Sometimes, very low quality questions are asked on the site, that are nevertheless within the rules for what's acceptable on the site. I'm thinking of questions like:

Print the largest square in the Fibonacci sequence. Shortest code wins.

This is just asking for a hardcoded 144. Or for another example:

Print all primes from 1 to 10. Fastest code wins.

Let's assume for the sake of the argument that these questions are not duplicates.

What often happens with these questions is that they will get a large number of answers very quickly, as people rush to be the first to answer with an obvious solution in their language of choice. I think it would be better for site quality if these questions were closed or improvement.

On other sites, a typical course of events when very low quality questions are asked is that the question is edited into something conforming to the standards of the site. With questions such as these, it doesn't seem possible to improve the questions to the expected quality without change the challenge requirements, which is frowned on on this site in general, and specifically in the case when a number of people have already answered, which is particularly problematic when the above scenario with lots of quick answers plays out.

My preferred solution would be to close such questions by giving a reason specific to PPCG, something like "This challenge is closed because it is not up to the standards of challenges on this site, please see here for our standards and here for the Sandbox." We have this, which is related, but more like suggestions than requirements.

What do other people think? Is this a problem worth addressing? Should we create such a set of standards for challenge quality and direct people to them? Is there a better way to handle this situation?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your examples seem to be a duplicate of an existing meta question \$\endgroup\$
    – devRicher
    Dec 26, 2016 at 13:37
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @devRicher I'm trying to ask about the more general question - not just hardcoded answers, but low quality questions in general. \$\endgroup\$
    – isaacg
    Dec 27, 2016 at 1:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think "low quality" isn't the term here: it looks like you are talking about easy questions. I can't think of a good way to ensure a "minimum difficulty" for questions. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2016 at 0:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ As long as they aren't downvoted, it's OK - that means the community is in favor for them. Also, many users favor easier questions, so they can answer them. \$\endgroup\$
    – user60199
    Jan 4, 2017 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you mean 'the smallest square in the Fibonacci sequence'? I'm pretty sure there'd be an infinite number of squares in the Fibonacci sequence, but correct me if I'm wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – 0WJYxW9FMN
    Jan 4, 2017 at 21:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @J843136028 math.stackexchange.com/questions/1012999/… \$\endgroup\$
    – isaacg
    Jan 5, 2017 at 4:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @isaacg Thank you! That's really interesting. \$\endgroup\$
    – 0WJYxW9FMN
    Jan 5, 2017 at 16:52

1 Answer 1


Creating an objective set of standards would be nigh-impossible. What we can do (and have done) is downvote the low-quality challenges, and close them as duplicates of better challenges.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What if they aren't duplicates? What if they're new and bad? \$\endgroup\$
    – isaacg
    Dec 27, 2016 at 1:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @isaacg Then we make a better one \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Dec 27, 2016 at 1:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting - rather than edit, start fresh? I like the idea. \$\endgroup\$
    – isaacg
    Dec 27, 2016 at 1:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @isaacg Editing is good for small changes. If the entire challenge needs to be rewritten, it's easier to start fresh, especially if there are already answers to the bad one. \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Dec 27, 2016 at 3:57
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm with downvoting here in principle, but what seems to happen is a flood of answers gets the challenge onto HNQ where it gets upvoted no matter how bad it is. \$\endgroup\$
    – xnor
    Dec 27, 2016 at 5:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your suggestion is to kick the "bad" post under a rug, copy it, make it your own (basically: ripping the idea), change it a little bit and you (not the O.P.) post it again! And then, to add salt to the wound, you mark the kicked question as a duplicate of your "new" and "original" question. Wow, I'm impressed, That's pretty hardcore! \$\endgroup\$ Jan 6, 2017 at 12:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .