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34 out of the last 50 pop-cons were closed (that's from about the middle of 2015).

Should we retire ?

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ To voters on this question remember that the question is not what decides it it is the answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Jul 26 '17 at 20:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't want to lose popcons, but I do want to see resolution and consensus one way or another, so +1 \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Jul 26 '17 at 21:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Relevant incentive \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Jul 26 '17 at 21:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @trichoplax sadly the bounty (my end goal XD) was not going to me \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Jul 26 '17 at 22:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ The bounty is for an answer, so I guess not... \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Jul 26 '17 at 22:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @trichoplax exactly. I was like waiiit. I messed up \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Jul 27 '17 at 0:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's always self answers... \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Jul 27 '17 at 0:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @trichoplax once I get some SQL done I am going to do that. \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Jul 27 '17 at 0:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @trichoplax annd I answered with some good reasons and points \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Jul 27 '17 at 1:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ IMHO, popularity-contest is a gem on PPCG and should never go. Instead of killing one of the most interesting tags on this site, we should encourage the right kind of popularity contest. Do you really want to kill all the fun on this site? \$\endgroup\$ – Mr. Xcoder Jul 27 '17 at 10:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ People may just need to do a better job of reading the tag wiki to know what is a good popcon. \$\endgroup\$ – mbomb007 Jul 30 '17 at 3:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mr.Xcoder What exactly is the good kind of pop-con? We've had a few well-received ones, and many poorly-received ones, and the main distinction is that the well-received ones were posted several years ago. Lacking time travel, what do you think makes a pop-con good? These are the kind of questions that we haven't been able to sufficiently answer yet. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Jul 30 '17 at 22:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Took me a while to realize popcon meant popularity contest \$\endgroup\$ – Geeky I Aug 2 '17 at 7:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ It took me a while to realize that the title wasn’t “Killing the popcorn.” \$\endgroup\$ – J F Aug 2 '17 at 16:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of Solution to popularity contest \$\endgroup\$ – flawr Aug 7 '17 at 17:11
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To come back to it after over a year. Should we end the popcon?

Keep it

Yes, keep it.

But why??

Is closing an off-topic question really that hard? If it's off-topic, it's off-topic. If it's a pop-con, then that's just an unfortunate misunderstanding of the tag at hand. If we were to remove pop-con, you'd consequently remove some of the (arguably) most interesting challenges on this site. Quite frankly, if all I get to see on this site are trivial variants on OEIS sequences, primes, quines, I don't see the point in participating. It's those few challenges that keep me going.

What challenges are you talking about?

Particularly, Write a Programming language of Unknown Completeness. While the answers generated from it weren't 100-upvote worthy, they were quite interesting; they showed how certain conjectures could be exploited in a programming language. This remains one of my favorite challenges on this site.

Another pop-con I like is Patch the Paragraph. I feel like this site could grow from challenges like this--the correct pop-con.

But only one of the seven pop-con's this year has been on topic!

Yes. Those six closed questions weren't "bad" questions, just off-topic (and one dupe). Off-topic questions in a tag don't justify the removal of the pop-con tag, neither do a majority of off-topic questions on a tag that receives little attention as it is.

Answering some of your complaints

I personally think we should, just like with code-trolling and underhand there was too much bad for the good.

No. Code trolling and underhanded were removed because it was a negative influence on the type of challenges and answers this site received.

We just keep closing them over and over.

Yes, we do often close pop-con questions, due to their nature. But remember: we had to close 6 (six) questions this year. Only six! And we were able to get such a nice question off of the tag. This is only "over and over" for the impatient.

If there is so much bad for the good why should we keep it.

You certainly can't justify the removal of something due to the bad parts of it.

Pretend you're a preschool teacher. Just because half the children in a kindergarten class are little miscreants, doesn't mean you should quite teaching as a whole.

Let's take a more extreme example. There have been some really bad humans in our history. In fact, there has been a lot of nasty people. If there's been "so much" bad in the human race, why should we keep it? Should we all off ourselves because there are some bad people in our midst? Or should we try and mitigate the damage of the offenders and try to learn and improve as a race?

I am thoroughly of the opinion that the pop-con is a redeemable question type. So long as we have gems from the pop-con tag, it is worth keeping.

Some more opinions

Quoting my comments (and fixing some spelling errors):

Given that most people don't really accept answers (citation needed, personal experience), and that it's significantly hard to be the "shortest" or winning answer, there really isn't any incentive besides the hard-and-fast rules to golf your code; thus, one must usually code with the intent of enjoying it. Part of this enjoyment comes from receiving votes. If you don't receive votes for what you worked hard on, then you aren't enjoying the process as much, and can thus consider yourself to have wasted time. In this light, it's much more advantageous to treat a code golf as a popularity contest. How do you win a popularity contest? Well, there's two solid ways: do something truly incredible, or do something "for the meme". Consciously or not, code-golf is really just a popularity contest in disguise. The winning criterion is a joke made for those who are students of Jelly.

I honestly doubt that allowing the popularity will significantly affect the quality of the questions on this site. I also believe that banning the popularity contest wouldn't have much effect either. Why do I care? Because I remember a time where this site was pretty fun. The community wasn't the best, but there were folks who I really enjoyed being with and spending time with. They have, for the most part, moved on from this site. I am here still because I enjoy code golf and I enjoy developing and testing my languages. I enjoy votes, but I don't consider them the end of answering on this site. IF I did, well, I would've moved on.

There are people who have moved on because this site has grown and changed. They believe that the "fun" of underhanded and code-trolling has left the site. And it almost has. The one vestige of interest left in this site in that respect is the rare popularity contest. I doubt few still hang on to this site because of the existence of the popularity contest. I know that if it is removed, there are people who will become just slightly less interested in this site, myself included.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have yet to see a single pop-con that I think is good, interesting or fun. I recently went through and read every single pop-con submitted to the site. And I found myself downvoting all but 3, Its not a few bad eggs its all of them. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 26 '17 at 21:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WheatWizard The problem with this question (and all of it's answers) is that it's almost strictly opinion based. Ironically, it's a popularity contest as to whether or not the popularity contests remains. You think they're bad, and that's fine. I think plenty are bad. I also think there are some pretty fun ones. \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Jul 26 '17 at 21:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WheatWizard well, if you find Images with all colors bad, 384 people disagree with you \$\endgroup\$ – Stephen Jul 30 '17 at 22:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @StepHen I find that one particularly bad. It is just an art contest where the art is generated by code. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 30 '17 at 22:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WheatWizard How about, codegolf.stackexchange.com/questions/35569/…, my favourite PPCG question? I don't see how you wouldn't find these fun \$\endgroup\$ – Beta Decay Aug 3 '17 at 23:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BetaDecay I think the results are cool. But just like the images with all the colors I don't really feel it to be particularly fun. There is no real puzzle of challenge involved. Just an art contest. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Aug 3 '17 at 23:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WheatWizard I disagree, Mathematical Art had a size limit and so incorporated the skill of golfing \$\endgroup\$ – Beta Decay Aug 4 '17 at 9:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ "It's those few challenges that keep me going. ... But only one of the seven pop-con's this year has been on topic!" On the face of it you seem to be saying that were it not for Write a Programming language of Unknown Completeness you would have abandoned the site at some point in the past six months. Am I misunderstanding the scope of "those few challenges"? \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Aug 10 '17 at 10:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor I have more or less abandoned this site--I"m not nearly as active as I was in the past, or as I would like to be. I still spectate, but my actual contributions remain limited to personal programming and infrequent answers to meta and main. When I say "keep me going", I refer to my activity in this site as well as my enjoyment. I won't full-out abandon the site because popularity contests are removed. I doubt you'll see me here as often as I wish to be here if that happens, however. \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Aug 10 '17 at 16:01
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A follow up to my last answer

This second answer is a bit of a write up of my thoughts after some discussion about my previous answer. Everything I said in the last answer I still believe is true, but I would like to put this as a separate answer because it has different points than the last.

On Programming competitions

This site is for programming competitions, I think we all agree on that. But I think thats not what we are all here for. I, myself, do not like programming. I'm not really a programmer, I find it frustrating and boring to write code longer than a few lines. I do like puzzles though especially competitive ones. I have found that despite my distain for programming, this is a great place where I can participate in a competitive, concrete task, that involves not only solving a puzzle but making your solution as good as possible.

It should be no wonder that I don't like Popularity Contests, they are much more about programming in a abstract creative sense. The only goal is to make code that people like. And I don't find writing or reading code to be inherently fun, so I probably wouldn't find pop-cons fun.

Most people are probably not in the same boat as I. Most people are probably here because they like programming and these competitions are a great way to program with a community. In this way popularity contests appeal to the core demographic, they are about programming. Often times they are even real world tasks, like patch the image. If you were here just for programming, popularity contests would probably be the best tag for you.

But I don't think the site is about programming.

As I opened this section "This site is for programming competitions". And I think that is the issue here. Popularity contests are not competitions and are thus out of scope for the site. The occupy this weird space where they appeal to the core demographic but ultimately fall just outside of the scope of the site.

Now's about when you might ask:

But surely popularity contests are competitions, right? They have objective winning criteria, so they are competitions?

Well here I am going to dissect something said by Conor O'Brien as a comment to my last post

Conciously or not, code-golf is really just a popularity contest in disguise. The winning critereon is a joke made for those who are students of Jelly.

I think Conor is right in some ways here. For many of us the goal of posting an answer is to gain reputation, to score imaginary internet points and to win the admiration and respect of our peers. Votes drive us to answer, golfing or optimizing are just ways to convince people to click the up vote and give you reputation. If you remove the winning criterion from a challenge, people are just going to do what they think gets the most votes. This is in essence what a popularity contest is. The only goal is to get as many votes as possible. And in that way they are no different than challenges without a winning criterion.

This leads me to believe that pop-cons are not competitions. They are about programming which is one half of the site's purpose, but they are not about competitions, which is another half of the site, that, in my opinion, is just as important. I don't think we should allow challenges that are not competitions.

This means, by the way, that we should not allow questions that are not about programming. I asked if such questions should be on topic ealier here where the consensus was, if its not directly about programming you should restructure the question so it is about programming. This seems to imply, at least to me, that questions that cannot me made into some sort of challenge about writing code are not on topic. For example here's a CMC from @DJMcMayhem where no code is required:

What's the longest English word that contains words of length 1 to N in it? For example, Path is valid because it contains words from 1 to 4 (a, at, pat, and path)

This fits all the criteria for being a contest, but it is not about programming. Answers here would just be english words not programs. This would also be off-topic. And I have confidence that if it were posted now it would be closed as such. I see popularity contests as a different side of the same coin, they are about programming but they are not contests.

To sum this up here's a Venn diagram that hopefully expresses what I am trying to convey.

Venn Diagram

Overall pop-cons are probably not bad. I don't like them but some people do like them. But I do think, regardless of their quality, pop-cons should be hosted elsewhere. A while ago /r/programming had a faux pop-con to make the worst possible volume slider, and I think that reddit might be a better home for the pop-con style.

So should we kill the pop-con? I think the answer is yes. Hopefully I've at least made it clear why I think that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer. Answer some stuff in Brain-Flak it will direct your anger to DJ \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Jul 27 '17 at 16:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ "They are about programming which is one half of the site." I hope you don't mean to imply that literally half the site does not program. I would think that most people who participate on this site do enjoy programming. Also: This leads me to believe that pop-cons are not competitions, they are no different than challenges without a criterion. I follow you on the "no different than challenges without a criterion", though I fail to see how one logically deduces that pop-cons are not competitions. They are most certainly comps, regardless of how you view them, unless I have misunderstood. \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Jul 28 '17 at 22:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConorO'Brien On your second point I think you simply misread what I said. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 28 '17 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConorO'Brien On your first point, that is certainly not the intent of that statement. I believe I made it clear in my answer that I believe most of the people here are here because they like programming, If I did not I will edit it to say so. But I do think that the two are both important parts of the site. The site is most certainly not, just all things programming, nor is it all competitions. The site hosting Pop-cons is a bit like a word puzzle site, like one where DJ's CMC would be on topic hosting a short story writing competition. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 28 '17 at 22:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WheatWizard I think I just misread this bigtime. When you say "half", you mean "half of the topic of the site", correct? \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Jul 28 '17 at 22:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConorO'Brien Yes. that was the intention. I'm going out now, but when I get back I will try to make this clearer. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 28 '17 at 22:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ The entire "Draw a circle" section is the straw-man argument. Just because you can create a pop-con that is off-topic doesn't mean that all pop-cons are off-topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Merrill Jul 29 '17 at 3:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanMerrill I'm not arguing that the Draw a circle is a representative pop-con. Its a thought experiment meant to highlight the way pop-cons compare to questions without winning criteria. Coming up with a good pop-con is notoriously difficult and I was not going to be able to come up with a fully specced interesting pop-con just for a small example. What I'm attempting to demonstrate with that example is that questions without winning criteria are pop-cons are indistinguishable. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 29 '17 at 3:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WheatWizard I think that "Patch the Paragraph" is a good example. Do you believe that a pop-con "Patch the Paragraph" is indistinguishable from a non-winning-criterion "Patch the Paragraph"? \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Merrill Jul 29 '17 at 3:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you would prefer that I remove it I can, but I felt that as a thought experiment it was helpful in demonstrating my argument, with a tangible example. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 29 '17 at 3:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanMerrill I believe that every pop-con is the same. What would you think would be different? (Other than it being closed) if it lacked a winning criterion? \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 29 '17 at 3:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd argue that "Patch the Paragraph" without the pop-con tag would allow "dumb" submissions such as a submission that fills the rectangle with "X". The pop-con tag enforces competitive answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Merrill Jul 29 '17 at 3:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanMerrill People still post dumb stuff on pop-cons as well. I don't know if we are going to reach any sort of agreement at this point though. We are both speculating as to what would happen in a certain case. I believe that what ConorO'Brien said is largely accurate, everyone is first and foremost motivated by votes. Often times achieving a good score is the best way to accrue votes, but in the absence of a winning criteria votes become the driving factor. Thats my reasoning, but I can't say for sure. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 29 '17 at 3:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanMerrill I've remove the thought experiment entirely. I don't want it to look as if I am attempting to falsely portray pop-cons even if that was not the intention. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 29 '17 at 4:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ I upvoted this not because I agree with the conclusion, but because the arguments made are very good points and well argued. \$\endgroup\$ – Justin Aug 3 '17 at 19:14
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Keep it

I like PPCG because it inspires creative solutions I'd never have considered, usually using techniques I didn't know about (or wouldn't have thought of). In code-golf, more often than not this is done by rearranging the order operations are done, or working out which approach can cut out the most redundant steps. Which I love. Even in Jelly where I can't read a thing, looking at the explanations is typically pretty impressive.

Popularity contests also inspire creative solutions, but instead of answers using algorithms creatively, they use languages creatively. Usually, this means a good answer in a popularity contests ends up teaching people something new about a language they like. In fact, it's almost guaranteed to be that way (almost). People are more likely to upvote answers that impress them, and using a common language in an atypical way is usually pretty impressive.

Consider this answer to outputting 42 and this answer to make 2+2=5. The first is in C and uses the literal "cut-and-paste" aspect of macros to play with the order of operations. I myself had no idea you could do math between terms in different macros. While I'd probably never use it to make six*nine equal 42, it's something I'll consider the next time my macros are acting all screwy.

The second answer is in Java, and redefines Java's definition of 4. If I went into all the reasons that's amazing I'd never finish this answer.

We also have sort of de facto popularity contest answers, like outputting 2014 without using numbers and this absolutely gorgeous answer to outputting "Hello, World!". The fact that each has so many votes means lots of people like answers like this, even in a code-golf setting. Doesn't it make sense to let people specifically state that they're looking for clever answers like this instead of force users to post that kind of answer out of place (or worse, not at all)?

In my opinion, people clearly like clever answers that aren't necessarily the shortest, and that's ok. code-golf is only half of our name. We also have cops-and-robbers threads, and although ties usually go to the shortest code, that's obviously not the point of those challenges.

I think if the only thing we're concerned about is writing short code, then sure, kill . But is that really all we're concerned about?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I would recommend taking a look at the list of pop-cons sorted by something other than popularity. Sure the top voted pop cons might look like a good deal of fun, especially when you are only looking at the top answers, but the vast majority of the tag, even among open questions is incredibly low quality. That is not to say that I think the top couple questions are good or that if they are good they belong here. Being fun is not a great indicator that a challenge should be here anyway, both underhanded and code-trolling were fun and inspired creative solutions. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Aug 4 '17 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WheatWizard I would like to ask you, what is a "great indicator that a challenge should be here", if not that it is fun? Isn't the whole point of this site that people can have fun? \$\endgroup\$ – fergusq Aug 4 '17 at 20:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @fergusq I think that everything that should be here is fun, but I don't think the converse is true. There are plenty of things that are fun but don't belong on PPCG, and its my belief that popularity contests are among them. "Because they are fun" is not a very compelling reason to include them. Discussion about sports, or video games is fun, but its off topic. A good argument for pop-cons should argue not that they are fun, but that they are on topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Aug 4 '17 at 21:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WheatWizard I don't think that "something is on topic" is a good argument either. The whole point of this meta conversation is to decide if popularity contests are on topic or not. I don't see any other way to tell if something is on topic than meta consensuses. If the pop-cons appeal to our users, why shouldn't they be on topic? To me "appeals to audience and is fun" is enough for something to be on topic. (Maybe you agree with me, I'm not sure I interpreted you fully.) \$\endgroup\$ – fergusq Aug 4 '17 at 21:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've considered your two examples. The first was creative back in about 1975, and the second was creative back in about 2004. Even as someone who's largely anti-pop-con, I think that's a poor showcase in favour of it. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Aug 5 '17 at 9:04
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Why I think it should die

This is my opinion I know it might be a little on the extreme side of things. If you disagree with me just remember we both want what is best for the site : )

The pop-con is a good idea, it allows us to ask questions with out being confined to the problems of mathematically defining a criteria. In theory it promotes creative and interesting answers.

But there is a problem. That problem is that votes don't really measure anything. The intention is that votes would represent cleverness, creativity and good work, but they don't. It seems that the only thing votes are consistently able to measure is how quickly an answer was posted. I asked a pop con myself, which I have seen hailed as a "good example of a pop-con" by more than one user. Here it is, take a look at the answers, not only are they mostly rather low quality (all of them pretty much do what I suggested a good answer would not do) but there is not much meaning to how they are ranked. If this is a "good" pop-con then why is there any question if they should exist?

We have decided as a site that Fastest Guns in the west is not a winning criteria, so why should a criteria that is very heavily influenced by it be valid. Fastest Guns in the west does measure something while Popularity contests only tangentially measure a number of things.


Voting culture

I often see users complaining about the broken voting culture on this site, primarily influenced by the HNQ. People complain about high quality answers not getting enough votes and low effort, quick answers getting way too many votes. I feel this way myself.

It baffles me to see so many complaints about how inaccurate and broken voting is and to simultaneously ask questions that are scored entirely based on voting. If good answers are not getting votes elsewhere why would we expect them to on a popularity contest?

