Some time ago I asked a question 8 ought to become Infinity, which was closed as

"Questions without an objective primary winning criterion are off-topic, as they make it impossible to indisputably decide which entry should win." – Conor O'Brien, BlueEyedBeast, Wheat Wizard, Mego

Currently it has 8 upvotes and 6 downwotes. What's wrong with this challenge?

According to The state of the popularity contest tag is ontopic.

According to tag description:

Qualities of good popularity contests

A challenge with clear specifications that still allow for creative problem solving.

I think, it is. At least I don't see any questions about specification in comments.

A challenge where solutions that best solve the problem are also solutions that the voters are going to like.

The same thing.

Gives freedom to entrants to decide what to do in crucial parts and incentivizes them to use this freedom.

A lot of different solutions in different languages are possible.
There are a lot of different approaches depending on the language you chose.

It is strongly suggested to submit the challenge to the Sandbox

The question was asked on language-specific site and rules were polished.

Things that MUST be included in a popularity contest

A popularity contest must always include an objective validity criterion, which is a set of rules that regulate what every answer must comply with. Answers that do not comply are invalid and will be removed.

Yes. There is a set of xections about that.

A clear specification of the goal that must be achieved. Questions like "do (this) the most creative way" should be avoided. Creativity should be the tool, not the goal.

Same thing.

Qualities which should be AVOIDED in popularity contests

Asking to solve a specific task in a very specific way, without room for creativity.

There is enough place for creativity.

Asking to solve a vaguely defined task in any way that the entrant wants (this will probably make your question be closed as too broad).


Rules what people should consider when voting. In the past this has consistently never worked out. These sort of questions would be better off as a with specific winning criteria.


According to comments:

How about removing the language restriction, and replacing the for loop with something more general (and have the extension points only be before and after the clean code). Maybe something like print something 8 times for the clean task, and have the clean task go on forever, for the augmented task – Maltysen 2 days ago

@Maltysen, there is a lot of interesting solutions in languages with these construction. There are C and C++ (with absolutely different solutions), C#, Java, Javascript, php, Perl, Groovy. I'm sure there are much more. Anyway, I'm open to enlarge question and that's specified in rules. If you can make something iteresting in other language - post it. If it will have positive reation, rules can be enlarged.

Doing this as a popularity-contest is a little awkward because there's no description of what criteria voters should choose when voting (making the victory condition subjective). I was working on a code-golf solution on the basis that many people here find golf solutions interesting and thus it might be popular; that seems like it might be a workable victory condition for the challenge. – ais523 2 days ago

@ais523, no code-golf doen't suit for this challenge as 1. Interesting solutions with reflection or code patching are not good for golfing, also they are much better in readable state then in golfed. 2. C/C++ solution will win in 13 chars. 3. The other very cool C++ only solution will have 16 chars.

@ais523, "there's no description of what criteria voters should choose when voting" let's take a look at popularity-contest description: "Qualities which should be AVOIDED in popularity contests ... Rules what people should consider when voting. In the past this has consistently never worked out."

So I don't see anything wrong with the challenge. Is there anything to be fixed?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Another relevant post from the linked meta discussion separates popcons into two categories, one of which generally works better than the other. Your challenge seems to belong in the category that is more problematic as there isn't a specific goal for the answerers to strive for (instead there's a task to complete, and then voting happens based on some vague "interestingness"). That said, I think at the core your challenge is very interesting and doesn't fall into the "too broad" trap like many other popcons do. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 15:16
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ My main grudge with the challenge is that it can be hard to say what the "standard for-loop construct" is in languages that aren't influenced by the C-family, especially esoteric languages that might not have traditional looping constructs, but which - depending on subjective interpretation - might have something that is vaguely equivalent. Nevertheless, your challenge ticks most of the boxes of an acceptable popcon, so I'd be interested to see how it goes if it gets reopened. This may have benefited from some time in the sandbox. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 15:19
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ For what it's worth, I think it's a fine question (somewhat related). The impression that I get, is that there are members of this community who are idealogicially opposed to popularity-contests as a matter of principle. I believe that they are a minority, albeit a very vocal one. \$\endgroup\$
    – primo
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 18:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ This entire site is a popularity contest. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 19:43
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Isn't "making the victory condition subjective" precisely the goal? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 19:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ The same situation happened to my pop-con here. It has clear definitions of input, output and expected behaviour. It sat in the sandbox for over three weeks - where it received no feedback. Within hours of posting it, it got answered, closed, and nearly re-opened. Clearly, the community is divided about these sorts of questions. I'll add a more objective 'winning criterion' now, but I'm afraid it'll feel tacked-on, mainly because it wasn't part of the question in the sandbox. It won't be codegolf, because I encourage people to go beyond the bare necessities. \$\endgroup\$
    – steenbergh
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 20:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ One possible problem is that popularity contests are usually intended to encourage creative solutions. Your problem consists of a problem description, followed by an itemized list of the specific ways we are or are not permitted to be creative. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ray
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 0:03


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