Should a question be closed based on something the owner said outside of the question, such as in a comment?


This question was posted by a brand new Code Golf user who had problems with English and with his winning criteria. After the English and criteria were fixed, it was closed because of something the poster said in the comments. The phrase that sparked the close was "its just a problem which i cant resolve". In other words, the OP had a problem that he couldn't solve, and so he transformed it into a coding challenge.

Out of fear that this will yield answers filled entirely with personal opinions, I beg the following: please answer if and only if you are familiar with best close (also known as flag) practices on other sites.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "close (also known as flag)" - umm, no it's not \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Mar 27, 2014 at 23:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ BTW, @Doorknob I just noticed that you removed "You, the asker, should be able to answer the code-golf problem (even if it's not optimal)" from the tag-wiki for code-golf. Do you recall why you thought it was better removed? Do you still feel that way? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27, 2014 at 23:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dmckee Because it's completely wrong. Examples. There are plenty of difficult challenges; are those not ok? The ones with no answers? (Ex. Rubik's Revenge, not sure if it's still unanswered and it's difficult to do all this checking on mobile, but I'll be willing to bet whoever the OP is can't solve it.) Are you saying that difficult challenges should simply be disallowed? \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Mar 27, 2014 at 23:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doorknob "Are you saying that difficult challenges should simply be disallowed?" No. I was just making sure I understood. You'll note that in what I wrote before I limited to requirement to "simple task[s]". I am interested in ideas about how to express that idea that we're not here to function a coding monkeys, however. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27, 2014 at 23:43
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @dmckee Kill language restrictions on sight, perhaps? A GolfScript answer probably won't be very useful to the OP. Or, perhaps something like "Code Golf Stack Exchange is a site for hosting programming contests, not for asking programming questions. If you need help with code or you need a programming question answered, try Stack Overflow." \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Mar 27, 2014 at 23:45
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ This question is based on a false premise: you don't know how many of the close votes were related to the comments, let alone to which comment. My close vote preceded the comment you quote; at least one of them was after the later comment in which OP appears to say that they were lying earlier about it not being homework. I don't understand your fear of answers filled with personal opinions either: there's a reason that meta sites have voting on answers. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2014 at 8:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doorknob When I checked StackOverflow, I had no close option, but I did have a flag option with nearly identical options, so I misintepreted flag == close. My mistake. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    Mar 28, 2014 at 13:05

1 Answer 1


I've felt that that smelled of "solve my problem for me" from the very beginning. We generally expect users posting challenges to be able to solve the challenge themselves. See for instance https://codegolf.meta.stackexchange.com/a/107/78.

If it were any other way we could expect the site to be flooded by people who just need some working code, presumably pushing out the high quality games and puzzles that we are actually interested in.

So yes, if the user admits to not being able to solve a simple task like that then the question should be closed.

I beg the following: please answer if and only if you are familiar with best close (also known as flag) practices on other sites.

I have to say that code-golf is different from most of the sites in Stack Exchange network. We are explicitly not a site for seeking authoritative and well-considered answers to high quality questions. This is a play site and we do things differently here.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not certain that OP being unable to solve is sufficient for closure, but if that's the only reason the problem is being posed? That's a good reason to close. It should be a challenging problem, or fun problem, or game, or well posed contest etc. in general, not just hard for the OP. I totally agree with your statement that We are explicitly not a site for seeking authoritative and well-considered answers to high quality questions. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2014 at 1:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I never said that Code-Golf was identical to other sites. I only begged that anyone who answers be familiar with best practices on other sites. You make an odd claim that being unable to solve the task is grounds for closure. Can moderators create new close reasons on the fly? I have made an attempt to formalize your claim here: meta.codegolf.stackexchange.com/q/1352/18487 \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    Mar 28, 2014 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rusher Moderators (plural, it takes two) do have the ability to edit the off-topic close reasons, but it is not a power that we use on a whim. My assertions above are based on the historical usage of the [code-golf] tag on Stack Overflow and my perception of the actual way users on this site have treated question that appear to be seeking to have their work done for them. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2014 at 14:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Judging by the number of downvotes on meta.codegolf.stackexchange.com/q/1352/18487 I would say that your perception is not very clear. In fact, I have posted two challenges that I cannot solve, and both have a nice question badge. The worst part of your made-up close reason is that a user could simply lie about not knowing how to solve the challenge, and the community would be none the wiser. Perhaps you and the other old users here should accept that the site is growing more like other SE sites as it becomes more popular, and stop using the "We're different." argument for everything. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    Mar 30, 2014 at 5:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rusher Again, in that post you offered up a simplified version of the argument (I am tempted to call it a strawman). You'll note from the comments here that at least one of our more active user took strong exception to that interpretation and that I did not defend it, either (both of which took place before you posted 1352). I think people just didn't like your text. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2014 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dmckee If your answer contains ideas that you no longer believe to be true, use the edit button. Anything that remains in an active answer is assumed to be something you believe, regardless of whether you defend it. My question is not a strawman argument, because I provided no argument. I provided a direct link to the context in the question, which you obviously missed because you commented with the same link.If you want to throw more labels, grow a pair and leave out the "I am tempted to" bit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    Mar 31, 2014 at 13:56

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