Brought to meta on the basis that it's too drastic a change to make unilaterally or on the basis of three people discussing it in the comments of a different question...

The issue has been raised by the author of Busy Brain Beaver reboot that answers in Brainfuck are not permitted on Largest Number Printable because its restrictions include

  • You cannot use digits in your code (0123456789);
  • You can use any language in which digits are valid characters (so that not using them is a real restriction);

That second restriction is really badly worded, but it does indeed seem to be intended as "You may only use a language in which digits have meaning (so that not using them is a real restriction)".

The problem is that this tends to push towards a forked situation where we have two questions which are identical apart from one not having the restriction (or inverting it, to avoid either being a technical dupe of the other). That's silly. And really the restriction seems silly too: if a language doesn't use digits to represent numbers, it's probably sufficiently verbose that the 100 character limit is a more painful restriction than avoiding digits is for Java.

I propose removing the language restriction, leaving the digit use restriction (and adding the tag ).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Third option: make a new challenge that has neither the source restriction nor the language restriction (and possibly a lower size limit). The Brainfuck challenge could be closed as a duplicate of that. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21, 2016 at 16:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinEnder, technically that's a possibility, but then IMO we would definitely need to merge the answers from Largest number printable into the new question, so I'm not convinced that it makes sense. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21, 2016 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are there so many answers that would remain competitive next to answers that use digits? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21, 2016 at 16:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, sorry, I read straight past the bit about removing the source restriction. Although certainly my winning answer wouldn't gain that much from having digits. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21, 2016 at 16:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Disallowing specific exclusion of languages. The highest voted answer there suggests disallowing the exclusion of a language unless it trivialises the challenge. In this case BF is unlikely to allow improvement over the best existing answers, and I suspect the same is true of most other languages without digits. So this probably supports removing the restriction altogether. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22, 2016 at 1:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ status-implemented \$\endgroup\$ Jun 26, 2017 at 14:17

2 Answers 2


Yes, we should open it up to all languages.

Limiting languages is generally discouraged, even for , which is why we always have a few joke answers in Lenguage and similar.

Not only that, but languages where numbers aren't present usually struggle with handling big numbers as well, Good luck printing anything higher than 256 in BF, and most other languages, such as Mathematica, have plenty of constants to get the job done.

I believe no language in which numbers aren't available are at an advantage, such, this should be opened to all languages.

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    \$\begingroup\$ We can print a number >256 in BF. Example: take this code: +>++++[<++++++++>-]<......................... This code prints a number WAY larger than the 256. The number printed is 111111111111111111111111, WAYYYYY larger than 256!!!!!!!!!!!!! \$\endgroup\$
    – user75200
    Dec 27, 2017 at 17:37

First I want to say I do think prohibiting languages without digits is a fairly stupid rule. But what's wrong with that? If the author wanted his contest to be this way, people don't have to participate. And if they don't the question will disappear from the front page fairly quickly.

Second I want to ask why we can't have an almost identical question but specifically for brainfuck. I think it's weird to allow multiple languages because this makes the question inherently unbalanced. And in a contest where all languages are allowed it is simply impossible to win with brainfuck because the language is so much less powerful then C or so. You would have to have a different character limit for every language.

Please don't down vote this post because you don't agree with it. Just tell me why you don't agree.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To point 1, it's true that in general we try to respect OP's vision, but it's also true that when you post in this site you grant permission to others to edit your post. To point 2, that identical argument could be made for 99% of the questions on this site. You would need to make an extremely compelling case for why this question should be treated differently to all the others. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21, 2016 at 19:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that downvotes on meta answers are often used to mean "I disagree". Downvotes here don't affect your rep - reputation only accrues on main. I'm also interested to see comments explaining why, but I just wanted to make clear that downvoting isn't a problem. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22, 2016 at 1:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor I don't really have a better reason. But I just wanted to say that it applies to 99% of the questions doesn't automatically make it a bad argument. (Maybe in this case it does a little bit because you have to avoid getting spammed with questions). Is there already an open discussion about challenges in different languages? Or do we have to start such a question too (but then away from the hole busy brain beaver thing) \$\endgroup\$
    – fejfo
    Dec 22, 2016 at 7:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are a few. meta.codegolf.stackexchange.com/q/231/194 and meta.codegolf.stackexchange.com/q/7473/194 are probably the main ones; meta.codegolf.stackexchange.com/q/6983/194 has some relevant discussion too. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22, 2016 at 9:45

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