Right now, this question has 3 downvotes and 4 close votes because it's unclear what they're asking. If you ask me, that's unfair. To me, it's very clear what they're asking: Given a hex2 color code of eight hexadecimal digits, you must output an rgba color code, with the 3 color channels integers in a range from 0-255, and an alpha channel number in a range from 0-1. The unclarity, I'm fairly sure, comes from the output format.

There are a few comments asking about output format, saying the question should allow flexible output and not just an array of numbers, saying that not every language can do that, that it constrains code unnecessarily, etc. I agree. So why not make it so every challenge has flexible output? Whether you print to stdout or return a value shouldn't matter, and I think it's unfair that this question is going to get closed over a technicality like that.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it was closed because of this comment: "What do you mean by "no external libraries"? Are you trying to, for example, ban base conversion functions? (which I would not recommend doing)" \$\endgroup\$
    – Stephen
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 16:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW voting to close as unclear on PPCG usually means it's underspecified and/or needs test cases. In the case of this particular question, the specification could use work, and it's definitely missing test cases. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 16:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BusinessCat Then someone should have commented "Please add some test cases", not just voted to close it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Flexible output is the standard, but challenges are allowed to override any of the standard rules if they feel it is necessary. \$\endgroup\$
    – Riley
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 16:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is nothing unfair about close votes. Close votes are meant to protect the challenge from answers that interpret an ambiguous specification differently from what the author may have intended. That's why challenges are said to be "put on hold", not immediately "closed" when they accumulate five votes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 16:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ And generally "it's clear to me" is not a reason to object to a closure (or to reopen a post), whereas "it's unclear to me" is reason enough to put the post on hold. If some people are confused by the spec or find it ambiguous, it needs to be improved, even if others think it's clear enough for them. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 16:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinEnder That's a good point, but I think sometimes people are pedantic or nitpicky about what is and isn't clear to them. But I suppose it is subjective. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 16:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ For this question in particular, I would say that someone should edit the question to provide a more flexible I/O component and vote to reopen. I believe this is the author's first question, it probably needs a more seasoned hand to fix. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 18:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with @musicman523. And I also think it's something we should be doing more of; instead of hammering the new guys with questions and suggestions in the comments when they post good but poorly specced challenges, let's 1 or 2 of us take charge and help them make the improvements that need to be made by editing the challenge directly. All too often we see potentially interesting challenges from new members being closed and then abandoned. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shaggy
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 20:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ New users should be encouraged. I was the first to VTC, because I wanted to protect the challenge from abundant downvotes, until the problems are fixed. I have edited the challenge. Hopefully it will be reopened soon. Feel free to edit / rollback. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mr. Xcoder
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 12:10

1 Answer 1


No, we should not make the I/O format rules standard for all challenges.

The whole purpose of some challenges, such as this one is Input/Output manipulation, so we cannot make I/O flexible by default for all challenges.

When it comes to the specific challenge you were talking about in the question, I feel like an experienced user should have edited it since it was posted. New users must be encouraged, and hence someone should show them the right way. I was the first one that voted to close it, because I wanted to protect the new user from abundant downvotes and/or negative feedback in the comments until the issues were fixed. Now, I think we should edit the posts (only those that require it) of the new users to show them the standard way we usually do things here on PPCG, and should not discourage them from the very beginning.

NOTE: @EriktheOutgolfer, @ovs and I have edited the challenge, and hopefully it is salvageable now.


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