Here's our to-do list for the project:

  • Close all existing code-trolling questions (or maybe re-tag those three I mentioned).
    • - if locked or deleted, closing might not matter, so we may or may not close them all first
  • Lock all the more popular ones (>20 answers or >20 upvotes, say). Put the "kept around for historical significance" message on them. That's the key really.
  • Do delete the rest (although I personally wouldn't even mind if we just leave them all as signposts).
    • - here's our plan:
      • if the question has more than 50% "keep" votes on the spreadsheet, lock it
      • if the question has more than 75% "delete" votes, kill it with fire
      • otherwise, decide manually, taking into consideration votes (especially posts with 25+ votes), answer count, and community input in chat
  • Change the tag wiki to read "This tag is kept around for historical reasons. Questions of this type are not considered a good fit for this site, so rethink your challenge if you wanted to use this tag."
  • Strongly discourage all future code-trolling posts by closing (and subsequently deleting) them with reference to the tag wiki or this meta discussion.
  • If an interesting/good code troll does come up, figure out why it's good, build on that - and sort it into another appropriate tag (most likely some variant of popularity contest). Because most likely, the good thing about will not be something inherent to code trolling.
    • N/A - we will do this for all code-trolling posts in the future

I've noticed a very troubling pattern going on with code trolling.

"No, really?" you say sarcastically, but I've noticed something... different, something that has some potential to be fixed.

First, let me present the obvious problem with code trolling:



People are upvoting them.


I'm not saying I can tell people how they can and can not use their votes, but these questions are way way way way way way too broad.

Let's take a look at them. The first one boils down to "make something related to square roots." The second basically says "do something with complex numbers." They're both essentially saying this:

Write some code. Any code. Don't worry about what it does. Just put (square roots / complex numbers) somewhere in there and you'll be fine.

That is completely utterly absolutely positively undoubtedly too broad.

This is a huge problem. It's a vicious circle. Some people within PPCG upvote them. (Here's the problem. They upvote and answer instead of voting to close like they should.) Mountains of answers pile up. Then these questions shoot up through the Hot Network Questions list. They get piles of upvotes and answers on and on and then new users jump in and think these are good challenges.

If we're going to say these are good, then I might as well just go and post this:

Your challenge is to write some code. The only restriction is that it must contain at least three multiplications. Good luck!

So, could we please close and delete these, instead of pushing the quality bar lower and lower?

Anyway, now that we've established this, these are the bad code trolling posts. This does not mean to close all code trolling posts. "Good" code trolling posts may or may not exist. This is where our community is divided. So, after all this rambling, here's the point of this post.

What do we think about code trolling?

Here are our options:

  • we do not want any code-trolling posts outright. They are all bad because foo and bar. (Please provide examples.) Kill them. With FIRE.
  • there exist some good code-trolling posts. (Example foo, example bar.) To make a good code trolling post, it should have foo and bar.
  • code-trolling is good because foo and bar. We should leave it as is, but maybe just have a few more rules for it (like foo and bar).

Can we finally figure this out?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Isn't what you really want to do is make the distinction between a sarcastic, funny code-troll and a sad do-my-homework-troll clearer? \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2014 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've actually been trying to get my question (which you took a screen of) deleted for some time now. It still needs one more vote, and apparently I still can't vote for it myself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe Z.
    May 3, 2014 at 23:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @JoeZ. let me help you with that... (yay, finally a Disciplined badge!) ;) \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 0:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Code trolling questions are IMO some of the best ones at times. The one specifically mentioned in the answer is fantastic. I think that they should be implicit popularity contests as is, but if otherwise, they should still conform to the rules of said category (whilst still being a clear trolling question). \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 1:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ The two examples you pointed out (more so the first) are pretty good. I think that the openness is part of the charm. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 1:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Trolling is for people with no life in unmoderated forums, not here. \$\endgroup\$
    – TheDoctor
    May 4, 2014 at 15:06
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The original is what drew me to this site. I won't lose any sleep over the tag being gone (too many bad ones), but I'm certainly thankful for the original because this site is awesome. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kyle Kanos
    May 5, 2014 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I dont't see where's the broad part in complex number multiplication. One can deduce from the post that the poster wants a function that takes two parameters a and b, both being complex numbers and outputs its product... \$\endgroup\$
    – Setzer22
    May 6, 2014 at 4:22
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Setzer22, the point is, he doesn't! He wants something that looks like it has something to do with complex number multiplication. \$\endgroup\$ May 7, 2014 at 7:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ What's up with all the hate towards code golf? As far as i am concerned, it's a witty way to challenge yourself. It is a puzzle, a challenge and it's fun to see the outcome. If codetrolling is not fit, then i persume popularity contests should be unfit too. Hell' let's make this site ONLY about golfing, that will teach the trolls. \$\endgroup\$ May 8, 2014 at 12:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, simply for the "Don't" \$\endgroup\$ May 27, 2021 at 11:44

