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4 reopen votes and 1 delete vote is a strange thing to see. It's also slightly worrying that we have so little consensus on this matter. So let's bring the community together.


What kind of non-challenge questions do we want?

Each answer will contain one type of non-challenge question, some examples, and arguments for and against it.

  • Please vote up the answers that you think should be on the site, and vote down the ones that you are strongly opposed to.
  • The answers are Community Wiki, so please feel free to edit them if you have something to add! If you have any new pros and cons of allowing that type of question on the site, add them to the list!
  • If you feel that the answers do not cover all possible non-challenge questions that can be asked, add a new answer! (Make it CW so that others can edit.)

Also please note that this is not a definitive decision and it may change over time as we gather more experience.


As to whether we even want non-challenge questions or not, the consensus is clear. As Grace Note said, "The invention of a new puzzle type, and perhaps continued innovation in that department, helps a lot." New ideas can be beneficial to the health of the site as a whole, so please vote for what you think will help the growth of the PPCG community the most.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ When you say "the consensus is clear", the consensus about what? The linked question makes far too many points for it to be possible to attribute its votes to any one of them, and the only answer which attracted many votes focusses on the first of your points, which is about the existing tips questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Jun 14 '14 at 21:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I always---from the very beginning--understood the site to be for programming puzzles, not about programing puzzles. It was a relief valve to deal with the awkward situation that developed with popular but controversial [code-golf] questions on Stack Overflow. Not that I am emotionally invested in the definition, just that it was my understanding. \$\endgroup\$ – dmckee Jun 14 '14 at 23:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd prefer if those people so strongly opposed to particular types of non-challenge questions or to non-challenge questions in general would put their arguments in a few comments in addition to downvoting. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Ender Jun 15 '14 at 16:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I read this question as "What kinds of meta questions can be asked on the main site". The answers also seem to be topics covering how to ask and how to answer (since "how to golf" means how to answer, on this particular site). Am I missing something? \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Jun 20 '14 at 11:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @githubphagocyte That sounds like an exact repeat of meta.codegolf.stackexchange.com/q/1470/3808 \$\endgroup\$ – Doorknob Jun 20 '14 at 11:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've just been to read that question. I went with exactly the opposite view to yours, and reading the question has completely changed my view. The objective definition of what meta is for helped. I think it's very easy to assume that a non challenge question is not what the site is for, so perhaps it would help to have something official like a non-challenge tag? \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Jun 20 '14 at 11:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @githubphagocyte That would be a meta tag. It would be better to just use actual tags, like [tips], [history], etc \$\endgroup\$ – Doorknob Jun 20 '14 at 11:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did not know about meta tags. Now that I have a name for them it seems very clear. It's good to see that the tips tag already exists. Looks like we just need a few more to confirm the acceptability of various types of question. \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Jun 20 '14 at 11:39
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Requests for lists of language-specific golfing advice


Examples

Arguments

  • For: They are very useful content for this site, as they are contain a large number of specific advice about how to approach a certain type of challenge (so far, only ) in a given language.
  • Against: They are list-like questions, which are generally frowned upon around StackExchange.
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  • 15
    \$\begingroup\$ My personal counter-argument against the "list-like argument" is that we shouldn't blindly accept the dogma that list-like questions are bad, but question the look at the reasons for that policy instead. List-like questions are not wanted on most other StackExchange sites, usually because they tend to attract subjective and argumentative answers (like asking for product recommendations), which are not a good fit for the SE format. However, in the particular case of tips questions, there is nothing subjective about the answers, which is why I see no harm in their existence. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Ender Jun 14 '14 at 22:31
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Questions about improving code golf / code challenge skills


Examples

Arguments

  • For: These more basic questions might be attractive to new users (if they can identify and find them).
  • Against: The questions are mostly language-specific from their intention and thus are not good fit or at least barely welcome here.
  • Against: The better examples of this type of question and answer would naturally fit in the site as answers to the existing tips questions, without diluting the focus of the site.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't see how being language-specific is problematic here. Just because we don't like our challenges to be language specific does not automatically mean that non-challenge posts should be language-agnostic, too. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Ender Jun 15 '14 at 8:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ As long as the code is desired to be clean and not golfed/obfuscated, these kinds of questions seem to be a better fit for Code Review \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Forsberg Jun 23 '14 at 22:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think Code Review would object to questions about making code less readable... \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Aug 6 '14 at 13:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because these questions are rare, they should be very clearly identified. On a recent question that only mentioned the language buried in the prose of the question, the title clearly indicated what seemed like a challenge. Even after several answers were posted in other languages and downvoted to hell, people continue to post in other languages because that's what 99% of questions on here are. \$\endgroup\$ – user0721090601 Aug 11 '14 at 15:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ "might be attractive to new users" I can confirm. The first two questions I posted were of this variety. I found it to be an easier introduction to question-writing than coming up with a full challenge specification. \$\endgroup\$ – DLosc Dec 16 '17 at 19:16
1
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Questions about particular language features

These are questions like Dump Stack to Array, which is a question about a particular feature of CJam.

