I want to suggest an idea for a non-conventional non-meta post. Can I make a well thought out thread where, as answers, people will post links to questions and name a language? I want a thread for "cops" the people who will respond to the "robbers" who will be asking for people to implement question X in language Y. Then I want a "cops" thread for the responses to aforementioned questions. This is quite unlike any other "challenge" ever posted, so I thought I'd suggest it in the meta section itself instead of sandbox. Is this type of "meta-c&r" allowed?

I feel like this would:

  • Encourage answers in rare languages.
  • Revive old questions.
  • Help new users understand languages!
  • Most importantly: It'd be fun to post a "hey, bet you can't do THIS in Brainflak!" then have someone prove you wrong :).

Let me know what you think.

Robbers Layout:

#[Link to Question](Question URL)

I would like this answered in [Langauge TIO Name](Language TIO Link) b/c X, Y and Z.

Cops Layout:

#[Link to Robbers Request](Request URL)



This would also be a good way to encourage bounties imho.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ How is this different than an indefinite bounty, other than not putting up a reward for it? \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    May 9, 2018 at 22:52
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Visibility, duration and the ability for newer users (who cannot offer points for things) to ask imperative questions. Other than that... I guess nothing, I dunno. Thought it was a cool idea. If it isn't post an answer explaining your viewpoint :). \$\endgroup\$ May 9, 2018 at 23:02
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I've been recently thinking that skimming through the challenges manually is rather tedious. Having a meta challenge like this would give me some more motivation to tackle hard problems (maybe picking up new languages in the process too). \$\endgroup\$
    – Bubbler
    May 10, 2018 at 0:27
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This is nice, and could even play well along with the "Language of the month" initiative. To me it looks like you have your cops and robbers swapped though, usually the cops are the ones setting up a challenge and the robbers the ones solving it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Leo
    May 10, 2018 at 0:56
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I like the idea. I would probably use this post --- not for learning languages, but for posing particularly difficult questions. (e.g. asking for answers to restricted-source questions in languages where the restriction makes an answer very difficult.) \$\endgroup\$
    – N. Virgo
    May 10, 2018 at 7:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ This feels unbalanced -- like it will be very easy for a Cop to post an answer, but relatively difficult for a Robber to crack the post. Those style of CnR tend to not do so well. \$\endgroup\$ May 10, 2018 at 12:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @AdmBorkBork As the question is written now, it's technically the opposite (the "Robber" is the one doing the easy part), but the confusion comes from already inverting the style (the "Robber" is also the one that's posting first) so the point is still valid. \$\endgroup\$ May 10, 2018 at 13:14
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ What's the point of the cops thread (using your terminology)? Why not post the solutions on the actual challenges that are being solved? \$\endgroup\$ May 10, 2018 at 15:23
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I would love for this to exist, though I do not want the cops/robbers theming. \$\endgroup\$
    – isaacg
    May 10, 2018 at 19:09

3 Answers 3


What if we don't make it a challenge?

I like the idea of having a thread open to solution-requests. However, stretching the rules and making it a challenge makes no sense to me. I suggest another model, which I think would be on-topic if we all come to an agreement:

  • Write a post (question) in which you clearly describe the purposes of this initiative. Ideally, make it a community wiki (this is solely my opinion).
  • Each answer to that question would be a proposal in the format:

    # [Challenge title](challenge link) in [Language X](language link)
    A short description of the challenge + the reasons they think a solution in that
    language would be beneficial.
  • Other people submit solutions to the challenges linked and then comment under the proposal. Naturally, multiple solutions can be posted to incentivize competition.

IMHO, such a post is worthy of having on PPCG. Not only will it be a catalogue of non-trivial solutions that gives those more visibility, but it would also help the newcomers learn other languages in a more efficient manner. Plus, as already mentioned by Leo, it would play well with our relatively new "Language of the Month" event. There are downsides too, however:

  • The activity will eventually decrease and the post will most likely stagnate and lose visibility.
  • It kind of bends our rules, and is somewhat conflicting the Q&A format SE provides. I don't think that's a major problem, though. I think we can make this work.

This is basically a duplicate of: List of bounties with no deadline

  1. The bounty list has posts asking for solutions to specific challenges in specific languages (combinations that are often difficult and worthy of a bounty.) Examples:

  2. When someone asks for a solution like what you are suggesting, it's often difficult. Having a bounty makes it more likely that someone will put in the effort. It also makes finding a solution more gratifying when you receive a bounty for it.

  3. Part of this is already covered by searching for unanswered challenges, in which case any solution is welcome.

This would also be a good way to encourage bounties imho.

Again, this is already covered by the list of bounties with no deadline. I don't think there's any reason to create another list and disguise it as a challenge when we already have something that fulfills this purpose.

I think we would be better off organizing the existing page, or perhaps recreating it with each "request" posted as an answer rather than edited into the question (this is already suggested in the comments, but some people haven't been doing that.) -- Just saw that Peter Taylor edited the question to fix this a few days ago.

We should instead work to do a better job of promoting the existing list of bounties.

  • \$\begingroup\$ While that's true, I think that the points that could possibly be earned by the cop's posts could outweigh potential bounties, and the "Free" aspect will attract more questions. \$\endgroup\$ May 11, 2018 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't make sense to have the robbers post first. The cop posts would have to be the requests, and the robbers would be the solutions. But this still doesn't really fit as a C&R challenge. \$\endgroup\$
    – mbomb007
    May 13, 2018 at 3:11

I don't think this fits on the main site

While I understand that you want to put this somewhere more visible than Meta because one of the goals is to provide this to people who don't have the reputation to post a Bounty for the List of bounties with no deadline, among other reasons, I don't think your attempt to coerce your desired result (help people who want to see challenge X answered in language Y) into an accepted PPCG format (Cops and Robbers) was successful. There are some superficial similarities that you put in intentionally, I think they both detract from the main purpose, and at the same time they don't actually accomplish the goal. For example, I can't think of a useful "Winning-criterion" or even a reasonable way of scoring either side. The coat of paint that you tried to put on your idea to pretend it's on-topic was not successful, and I don't think additional paint can fix the problem.

It's still a good idea

Or, I like it at least. I would much prefer if all the weird Cops and Robbers veneer were completely ditched and we just abuse the Q&A format even more than we already do. Basically, every "answer" would just be a request, then if someone fulfilled the request they should indicate that they did in a comment with a link and the poster of the request can edit that link into their "answer" (This pattern is common in CnR, so it doesn't seem like too much of an abuse of the comment system to be acceptable). I'll admit that I'm often in favor of not adhering too strictly to "Stack Exchange must be Q&A format", but there are conflicting view points.

Without rephrasing it as a challenge, it could be on-topic

The main PPCG site isn't solely restricted to challenges. For example, "Tips for golfing in [language]" posts are hosted there rather than Meta, and there are occasional "Help with X" questions, some of which are considered on-topic. I wouldn't take those as sufficient evidence that this could just be posted without worries, but in my opinion it does mean that this suggestion would be equally on- or off-topic regardless of attempts to rephrase as a challenge. If it's not allowed on the main site then it would definitely be acceptable in Meta, though that runs into the Sandbox Problem where new users that would benefit most just don't see it.

Speaking of the Sandbox, I think that's the biggest evidence that this belongs in Meta. This strikes me as very similar to the Sandbox, and the Sandbox is very firmly in Meta. It's not indisputable, but I wouldn't try posting in Main unless there's a very strong consensus first.


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