Should the following be the sole reason to close a question? Should it be a supporting reason, or the reason that tips you over the edge if you were on the fence about closing a question?

User demonstrated an inability to solve own puzzle or challenge.

The meta posts that do address this topic have either

  • Too many points condensed into a single post, or
  • No clear consensus.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that this is related to discussion on meta.codegolf.stackexchange.com/questions/1349/… where the arguments are considerably more finely discriminated then the above text. In particular Doorknob's suggested text represents a simple clarification of one of the existing close reasons. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 28, 2014 at 14:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ For reference Doorknob's text is "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\$ Mar 28, 2014 at 14:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @dmckee The discussion you (and I) linked to was "Should I consider elements outside of the challenge itself when voting to close?" This discussion is, "Should inability to solve own challenge be added as a vote to close reason." I would add that StackOverflow is equally intolerant of homework questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    Mar 28, 2014 at 14:56

3 Answers 3


That is not a requirement. If you have a difficult, but interesting challenge that you can't solve yourself, that does not mean that you should not post it.

You give the argument that someone could post a homework question here as a challenge (I'm sorry, you said that you didn't, I misunderstood that. However, I'll keep this part around if someone else would make this argument). If someone posts a homework question as a challenge, the answers would probably not be very useful, because:

  • If the OP posts his homework as , then the answers will be short, but useless. If you get a homework assignment, you are assumed to write good and efficient code, not short and not-so-efficient.
  • If it is a , then the highest-voted answer is probably the most creative, but not necessarily the most efficient one.

And if he posts it without criteria or with 'most efficient' as criteria, it will get closed as "no objective winning criteria".

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for finally posting an answer! I want to point out that this question was posted only to illicit a crystal clear stance on the topic from the community. Other similar questions had too many points condensed into a single question or received a divided response. Can you edit your answer to remove the part about homework? I never gave any argument regarding homework, except that Stack Overflow is intolerant of it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    May 12, 2014 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rusher: Ah, ok, I misunderstood that about homework. I'll keep that part around if someone else makes that argument. \$\endgroup\$
    – ProgramFOX
    May 12, 2014 at 15:41

You do not need the ability to solve your own challenges!

It's however beneficial if you have the ability to understand your own challenges to the extent that you see potential problems with it and are able to answer questions asking for clarifications. (The sandbox will help a lot here).

Proof, by counterexamples:

Suppose the ability to solve your own challenges was a requirement.

That would entail that the following challenges would never have been posted:

Many of my challenges, including The versatile integer printer, and possibly1 some of Calvin's Hobbies awesome challenges, for instance this one wouldn't have been posted either.

All the aforementioned challenges have more than 80 upvotes and are definitely well received by the community. This contradicts the first assumption, thus it's proven that the ability to solve your own challenges is not a requirement.

1 Apologies to Calvin's Hobbies if I underestimate your programming skills, but some of those challenges are really tricky, and you haven't posted many answers that prove me wrong.


It is inadvisable to post a question which you cannot answer, but we don't need a custom "Off topic" reason with this wording.

I'm not certain that this has ever been used as a manually entered custom "Off topic" reason, and it's certainly not one that's used commonly enough to take up a slot in our per-site custom reasons.

The biggest problem with posting a question which you can't answer is that generally this means a lack of deep understanding of the problem. That may also manifest itself in an inability to communicate the problem clearly (leading to closure as unclear) and to provide test cases (which isn't a close reason, but questions without test cases have a high quality handicap, and are to be discouraged).


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