The Wundernut Story

January 10, 2018 by Mika Viljanen

It was November 2014. Wunderdog had only existed for a couple of months but was already growing rapidly.

The ”Tahdon” human rights campaign was going viral. Our COO Tsuikkis had an idea about us honoring some pioneers of the industry in our social media channels, and the campaign got him thinking we could possibly start with Alan Turing whose life could have been very different had he lived in modern-day Finland. The movie The Imitation Game concentrating on Turing was coming out in a few months and we decided to pay our respects to him then somehow.

A month later we started a separate discussion about publishing some kind of coding challenge. We had several motives: to use it as some kind of coding assignment for job candidates up front, to get some visibility and nice PR, and to just offer the vibrant coder community something fun to tinker with. We considered using some existing challenges - e.g. Project Euler or 4clojure – but wanted something unique; a task that would reflect Wunderdog as a company and would have no existing solutions in the net. Pretty soon we decided to drop the (explicit) recruitment aspect and combined the idea about the coding assignment with our plans of honoring Turing. Our CTO Kukko started penning the first challenge vigorously.

Our first Wundernut, The Funniest Words, saw the light of day in January 2015. It was launched with the biggest social media campaign we had ever done – which had not been much, to be honest – organized by our then-Social Business Strategist Pami, but collectively supported by each and every Wunderdog colleague. The main prize for the most elegant solution was a book about Alan Turing, and the first ten respondents also got two movie tickets each.

The challenge was a success by our standards, receiving 34 answers in total, seven of which only a day after it was launched. And happily among those respondents were also two future Wunderdogs.

We have since published seven more Wundernuts, the latest of which is currently still running. The main ingredients have stayed the same: we invent our puzzles ourselves, accept solutions in any programming language, and reward the solution we find the most elegant. (In the latest one we’re actually rewarding the most efficient solution but in case of a draw it’s all about elegance again.) The prizes have been different each time but lately we’ve been giving out technical gadgets and geeky toys. The currently running one, The Shortest Edition, is the first one actively targeted at coders outside Finland as well.

The number of responses has changed from one challenge to the next, depending on how hard and interesting they have been. But there have always been plenty of answers, written in numerous programming languages and styles. And what’s most inspiring, there have always been answers written in languages the sender had not used before but decided to use in their entry just to try them out.

And that’s what the Wundernuts are all about: to boldly code what one has not coded before.


Comments anyone?