19
\$\begingroup\$

A while ago I started a bit of a personal experiment and stopped using the sandbox for most of my questions. I think this experiment has given me a new perspective on the sandbox, that I would like to share.

The sandbox is problematic. Many users feel that they can't get the necessary feedback on a post in the sandbox. And that's not for lack of review. Many users regularly patrol the sandbox and provide meaningful and helpful feedback.

I think the problem here is that there are too many questions in the sandbox. Some questions don't really need much review. If you're a user that has asked 50 questions already you probably don't need to post your latest question to the sandbox. Simple posts serve mostly to bury challenges that need attention. Challenges written by new users or challenges involving novel scoring or mechanics, should be given much more attention than they are currently getting. It seems a lot of the time that we are using the sandbox as a dupe watch, for title suggestions, or even just a holding place for drafts.

That's it. Thoughts?

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree, although I think it would also be beneficial to have some kind of sandbox viewing website that has much smaller posts and a read list, which I think could encourage more users to check the sandbox since it would be much easier to go through all the new posts \$\endgroup\$ – ASCII-only Aug 8 '17 at 6:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @ASCII-only Please convert that comment to an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Adám Aug 8 '17 at 7:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ New challenge askers should use it. If you're developing a big challenge it is probably best to use it. If, like yourself, you have lots of well received questions there's no need to use it anymore. You know the formats, you probably spot the dupes yourself. If you have a high success rate on main it's probably worth not using it anymore \$\endgroup\$ – TheLethalCoder Aug 8 '17 at 8:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ TL:DR: I think it all boils down to common sense, will this be fine as if post it as is and am I qualified enough to answer that? \$\endgroup\$ – TheLethalCoder Aug 8 '17 at 8:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ 1811 answers in the sandbox is crazy. On the last page or two we have a whole bunch of heavily downvoted challenges that are old, abandoned, and don't look like they'll be making their way onto the main site any time soon. Why don't we delete them and clean the sandbox up a bit? \$\endgroup\$ – numbermaniac Aug 9 '17 at 1:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 because this is an excellent question, even though my answer is that I think sandboxing should be encouraged for everyone. \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Aug 18 '17 at 21:26
11
\$\begingroup\$

Some questions don't really need much review.

This is true, but it has an enormous caveat, which is that the only way to be sure that a given question is one of them is to post it for review. The author is one of the people least qualified to judge whether the specification is clear and unambiguous because they have internalised the unspoken assumptions.


If you're a user that has asked 50 questions already you probably don't need to post your latest code-golf question to the sandbox.

I'm not convinced that the number of questions previously asked is the right metric. If you're a user whose previous 10 questions passed through the sandbox without needing a single clarification then maybe you don't need to sandbox. But then again, if your new question is sufficiently different to the previous ones to be worth posting, there's a chance that it touches on a field where you're not an expert and an expert in that field can spot a misunderstanding, or that it touches on a field where you are an expert and you don't realise that you haven't dumbed it down enough.


Simple posts serve mostly to bury challenges that need attention. Challenges written by new users or challenges involving novel scoring or mechanics, should be given much more attention than they are currently getting.

I agree with the second sentence, but not the first. Simple posts can be reviewed in a quick break while waiting for code to compile. IMO the biggest obstacle to reviewing complex challenges is that the effort required means that they can only be reviewed by setting aside a decent chunk of time when you're mentally alert and not engaged in another activity.


It seems a lot of the time that we are using the sandbox as a dupe watch, for title suggestions, or even just a holding place for drafts.

IMO dupe watch is a valuable feature of the sandbox. I'm not sure why you apparently see it negatively.


TL;DR: the only situation I can think of when a question doesn't need sandboxing is when it's not doing anything new or interesting, and in that case it's not worth posting directly to main either.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ And that's why I always sandbox my questions even though I think they're simple enough. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik the Outgolfer Aug 10 '17 at 15:46
4
\$\begingroup\$

A holding place for drafts

I don't see drafts in the sandbox as a bad thing. Personally, I like to drop ideas into the sandbox and update them gradually over time. I like being able to look at my list of sandbox answers and see which have gathered more upvotes, and prioritise working on those. I find it a handy way of judging demand, so I can allocate time accordingly.

Dupe watch

I agree with Peter Taylor's answer that dupe watch is a valuable feature of the sandbox. In particular, it allows people to post an outline and get feedback on whether it is a duplicate, rather than having to spend the time to write a full specification, test cases and reference implementation, which would often be required in order to test for duplicates by posting to main. This frees up that challenge author's time to write other challenges for us.