7 Answers 7


TL;DR: Get rid of code trolling - in a reasonable way and for the benefit of the community.

I am not a fan of , but I thought I'd give this tag a fair trial. So instead of just saying "I don't like it, code trolling is the worst, delete ALL the questions", I'll try to justify my position as best I can. (We tried the other tactic before and it didn't help).

Are there any good code trolling questions?

So first, I really wanted to figure out what makes a good code trolling question (if such a thing exists). Because if there is such a thing, then all we need to do is clearly express what makes a good code troll and simply weed out the bad ones. So I went through all 24 code trolling questions. I found exactly three noteworthy ones:

  • The original: This one was good and fun because it was a novel idea. In that sense this is only one particular (and at the time interesting) case of a .
  • Multiplication without + and *: This is interesting because it has a really clear spec. However, the actual point is that the tag on this question seems entirely pointless. This is just a popularity contest with a strong restriction on the allowed implementations. In fact, we have a tag for that.
  • Trolling the troll: As opposed to most other code trolling questions, this one actually attests the reader of the code some intelligence, and requires that the code looks like malware while being harmless - you're not going to get away with obvious obfuscations here. But that's nothing more than an challenge.

So what these three good (?) code trolling questions have in common is that they are really just popularity contests. The only one of them that is really related to code trolling is the first one, but if it's the only actually good such question, then "code trolling" as a challenge type is not a thing.

An honourable mention goes to drawing the trololologram. This one was also heavily disputed but at heart there is an interesting idea (which is also not inherently related to code trolling): devising a challenge with rules that make it "obviously" impossible to solve such that the challenge consists in finding loopholes. However, we all know how much we like recurring exploitation of loopholes here, so something like that can also be funny once (tops).

So what's so bad about the other 20 questions? Basically they are all the same. They all take a bad question from SO (or make one up), and post it with the code-trolling tag as a one-line - sometimes they add a second line to ridicule the original poster over on SO. All of these could reasonably be closed as "too broad" without any aversion against code trolling whatsoever. Why? Because code trolling can be interpreted in any of a myriad ways (underhanded, misinterpret task, write broken code, write illegible code, write bad-practice code...) such that the only restriction that remains on submissions is that the answerer somehow has to figure out how he can claim that the program is related to the question. At the same time, while they may be fun, they don't even provide a puzzle due to the lack of an actual objective/restriction. That does make them somewhat off-topic here, too.

So maybe it is possible to post a good code trolling question, but I don't know because it hasn't been done yet.

Well that just screams for "delete ALL the code trolling questions", right? Wait, let's look at the other side as well.

"But they are popular!"

The most common (only?) argument for keeping code trolling around is "because it's popular" (and the secondary arguments following that like "we need more traffic", "more questions spawn more answers, which might be interesting"). Yes, code trolling questions frequently make it into the Hot Network Questions and they get a good amount of answers and upvotes from time to time. But just because it's popular that doesn't mean it's a good kind of question for this site. Even "because it may generate an amazing answer from time to time" doesn't mean it's a good kind of question for this site.

"But this is a community-driven site! If it gets so many upvotes, the community wants it, and it should stay!" Or should it? The StackExchange network prides itself in its high-quality content. In any case quality over quantity. StackOverflow doesn't accept duplicates or "I haven't done my homework" questions (those would certainly increase the volume tremendously), because they want relevant questions first and foremost. This is the most important thing and it does regularly include alienating the odd new user who just wanted a quick "give me teh codez" to solve his problem. (Ironically these are exactly the people fans of code trolling are making fun of.) But that's fine because users (trolls) who can't accept that the StackExchange network is for high-quality content only and just want to have some fun are not the target audience here. There are places for such content, but it's not SE. (Reddit, maybe? I don't know.)

Again, I thought I'd rather back that previous paragraph up with some actual examples. There are both list-type and fun questions on StackOverflow which are massively popular and have amazing (and even useful) answers. Nevertheless, they are strongly discouraged and new similar questions will be violently closed and deleted. Some examples of such questions:

  • A list of good books on C++: This one is not even closed because it's so tremendously useful. But try asking a similar "I need a list of..." question on StackOverflow and count the seconds until 5 close votes are in. In fact, SO has a close vote reason "Questions asking us to recommend or find a tool, library or favorite off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam."
  • And then there are these gems: funny, funnier, funniest. These all have hundreds of answers and upvotes (with some answers having over a thousand upvotes). Also, they are all closed and locked with the message "This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here."

These examples show that it is not uncommon for the SE network to rule out certain kinds of questions, despite popular demand - in the interest of the community's high quality. And the thing is: people on SO understand! And those who don't - as I said - are not the target audience.

So what should we do about code trolling?

Okay, this post is long enough, I should get to the conclusion. So? Delete ALL the code trolling questions?

No, I think we can proceed with this in a somewhat more mature way, just by looking at how SO handled those questions. So here is what I'd suggest we do:

  • Close all existing code-trolling questions (or maybe re-tag those three I mentioned).
  • Lock all the more popular ones (>20 answers or >20 upvotes, say). Put the "kept around for historical significance" message on them. That's the key really.
  • Do delete the rest (although I personally wouldn't even mind if we just leave them all as signposts).
  • Change the tag wiki to read "This tag is kept around for historical reasons. Questions of this type are not considered a good fit for this site, so rethink your challenge if you wanted to use this tag."
  • Strongly discourage all future code-trolling posts by closing (and subsequently deleting) them with reference to the tag wiki or this meta discussion.
  • If an interesting/good code troll does come up, figure out why it's good, build on that - and sort it into another appropriate tag (most likely some variant of popularity contest). Because most likely, the good thing about will not be something inherent to code trolling.

If we want to hold codegolf.SE to the same high standards as the other sites in the network, we do need to have the balls to say "this is not what we want" even if it means losing a few potential new users.

PS: If someone can come up with an actual good and interesting challenge whose being good and interesting relies on it also being a code trolling question, I will be the first person to admit that keeping code trolling around might be worthwhile. However, even in that case, we need to be very clear in what makes a good code trolling question and still systematically weed out all those that don't live up those standards.

  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ Wow. To anyone who wants to skip this because it's too long, read the whole thing; it's very well-said. If we want to do something like this, we're going to have to do a major organizational project and prepare lots of things in advance, but I think we're up to the task. I think this is great! What does everyone else think about this? (Off-topic: is it necessary to censor that in the second last paragraph? :-P) \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    May 4, 2014 at 3:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ seems this is the official stance now. When do we get brand new official close reasons linking to this meta? \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 6:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doorknob about the censoring, I wasn't sure (being a non-native speaker and stuff). Feel free to edit it, if you don't think it's a problem. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 11:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JanDvorak before declaring this as the consensus I'd wait at least a week to give people a chance to voice their opinions and vote on the answers. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 12:44
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ <sighs> +1. My introduction to code-trolling questions was the square root question, which had several hilarious answers. It made me pro-CT. But your argument is solid. Holding would-be CT questions to the high standards expected of other questions will increase the chances of having funnier, more enjoyable responses. \$\endgroup\$
    – sadakatsu
    May 4, 2014 at 13:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 For the past week or so I've really been trying to come up with a good example CT challenge to see if it has some merit. In the end, I couldn't. Maybe someone else can, but everything I came up with worked better as a straight golf/popcon/challenge. Lock 'em up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Geobits
    May 5, 2014 at 0:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That censored "b***s" is really perturbing me... it looks like the word "BS" the way it stands. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe Z.
    May 5, 2014 at 3:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @JoeZ. okay okay, changed it. \$\endgroup\$ May 5, 2014 at 10:38
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Hooray for peer pressure! \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe Z.
    May 5, 2014 at 13:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Urgh. Just now I realize I meant to type "bother" instead of "perturb" up there (but it's too late to edit). It was really bothering me that I couldn't figure out what word was supposed to be there. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe Z.
    May 12, 2014 at 1:10

My personal stance is that is awful and should by ruled against with all due haste.

Indeed if I was allowed to kill one of and by simple fiat I wouldn't even hesitate.

I really only have one reason, which is that the existence of the category will continually breed bad, lazy, boring challenges without end. It's just too easy for a user who has the itch to participate (a good thing) but little experience to pop over to Stack Overflow (or almost any programming forum on the internet or troll through the usenet archive) an find yet another crap question and bang, we have another ill-specified, poorly thought out piece of dreck challenge.

Kill them with fire.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I'd just like to thank you (and the other mods) for doing so little. I cannot imagine how much self-control it must take for you to sit back and just let it happen. Thanks for having one of the most crucial yet unrecognized qualities a mod can have, and for letting the community lead the way (however dark and terrible that way may be). In any case, I (and I believe I speak for many others) am in great favor with you, but it seems that not everyone feels this way. Hopefully the discussion here will help reunite the community on this issue (finally). \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    May 4, 2014 at 3:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ [popularity-contest] could be kept around, but I personally feel that many don't meet my answer to What is a spec?. I think that a [popularity-contest] should be able to be changed to a [code-golf] or [code-challenge], but it was posted as [popularity-contest] because creativity is more interesting than brevity. I see nothing wrong with keeping that type of [popularity-contest] \$\endgroup\$
    – Justin
    May 4, 2014 at 6:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Quincunx there is the kind of popcon that is just being lazy to figure out a good scoring mechanism, and then there's the kind of popcon where you can't get rid of subjective criteria, which still makes a good question. those are often art/graphics based, where it's near impossible to objectively define what makes a valid submission, like this one. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 11:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @m.buettner Lazy = bad. Your example is the best kind of popcon: where the challenge is a good challenge but is impossible to score using the other methods. \$\endgroup\$
    – Justin
    May 4, 2014 at 21:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Quincunx yes, I was implying lazy = bad. I was just saying, popularity contests definitely have their merit, and some of the best posts on here are popcons, but of course we need to watch out for the bad ones where the OP just couldn't be bothered to figure out an interesting challenge/scoring so he slapped on a popcon tag. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 22:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ My opinion on the popcon question which @m.buettner links to is that it was a great topic to post on the chat (as I later posted links to my submissions on allrgb.com), but it's rather too vague to be a good question for the main site. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 22:53

TL;DR re-tag good questions as , then get rid of

I'm finding it impossible to defend this tag any longer. I was going to cite Trolling the troll as a good example of the genre, but this question was re-tagged as in an edit by xfix a couple of days ago. This seems like a good idea. If there are any code-trolling questions that can't be retagged as underhanded, they probably belong in /r/shittyprogramming, not here.

Another suggestion:

If we don't reach an immediate consensus, could we at least start by doing something about the tag wiki? This is what users currently see when posting a new question:


"The task is to give code that works, but is useless, severely frustrating the OP."

This is one of the shortest tag summaries we have, and gives no indication of any of the problems people have been raising in meta discussions. To see the rules that actually address these problems, the user would have to follow the "learn more" link, then scroll down to the bottom of the page. I would imagine that most [code-trolling] questions are being asked by people who are completely unaware of these rules.

I suggest expanding the opening paragraph to something like this:

The task is to give code that works, but is useless, severely frustrating the OP. Please read the guidelines carefully before posting a new question. In particular, questions that are too broad are liable to be closed on sight.

(The remainder of the wiki looks OK to me)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can I give you half an upvote? I liked your first suggestion (it's pretty much in line with my own I suppose), but I don't think the second one expresses strongly enough how much we don't want CT. Your version of the tag wiki summary still seems to suggest that it's okay to post CT, as long as you have thought about the challenge more carefully than copying over a question from SO. I'd prefer we just say "CT (as it stands) does not belong here. This tag is deprecated." If anyone does come up with a genuinely interesting new take on CT I have no doubt they'll give it a try as a popcon anyway. \$\endgroup\$ May 6, 2014 at 10:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @m.buettner That would be OK too, as long as everyone's happy with the idea. The current status quo is that new users are being relentlessly flamed and downvoted without any forewarning because the problems of code-trolling questions aren't being made clear enough from the outset. That's just as much our failure as it is theirs. \$\endgroup\$
    – r3mainer
    May 6, 2014 at 11:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I fully agree. Currently the code-trolling tag wiki gives no hint whatsoever that CT might not be welcome here. Also since there is no consensus yet most of the relentless downvoting and closing is due to the personal aversion against code trolling. That's exactly why I'm saying, if we change the tag wiki, we should be unambiguously clear about the general opinion on CT - be that "CT is not for this site" or whatever other consensus this post may find - so that people don't get the impression their Yet Another Code Troll™ might be a good idea in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ May 6, 2014 at 11:19

TL;DR Change to to prevent bad questions.

I really like code-trolling questions. Well, not the questions itselves, but the answers. They are creative, show effort and some are really about puzzling.

The questions are the problem. People write a short problem (which is mostly way too broad) and simply tag it with . But people vote them up (don't ask me why).

All of the code-trolling questions are popularity-contests (or should be), so why not simply change them? Then people would have to give specific information about the problem. Simple example:

Write a function which returns the square root of the input. The code should look totally correct to a beginner, but the coding-style has to look horrible for a professional programmer. The program has to look totally correct (at least on the first sight), but it should NOT return the correct square root (difference >0.1).

This sounds much better to me (and is more specific) than

HALP ME how to do square root?!!!

With this solution, we wouldn't disappoint the fans of code-trolling and the bad questions will go away.

I agree with m.buettner that the old, bad code-trolling questions have to disappear/change. After that, kill the whole tag.

Edit: As pointed out by m.buettner (thanks!) in the comments, a good solution for my idea would be to add something like "If you think you DID come up with an a new/interesting code-trolling type question, consider posting it as a popularity contest (or some other appropriate tag)" to the code-trolling tag wiki.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I can't decide weather to upvote or downvote \$\endgroup\$
    – TheDoctor
    May 4, 2014 at 15:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheDoctor Why? :) \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 15:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "Change code-trolling to popularity-contest " << I disagree somewhat "This sounds much better to me" << i agree \$\endgroup\$
    – TheDoctor
    May 4, 2014 at 15:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, it isn't really "changing" code-trolling. We would delete it, kill it with fire like some of the community want to do. But if someone wants to ask a GOOD code-trolling question, he still has an option to do so. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 15:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Have some imaginary internet points! \$\endgroup\$
    – TheDoctor
    May 4, 2014 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ "and some are really about puzzling", which ones? I think you're aiming at a similar point than I did: good "code trolling" questions are really just good "underhanded" popularity contests. I don't think that is a reason to come to code trolling's defence though, because it still means that the good code trolling you want to keep isn't inherently about code trolling. Moreover the point of action you suggest is the same as mine, I think. The difference is which message we want to send: yours might be interpreted as "yes we want more of those questions, just use a different tag!" \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ If we don't want the bad kind of code trolling questions, which seem to arise mostly because currently code trolling is a thing, than we need to say so explicitly - no more code trolling. The good kind you want to keep around will pop up automatically as popcons over time, I'm sure. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I really like your arguments. But you can't "just use a different tag". If you use popularity-contest, you HAVE to describe the problem more specific, else it's too broad. This leads to better questions, since you have to invest time to write it (even if it's not that much, it prevents bad questions). I don't want to abandon the whole fun/popularity we had with some of the code-trolling questions. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 15:24
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Manu you know that, but the people posting those "HALP ME" code trolls don't. If you tell them that code trolling has become popularity contest they won't change their questions. However, I did recommend to add a clause to the code trolling tag wiki saying something like "If you think you DID come up with an a new/interesting code-trolling type question, consider posting it as a popularity contest (or some other appropriate tag)". \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 15:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @m.buettner sounds great! And if there will be such questions, we downvote, close and burn them in hell. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 15:36
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ "The code should look totally correct to a beginner, but the coding-style has to look horrible for a professional programmer" is not objective, and hence has no place in a spec. This is one of the problems with code trolling. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 22:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor yeah, fixed that. Really difficult to write a good question... \$\endgroup\$ May 6, 2014 at 6:54

