Recently, there has been a new type of challenge introduced called . Fears have been brought up that, like code-trolling, this challenge type may spawn posts that are extremely trivial or similar to the first one, relying only on the challenge type to be an interesting question.

Since we don't want a repeat of code trolling, but don’t want to discourage new types of challenges altogether, how should we deal with these new challenge types that continually create simple or trivial challenges?

Thanks to these users: TheDoctor, ProgramFOX, m.buettner, for helping with the creation of this question and answer.

  • \$\begingroup\$ At the very least (and by that I mean, if the tag even survives), duct-tape-coding needs to be modified so as to not allow two people to steal from the same source. Otherwise everyone would steal from the current best answer, resulting in a massive tie. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    May 12, 2014 at 13:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ This whole thing is why I made the original challenge broad and removed the new tag from the post when it was made by TheDoctor. I didn't believe there ought to have been more than one challenge of its type or that such a tag ought to exist. \$\endgroup\$
    – asteri
    May 14, 2014 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


We have been discussing this in chat, and we have come to the conclusion that if the challenge is only interesting because of the challenge type, it should be closed. If the challenge is interesting because it is the first challenge of its kind, it's okay, but further trivial questions in the genre should be closed as a duplicate of the original, unless they add something innovative or new to the category.

Like with any challenge, repetitive novelties get old. If we start seeing challenges like this that are almost certainly duplicates of older challenges that previously had other tags, we should close them. Note that this doesn't mean the posts have to be exact carbon copies - we don’t want “print ‘hello world’ - ”, “add 2 numbers - ”, “sort an array - ”, etc…. Taking a trivial challenge and slapping the newest tags on it is not fun, and will almost certainly become the next .

Therefore, our policy for new challenge genre types should be this:

  • On seeing the first new question in a genre, we should begin by defining some rules for said genre. We don’t want ambiguity with other challenges or loopholes that are easy to exploit. Also, define a scoring method or a way of comparing answers.
  • For further questions in this genre that are trivial or add nothing new, close as a duplicate of the original. Some ways to judge this are:
    • If the challenge is only interesting or remotely unique because of its tag, or it has been asked before as another type of challenge (e.g. "Calculate square root - "), it should be closed as a duplicate. The question to ask is “Would the underlying (algorithmic) problem be interesting as an established type of challenge, e.g. code golf?”
    • If the challenge can be solved in the same way as another challenge in the genre, close it as a duplicate. This has been very prominent in , where most or all of the challenges in the category could be solved in almost exactly the same way.
    • If further questions are remarkably different in some way, we should leave the question open. If we want new challenge genres, because might get a bit monotonous, we need to leave the more interesting ones open.
    • If the challenge makes the problem significantly different to solve than other previous challenges, leave it open.

The goal of promoting this policy is to avoid challenges in new genres being created by taking a trivial task (ex. sort a list, add two numbers, etc.) and slapping the fancy new tag onto it.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The only issue I see is with the wording of "if the challenge is only interesting because of the challenge type, it should be closed". That seems like it could apply to any number of [code-golf] questions as well (such as this one). The basic how-to is given in any book/course that covers sorting, and the challenge is only interesting because you need to golf it. Obviously [code-golf] isn't a new tag, but if that's the standard for new challenges... \$\endgroup\$
    – Geobits
    May 11, 2014 at 15:35
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ [code-golf] differs from both [code-trolling] and [duct-tape-coding] in that the former encompasses a method of scoring the answers, whereas the latter two don't - they only define what the answers should be like or how they should be created. I think for a new genre to avoid some of the problems you raise here it should include some way of objectively comparing answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gareth
    May 11, 2014 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gareth Yes, that is exactly what we should do, as mentioned in the first bullet point. Feel free to edit if you'd like to clarify. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    May 12, 2014 at 15:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doorknob Both of those tags come hand-in-hand with a popularity-contest. That is an objective way of comparing answers: the one with most upvotes is an objective comparison. \$\endgroup\$
    – asteri
    May 14, 2014 at 16:44

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