First of all,

I personally have no footing against or towards the current system. All though, some points have come to my attention and I wonder what others think about it.


A large portion of questions asked immediately get flagged as duplicates (as I'm sure almost all of you have accidental found out one way or another). Half the time, it's an near duplicate of a question that was active years ago. Personally, I'd much rather give my submission to a new variant of that original challenge than the one where one rarely will even glance at my submission. The majority of golfers browse the latest and featured questions.


This challenge was quick to receive many eager answers before getting marked as a duplicate, then soon to be reopened by the community. It's a near duplicate of this challenge, one asked almost half a decade ago, with the occasional activity every few months. Golfers would rather choose this new variant because it offers new light on the subject.

Side effects

This community might be a lot more lively if it weren't for such a critical duplicate system. This is may true as the classic or or good questions have already been asked... years ago.

What do you think?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Golfers would rather choose this new variant because it offers something slightly different than the original. Citation needed. \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 0:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related (a situation where a challenge got community approval to repost it, with significant improvements). \$\endgroup\$
    – user62131
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 5:04

3 Answers 3


To respond specifically to your example: according to your profile, you joined the site about six weeks ago. This is probably only the first or second dupe of that question you've seen. I've seen dozens. I've lost count of the number of times I've explained that there's nothing interesting in getting reposts of old answers with the constants changed. I've posted protest answers which do just that when dupes have been reopened, and seen people express their astonishment that the powerful general technique is actually powerful and general.

The genuinely new and non-trivial questions already struggle to be seen among the trivial questions which keep coming back to the top because they get 20 answers. If we stopped closing dupes then the most interesting questions would get buried even faster, and nothing of value would be gained.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I counted; there are 11 duplicates of the rickroll question right now. So fewer than you estimated in your post, but still way too many. \$\endgroup\$
    – user62131
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 19:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ais523, I'm not sure whether you're including questions which have previously been closed as dupes of it but were reopened, and I presume you're not including questions which have been deleted (at least one, because there's a mention of it in another meta post about the rickroll dupes, but I'm not sure how many more). \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 19, 2017 at 19:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right, I'm only counting questions which are currently closed as duplicates of the challenge (as that's what's easiest to search for). I assume the number varies over time. \$\endgroup\$
    – user62131
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 20:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it's six questions which were closed as a dupe of the rickroll when they were deleted, based on data.stackexchange.com/codegolf/query/edit/673117 \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 19, 2017 at 20:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think I agree that good questions get buried. The question rate is not very high at the moment... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 12:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StewieGriffin, getting buried is not solely a function of question rate. It's a function of the number of "active" questions. Also, note that I didn't say "good" questions (which is subjective), but "non-trivial" questions, which by their nature tend not to be very active and so fall down the front page, rising back to the top only rarely. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 12:24

Stack Exchange, in general, doesn't deal very well with posts that become out of date.

On other sites in the network, this often happens due to changing circumstances in the outside world that have caused some of the answers to no longer apply to the present way of doing things. In this situation, the best you can do is post a competing answer, but because it's often years after the question was asked and it's not getting much more attention, that answer often ends up never rising above the answers that were posted years ago and were correct at the time, but now are misleading.

On PPCG, challenges get outdated too. This happens in two ways:

  • We're getting better over time at identifying ways to write competitions so that they can be fair and fun for everyone involved. This is why we rarely have language-specific challenges nowadays without a good reason for example. Older challenges can often be written in a way that "locks" the challenge into a form that isn't ideal, such as requiring an inflexible I/O format, screwing up the victory condition, or the like.
  • New languages and language features are written all the time (not to mention bugs in existing languages being fixed), and although challenges have been known to inspire golfing language features (in the hope that they'll be useful on future similar challenges), most of the time new features that would be useful for solving a challenge weren't written with the intent of cheating/loopholing the challenge. As such, the "languages that postdate the challenge are noncompeting" rule is somewhat unfortunate; it works to close a loophole, but can have a somewhat negative effect on old challenges as a side effect.

Note that there's a notable difference from other Stack Exchange sites: on PPCG, it's the question that becomes problematic, rather than the existing answers.

Now, if the old challenge is problematic enough to outright close, you're in luck; you can just close it, then submit a duplicate. (We explicitly allow near-duplicates of offtopic questions, if the duplicate is ontopic.)