TL;DR: Close, but don't delete popular code-trolling questions. Discourage future questions. Please notice the significant division between meta and codegolf itself.

Disclaimer: I personally like code-trolling as a fun, creative and recreational way to programming. I wrote a code-trolling question with 21 votes which is a deletion candidate, as well as a code-trolling answer with a few votes. I came to this site in the first place precisely because of code-trolling.

  1. Let me note that obviously, the average site user seems to think differently than the average meta user, as is clearly reflected in the amount of upvotes of some popular code-trolling questions and answers. There are some really funny, creative and interesting answers and it would be a loss for the site if they were deleted and no harm to keep them. Many users like me might be pissed off by just deleting them. Keep in mind that only a small proportion actually uses meta and might not even be aware of this discussion. The negative impact of code-trolling on this site is overrated in my opinion.
  2. All the interesting questions in code-trolling seem to have been asked, and all the interesting answers have been given, some of them multiple times (such as code obfuscation with C #defines and overuse of JQuery). It's not a loss to discourage or forbid future code-trolling questions and answers by locking all the questions and editing the tag wiki.
  3. A code-trolling question is naturally broad as the answers are supposed to be original and creative. This in itself is not the problem with code-trolling. Answering a code-trolling question in an interesting way is a fun programming challenge. Not everyone might like to partake in it, but enough people enjoy it.
  4. Don't prescribe to users on what to upvote and what not to upvote. Educate them, yes, but I strongly disagree with every statement like "This shouldn't be upvoted". The very essence of voting is gathering people's unaltered opinions.
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 I can't formulate better my personal point of view, completely agree with every point. I don't think the moderators should take any decision and perform real actions based on the discussion, which is not really completed. I don't believe in 26 upvotes of the question and 31 upvotes of the accepted answer as a guide to action. \$\endgroup\$
    – VisioN
    May 12, 2014 at 15:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that we're actually being very conservative and locking most posts, only deleting the ones specifically chosen by the community. Item 1: Just because it's popular doesn't mean we want it, as discussed elsewhere. Also, as I said, we're not deleting most of them. 2: That's... basically exactly what we're doing. Most posts will be locked, not deleted. 3: See item 1 (first sentence). 4: Yes, but upvoting a.) causes these low-quality posts to get answered and upvoted more and b.) pushes them up into the hot network questions list, which we don't want. (/cc @VisioN) \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    May 12, 2014 at 21:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ 1: Where "we" is the meta users, not necessarily the site users. 2: Apart from that some questions are actually going to be deleted/have already been deleted. 4: Posts are for answering. See 3. why code-trolling doesn't have to be low quality by definition. b) seems more of a problem with how stackexchange works. For my part, I wouldn't even be here if a code-trolling question hadn't been on the hot network questions. (Not that I'm a massive influence on this site.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Turion
    May 13, 2014 at 11:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Turion 1: Exactly. Meta is where policy is made and stuff happens. This is crucial for the health of the site, as if there was no discussion and policy, the whole thing would just break down. 2: Yes, that is true, only the ones that should be deleted, as decided by the community and by looking at them individually. 4: Code trolling is most certainly low quality, as mentioned in the numerous discussions under the code-trolling tag here on meta. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    May 13, 2014 at 12:19

On the one hand, of all the StackExchange communities, isn't this the best place for code-trolling? A lot of spleen can get vented in a fun way without endangering innocents. If an OP is the perfect scapegoat to gnash your teeth on, why not answer it? If an answer makes you laugh, why not up-vote it?