Not mandatory

I don't want there to be a rule that all challenges must be posted to the sandbox first, but I do want it to be strongly advised. After one disasterous omission, I have posted all of my subsequent challenges to the sandbox, and there has always been something to improve/clarify/add/remove. It's not just that my challenges might have been closed on main - there are some that would have been valid on main but are better thanks to the sandbox. That's definitely worth a little extra time. There is a wide grey area between "off topic" and "interesting".

Hindsight is hilarious

  • If a challenge is watertight and doesn't need any feedback, don't post it to the sandbox.
  • If a challenge has a non-obvious flaw that will only show up if others review it, post it to the sandbox.

Hopefully the irony comes across...

I've lost count of how many simple challenge ideas have been posted on main and gathered comments saying "this would have benefited from being sandboxed". They are not always first time challenges - the time I made this mistake wasn't my first challenge either.

\$\endgroup\$
3
\$\begingroup\$

NO!

I'm one of the 5 users that have the Socratic badge, so I'd consider myself fairly experienced when it comes to writing challenges. I'm afraid I will sound like an arrogant jerk here, but this is what I mean:

Yes, some challenges are not flawless. Accept that they are posted on main, or loose all the good ones! We should all still downvote and close if the challenge is bad, but we have to accept that they are posted. We must remember that this site is absolutely worthless if no one writes challenges. We can't kill the fun for those who do. (And it's not like the good challenges go unnoticed because there are so many bad ones. We can handle a few bad challenges.)

If you don't want to read it all, please skip to the last paragraph!

Looking at my top 50 challenges, only 2 or 3 went through the Sandbox before I posted them. I'm not claiming those challenges were all flawless, but the errors were in most cases fixed fast and to little annoyance to other users (yes, you can all probably point to challenges I've written that had many flaws, but most have been somewhat OK at least).

If I look at my Sandbox record, I find 38 questions, 14 were never posted (only one was a dupe). The 14 I didn't post were mainly optimization, king-of-the-hill, cops-and-robbers and similar challenges that I already knew weren't ready to be posted, and I knew I had to get some assistance to make the specs waterproof.

The challenges that were upvoted in the Sandbox, and that I ended up posting have a lower average score than my other challenges.


But my main argument, and this is a big one:

I enjoy writing challenges, I like the upvotes, and I like when people answer. Not because of the rep, but because that means someone appreciates the effort I made when writing it (and the idea behind it). There are people out there that are having a good time because I wrote a challenge. When I've written a challenge, I want to get that "feeling" straight away. I don't want to wait patiently a couple of days and hope a few users read it and make a comment or two and then post it. The joy of writing it is long gone.

If I had to wait two days before I could taste the cakes I bake, then I'd stop baking cakes1. If the community were to decide that all challenges must go through the Sandbox then I'd stop enjoying it, and I would stop writing challenges. I'd guess I'm not the only one.

1I don't bake cakes, but you get the point.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ For the record: I think it's OK to refer new users to the Sandbox, and suggest the Sandbox when someone posts a complex challenge that has flaws, but we shouldn't do it for all code-golf challenges. \$\endgroup\$ – Stewie Griffin Aug 18 '17 at 21:56
1
\$\begingroup\$

No, if you're an established question-asker

After you've read and asked a certain number of questions, you can generally tell when you're going to need sandbox help, and when you can handle everything, or address the minor things that come up as they come up. While using the sandbox can help polish up questions, it takes extra time and effort, and for someone who knows what they're doing and isn't asking an unusually complicated question, it isn't needed.

Yes, if you're new or things aren't quite going smoothly

If you haven't asked many questions, or are having trouble writing questions that don't need lots of editing, or having trouble writing questions that don't get put on hold, then you should use the sandbox. Posting to the main site isn't the right place for questions that aren't ready yet, and if you're in these categories of askers, that's where your question might fall.

\$\endgroup\$
0
\$\begingroup\$

No

I agree with your reasoning, although to me that's only part of the problem.

I think it would also be beneficial to have some kind of sandbox viewing website that has much smaller posts and a read list, which I think could encourage more users to check the sandbox since it would be much easier to go through all the posts.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That might work if there were a good effort to make sure (especially new) users were aware of the site - I feel like having something off-site could risk getting very few visitors \$\endgroup\$ – LangeHaare Aug 9 '17 at 10:49

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .