I recently closed this post as off-topic because "it is not clear and it does not appear to be your own content". In case the post ever gets deleted, <2k users can see the image here. While I now realize my mistake in that it does actually seem to be OP's original post on that site, I will not vote to re-open because it is still not clearly written or specified enough. However, I present the need for a verdict for this site in terms of the originality of content:

What does the community decide to do for challenges that take most or all of its content from a site that permits their content to be copied and is cited in the challenge?

Unlike this meta post by Mr. Xcoder with this consensus by Peter Taylor, this question deals with the scenario where it is not bound by legal restrictions. The main points I want to see considered for this situation are:

  • Does it add anything to the site where the exact content could otherwise be found on another site?
  • Does it warrant a new post?
  • Is it morally right to get reputation off of non-original content? (Note that CW does not rectify plagiarism or mitigating reputation from up or down votes, and, for challenges, causes all answers to become CW, which means users who answer don't get reputation from up or down votes either)
  • Why post a challenge instead of posting a link in chat? Please provide reasons for why it is better to do this if you propose that these challenges should not be discouraged, and please provide reasons for why there is no advantage if you propose that these challenges should be discouraged.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you add image for low reps? There are already 2 delete votes. \$\endgroup\$
    Commented Feb 17, 2018 at 6:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user202729 done \$\endgroup\$
    – hyper-neutrino Mod
    Commented Feb 17, 2018 at 7:05
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Related \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 17, 2018 at 9:34

2 Answers 2


There are various scenarios, and I don't think the answer is necessarily the same for all of them.

I assume for all of these scenarios that the content is explicitly licensed in a way which makes it legally ok to post it here, and that the source is properly credited in the question.

Scenario: borrowed spec, new challenge

It may happen that while browsing a programming contest site where the challenge is to find an efficient algorithm that someone thinks, "This would make a fun golf". I don't see any problem with that, as long as the spec is sufficiently clear. However, I think the next scenario is a nicer way to handle it.

Scenario: same core problem, rewritten description

My question Trigger the chutes and protect the jackpot was inspired by a question on Code Review which in turn was based on (IIRC) a TopCoder contest. I took the core concept and completely rewrote the situation. The original one wasn't about a gameshow, and (difficult though it may be to believe) was even less plausible.

Rewriting avoids copyright issues (copyright protects the expression of ideas, not ideas per se). It means that people searching for help with the TopCoder challenge won't find the PPCG question on the first page of Google results and rip off the answers. It also ensures that I've thought about ways in which the wording could create loopholes.

This takes more effort, but IMO it's preferable.

Scenario: straight repost

This is where you seem to be focussing the question. There is precedent for reposting questions from some Google challenge site which explicitly allowed it, although I can't remember enough details to find the relevant question(s).

I'm not convinced that questions in this category should be automatically closed or deleted (although if they have other problems such as ambiguities in the spec then those should be handled as normal). However, they do meet one of the downvote criteria (lack of effort), and I would certainly be loath to upvote them.

I think we should encourage people to put in some effort, take ownership, and convert questions into the previous scenario.

Scenario: off-site contest

This is where I think the question should be focussed, because the linked (and now deleted) challenge seems to be more about advertising an off-site challenge with off-site prizes than running a parallel challenge. This is antithetical to what PPCG is about: this is a site for hosting contests, not for discussing contests which are hosted elsewhere, and every question should aim to be self-contained.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ +1, thanks for your detailed and in-depth analysis for all of the possible situations and how to improve on the problematic scenario. \$\endgroup\$
    – hyper-neutrino Mod
    Commented Feb 17, 2018 at 14:25

[No] These challenges should be discouraged

Discouraged is emphasized here. I believe that posting these challenges to PPCG is only mildly better than posting spam questions/answers, the main distinction that makes these types of challenges not instantly red-flaggable is that these challenges have actual relevance to what we do on this site.

In general, I do concede that it would add something new to the site, because this content likely would not have been seen before on the site. However, I do not believe it warrants a new post. In general, I believe that questions on this site should be commended for originality, thorough specifications, and being interesting. Originality is definitely not met by reposting others' content, and specifications are often not thorough enough because other sites have different requirements, rules, and format from our site (in fact, I typically use this as a guideline to guess if a challenge is potentially copied if its format seems to be well defined but not suitable for this site). Copied content can sometimes be interesting, though a lot of the time it is more of a programming task, homework-like problem, or some other non-challenging task.

I do not believe it is morally right to get the reputation from up-votes on copied content. While I do not care that much about my own reputation and I do not think the reputation system is the best system out there for this site as it can create unnecessary disputes sometimes, it is still a part of the Stack Exchange culture and should still be considered. Normally, posting good challenges gives the user reputation which is rightfully earned because they had to put forth the effort to create a unique challenge idea. However, when re-posting others' content, not much effort is required and anyone else could have just as easily posted that without being good at challenge-writing.

Finally, I believe posting a challenge is no better than linking it in chat. Sure, posting a real challenge gets you and other people internet points, but if it's not your own content, I believe the previous points make that an insignificant "benefit" in the scope of all of the other issues.

For these reasons, I propose to discourage legally permitted and credited copying of content.


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