I have noticed that almost all questions with the tag are closed as a duplicate of Largest Number Printable or are attempted to be closed as a duplicate of that post.

In Possibility of reopening a question it was even suggested that ttp://codegolf.stackexchange.com/questions/91332/the-longest-period-iterating-quine is a duplicate of that post [1].

And in other questions like Busy Brain Beaver reboot there are some twist like only using 1 language and raising the charterer limit [2][3]

I think either the tag should be removed or we should be a little less harsh on busy-beavers because it is in the nature of busy beavers that small changes make a big difference:

  • A small change in the character limit can have big effects like forcing you to use a completely different strategy
  • Forcing you to use an esoteric language (like brainfuck) can force you to really think about every detail you wouldn't think of other wise.

I meanly just wanted to bring this problem to your attention (and it got a bit rambly) and see what you think that should happen.


  1. While the longest quine is one of the most creative busy beavers I have seen
  2. I hope this one gets re-opened because I spend a day making an answer and now I can't post it but that should be discussed here : Should we open *Largest number printable* to all languages?
  3. I know limiting languages isn't suggested for other reasons but that's not the point of this discussion
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think at least the "longest period iterating quine" challenge is a duplicate, because most solutions will consist of a generalized iterating quine shell with a busy beaver to provide its argument. (Both challenges are ones we've had in the past.) I'm not convinced that all busy beavers are necessarily duplicates, though so I'm not answering because I'm not sure what the answer is. \$\endgroup\$
    – user62131
    Dec 27, 2016 at 20:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ais523 it may be that you can turn all the gold script solutions into quines but that still forces you to use golf script. And it really wasn't about any specific example but about the problem that every busy beaver is marked as a copy of largest number printable \$\endgroup\$
    – fejfo
    Dec 27, 2016 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are ways to do interesting busy beaver challenges without making a language-specific "print the largest number". In particular, by restricting to a particular language, one can make challenge about things like "run for as many ticks as possible before terminating", because ticks are well-defined for some esolangs but not in general. I've got 2 or 3 busy beaver challenges in my backlog that would be language specific for a good reason and would be different from a large number printing challenge. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 27, 2016 at 23:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fejfo: I'm not just talking about GolfScript, but about all languages. Nearly always, questions of the form "quine except modify the output in X way" are most tersely solved via the use of a universal quine constructor, and a generalized iterating quine shell is just a special case of that. That said, although most busy-beaver questions don't add anything beyond the basic busy beaver issue, I don't think it's impossible that one might contain something new (and am intrigued to see what MartinEnder will come up with). \$\endgroup\$
    – user62131
    Jan 2, 2017 at 14:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just posted a challenge in the sandbox that uses the busy-beaver tag but has very little to do with "largest number printable" (codegolf.meta.stackexchange.com/a/12974/66460) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 18, 2017 at 20:35


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