It is my belief that scoring should encourage people to craft the most interesting highest quality answers, using clever techniques and knowledge of the subject area, and it is also my belief that the does not do that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't worry I have data comeing to back us up \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Jul 26 '17 at 20:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree that the voting culture is indeed terrible, and that the pop-con leaves something to be desired, but on this site, there is little room to improve on this. You're suggesting removing the tag based on the toxic symptom of this site. This means we're not fixing the larger problem at hand, the voting. If you're going to attack the pop-con on the basis of it representing the site's voting tendencies, then we should similarly remove code-golf and other tags. They equally (if not more) represent this problem, and hide it, for more. It's worse to have an answer you spent lots of time... \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Jul 26 '17 at 20:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ ...on in a code golf challenge, and getting virtually nothing back for it, than to have an answer on a pop-con get a few votes, due to the fact the popularity contest does not lie: it is a popularity contest at its core, and it means your answer wasn't as popular as the others, even if it didn't get as much exposure as the other answers. Exposure is the inherent problem with this site and it's format: answers with more exposure are more likely to have more answers. It's not limited to the popularity contest. \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Jul 26 '17 at 20:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConorO'Brien The problem is basing your winning criteria on what is essentially a random process. If votes don't represent quality then why should answers with more votes score higher? Code-golf is agnostic of votes, if your answer is shorter it ranks higher, end of story you may not get as many votes but that is a separate issue. Better answers are the ones that score higher (within a language bracket of course). Popcons might as well have the winner selected at random. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 26 '17 at 20:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see how we can base a winning criterion on the most broken feature of the site by far. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 26 '17 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why do you say the answers on your challenge are low quality? \$\endgroup\$ – Poke Jul 26 '17 at 20:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Poke because they are (arguably) merely exploiting a semi-uninteresting conjecture. \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Jul 26 '17 at 20:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConorO'Brien Isn't that the goal? \$\endgroup\$ – Poke Jul 26 '17 at 20:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Poke That is the opposite of the goal. In the question I suggest that a good answer would have its feature baked into the language not simply the result of taking a TC language and removing a feature if a conjecture is failed. All of the answers do exactly that. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 26 '17 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WheatWizard Given that most people don't really accept answers (citation needed, personal experience), and that it's significantly hard to be the "shortest" or winning answer, there really isn't any incentive besides the hard-and-fast rules to golf your code; thus, one must usually code with the intent of enjoying it. Part of this enjoyment comes from receiving votes. If you don't receive votes for what you worked hard on, then you aren't enjoying the process as much, ... \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Jul 26 '17 at 21:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ ...and can thus consider yourself to have wasted time. In this light, it's much more advantageous to treat a code golf as a popularity contest. How do you win a popularity contest? Well, there's two solid ways: do something truly incredible, or do something "for the meme". Conciously or not, code-golf is really just a popularity contest in disguise. The winning critereon is a joke made for those who are students of Jelly. \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Jul 26 '17 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I suggest you add that to your answer on this meta post. If a new answer was posted that did what you're looking for, I imagine it would get a lot of votes. Since the challenge is no longer new and there aren't as many eyes on it it may not grab the top slot but we've already noted that as a different issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Poke Jul 26 '17 at 21:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConorO'Brien I'd +100 that comment if I could \$\endgroup\$ – Poke Jul 26 '17 at 21:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ConorO'Brien Then why not allow questions with no winning criterion? As far as I am concerned there is no distinguishable between a popularity contest and one without a winning criterion. If your only goal is to get votes on every question then a question without a criterion is just a pop-con no? \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 26 '17 at 21:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ConorO'Brien I don't think our site should support pop-cons because they are different. We should stick to a scope. We don't allow general programming questions, even though sometimes they would be interesting and people on the site would probably enjoy them, because they are out of the scope of our site. Similarly pop-cons are not really competitions, they should be hosted elsewhere like reddit, where they would fit right in. Just because they are not bad (which I disagree with), and because they are different does not mean they are a good fit for the site. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 26 '17 at 21:13
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It should go

If the voting culture is bad why would we want a challenge that revolves around voting culture?

mic drop


I know that it may be extreme but I just want to say that I think it is for the best :)

Some stats. 34 out of the last 50 Pop cons were closed. That reaches into Jul 23 '15! Think about how many. Only 2 were dupes the rest were just closed. That is 68% close rate. Some of them should be closed but are just older and the VTC was different.

Fastest Gun in the West

When someone FGITW a post with a optimized answer it often turns out badly. Why do you want a challenge that FGITW is often the best way to win? The challenge is more about luck then about skill. It is just a fact that the earlier answers (even by a day) will get many more upvotes then other answers. As Pop-cons often have easier challenges some of the better answers are instantly in the 2nd or 3rd page. It doesn't really show the real skill.

More about voting culture.

I personally find the voting culture annoying. A one byte answer by Jelly gets 66 upvotes while my and many other answers remain at 1 upvote. Even with the same length and the same lack of clever code but since Jelly is "cool" and it was posted fast it ends up with many more votes. It is really out of wack (now I understand that people can vote how they want) and having entire challenges around a "broken" culture makes the very challenges "broken".

Anyways, thank you for your time reading this. I know it was a decent read but just remember that I really care about this website and hope everything turns out fine!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Call me a pessimist, but I doubt anything will change with respect to voting. Thanks for developing a succinct answer with some stats! \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Jul 27 '17 at 1:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ConorO'Brien yeah I really think it won't change that is why I posted my answer \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Jul 27 '17 at 1:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ There have been numerous occasions where someone will share a brilliant answer in chat in order to get more eyes on it. Additionally one can use a bounty for the same effect. In most popcons I've seen the better answers usually eventually filter to the top even if it's not a quick ascent. \$\endgroup\$ – Poke Jul 27 '17 at 13:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ "As Pop-cons often have easier challenges some of the better answers are instantly in the 2nd or 3rd page." That is answers should be sorted by Active and not by Votes, but as you say the problem is that many people sort by Votes because it is the default sorting system. \$\endgroup\$ – Kritixi Lithos Jul 28 '17 at 10:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cowsquack bingo! \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher Jul 28 '17 at 16:55
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Let's encourage people to make pop-cons

Wheat Wizard made some good points in his follow-up answer.

