First and foremost: I understand that all answers posted on Stack Exchange sites are required to be licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 and that attribution is required. This is less of a licensing question and more of a site content question.

I have a practical problem that demands a creative solution, and I know that some of the most creative programmers frequent PP&CG, solving puzzles and doing gymnastics with code that are far more clever than anything I could come up with.

Would it be an acceptable practice for me to post said practical problem as a question, with the intent—clearly listed as part of the question, of course—to use the winning solution as part of an open-source project I'm working on?

To provide a little more context, the problem in question would fall into the proposed Data Golf puzzle category, similar to GeekWithALife's Smallest chess board compression challenge. The accepted answer would be in the form of a data format, and accompanying code would only be provided as a courtesy.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You will definitely want to request for posters to dual-license their content under CC BY-SA 3.0 as well as whatever licence your project will use (although, you can't oblige them to do so, so if they refuse, you won't be able to use their submission in your project). Otherwise, your project will be required to use CC BY-SA 3.0 (since it's a copyleft licence), and, well, CC BY-SA is not really designed for use for software. (IANAL.) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 4, 2014 at 7:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisJester-Young yeah, but this open-source project is going to be small enough that the licensing is really... well, whatever. Were I to write it myself without community input, I'd be releasing it under public domain anyway. So I don't mind including a CC BY-SA license and attribution on top of that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Adam Maras
    Apr 4, 2014 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ So you will ask the answers to be published under public domain license? \$\endgroup\$
    – A.L
    Apr 4, 2014 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @n.1 no, I'd rather just license the open-source project under CC BY-SA 3.0 (even though it's not really a 'software license' per se.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Adam Maras
    Apr 4, 2014 at 18:24

2 Answers 2


To give voice to the silence: One can but try. I haven't heard any "mod hammer", so there's no big negative sentiment clearly. I suppose its success or failure will rest on the merits of the challenge itself. A bounty may help add excitement.

Does this constitute a new puzzle-type (data-format-golf?)? If so, maybe explore some of the "meta-"decisions in the new-puzzle-type question. $.02

  • \$\begingroup\$ Great points about the bounty and the new puzzle type. I saw another (popular) question that would constitute data format golf, so bringing that up probably isn't a bad idea. \$\endgroup\$
    – Adam Maras
    Apr 6, 2014 at 20:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Data format golf? And all those hours using block select FINALLY PAY OFF!!! \$\endgroup\$
    – corsiKa
    Apr 8, 2014 at 19:49

I don't think it matters if the origins of the challenge are open source or not. People write answers all the time on StackOverflow with full knowledge that they're helping other people do their work, whatever that may be. It's a pay-it-forward kind of thing.

People solve the puzzles if they want to. They don't if they don't want to. If your puzzle is boring and feels like "work" then probably no one will want to solve it...practical application or not. If a puzzle is good, who cares if a solution to it is also useful? Although if your puzzle involves the phrase "design a data format" it definitely starts sounding less like a puzzle and more like... work. YMMV.

The mentions about licensing is the only real sticking point. So if CC BY-SA doesn't work for your application then you should explicitly say so in advance, or take your chances in asking afterward. (I've been emailed by license-conscious people about SO code asking me to explicitly license it as MIT or whatever, and sure. Why not?)


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