Newly posted challenges also have major advantages in terms of participation and voting, compared to old challenges; they get advertised in chat, and are fairly easy to get onto Hot Network Questions if you want to (or often, even if you don't), thus advertising them to everyone who uses any Stack Exchange site (including the massive Stack Overflow). I'd typically expect around 8 upvotes for a good early answer to a freshly asked question (there's no hard statistics behind this, just my own sense of where my posts typically end up). By comparison, if a question gets bountied, that typically attracts 2-3 upvotes to my answers on it, and if I just post an answer to an old question that I found via search or related questions (without anything promoting it), that's normally worth 1 or even 0 upvotes. So if you assume that people's incentive to post to the site is at least partially based on either a) views on their answers, or b) reputation, the incentives to post on a new rather than old challenge are very large. (At one time, while I was unemployed, I decided that I wanted to hit reputation cap every day for a week. It wasn't particularly hard, but it required really heavily monitoring the "new questions" list and trying to get in early.)

So I don't think it's entirely unreasonable to want to "restart" a good old question in order to give it the advantages that new questions have; people will be more inclined to answer it, and also the question itself will naturally be better due to allowing more languages (and better still if you fix wording problems and the like in the process). I'd say it's only worth doing so, though, if the question is good, and the new "duplicate" will be even better. Additionally, we don't really want a situation in which people just copy their own (or worse, other people's) answers from the previous challenge, because that's not really interesting at all. These considerations mean that the duplicate will probably have to be posted intentionally; you want to significantly improve on the challenge, and without awareness of the old challenge (and its answers, if any), you're unlikely to make the new one as good as can be.

So although I'd be fairly encouraging of potential new rules allowing challenge reposts, I'd suggest that we conform at least to the following restrictions in any process for doing so:

  • The answers on the new challenge should be expected to be mostly distinct from the answers on the old challenge (either due to newer languages, an improved victory condition, or just general improvement to people's golfing skills since the old challenge was posted).
  • The new challenge should be comprehensively reworked to fix infelicities in the specification, any challenge-specific loopholes that were discovered, and similar issues. Changing details of the challenge should be encouraged whenever it makes it better (and as a bonus, may end up making the new answers more different from the old ones, too).

On a related question, which is basically your question limited to (which has its own specific concerns), there was support for allowing reposts with the permission of the OP and after a six-month waiting period. For questions more generally, six months seems too short; I'd expect a more appropriate timespan to be two years, or even more (long enough that the original OP may be hard to contact; the linked thread suggests waiting for a month for a response, which makes sense). This inspires a third suggestion:

  • If the old challenge is not closed, it should be at least two years old, and the reposter should have permission from the challenge's asker (or else have had no response for a month after asking for permission).
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm torn on this argument: On one hand, it appears that answerers enjoy answering duplicate questions (but maybe they are simply rep-grabbing). On the other hand, having a set of a couple hundred questions that are on repeat every one or two years feels like it'll make the site stale ("Oh, has it been 2 years since the alphabet challenges? Here we go again.") \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 17, 2017 at 4:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right, I think that's why you need to make sure that the question is better every time (which would serve as a natural limiter on over-frequent reposts). \$\endgroup\$
    – user62131
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 4:53
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, but that is really hard to define and enforce. I'm worried about the users aiming for the HNQ that have made small tweaks to the challenge (but argue that they really improve the challenge). \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 17, 2017 at 4:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess that comes down to a question about how objective we want our vote-to-close/vote-to-reopen system to be. It's fairly subjective at the moment in many cases; I'm not sure this would make the issue significantly worse (but I'm admittedly not sure it wouldn't, either). \$\endgroup\$
    – user62131
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 5:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure this is an answer to the OP's question. You're addressing deliberate reposting, but I think OP is more addressing unintended dupes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 17, 2017 at 7:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor: I think deliberate reposting is the only real way to get the benefits mentioned by the OP. Unintentional duplicates should be caught in the Sandbox, and if the asker posts them anyway, there's likely to be other things wrong with the question. (I posted an unintentional duplicate once due to the original question managing to dodge all the plausible search terms; once it was eventually identified, I left it closed, because the new challenge, whilst not being worse, wasn't significantly better either.) \$\endgroup\$
    – user62131
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 7:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't get "deliberate reposting is the only real way to get the benefits mentioned by the OP" from the answer, and it's both an important point in itself and useful for understanding the answer as it stands. I suggest that it's worth editing it in. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 17, 2017 at 7:29

... than the one where one rarely will even glance at my submission. The majority of golfers browse the latest and featured questions.

So, to paraphrase: the culture of the site is broken, and you think we should work around this by breaking it more rather than by trying to address the root cause?

That may be unfair, but it's how the question reads to me.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ This seems more like a comment to me... \$\endgroup\$
    – Riker
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 23:23
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "You're asking the wrong question" is a legitimate answer. Comments are really intended for seeking clarification on a question, not for disagreeing with its premise. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 24, 2017 at 21:16
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ You're not saying that. All you say is "is that really your question?". \$\endgroup\$
    – Riker
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 21:21

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