Sometimes a question is posted that widely disliked (often due to being too easy, or being excessively arbitrary, or playing around in a space that's been mostly comprehensively covered without actually being a duplicate). These tend to get downvoted heavily quickly.

However, they also tend to get closed, often with reasons that don't really fit. (Even more commonly, the challenge initially is closeable, but then reviewers refuse to reopen it after the reasons for which it was closed are fixed.) Should we be closing this sort of challenge? If so, what reason should we use? (At the moment it's typically either "unclear", or "duplicate" with a duplicate that doesn't fit.) Should we then be deleting the challenge after it's closed? Alternatively, should we leave the question open, but highly downvoted?

(I don't have any particular question in mind here; I've been meaning to post it for a while, and am asking about the general case. This one, however, is what reminded me to post this, and will serve as an example for the sort of question I'm talking about. I'm not at all sure my close vote there was correct; originally I misread the question, made the close vote, realised my mistake, equivocated on retracting it, made a comment explaining the issues I found with the question, then found that the close was completed by other people. I'm fairly confident now that a reopen vote on the question would fail, and I'm not at all certain I did the right thing in the first place, but I'm also not sure I can do anything to correct it.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I posted the question you linked to. I agree that shouldn't have been closed as "unclear what you're asking", but I also believe it was closed rightly. I doubt the SE devs would give us this, but it would be great to be able to close questions as "too trivial", or some similar reason. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gryphon
    Jun 13, 2017 at 1:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it only requires diamond mod powers to change the list of "offtopic" subreasons. So if we decide that widely disliked challenges are offtopic, that would be one possible solution. I don't think we have made such a decision yet, though, thus this discussion post. \$\endgroup\$
    – user62131
    Jun 13, 2017 at 3:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I agree we haven't made a decision yet. However, it does seem that many questions are getting closed because of "off-topic" or "unclear", that are really just to trivial, or have built-ins in almost every commonly used language. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gryphon
    Jun 13, 2017 at 10:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related, possible dupe \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Jun 14, 2017 at 13:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego: I don't think that's a dupe. That question is assuming (rather implicitly) that disliked questions will be closed, and asks how we can let new users know about that. This question is asking whether we should be closing disliked questions at all. Definitely related, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – user62131
    Jun 14, 2017 at 13:47

1 Answer 1


Challenges should not be closed solely for being trivial

There are only a handful of reasons to close a challenge:

  • It is off-topic for one of the following reasons:
    • It is not actually a challenge or a question (e.g. the generic homework questions we get regularly, or a question meant for another site)
    • It lacks an objective primary winning criterion
    • It is otherwise off-topic as decided by meta consensus (e.g. )
  • It is unclear (meaning there are either zero or multiple valid interpretations of the challenge as written)
  • It is too broad (e.g. "do something" challenges, challenges without objective validity criteria)
  • It is a duplicate of an existing challenge

If a challenge doesn't have any of the above problems, then it should not be closed (and thus should be reopened if it is closed).

A challenge being trivial isn't in that list of close reasons on purpose - not only is triviality subjective, but there isn't anything inherently wrong with well-written trivial challenges. While individual users may like or dislike trivial challenges (and that's what those voting buttons are for), those personal judgments should not come into play when choosing whether or not to cast a close or reopen vote.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer would make more sense if the word challenge were universally replaced with contest, because a contest can be trivial but a challenge by definition isn't. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 14, 2017 at 8:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor I'm using challenge to mean a PPCG contest (the usual usage on this site), as opposed to question (the term used for Q&A sites and for our tips questions). \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Jun 14, 2017 at 8:20
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The main problem with trivial challenges is that there are quite a lot of users who equate them to low-effort challenges (on the part of the challenge author). Many of the bad trivial challenges are just people trying to grab low-hanging fruits with a three-line spec, whereas rigorously specified challenges for simple problems tend to work out much better. I'd actually argue that simple challenges need more rigorous specs to make sure they make sense and are fair to as many (proper and esoteric) languages as possible without leaving any loopholes. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 23, 2017 at 8:44

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