I would like to know what the common practice is for revamping problems that were not constructed properly the first time.

The first(and only) code-golf puzzle I made was The struggling college student's GPA Calculator. I put the question into the sandbox and received a few feedback items, but being new to the site, I didn't structure the question in the way I would now. At the time of writing the question, I did not know that adding a lot of requirements(such as the rounding requirement and the I/O requirements) would lead to people disliking and not answering the question.

Does the site have any protocol for fixing questions like these, to allow more answers and more people to participate? Just opening up a new, better formatted question seems like it will get marked as a dupe.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If it doesn't change the challenge too much you can generally change things like i/o and rounding. \$\endgroup\$
    – Riker
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 21:41
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Despite my answer, your linked question does like 70% of what I mentioned. Keep asking stuff like that in the sandbox and you'll do great man/ma'am. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


Sandbox 100% of your Posts

Sandboxing your posts is the best way to get attention to the flaws of your question, if you don't get a response within 12 hours, try the following:

  • Post a link to your sandbox in The Nineteenth Byte, more experienced users often use this as a forum and will be glad to help (this is also where new sandbox posts / meta posts / regular posts appear).
  • Make an edit to your sandbox post to bump it back to the top (do not abuse this, abuse The Nineteenth Byte before doing this).

Recovering Outside of the Sandbox

If you happen to make a post that made it through sandbox, to the main site, and it is not well received (E.G. 3 downvotes in 2 minutes):

  • Remove the post before it gets answers (once it has answers it is considered rude to remove).
  • Or, ask in the comment section what can be done to fix it.

General Guidelines (My Personal Opinion)

  • Bullet points: nobody wants to read a paragraph in your challenge.
  • Sections: Turn your post into multiple sections, some common ones I use are
    • "Background": Tell the user the backstory and link to a Wikipedia or OEIS.
      • 1-4 sentences MAXIMUM on the story behind why this challenge is neat.
    • "Formal Definition": Tell the user the variables of the challenge, for example if your challenge takes 2 integers and outputs a list...
      • Given n and m, where n is the number of bananas and m is the number of angry beavers, calculate the list of angry bananas b.
    • "Examples": Give the inputs and their corresponding outputs.
      • Hit base cases, hit edge cases and hit weird cases.
      • If you have a rule that is odd, make sure that rule is hit by an example.
    • "Rules": Define a rules section, I recommend keeping track of the common rules seen around the site.
      • "Leading/trailing newlines are allowed."
      • "Input may be taken as a list/space delimited string."
      • Etc...
    • "Related": If you know of a post that is like yours, call it out before someone else does and say how it is different. This will prevent the inevitable argument in the comment section.
  • Winning Criterion: If you don't have this, your question gets closed. Add a winning criteria.
  • Compete. Competing in challenges and reading challenges will give you ideas for good practice in writing questions, if you compete in challenges your understanding of what is required will increase steadily. Even if the challenge is 2 years old, it could still be gold ;).
  • Ask someone to help!!!

If you have more questions view my Question posts by votes, you can see which ones flopped and which ones rocked. Or you can just message me or join us in the nineteenth byte anytime you have questions man.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for Given n and m, where n is the number of bananas and m is the number of angry beavers, calculate the list of angry bananas b.. On a more serious note, the advice to answer challenges as well is fantastic. Nothing helps you inherently know what to avoid like running into obnoxious restrictions in other challenges. \$\endgroup\$
    – DJMcMayhem
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 21:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, for TNB, I usually don't check the sandbox until somebody asks for help there and then I end up looking at five or ten others (usually the first two pages of the sandbox) \$\endgroup\$
    – Giuseppe
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 20:07

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