I have seen several (2) new questions that are supposed to be copied, not written, from StackOverflow. From the original question:

Your mission is to make the most interesting program you can -- without ever writing a single line of code. You can only use code which is already written for you, both in questions and answers from StackOverflow. All you can do is duct tape it all together the best you can. And of course, it's very important that we provide appropriate attribution so that we don't get our rights terminated.

I think this would be an interesting challenge, and I also think it needs it's own tag, . The first question was closed as too broad, and it was. Before it was, I added the tag to it, and it was removed. I think we need this tag. What do you think?

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I think let's wait and see if a few more such questions come up. If so, then we add the tag (I personally prefer [patchwork-code] to [duct-tape-coding] though) \$\endgroup\$
    – Justin
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 16:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ what about "pastiche"? also, "duct-tape" here doesn't conform to the usage in the ducttape/cargo-cult paradigm. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 7:55

3 Answers 3


I'm the author of the original question/idea, and I just wanted to make something very, very clear. When I wrote it, I had absolutely no intention of it becoming the next type category. I just thought it would be a fun one-time thing. By creating the tag, you encourage people to come and create lots of random challenges based around that, and it will get really old really fast.

I also learned afterwards by browsing this Meta that older veterans of this beta -- particularly some mods, for example the comment by dmckee under this question -- really dislike the fact that s are a thing. So apparently it would be undesirable to encourage lots of those kinds of questions.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The original author of the original code trolling post also had no intention of it becoming a recurring thing. ;) ... Hence I think it's not too unreasonable to think about what we do if it happens anyway. Furthermore, this type of challenge seems to have a lot more potential for creating different takes on this "genre" (if it becomes one), much more so than code trolling did. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 10, 2014 at 19:02

I like this concept. I think it has the potential to spawn some really interesting new challenges. So let it thrive for now and see where this is going. I also agree with Quincunx that we can wait for another one or two questions before making this a tag. Maybe this remains a one-timer after all, and then it's just a special popularity contest. If we do decide to tag it, I really like Quincunx's suggestion of . :)

But now the point I really want to stress. Code trolling happened recently and we don't want it to happen again. But I don't think we should discourage new and innovative types of challenges either, but we should maybe watch out to keep their evolution in more control.

So what I'm saying is, if the next weeks have several new duct-tape-coding/patchwork-code challenges, we should be particularly rigorous and scrutinising. If those new questions don't live up to our high standards, close them (and give the OP some advice what he could do better). Just because they might be popular is still no argument. In particular we should ask ourselves:

  • Does this question add something novel to this type of challenge? After today's "Print 'hello mom'", another primitive string manipulation challenge like "Convert the input to lower case" would seem somewhat pointless. In fact, I'd close-vote as duplicate. A polyglot challenge on the other hand could be highly interesting.
  • Does the actual problem benefit from being posed as a patchwork challenge? Even if the question sounds fun as it is, maybe it would be even more fun it was just a plain old or some other ? Don't close, but consider downvoting and voicing your opinion.
  • Does it seem like the OP just wanted to post a patchwork challenge (because it's popular) and then just slapped an arbitrary problem on it? This may well fall in the first category, as this will likely not add anything new. Consider closing as duplicate, more importantly downvote and express constructive criticism in the comments.
  • Does this meet the usual quality standards? Is it too broad? Unclear? etc... There are close vote reasons for that.

If the challenge still seems interesting after careful consideration, by all means upvote and encourage those questions. If not, decimate the population (of patchwork challenges; just saying). I just think we'd be throwing away a lot of potential if (after what happened with code trolling) we started to close things with reasons like "it's new, I don't like new, new is always worse, kill it fire".

  • \$\begingroup\$ Feel free to edit that list if you think there are other likely pitfalls good new-challenge-type questions need to avoid - or useful indicators of what makes a worthwhile new challenge and what doesn't. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 9, 2014 at 23:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I also like "frankenstein-code" as this user coined. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 10, 2014 at 10:36

I'm not sure I like this new thing. Although I did write the tag wiki for it.

If there was, say, a fixed, unchanging book from which you could take these bits, then maybe yes. But SO is a forum where anyone posts effectively anything.

Issues with

  • We can't control what someone posts on SO. What if someone just posted a huge library of code there (and it would be accessible although probably closed), would we be allowed to use it?
  • Similarly, you can post your solution on SO, then post it on PPCG and link to your SO post. Perhaps forbid using code on SO that your account posted?
  • Winning criterion? I understand that most upvotes wins, and you get upvotes for creative code, but I'm not sure about the idea of "creative stealing".
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Re your second point: so far the duct tape challenges have disallowed source snippets that have been posted after the challenge. Unless you're a medium, you won't be able to exploit that. Re your third point: The duct taping concept is completely orthogonal to the winning criterion, as it's just a very special for of restricted-source. You could equally well do a duct-tape-coding code-golf challenge. Just, so far, people have only made them popularity contests, which seem absolutely reasonable to explore the possibilities of the new challenge. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 15, 2014 at 11:21
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @m.buettner I can just imagine a [duct-tape-coding][fastest-code]. :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Justin
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 23:44

You must log in to answer this question.

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