So along with site graduation, one new option we have is an info box on the sidebar. For example, you can see what these look like on Law or Judaism Stack Exchange (directly above the "featured on meta" box). These are used to link to important meta posts that new users need to be aware of.

Liiiiike The Sandbox! We encourage almost all new users to use the sandbox before posting challenges to main, so it would be really great if we could put a message up visible to all new users directing them there. This will also mean that we don't have to keep featuring the sandbox every month when it automatically unfeatures (which is kind of annoying to do).

Now the only problem. What should the text say? If you have an idea for what the text should say, post it as an answer. Ideally, we're looking for something

  • Short. Ideally 2-3 sentences (This is code-golf after all!)

  • Communicates the purpose of the sandbox.

  • Communicates the purpose of this site.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it should also convey that just posting something in the sandbox is not enough, one should actively seek feedback and discuss it. I've seen many people who did actually post their first challenge in the sandbox but then posted it after they didn't get any feedback for a few hours/days. \$\endgroup\$ – flawr Aug 29 '19 at 12:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ To back up what @flawr said: not only should we use it to encourage people to post to the Sandbox but also to review the challenges that have been posted. \$\endgroup\$ – Shaggy Aug 29 '19 at 17:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for having this discussion! We've pushed dzaima's proposed text and it's live now. Thanks Shog! Please let me know if you start seeing any unintended consequences. I like the text y'all came up with, so I hope things improve! \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 4 '19 at 16:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Catija, I'd still suggest rewording it to not only encourage people to post challenges to the Sandbox but also review challenges already in the Sandbox. \$\endgroup\$ – Shaggy Sep 6 '19 at 23:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shaggy I'm not writing it. Y'all did. If you see a problem, talk with the community about it. If you're saying that there's not enough people reviewing the posts on the sandbox, talk about how to address that. \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Sep 6 '19 at 23:26

Code Golf Stack Exchange is a site for recreational programming competitions, not general programming questions. Challenges must have an objective scoring criterion, and it is highly recommended to first post proposed challenges in the Sandbox.

Short & (mostly) to the point. Biggest difference from others suggested here is a proper-ish intro as to not look out-of-place.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 I like the "objective winning criterion" vernacular of the other answers but I think this answer the best. \$\endgroup\$ – Poke Aug 28 '19 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Poke yeah, I thought about objective vs clear, but didn't even notice i wrote condition instead of criterion, which does sound much better \$\endgroup\$ – dzaima Aug 28 '19 at 18:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ What would you think about changing the first sentence to Code Golf Stack Exchange is a site for recreational programming competitions, not general programming questions.? Personally, I think this info box would be a great spot to explicitly state that code troubleshooting questions aren't on topic \$\endgroup\$ – James Aug 28 '19 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DJMcMayhem yeah, I guess that would make sense \$\endgroup\$ – dzaima Aug 29 '19 at 10:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd make a comment that sandboxing alone is not enough but that they should also seek out some feedback. (Or maybe we should also introduce a newbie-sandbox?) \$\endgroup\$ – flawr Aug 29 '19 at 12:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @flawr that should be already the purpose of the current sandbox, though now looking at its post, i notice that it doesn't mention anything about how long answers should stay there or TNB, etc. imo the FAQ should be in the sandbox itself, but that's a separate issue \$\endgroup\$ – dzaima Aug 29 '19 at 12:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's a great thing to consider, @dzaima! As we direct more users to specific guidance, it's good to make sure that guidance has everything a first-time visitor would need without being too much info! \$\endgroup\$ – Catija Aug 29 '19 at 14:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dzaima Right, while I don't think the amount of time in the sandbox has any significance a link to TNB would certainly be nice \$\endgroup\$ – flawr Aug 29 '19 at 15:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Since this info box has to be short, I think we should add the suggested first-timer guidance to the Sandbox question itself, like how long to Sandbox questions and what to do if nobody comments, and add links to relevant meta FAQ's and Things to Avoid. \$\endgroup\$ – xnor Aug 29 '19 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it should be "the Sandbox", with the 'S' capitalized, and the link should exclude the. \$\endgroup\$ – mbomb007 Aug 29 '19 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mbomb007 implemented. Makes sense, I didn't think much about capitalization. \$\endgroup\$ – dzaima Aug 29 '19 at 18:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Could we say "scoring criterion" instead of "winning criterion". The former is clearer and more accurate to what it describes while the former is a bit outdated and misleading. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Aug 29 '19 at 22:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Adám's post made me realize it might be good to mention something about answering challenges before stuff on writing them. Unlike most SE sites, answering is easier and new users usually do that first. \$\endgroup\$ – xnor Aug 30 '19 at 1:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ The issue I see is that newcomers often misinterpret this to mean more like a validity criterion. e.g. an answer wins if it does XYZ. Scoring criterion doesn't seem to have this issue. I personally have shifted to using Scoring criterion when explaining it to newcomers and I have found it effective. \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Aug 30 '19 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SriotchilismO'Zaic ah okay, yeah, that does make sense. \$\endgroup\$ – dzaima Aug 30 '19 at 13:59

