I have an answer-chaining question in the sandbox, but I still haven't come up with a winning criterion.

What scoring criteria are there for questions that encourage users to collaborate for a longer chain?

  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ +1, because this is a very important question. answer-chaining is a great type of challenge, but the winning criteria always feels slightly... off. \$\endgroup\$
    – DJMcMayhem
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Make the challenge have multiple rounds. If at any point you break the chain, you're out, you can no longer post answers, and a new round begins. Repeat until you have a winner. /s \$\endgroup\$
    – Poke
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 20:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Link to the sandboxed challenge \$\endgroup\$
    – Laikoni
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 20:53
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Related \$\endgroup\$
    – Poke
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 1:48

2 Answers 2


Second-to-last answer

This is (to my knowledge) basically the "standard" for . Essentially, the overall goal of answer chaining is to make the chain as long as possible, but in order to declare a single "winner" you want to make a condition that:

  • Discourages answers that are difficult/impossible to follow
  • Encourages challengers to come back and contribute again
  • Allows the challenge to continue for as long as possible

A simple win condition that accomplishes these is "The winner is the second-to-last answer after no new answers are made within [timespan]". An impossible to follow answer cannot win, a user cannot win if they stop contributing, and there isn't any upper bound for total number of answers, nor a chance for a "soft bound" where posting new answers becomes undesirable (e.g. because the scoring makes it impossible to catch up to existing challengers). An example is the Add a language to a polyglot challenge which has been going on for over a year.

On the other hand, as discussed in some other cases (such as here), using this criterion as an excuse to make a challenge continue forever without a winner is more like a loophole in the "challenge must have a winning criterion" requirement. I haven't seen any better options that can simply be applied to any answer-chaining challenge though.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ One thing I would like to point out about this one is that it pretty much requires that answers get harder over time. The problems you discuss at the end of the post are mitigated by gradual increase in difficulty. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wheat Wizard Mod
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Bad when it's possible to make an answer that only leave one space for newer solution \$\endgroup\$
    – l4m2
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 15:00

It already does

By the nature of this type of challenge you don't get a "winner". The person who breaks the chain loses which already encourages collaboration. This is probably a good argument for why this type of challenge doesn't quite fit on the site and why the existing winning criteria feels wrong.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Any downvoter care to share why you don't agree with this? \$\endgroup\$
    – Poke
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 1:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've downvoted because I don't really feel it is an answer to the question. It doesn't really present a winning criterion at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wheat Wizard Mod
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 1:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WheatWizard That's fair but my point was that you're not going to find what you're looking for with this one unless you change the spirit of the format entirely. The format of the challenge doesn't really work with our mentality of "one winner" unless you go with my sarcastic comment on this question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Poke
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 4:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think we disagree with the mentality of the site. I definitely don't consider challenges to be "one winner". I consider our spirit to be more a self-optimization one. Perhaps here is why I disagree. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wheat Wizard Mod
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 7:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ When I answer challenges it's because it's fun and I like being able to receive golfing input so I get where you're coming from but this site is for programming contests and contests have a winner. This winner should be objective (not necessarily my view but that's how the site seems to operate). \$\endgroup\$
    – Poke
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 14:51

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