I am trying to come up with a workable question but every question I have looked at so far has been one where the winning answer is "fewest bytes in your language".

By "fewest bytes in x language", I mean this:

  • Answer: Mouse-2002, 4 bytes.
  • Answer: Python, 52 bytes
  • Answer: Befunge 8 bytes
  • Answer: Ruby, 15
  • Answer: Go, 2 bytes (UTF-16)

Wondering if one could list some examples where that is not the case. I asked one a while back where it was about "fewest clock cycles", and it got decent votes. However, it seems that if I asked that same question today it would be flagged as "shouldn't limit to a specific language" (since it was all about x86 assembly). But in limiting it to a language it made it possible to come up with a winning condition, because with assembly you can limit to only primitive instructions (i.e. no libraries can be used) pretty easily.

I am having a hard time finding an example of a question that would be considered valid that isn't "shortest x in your language".

For example, every question here is "shortest x in your language":

Examples of well presented questions


As of now I have only found 3 types of winning conditions:

  1. Shortest in x language.
  2. Popularity contest (win by votes).
  3. Playing a game (win by seeing how high a score your algorithm can achieve, either by testing against test data, or actually playing some game).

Popularity contest has issues with early posts getting more votes. Shortest x language has issues in that it can be played by just using an esolang. So that leaves it down to "Playing a game". But that one is quite involved and requires a lot of effort on the part of the asker and answerer. So not sure what to do.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I think your point about limiting things to a language is true. There will always be people who complain about the language limitation, even when the language limitation makes the challenge. However I don't think this is a good reason to stop asking such questions. If you have a challenge that dosn't make sense outside of a domain then it is perfectly fine to keep it in that domain. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wheat Wizard Mod
    Jul 6, 2018 at 3:45
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ codegolf.stackexchange.com/… \$\endgroup\$
    Jul 6, 2018 at 3:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Don't let the golfing languages discourage you from posting your answer. Try to come up with the shortest solution in any language." Do you often read that? \$\endgroup\$
    Jul 6, 2018 at 3:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ With some more - I get this. Most of them have custom winning criteria ([code-challenge]) \$\endgroup\$
    Jul 6, 2018 at 4:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user202729 I don't like those types of questions because I am only interested in a particular language. Those questions are pretty much useless outside of "wow this is neat". But as a newcomer it seems like those are the only questions I can ask. Especially with the feedback I was getting (don't write in a particular language, don't use instruction count as score, etc.). Looking a lot deeper has shown than popularity contests are an alternative. Looking deeper than that (thanks to your search query), it looks like there might be some hope. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lance
    Jul 6, 2018 at 4:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sometimes a language-specific challenge is well-received. Just post the challenges (main or sandbox (actually sandbox is quite inactive)) and we will see. \$\endgroup\$
    Jul 6, 2018 at 4:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why do you expect this site is "useful" then... anyway, sometimes. \$\endgroup\$
    Jul 6, 2018 at 4:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ what about because you just want to do it in language x. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lance
    Jul 6, 2018 at 4:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know you don't really have the rep for it, but if you want answers in a specific language, you could post tje generic question open to all languages and then offer a bounty for the language you want \$\endgroup\$
    – Jo King Mod
    Jul 6, 2018 at 4:40
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ See this list for all the winning criteria tags we have on challenges. \$\endgroup\$
    – xnor
    Jul 6, 2018 at 5:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or just ask on Stack Overflow. (that way you can't ask for shortest code however) \$\endgroup\$
    Jul 6, 2018 at 15:41
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Please don't downvote someone for not knowing the terminology/tagging system we've gotten familiar with, that's the point of asking the question in the first place. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sundar R
    Jul 8, 2018 at 22:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that this is a valid question that is likely to help people who join this community in future. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 22, 2018 at 18:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that language specific challenges are only frowned upon when they exclude other languages for no reason. If the challenge will still work just as well open to all languages, leave it open. But if limiting to one language is an inherent part of the challenge that's fine - just be careful to explain why. There is existing discussion on meta about this that may be of interest: codegolf.meta.stackexchange.com/… \$\endgroup\$ Jul 22, 2018 at 18:45

3 Answers 3


The tag for "shortest x in your language" is , so you can exclude these questions with a search: is:q -[code-golf] closed:no locked:no (for the sake of convenience this also obviously excludes closed or locked questions). Looking at the list of results you can see tags such as:

Each of these tags has its own tag wiki so you know what it refers to. I'd advise looking at the full wiki and also Meta for any tag that you want to write a challenge for.

You can further refine this search to weed out tags that you've seen (using the - operator before the tag while searching).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The important tag here for the OP is atomic-code-golf. You define all of the operations, and people must golf in that small language. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 9, 2018 at 17:10

The easy way to find questions with other winning conditions (besides shortest code) is simply to check the questions tagged . Pretty much all of them have an objective winning condition other than just shortest code.

Another alternative is to temporarily add the tag to your list of ignored tags. You also have change your settings so that ignored tags are not shown, rather than just being greyed out. That will show you everything else apart from the code golf questions, so you can get a good idea of what else is possible. (I actually browse the site like that regularly, not because I don't like code golf, but because ignoring it makes it much easier to find the kind of novel and non-trivial challenges that I prefer.)

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ There are simpler ways. See Laurel's answer. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 7, 2018 at 11:59

All of these are non-closed, highly voted questions.

Here is one: Scoring by vote:

Images with all colors

Scoring is by vote. Vote for the most beautiful images made by the most elegant code and/or interesting algorithm.

Here is another, a popularity contest:

Because this a popularity-contest, whichever answer has the most upvotes by March 11, will be declared the winner.

Most creative way to display 42

Another popularity contest:


This is a popularity contest so the highest voted answer wins. But I'm sure there's lots of ways to be creative with this!

American Gothic in the palette of Mona Lisa: Rearrange the pixels

One with a percentage of correctness trying to do a task:


Score is a percent which can be calculated by: (number_correct / total) * 100

Upgoat or Downgoat?

Popularity contest:



This contest will be officially over on April 19, 2015. On that day (around 11 pm UTC) I will autorun at least 100 battles (possibly many more depending on how long battles take). The team that wins the most will be the overall winner. If it is a tie or extremely close, I will run more battles until it is clear that one team has the advantage.

Red vs. Blue - Pixel Team Battlebots

Other gamified:


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