Recently I had the idea to create a KotH challenge based on a card game (played with regular 52 cards). I then began drafting the rules of the game and the interface method.

The thing is, I was taken aback by how lengthy the specification of the challenge is. The Markdown file that contains my draft is more than 8kB, and I'm not even finished yet.

I know that KotH specifications are longer than those of regular challenges, but I would like to avoid them being too long.

So, these are the question I would like to ask:

  • How long can a challenge specification be (depending on the type of challenge)?
  • Are there general tips to reduce the length of a challenge specification (especially KotH)? Note that the game in question has many variations and optional rules, so I need to crearly define which rules we use.
  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe there is a hard limit at 30,000 characters for posts (challenges and answers) in most of the site. I think we may have extended the maximum length for answers, but I do not know if the same applies to questions. I would recommend researching that, as it sounds like there is a very good possibility that you will exceed the 30,000 character limit. I would recommend being more brief, while trying to retain a maximum of clarity, if you discover that 30,000 characters is still the limit for this site. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gryphon
    Jul 27, 2017 at 13:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you find a challenge becoming longer than you'd like remove fluff and unneeded information, only specify the necessary and be more brief in how you explain things. Also don't overuse too much markdown. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 27, 2017 at 13:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer on mother meta talks about the limit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gryphon
    Jul 27, 2017 at 13:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gryphon 60000 is the limit for questions/answers in the main site, but in meta (so sandbox too) the limit is 30000 \$\endgroup\$
    – dzaima
    Jul 27, 2017 at 13:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dzaima , I thought I remembered coming across something talking about increasing the limit for answers, but I wasn't sure if it applied to questions, or if it ever happened. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gryphon
    Jul 27, 2017 at 13:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanShiranini, because 30,000 characters is the sandbox limit, I would still recommend reducing your question below that, as sandbox feedback is extremely important for the success of most KoTHs. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gryphon
    Jul 27, 2017 at 13:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Main limit is 65536, which is 2 ^ 16. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stephen
    Jul 27, 2017 at 13:17

1 Answer 1


A Challenge Spec can be up to 65536 characters in length.

Thanks to @StepHen for that number.

However, despite this, a maximum of ~30,000 characters (closer to 33,000) is required for the sandbox, which is heavily recommended for questions. Therefore, I would recommend cutting a challenge down to 30,000 characters to allow posting in the sandbox.

Now for some tips on cutting challenges down to size.

Don't over explain.

When I am trying to make my challenges more brief, I find it easiest to remove sections that reexplain sections. For example, if I explain a rule using a bullet point, I tend to reexplain it later using an example. Getting rid of unnecessary examples helps a lot, and although retaining test cases is a good idea, examples that illustrate simple steps are often unnecessary.

Make the challenge simpler.

If all else fails to cut your spec down to a reasonable size, sometimes removing cumbersome rules that require paragraphs of explanation will do the trick. As you are asking specifically about a KoTH, golfing your controller may also help (if you are including it in you spec as code, and not just a link). Some excessively complex rules can make a challenge less fun, as well as give it a much longer spec. Remember, nobody wants to read a 50,000 character wall of text that just explains a bunch of boring, obscure rules designed to cover every possible edge case. If you need to explain that an edge case is not allowed, you can even do it in a comment on your question, if the explanation is making your spec to cumbersome.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I definitely agree with simplifying the challenge itself, rather than just writing a shorter spec to describe it. Finding the balance where a KotH is just simple enough without becoming uninteresting is difficult, but well worth it. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 28, 2017 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your vote of confidence in my reasoning, @trichoplax. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gryphon
    Jul 28, 2017 at 23:23

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