the event sold out in 20 minutes after they went on sale last month, and prices on eBay hit $4,500 before the auctions were taken down.

Google opened up 100 tickets to developers who successfully wrote solutions in a Code Jam competition, but the checking mechanism for entries turned out to be borked.

"The validator – i.e. the thing that checks your program has created the correct output was broken - and people who submitted incorrect entries had them verified as correct and correct entries (like mine - not bitter at all) were marked as incorrect," emailed Reg reader Richard of Barcode Beasties/TonePush.

The Google+ page covering the competition soon began to fill up with comments from developers, some of whom had stayed up all night trying to win tickets to the show. Many pointed out that code they knew was correct was getting shot down by Google, while others reported flawed code getting approved.

El Reg got in contact with Google to find out what went wrong and an explanation from the Code Jam team has now appeared on the competition web site. It explained that four of the team's coders made the same mistake with the first question and this wasn't noticed until after the competition entries started to come in.

"We would like to apologize for the confusion this has caused," the team said. "We will send an email to all participants shortly, announcing our plan to resolve this issue in the least unfair manner possible. We take a lot of precautions to prevent mistakes like this, but we have messed up this time."

Quite what can be done at this stage remains to be seen. Google faces the prospect of having 100 undeserving coders getting into the show, based on the current results, and there are a lot of peeved developers as a result. ®

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