Most people are probably here because they like programming and these competitions are a great way to program with a community. In this way popularity contests appeal to the core demographic, they are about programming. Often times they are even real world tasks, like patch the image. If you were here just for programming, popularity contests would probably be the best tag for you.

As stated above, popularity contests could appeal to a large group of users. Wheat Wizard continues to argue that while many like pop-cons, they are off-topic. But that's not true: no one tells us what is off-topic, but we ourselves decide it here at meta.

I know that there are also many who don't want to see pop-cons, and that is fine. Simply don't open or answer pop-con questions, if you don't like them. Not liking is not a reason to ban the fun for all.

Yes, some answers are low-quality, but is that really a reason to ban all questions? Bad answers should be down-voted, but I don't even think that they should be deleted.

When the code-trolling question were forbidden, it was argued that they create negative reputation for the site. I agree that code-trolling was kind of stupid, but most popularity contests are not: majority of them are clever and inspire users to create beautiful answers.

Popularity contests are a great way to show creativity and skills. Allowing them is not away from anyone, and does not harm anyone. Code-golfers can golf and so on.

We should encourage people to make pop-cons, even if some of them end up to be bad. The more we create them, the more easy should it become. I would like to see in future that both new and experienced users ask pop-con questions with low threshold.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd rather have no popcons than bad popcons. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Aug 2 '17 at 15:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego But why? Do the "bad popcons" really annoy you so much that you want to ban also the good ones? I don't understand this perfectionist attitude many people show here: "there must be no bad content here ever, we must kill it all, even if we killed some good content also". Why? Can't we just ignore the bad content and enjoy the good. \$\endgroup\$ – fergusq Aug 3 '17 at 10:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer implies a false requirement - that there can be no good popcons unless we also allow bad popcons. Of course I would prefer good popcons, but if the choice is between bad popcons and no popcons, it's obvious - no popcons is better. It's less a perfectionist attitude and more a dedication to quality. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Aug 3 '17 at 10:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego On the contrary, there is no juxtaposition between "bad popcons" and "no popcons". Instead, the choices are "no popcons" and "all popcons, both good and bad". Remember that the OP of this question wants to ban also the good popcons (which there were 16, if we count non-closed as "good"). By "perfectionist attitude" I mean the absurd fear of "low-quality content" that people like you promote. It poisons our community and makes users apply self-censorship, which, I argue, destroys both good and bad content. \$\endgroup\$ – fergusq Aug 3 '17 at 10:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ And I disagree with both you and the OP. I would like to see a set of quality standards established for popcons. It's clear though that you don't have any interest in a constructive conversation, so I'll be taking my leave. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Aug 3 '17 at 10:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego "It's clear though that you don't have any interest in a constructive conversation", btw, is not a very polite way to quit a conversation. (It kind of implies that I am inferior to you.) I may have misunderstood you, which is very possible because your first message was very vague, but I will never ignore valid arguments you make. But, very well, this conversation is then over until you want to return. \$\endgroup\$ – fergusq Aug 3 '17 at 10:29
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Pop Con-Golf

Some people would say that the title of this site should be shortened to Programming Puzzles & Code Golf. They have a good point because 95% of the questions here are , and the second most popular type of question, , are usually just a variant on code golf with scoring that is not purely based on byte count (usually byte count/modifier).

So if you agree that the main spirit of this site is code golf, maybe we need to apply the golfing philosophy to make suitable for this site. Some questions require human judgement to discern the best answer. To respond to the comment, "Popularity contests aren't competitions," are pie-baking contests, where tasters vote on their favorite pie, not competitions?

To make a long story short, all I'm suggesting is placing difficult byte-count limits on pop con questions, in order to bring the golfing spirit to pop cons. Some say that this overly disadvantages non-golfing languages, however those have more access to libraries, which are often much needed in pop cons.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your definition of code-challenge is wrong. Some code-challenges work like that but thats not what a code-challenge is. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 30 '17 at 21:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Wheat that's why i said usually. \$\endgroup\$ – geokavel Jul 30 '17 at 21:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would even disagree with the usually. Under a quick assessment of the most recent open code-challenge questions they seem to be well in the minority. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 30 '17 at 21:38

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