I recently posted two challenges. One of them I really really liked, and took some time and typing to finalize. The other I thought of on a whim and posted (after Sandbox, of course).

The difference? The first one was harder, and its explanation was a block of text. The second one was (relatively) trivial, and it had a short explanation.

The harder one got no answers and 12 upvotes in 112 views, and was up for more than twice as long.

harder challenge

The easier one got 19 answers and 9 upvotes in 141 views.

easier question

It also just so happens that the easier challenge is currently in HNQ. Now, I believe that the easier challenge does have a place in PPCG and even in HNQ. However, I believe my harder challenge is much more interesting. I've posted similar harder or easier challenges in the past. My highest voted challenge was exceedingly trivial, and was on HNQ for quite some time. Another harder challenge did fairly well, probably because I put a significant bounty on it - but it never hit HNQ.

I think there's a problem here, although I might not speak for the majority. I don't know if there's a solution, but we may as well have discussion about it. I'd like a way for harder challenges to receive some attention.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure whether this is a dupe of codegolf.meta.stackexchange.com/q/7150/194 or not, but it's certainly in similar territory. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 16, 2017 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ This has long been considered a bad thing about the site, there's been discussion on it in this meta post: codegolf.meta.stackexchange.com/q/7150/32686 \$\endgroup\$
    – Blue
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm trying to focus on how to bump up harder challenges instead of bring down easier challenges @muddyfish \$\endgroup\$
    – Stephen
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 13:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, challenges get put on HNQ if they have lots of upvotes, lots of answers and are relatively new. Harder questions tend to have fewer in the way of answers so there's not much we can do about it without an act from up high \$\endgroup\$
    – Blue
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 13:40
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Personally my opinion on this is that I prefer challenges where writing code to solve the task is easy, and golfing of said code is the hard part. If I have to take significant time to think out how I'd write code for a task, even before golfing, then I'll most likely just skip it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mayube
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 13:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Personally speaking, I do most of my golfing either while on a quick break from work or on my phone while doing something else as well so I don't have the time to dedicate to the more complex challenges, instead I go for the quicker challenges that have an easy/obvious solutions and spend the few minutes I have golfing those solutions down. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shaggy
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 13:48
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This all being said when someone does end up working on and answering a tougher question the results can be marvelous \$\endgroup\$
    – Poke
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Poke and they can get 1.6k rep in bounties \$\endgroup\$
    – Stephen
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 13:57

4 Answers 4


PPCG is a FUN stack-exchange and not all users want to solve hard problems.

It is hard. Not everyone wants to do that. Simple. I enjoy solving all sorts of problems but simple ones using Brain-Flak are a large amount of fun for me.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ +1, I very much enjoy casual challenges which don't require too much involvement just to keep my programming skills sharp \$\endgroup\$
    – Beta Decay
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 13:33
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I definitely agree but I wouldn't say it's specifically easy problems but rather simple problems which people are attracted to. Simply problems with maybe harder solutions are usually the most fun and interesting to golf \$\endgroup\$
    – Downgoat
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 22:30

The harder one got no answers and 12 upvotes in 112 views, and was up for more than twice as long.
The easier one got 19 answers and 9 upvotes in 141 views.
I'd like a way for harder challenges to receive some attention.

What do you mean by "attention"? The harder challenge got a reasonable number of views, and a better upvote-per-view rate than the easier one. So the impression I get is that by attention you really mean answers.

Have you written a reference implementation? How many hours did it take? Then how many more would it take to golf it? And is it reasonable to expect people to have put in that much of their spare time in the 24 to 48 hours which passed between posting the question and taking the snapshot in this meta-question?

In my opinion it is fair to say that interesting questions can get buried by trivial ones, and I think the site has tended more towards trivial questions over the past two or three years than in the first two or three. But I think it's also fair to say that your expectations look unrealistic.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The harder one has received 5 views since I posted this. The easier one has received 300. That's kinda what I mean by attention. You are correct though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stephen
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 14:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StephenS, it's also unrealistic to expect to get as many views on a question which is only seen by people who regularly scan the PPCG list of questions as on one which HNQ puts in front of tens of thousands of StackOverflow users. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:14

It's not what many of us are here for

Difficult challenges may be fun to write, and for some, fun to solve. But many of us, myself included, are not here to solve difficult programming challenges, we're here to solve simple challenges, and golf our code.

We don't want to spend a ton of time figuring out just how to solve a challenge at all when we could be spending a ton of time figuring out how to golf the solution to a much more simple challenge.

That being said, I'm not saying that's the way it should be. This is PPCG after all, not just CG, but as people mentioned in comments, there are on-going meta discussions about how to resolve this.


Visibility-focused events

There are 4 different kinds of people on this site (I'm generalizing here, but bear with me):

  1. Those that want to solve easy challenges
  2. Those that want to solve hard challenges
  3. Those that post easy challenges
  4. Those that post hard challenges

The easy challenges are really easy to find because they are more common, and hit the HNQ more often.

The question we have to ask is: Are the people that want to solve hard challenges finding them?.

  • If the answer is "YES", then there are simply less people that want to solve difficult challenges, and there isn't much we can do.
  • If the answer is "NO", then we need to improve the visibility of these challenges.

This is why visibility-focused events are important. They give visibility to these difficult/interesting challenges to those that are interested.

One of the best things we do in this community are the Best-of challenges. They happen once a year, but they really put an emphasis on interesting challenges/answers.

I tried to add another event (Tour of PPCG), but after the voting phase, I didn't feel like I had enough top-voted answers to be justified to edit them all.


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