Often, I have proposed a question to the sandbox and I never got any feedback on it; sometimes, I never got feedback until I had already posted the question. I want a way to fix this. I want Sandbox questions to get more recognition and more feedback so that we can have better end-result questions on the main site. The question is, how could we do that?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related. (Dupe?) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 13:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Short answer: No one knows, we've had a few discussions on it but none of the ideas seem "right". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 13:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a good question that keeps coming up. However, unfortunately no one really wants to actually do the feedback, so none of our solutions ever really work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gryphon
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 14:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Gryphon that's not true. I rather enjoy giving feedback, but it is a time-intensive process (as well as something I forget to do), so I don't do it as much as I'd like. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 21:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanMerrill OK, true. Some people (myself not included, unfortunately), enjoy giving feedback on the sandbox. However, IMO, there are more people who do not, and prefer answering questions on the main site. Those who, like me, do not enjoy doing so should do so more, which is something I'm trying to do, to increase the amount of feedback people get. However, since there is no real reward for doing so, and many people prefer answering questions on the main site, we don't have a few users who enjoy doing it, and do so a lot, while the rest of us only use the sandbox for proposals. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gryphon
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are also correct about it being time-intensive, which is also a reason for the deficit of feedback. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gryphon
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Basically Jeff Atwood rides in on a Unicorn on November 1st and works on it for about 6-8 weeks before stepping back and showing us our fixed Sandbox. Or we accept that the Sandbox is broken and let a later group of users deal with it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 2:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Come into chat, post a URL, repeatedly over the course of a few days. Make friends with specific users, ask for specific feedback. It'll work if you want it to work. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 22:20

2 Answers 2


These are just some ideas I've been collecting over the past couple days. I make no promises about their efficacy, but I do hope they will help. These are all individual actions that I believe we can take to make our challenges better received: they are not meant to be policies or anything like that.

Contribute to the sandbox yourself

By reviewing other challenges you will accomplish at least two things: you will have given someone else meaningful feedback on their challenge, and you will have increased your experience in reading challenges. In my experience, reading and understanding challenge structure, content, and language benefits you when writing future challenges.

Less definitely, you also promote a culture of contribution to the sandbox. This will, in my opinion, encourage other users to take the time to go through the sandbox. This will increase the amount of feedback you receive on your own challenges in the long run.

Write concise challenges

This plays into some of the weaknesses of the sandbox. Long and elaborate challenges are very difficult to review. Often, I find that a long challenge has so many issues that I forget half of them by the time I finish reading it! This leads to me scrolling up and down trying to write a comprehensive comment, but inevitably missing some details.

The best way to write your challenges is with as little content as possible that still leaves the challenge totally clear. Making it easier for people to review your challenge will make it more likely that they provide feedback at all.

Write solutions to your own challenge

This is a bit similar to the above point. While not necessary by any stretch, if you write a program that solves your challenge you will yourself be able to catch many of the potential problems the challenge may have. This will lower the amount of work that reviewers have to do and increase the chance that they provide useful feedback.

Rubber duck your challenge

This is similar to the above point (again) but instead of focusing on the programming side, this focuses on the communications side. Try to make sure your wording makes sense before you post to the sandbox. If you can, explain the problem to someone else either verbally or in chat or whatever. Make sure that the way you explain the problem and its motivation are clear and concise.

Make sure your challenge is visible

Often, I see people suggesting that only a day or two in the sandbox is not long enough. This is all well and good, except that then sometimes people will note that they sandboxed a post for weeks and got no feedback, but got feedback in minutes on main.

I consider myself one of the more active users of the sandbox, at least at times, and I have never reviewed anything past the first page of posts, sorted by active. I rarely go beyond the top ten active posts. While I am not saying to aggressively bump your challenge to the top, I am saying to make sure it spends enough time reasonably high up. Time spent on the second page is essentially wasted, in my opinion.

Another way to increase visibility is to link to your post in chat. Obviously, follow general chat etiquette: don't spam your answer, and don't interrupt other conversations. Otherwise this should easily be an on-topic discussion in The Nineteenth Byte, our general chat room.

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    \$\begingroup\$ With respect to the last point, one way to increase visibility without bumping is to post in chat after a couple of days without feedback. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 7:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor Good point, I edited that in. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 13:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ RE link to your post in chat - many people post their challenges ~3 times within a day or so in chat at varying times to get different eyes on it before posting to main. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stephen
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 0:10

Courtesy suggestion for challenge authors

If you have time to write a draft, then you have time for giving feedback. If you have the necessary talent to write a clear challenge on the first try, then you probably have the eye to spot problems with someone else's draft.

In light of this, from now on I will adopt a new courtesy in the Sandbox, and encourage others to do the same: every time I need to delete a draft, whether it was published, scuttled, or poorly received, I will wait for activity in the Sandbox. The next two drafts I see with new activity I will read completely and give my best feedback.

In essence, this is a way I can make a habit of giving feedback without forcing it when I have other things to do. I acknowledge that it would be infeasible to get everyone to do this, but my hope is to get at least the most active and experienced challenge authors into this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd change "rule" to something more passive, such as "suggestion", so that it doesn't come across as though you're forcing people to review, rather recommending it \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 15:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @cairdcoinheringaahing sounds good, I'll change that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nissa
    Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 15:39

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