On the other hand, if the OP is just sad , down-vote it. If OP is tagged as and an answer is too literal, down-vote the answer.

On the gripping hand, Help!! How to do square root! undercuts your argument that code-trolling is a problem. The top rated answer is a work of art (literally, but not figuratively). I laughed, I cried, I had a better day afterwards. I'm sure the answerers felt the same way.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ No, this is not the place for people to vent their spleen. This is a site for people to post programming puzzles and solve the puzzles of others. The first code-trolling was not closed as it should have been and too many people arrived here along with that question and thought that that is what the site is about. They are mistaken. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gareth
    May 3, 2014 at 21:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ A work of art - are you serious? I would be ashamed if my game featured this kind of artwork. \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2014 at 22:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Area 51 says 3.5 questions/day and "15 questions per day on average is a healthy beta, 5 questions or fewer per day needs some work." Are you sure you want to run off all the newcomers? \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2014 at 22:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's like saying "hmm, let's post programming questions on Cooking Stack Exchange so that there are more posts." Quality > Quantity, especially when the posts are so low quality that we don't even want them here. Would you rather have 100 banana peels and 10 strawberries (which smell like rotten banana), or just the strawberries? The Area 51 requirements are guidelines, and dumping a bunch of "filler" posts on the site isn't going to help (in fact, it will tear apart the community even more and be detrimental to the site). \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    May 3, 2014 at 22:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, many of the questions are annoying, especially the do-my-homework questions. But are all the answers bad? I've seen some eye-opening code in answers to the code-trolling questions. Sarcasm seems to bring out the code-mangling best in some people. \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2014 at 23:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ScottLeadley Have you seen questions on StackOverflow which are closed and locked/protected? Those often are bad questions with good answers - they are kept around because of those answers but that doesn't make them viable questions. Hence, any similar new questions are still almost immediately closed and deleted. Existing questions with outstanding answers can be kept around for historical reasons with such a lock, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we want more bad questions for the off-chance that one of them might spawn a brilliant answer some day. \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2014 at 23:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ A happy oyster, with no irritants, produces no pearls. Attempting to generate lots of pearls quickly by dumping a ton of sand on an oyster kills the oyster. So, how much irritation are you willing to put up with? And is it the right irritation? Not saying PP&CG will ever produce a "TONY THE PONY, HE COMES", but if you retreat to your happy place, what good will the PP&CG archives be to the rest of the world? What I think I'm hearing from you is that all code-trolling is bad. I think a specific kind of code-trolling question seems to bring out a lot of creativity. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 0:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JanDvorak Sorry, I'm not an artist. That is about the best I can do (without stealing an image off of the internet). I'm not good at graphics and would probably have to find someone to help me if I made a game. Are you suggesting that there is an easy way to learn how to make good graphics? If so, I would love to learn it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Justin
    May 4, 2014 at 6:10

Based on the number of upvotes on questions and answers, code-trolling is obviously quite popular, just not with everybody.

If you don't want it on the codegolf site, why not put it into a separate StackExchange site for those who enjoy it? You could migrate the favourite posts over there, and keep this site clean.

I also wonder if it needs to stay fixed to coding in particular. Trolling questions on other topics might also be a fun activity for some. (As we can see already on YahooAnswers...)

You may dislike this attitude, but personally I don't care if a question poses a challenging problem or not. What interests me is whether the answers make me laugh. ("Sleepsort" is one of my favourites.)

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ SE is not aiming to be the next Yahoo! Answers. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2014 at 15:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems there is a niche that the SE format can cater to, but maybe it doesn't want to. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2014 at 15:55

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