These might fit under Questions about improving code golf / code challenge skills, but on the other hand these might be more on-topic for Stack Overflow. However, as Dennis said:

[these types of questions would] get downvoted or, worse, left unanswered. If it's unlikely to get answered on SO, there really is no reason to post it there.

For: They won't be well-received on Stack Overflow, so this is probably the most relevant place to put them.

Against: Many of these are relatively simple questions that are covered in the docs; therefore, it's not useful to have them here.

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-2
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Questions about improving algorithms


Examples

Arguments

  • For: They are on this site already but in many cases transformed into a in despair (score is the complexity O(n) of your algorithm with n equals to 17) or or just not to be closed.
  • Against: There are only few good challenges of this kind and thus may be rare on this site.
  • Against: It might motivate users to post challenges which are well-known in the literature and thus pose no value to the site.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Even though the examples given above are good challenges in general I think it is debatable if they are a good fit here. E.g. the spy question belongs to puzzling, where there is a solution already. The code-golf version simply asks for an implementation. \$\endgroup\$ – Howard Jun 15 '14 at 6:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your second counter-argument isn't necessarily valid - many (most?) good questions on SO (and many other SE sites) could be answered with enough research on the part of the OP, but they are still of great value to the site. Part of the point of SE sites is to build a central knowledge base for a particular topic which pulls together loads of useful information in one place. I'm not talking about really simple questions here that can be answered with a lmgtfy.com link, but still many (interesting) questions on SO can be answered by just looking at the right documentation or standard. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Ender Jun 15 '14 at 16:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @m.buettner I don't think so. We are not talking about an encyclopedia but codegolf.se - [...]Programming Puzzles & Code Golf is for programming puzzles and code golf, anywhere in skill from beginner to expert.. Not all information that is worth archiving is a good fit here. \$\endgroup\$ – Howard Jun 15 '14 at 17:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ quoting the help centre is only partially relevant here, because the point of this entire post is to some degree redefine what's on topic and what's not. Furthermore, I do agree that not everything that is worth archiving is a good fit (and I said that), but that there are things which are worth archiving and a good fit. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Ender Jun 15 '14 at 19:52
-4
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Software and Specs questions for esoteric/golfing languages


Examples:

  • Where can I find an interpreter for [esoteric language]?
  • Is there an official specification for [esoteric language]?

Arguments:

For: Esoteric languages, being esoteric and all, can be hard to find interpreters for. Brainf[][]k and other very common esolangs may be easier, but try googling "interpreter for Möbius" and see what you come up with.

For: Esolangs.org, the top result for "esoteric programming languages" on Google, is not meant to be a complete manual for languages. It provides an idea of the language, and theoretically provides references to other, more complete websites. However, for instance, the page on Objective LOLCODE provides no references to external specifications.

Against: Has nothing to do with programming puzzles or code golf, only esoteric languages which by themselves are off-topic.

Against: The use cases for these questions would be very few as most people golf with more common esolangs.

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-8
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Questions about designing golfing languages


Examples

  • How can I design versatile string slicing in my stack-based golfing language?
  • In what way can I/O be designed so that it is mostly unnecessary within most programs, but still flexible?

Arguments

  • For: foo
  • Against: Questions of this kind more or less resemble discussions and as such are not good fit for the SE format.
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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ See: Code Review for this \$\endgroup\$ – Addison Crump Jan 24 '16 at 1:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @VTCAKAVSMoACE Mmno, Code Review needs real code, not abstract ideas. \$\endgroup\$ – cat May 17 '16 at 22:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Language design questions and brainstorming are best suited for the Esoteric Languages chat room. \$\endgroup\$ – DLosc Dec 16 '17 at 19:18
-18
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Questions about the history of golfing languages


Examples

  • Was APL designed to be as concise as possible?

Arguments

  • For: Adds variety to the site
  • Against: Very different from other types of questions
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