I'm planning a challenge, in which players submit a bot (one per player), as in a koth. however, none of the submitted bots play against each other, instead they play against an npc force of alien things. The goal is for the team to survive as long as possible. that is, there is no scoring between the bots (except that there might be data on how long bots lasted. Any attempt to try and have a bot perform better at the cost of the team is degenerate behaviour and not allowed or incentivised in any way)

However, I wonder whether a "KOTH" with no inter-player competition is regarded as having an objective winning criterion for the purposes of on-topicness, as there is no ranking, just how well the team did?

We've had a discussion on whether cooperative koths on specific teams are acceptable, so really this post is about whether we can do that where there isn't a dynamic yardstick of another team.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would it be possible to measure how much one particular bot helped the team? Maybe something like score(all bots) - score(every other bot)? That way, it's still cooperative, but there is also individual competition. \$\endgroup\$ – James Jul 29 '17 at 3:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DJMcMayhem it could, but I'd prefer zero competition, and I'm asking about zero competition. also you could help the team as a martyr, which wouldn't yield points, unless it did, in which case you could martyr pointlessly for points, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Destructible Lemon Jul 29 '17 at 3:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it's advantageous to the team for one bot to martyry for the team, that would improve both the bots score (by my scoring method) and the teams performance, so it wouldn't be pointless. \$\endgroup\$ – James Jul 29 '17 at 3:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ your scoring method sounds preposterously difficult to implement... possibly even requiring solving the halting problem or some such... IDK, but either way that's out of scope for the question \$\endgroup\$ – Destructible Lemon Jul 29 '17 at 3:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ No it's not. Just run the contest N + 1 times. Once with every bot, and once for every combination of N - 1 bots. Compare the score between when each particular bot was or wasn't running. I'm not sure this is a perfect solution, it's just the first idea that came to mind. But it's definitely doable. \$\endgroup\$ – James Jul 29 '17 at 3:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ ok once more... this is out of scope for the question. in all honesty, i prefer cooperation for cooperations sake, rather than to be the winner of more coop points \$\endgroup\$ – Destructible Lemon Jul 29 '17 at 3:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see how what DJ is saying doesn't match your question. They are asking why you don't use a simple scoring method instead of trying to come up with a new consensus about not scoring something. \$\endgroup\$ – FryAmTheEggman Jul 29 '17 at 3:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ because I prefer the way the koth is with just cooperation rather than thinking about points. it's the difference between trying to make the team the best and trying to make your bot the best \$\endgroup\$ – Destructible Lemon Jul 29 '17 at 3:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is basically this question except for a single team \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Merrill Jul 29 '17 at 3:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanMerrill I would consider it distinct, since noone actually wins, because it's one team, it's just a sliding scale of how well your team does. \$\endgroup\$ – Destructible Lemon Jul 29 '17 at 3:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ The distinction between a binary "win/loss" and a range of "scores" is irrelevant as far as KoTHs are concerned. I can post a KoTH with a single winner and no scores, or I can post a KoTH where everybody gets scored. \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Merrill Jul 29 '17 at 3:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with @FryAmTheEggman . It is possible to measure "how much better did you make the team", which means we can have an objective way of measuring for how well a bot was "trying to make the team the best vs trying to make itself the best". \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Merrill Jul 29 '17 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ If there is no distinction between any of the players, then I'd call it an H, rather than a KotH. I think it's a really interesting idea, but I think it would need to be an off site project. Definitely mention it in chat if you set it up off site though. \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Aug 1 '17 at 8:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ D: this is even worse than a popcon how could you do this \$\endgroup\$ – ASCII-only Aug 1 '17 at 9:51


One of the site-wide rules that applies to all challenge questions is that they must have an objective winning criterion. Unless that changes, the challenge you propose is indisputably off topic.

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    \$\begingroup\$ well, two things: is it bad etiquette to downvote this on my own question? secondofly, does an objective winning criteria necessarily always enforce winning? it tends to just enforce working toward the goal, as per the only person golfing in a language example \$\endgroup\$ – Destructible Lemon Jul 29 '17 at 3:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is meta, so feel free to downvote whatever you disagree with. And yes, we require a nominal winner with the rules as written. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis Jul 29 '17 at 3:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ And what if the opposing AI could win, forcing all submissions to lose? Would that be acceptable to you? \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Merrill Jul 29 '17 at 12:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanMerrill Winning criterion means one winner, not all of them. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis Jul 29 '17 at 14:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dennis So you would oppose this post then? \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Merrill Jul 29 '17 at 17:53


It is possible to distinguish how to perform better, as there is an objective way to judge performance. just like how we don't discourage golfing in languages only used by one person, but do discourage ones that aren't golfed, even though they still are "in first place", we can still be aiming towards a goal without competing.

Theoretically, you could compare it to a set of bots someone else made for another team, and then have it scored as a code challenge, the only difference being that there are not other teams.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your second paragraph sums up how to make this on topic, but is also what you have clarified in the question comments that you want to avoid, so it sounds like you have made up your mind that an off site project is what you want. \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Aug 1 '17 at 9:00

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