The current second highest-voted PPCG question, Showcase your language one vote at a time, was recently put on hold for being too broad and locked as historically significant for reasons explained here.

Should the question be unlocked and reopened so people can continue to add and update answers and keep showcasing languages?

A discussion on locking/closing the Showcase took place here: Proposal to lock the Language Showcase as historically significant

Note that currently the two highest voted answers to that meta discussion make the major points that

The showcase is not an optimal solution, but it's the best we have for now.


The showcase is part of a unique category of pop-cons that should be on topic.

which both seem to go against the idea that it should have been closed in the first place.

(Be aware that I'm the one who originally wrote the Showcase challenge.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ This will not garner fruitful discussion, as all the discussion has already happened on the other post. We should be looking at ways to have a showcase that is on topic on PPCG, not trying to shoehorn in a challenge that clearly doesn't fit. \$\endgroup\$ – user45941 Nov 21 '16 at 8:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree. The purpose of this post is asking "Hey, can we keep the post open while we discuss what to do with the Showcase", not "Should the showcase be closed"? \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Merrill Nov 21 '16 at 15:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the previous discussion several people pointed out that having it closed provides an incentive to work on an alternative. \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Nov 21 '16 at 23:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @trichoplax Just knowing that it could be replaced, which is what this whole conversation seems to have revealed (though I'm not sure I agree), is also an incentive. \$\endgroup\$ – Calvin's Hobbies Nov 21 '16 at 23:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would expect most people upon seeing it reopened to continue using it and forget all about alternatives. \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Nov 21 '16 at 23:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would guess most people willing to spend the time making an alternative would be hardcore PPCGers already aware of the issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Calvin's Hobbies Nov 21 '16 at 23:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @trichoplax I could understand this if it was just closed; but it was also already locked which was the entire point of that discussion anyways. \$\endgroup\$ – a spaghetto Nov 21 '16 at 23:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ What is popular is not always right. The mods unanimously decided to close and lock the showcase because it doesn't fit in the scope of the site. Rather than try to fight the mods on their decision, the community should be working with the mods to find a better solution. \$\endgroup\$ – user45941 Nov 22 '16 at 5:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ This meta question leads with upvotes, but they're a red herring, as is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the third highest upvoted question is also closed and locked and was responsible for a massive quality decline in the site which lasted several months. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Nov 22 '16 at 8:26

Yes, Unlock and Reopen

At least until we arrive at a more clear concensus on what to do with it, if anything.

  • \$\begingroup\$ And if we don't arrive at such a consensus? It remains open indefinitely? What's the bar for a "more clear consensus"? \$\endgroup\$ – xnor Nov 22 '16 at 19:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ The bar is that a meta post saying "we should do this with the Showcase" has more votes assenting to the idea than dissenting (within a reasonable margin of at least 2 or 3 votes). \$\endgroup\$ – Calvin's Hobbies Nov 22 '16 at 19:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a reasonable condition. I'd be happier with this post if you elaborated more on the possible outcomes. \$\endgroup\$ – xnor Nov 22 '16 at 20:10

I feel like a lot of the answers here are missing the intent (as communicated to me in chat) of Calvin's question, so I thought I'd make my own. Let me start by clarifying something:

This question has nothing to do with whether the showcase should be closed/locked permanently.

(for voting and discussion on that visit the original meta discussion)

This question is did the mods prematurely close the showcase, and should it be temporarily reopened while awaiting community consensus.

The answer is yes: just look at the votes on the original. At the time of the locking, Dennis's answer in favor of closing as too broad was at about score 7, with about a 60-40 breakdown in upvotes vs downvotes. Meanwhile, the answer in favor of keeping it open were at about scores of 15-20 with more like an 80-20 breakdown in upvotes vs downvotes.

Even if you subscribe to the most literal definition of majority (or plurality I suppose in the case), this isn't much of a consensus. And due to the question itself being downvoted heavily, the voting sample was really small.

Furthermore, now that the showcase has been locked, a lot more attention has been drawn to the original meta question and the consensus of keeping it open definitely seems to emerging (additionally, my answer suggests the barebones of a policy for handling this in the future).

Regardless of whether you consider this to be a consensus yet, there's no denying that there was no real consensus at the time when the question was locked. I would now like to take a reading from the Book of Atwood A Theory of Moderation:

As a moderator, your actions now represent the community, so you will be held to a higher standard of behavior. You are an ambassador of trust, with the same sorts of rights that the official development team and community coordinators have.

Your goal is to guide the community with gentle -- but firm -- intervention. Respect your fellow community members at all times; demonstrate fairness and impartiality in your actions. ... Keep the site reasonably on topic by closing, migrating, or removing blatantly off-topic questions.

