39
\$\begingroup\$

Whereas, there are lots of interesting languages out there that might be fun to golf in, and

Whereas, many of us are the inventors of said interesting languages, and would like to teach them to others, and

Whereas, learning and golfing in a language is more fun if other people are doing it with you:

I propose that we start a language of the month1 event.


This idea is inspired by some of the recurring events on other StackExhange sites, particularly the writing challenges on Writers.SE or the reading challenges on Literature.SE. The main idea is to get more exposure for less-frequently used languages, and to have fun learning and golfing them together.

Here's how I envision this working. We start a nominations thread on Meta. To nominate a language, you post an answer to that thread, stating the language you're nominating, why you think it's a good language to feature, and details like where to find an implementation. At the beginning of each month, the nomination with the highest net vote total is chosen as the language of the month. (This nomination process is modeled after Lit.SE's reading challenges.)

I believe there is some way to set up an "event" that shows up in the sidebar but isn't mutually exclusive with the normally displayed meta posts. Maybe somebody who knows the StackExchange system better than I do can confirm that?

During the month, everyone who wants to participate would:

  • Learn the basics of the language (if they don't know it already)
  • Answer challenges in it (new ones or old ones, doesn't matter)
  • Try to outgolf each other's answers
  • Discuss all of the above in chat

I particularly envision chat being useful for experienced users of the language to give pointers and learning exercises to newbies. Something like this has recently been happening in the Brain-Flak room. We could start a single new chatroom for all language-of-the-month chatting, or we could use the existing chatroom for each featured language (creating a chatroom for languages that didn't previously have one).

My suggested criteria for a good language of the month:

  • It should be somewhat general-purpose and possible to program in. Bubblegum isn't a good choice, because it's only capable of solving a small subset of challenges. Malbolge isn't a good choice, because it's prohibitively hard to create a working program in it at all.
  • It should not be one of our most commonly used languages on PPCG. That's a subjective criterion, and I don't mean to exclude a lot of languages by it--but still, the point of this event is to bring attention to lesser-known languages. We don't really need to bring more attention to Python or JavaScript.
  • It should have a freely available implementation. This can be TIO, some other online source, or a downloadable interpreter/compiler.
  • It can be either esoteric or practical. Of course we like our esolangs around here, but I also think it would be cool to study some lesser-known "real" languages.

What say ye?


1 Or other time period--please make suggestions. If we end up with a duration such as "three weeks," the name of the event could be changed to "featured language" or somesuch.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ I like this idea because I like learning new esolangs and this seems to add quite an incentive for that to happen. \$\endgroup\$ – Unihedron Jan 22 '18 at 7:09
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe add a monthly bounty for best answer in that language, as voted on by the community (like a mini best-of)? \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Jan 22 '18 at 8:37
  • 14
    \$\begingroup\$ As for chatrooms, it might be good to use an existing chatroom for the language (when available), because the experienced users of the language will be there anyway and this could bring a couple of new users to the room permanently. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Ender Jan 22 '18 at 9:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Similar events also happens on puzzling and worldbuilding. \$\endgroup\$ – Rod Jan 22 '18 at 18:59
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I think a 'language of the month' should include one or more challenges specific to that language. There are only so many different approaches one can do on a single 'normal' golfing task, so if many users suddenly use the same language, most code-golfing challenges will be quickly saturated. \$\endgroup\$ – Sanchises Jan 24 '18 at 15:19
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Sanchises Hm. For some languages, that would be easy to come up with (integer metagolf would be an obvious one for certain esolangs); for others, I'm not sure what it would look like. Maybe make it recommended but optional? \$\endgroup\$ – DLosc Jan 24 '18 at 22:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DLosc I suppose you could make an answer-chaining challenge for most languages. I'm not saying it will be easy, but I think seeing every recent challenge answered in the absolute minimum of bytes is hardly motivating to participate in that language too. \$\endgroup\$ – Sanchises Jan 24 '18 at 22:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego I think that's definitely workable, but wouldn't it tend to reward people who already knew the language, leaving out the new learners? \$\endgroup\$ – DLosc Jan 27 '18 at 10:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DLosc Possibly. The bounty could be restricted to best answer in language X by a user who has never used it before on PPCG, but I don’t know it that would be better. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Jan 27 '18 at 12:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rod Not any more \$\endgroup\$ – boboquack Jan 27 '18 at 20:50
20
\$\begingroup\$

Let's do this!

This is a nice idea; there is nothing to lose but the potential to gain a lot.

My only concern with DLosc's proposal was that one month might be a bit long for some languages and community involvement might die down after the first two weeks. However, trichoplax pointed out that a resting period between events would likely have a positive effect on the sustainability of the event in the long run.

Therefore, I now also think that featuring a language for a month is the better idea. The current language of the month could be promoted by an community ad and potentially some challenges related to the language, as Sanchises has suggested.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, two weeks featured, and then two weeks to choose the next language and propose language-specific challenges in the Sandbox? \$\endgroup\$ – Sanchises Jan 27 '18 at 13:53
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ I'd be inclined to suspecting that 2 weeks might be a bit too short for a sustainable event. For example, the fortnightly challenges were not sustained despite a lot of enthusiasm and hard work early on. I think that activity dying down towards the end of the period is probably a good thing, so people have some rest time before diving into the next language. I'd expect that to increase participation in the long term. \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Jan 28 '18 at 12:44
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @trichoplax That's valuable insight. I changed my proposal accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ – Laikoni Jan 29 '18 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ It might be a good idea to keep a running list of past featured languages, in order to ensure that repeats are avoided. There are plenty of languages to choose from, so that might not be a problem, but in a year or two it'd be a helpful list, at the very list. It could even be edited into this question, if that is reasonable \$\endgroup\$ – mbomb007 Jan 31 '18 at 4:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mbomb007 Yes, I imagined those would be edited into the nominations post--that's how Literature.SE did it. \$\endgroup\$ – DLosc Jan 31 '18 at 21:38

You must log in to answer this question.

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