Questions on this site should be recreational programming challenges that have an objective primary winning criterion. It is highly recommended to submit your challenge ideas to the Sandbox, where you can receive feedback from other users prior to posting to the main site.

Also draws some attention upon Why do we have objective winning criteria?, which I think is just as important as the Sandbox and emphasizes that we host recreational challenges (as opposed to general programming questions). It should perhaps be golfed a bit, as it is 43 words long (Mi Yodeya: 30. Law: 38).


Code Golf Stack Exchange hosts recreational programming competitions. Feel free to answer any existing challenge. Propose challenges in The Sandbox, just make sure they are of an acceptable quality and have a clear winning criteria.

Basically a golfed version of previous answers, but with one more relevant link, and emphasising answering existing challenges.

Edit: Now has sandbox as first link, and a more positive tone. Edit 2: add "recreational".

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think adding more links makes it better. It means there's more to read through, and so a new user is less likely to read the one link that matters (the sandbox). Plus technically, answers don't have to be using a programming language \$\endgroup\$ – James Aug 28 '19 at 21:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DJMcMayhem I don't think the additional link is much of an issue, but I've put the sandbox first. Link about proglangs is now gone. \$\endgroup\$ – Adám Aug 28 '19 at 21:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hm, "hosts programming competitions" might sound like we are similar to CodeChef and such. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik the Outgolfer Aug 29 '19 at 18:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EriktheOutgolfer Are we not? \$\endgroup\$ – Adám Aug 29 '19 at 19:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Adám PPCG is, in general, way more relaxed/casual than CodeChef or really any other online programming competition site. Other sites generally have a set amount of languages, specific I/O, time limits, correctness verification, and very specific challenge specifications, whereas here most of that is very much discouraged. \$\endgroup\$ – dzaima Aug 29 '19 at 20:25

Programming challenges are fun but fixing bugs in the spec after someone already posted an answer isn't, so please bring your ideas first to the challenge development sandbox.


My draft, version 2:

Code Golf Stack Exchange contains many competitive programming challenges. These challenges must have a clear specification and an objective winning criterion. If you are unsure whether your challenge is ready for posting, post it as an answer to our sandbox!

I feel like parts of this text might not be as necessary as I think they are, but I can't think of a way to remove them. Also, this looks a tad bit long.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like this, but it might be beneficial to mention what the Sandbox actually is. \$\endgroup\$ – Oliver Aug 28 '19 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Oliver The term "sandbox" is pretty well-known, although I might add "for proposed challenges" to the link text. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik the Outgolfer Aug 28 '19 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Oliver That should probably be explained in the sandbox page itself (and to not duplicate info). as long as the user understands that challenges first go to sandbox, the info boxes purpose is completed \$\endgroup\$ – dzaima Aug 28 '19 at 17:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ -1 This leaves it up to the user if they want to post in the sandbox making it seem very optional and I imagine many will not do it. \$\endgroup\$ – Poke Aug 28 '19 at 18:32

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