Our moderators enjoy a fair amount of free will, which our site has benefited from immensely in the past. However, this is one of situations where the moderators should act as regular community members and vote/answer, and only execute mod actions after the community has agreed on something. The showcase is clearly not a blatantly off-topic question -- we wouldn't have needed this discussion in the first place if it was. As a result, the showcase should have been left alone while awaiting a consensus or (perhaps) locked with the "ongoing meta discussion" reason. Instead, it was closed as too broad, locked for historical reasons, and a tag was put on the original discussion implying discussion is over (which has now been changed to which is somewhat better). This is wrong.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is back to front. Clear community consensus is necessary (but not sufficient) for choosing to break the rules, not for choosing to enforce them. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Nov 22 '16 at 17:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor This is not how it works on SE. As the excerpt I showed states, this is only the case for blatantly off-topic questions. The fact that it took two years for this to come up and the assorted arguments indicate it is not nearly so cut and dry. \$\endgroup\$ – a spaghetto Nov 22 '16 at 17:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ That quote is from May 2009. The close dialog has changed immensely since then: see screenshots at meta.stackexchange.com/q/18005/164922 . So the only reasonable interpretation of "blatantly off-topic" is "blatantly out of scope" (as opposed to the narrower "blatantly deserving to be closed with the 'off topic' close reason"). Dennis has explained why the question is blatantly too broad, and I can't see that anyone has even attempted to argue against that. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Nov 22 '16 at 18:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ (I also think that it's blatantly off-topic in the narrower sense, and stand by my close vote from 18 minutes after the question was posted, but that's not strictly relevant). \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Nov 22 '16 at 18:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor The theory of moderation is one of the backbones of SE. Although appearances of things on SE have changed the spirit has not. \$\endgroup\$ – a spaghetto Nov 22 '16 at 19:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm afraid that I'm not sure what the point of your most recent comment is. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Nov 22 '16 at 20:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ That was in response to "quote is from May 2009." \$\endgroup\$ – a spaghetto Nov 22 '16 at 21:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ The date is relevant because it is evidence favouring the broader interpretation of "off topic". \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Nov 22 '16 at 21:32

No: PPCG isn't esolangs.org

The original purpose of PPCG was to provide a place to move questions when the scope of Stack Overflow was tightened. It has evolved since then into a place for "programming contests and challenges". But "encyclopaedia of programming languages" is far outside its scope, and can be done much better on platforms which don't have post size limitations, voting systems, etc. In particular, http://esolangs.org already provides a good platform for an encyclopaedia of programming languages, is intended for that purpose, and is used by the creators of many of the languages created in this community to showcase their languages.

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    \$\begingroup\$ See also: Rosetta Code. Esolangs doesn't really include non-esoteric programming languages. \$\endgroup\$ – mbomb007 Nov 22 '16 at 19:04

Apply standards consistently

Some people are arguing that we should leave the challenge open until a consensus is reached. Or, that it's off-topic but should remain open nonetheless because there's no harm in doing so.

Then shall we do the same for the recently closed pop cons? Whether those are in scope is debated back and forth to no end. For all the closed pure programming puzzles? Opinions on those are evenly split. Let's chide Dennis for unilaterally using mod power to close this puzzle challenge without community approval.

Applying certain standards to one challenge and not another reeks of favoritism. What messages are we sending to new users if Calvin's showcase challenge is allowed to remain open despite the rules, but theirs is closed? "If your challenge is popular enough, it's above rules"? "Established users get special treatment"? "Don't bother asking if it's on-topic, just post and hope it's excused retroactively"?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's also an established question, the second highest voted, that hundreds of people have contributed to. I'd like to think that's more what the "favoritism" is about than being from me. \$\endgroup\$ – Calvin's Hobbies Nov 22 '16 at 18:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Calvin'sHobbies Yes, I agree with that -- the question is exceptionally well-liked. Typically on-topicness of a question is judged when its posted, so most such challenges don't get the benefit of potentially becoming popular and established. \$\endgroup\$ – xnor Nov 22 '16 at 19:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ We have not really established a standard yet -- that's what I was hoping my answer might do. This still doesn't change that the challenge was closed prematurely though. \$\endgroup\$ – a spaghetto Nov 22 '16 at 19:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Calvin'sHobbies The third-highest-voted challenge was a code trolling challenge, as Peter has pointed out in the question comments. Lots of upvotes is not the same thing as good for the site. \$\endgroup\$ – user45941 Nov 23 '16 at 15:24

No, find a better solution

The top-voted answer says:

The showcase is not an optimal solution, but it's the best we have for now.

Rather than keeping the showcase (which is clearly off-topic by our rules), we should find a better solution that doesn't need a special exception to be on topic.

While the action taken by the mods to close and lock the showcase didn't really match community consensus, the one thing we did agree on was that the showcase would need a special exception to fit in our site's scope. Rather than try to make an exception, we should aim to find a solution that is within the scope of PPCG.


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