The answer to this question depends on what time in the National Cyber League (NCL) season it is.
Before, In Between, and After the Games
If you’re struggling with a challenge and there are no active Games (Preseason, Individual, or Team) going on, you’re pretty much free to ask any questions you want to anyone you think will be able to help you, whether that’s your coach, a peer from your school, or someone in the Cyber Skyline Slack.
Rules for asking questions in Slack
Keep in mind that if it’s before any of the Games have occurred, you should only be asking questions about challenges from the Gymnasium, which you’re free to ask about in any channel within the Cyber Skyline Slack. If it’s in between or after the Games, and you have questions about challenges from the Games, you may only ask these questions in the #no-answer-only-methodologies-and-techniques channel. Cyber Skyline will not create this channel for the season until after the Preseason Game has finished, and each season has it’s own dedicated channel. It is off limits to post anything in the #no-answer-only-methodologies-and-techniques channel during the Games. It is also off limits to ask for or post answers to any challenges in any of the channels before, during, or after the Games.
During the Games
The rules are slightly different depending on which active Game is going on. The Preseason and Individual Games work exactly the same way, but you’ll have a little bit more freedom during the Team Game. The one thing that stays the same for all of the active Games is that you can always use the Gymnasium during active Games. If you’re stuck on a challenge that looks the same as one you saw in the Gymnasium, you’re free to go over to the Gymnasium challenge and use the “Click to reveal solution” tool. It may feel a little like cheating, but we promise it’s not because everyone playing in the Games has access to the Gymnasium.
Preseason and Individual
During the Preseason and Individual Games, the rules are the same. You are not permitted to get any help from anyone during these Games. You cannot ask your coach, your peers, or anyone on Slack. My suggestion if you’re struggling with the challenges is to learn how to Google in a way that will help you figure out how to solve the challenge. If there’s a file type you’ve never seen, search “how to open [insert file type here].” If there’s a particular category you’re stuck on, search tools for that particular category. You may not always find something, but it’s a good place to start. Oh, and don’t forget, you can use the information that you find here on blog at any point. All of the technical blogs are tagged by category, so searching the category in the search bar will show you all of the posts for that category.
During the Team Game, the rules are a little bit different. If you need help during the Team Game, you can ask anyone who is on your registered team. I specify “registered” team here because if you’re at a school with more than 7 people participating in NCL, you will need to have more than one team. If you’re in that boat, you may only talk to people who are on your team. Teams from the same school may not talk to each other about the challenges while the Team Game is active. If your school has more than one team and you forgot who’s on your team, double check your Team Info on the Overview page of the Team Game in the Cyber Skyline Dashboard before you ask anyone for help. Remember here that you still cannot ask your coach or other competitors on Slack for help.
Seriously though, ask your teammates for help as much as possible; that’s what the Team Game is all about to begin with! You’ll learn from and with your teammates much more than you would ever expect, and you’ll gain necessary teamwork skills along the way.
If after reading this post you’re still not sure about who and when you can ask for help, read through the NCL Rules of Conduct and CryptoKait’s blog post which detail exactly what constitutes cheating, and it should be pretty clear. Further clarification on available and prohibited resources and tools can be found here and here.