We've probably all seen new users ask questions with cumbersome I/O rules, like mandatory taking the input by reading separated lines of STDIN and outputting to STDOUT to give an example.

In those cases, we usually point them to the default I/O rules in the hope they'll change their challenge description, and also point to the Sandbox so they can get feedback on challenges before posting it on main next time.

However, what is the policy regarding answering those kind of challenges? If the challenge itself is completely clear, despite the cumbersome I/O rules, we should just downvote it. We don't have any reason to close-vote it as unclear if it really isn't, so that's not an option. But is there any reason to also keep it completely unanswered until they've changed their I/O rules?

The main reason I ask is because of this challenge that was posted yesterday. As you can see, it uses a similar input-format as programming contest websites usually use, which I will quote here:

Input Format

  • First Line: \$N\$(number of strings in the list)
  • Next \$N\$ lines: String \$S_i\$
  • Next line \$Q\$(number of questions)
  • Next \$Q\$ lines : Three space-separated integers \$L\$, \$R\$ and \$K\$
    Sample Input
    3 3 3 
    1 5 16
    3 5 15

Very cumbersome, and even with mandatory 1-based indexing. Still, the challenge itself is clear.

I posted an answer for this challenge, which just got downvoted. Hence the reason for this meta question. I understand downvoting the challenge has a good reason, but what reason is there for downvoting the answers? If this score remains, I will just delete my answer no problem, but I'm mainly trying to understand the reason behind the downvote on my answer and how to prevent it in the future. And what people's opinion are regarding answering questions with cumbersome I/O rules.


Sorry, it was an accident. I had a little fiasco with my computer this morning and I must've pressed the down arrow inadvertently. Stupid touchscreen...

If you make an edit I'll give you an upvote.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Ah ok, that makes sense. Np, it happens sometimes. Grimmy just suggested a golf, so I've edited my answer. Hmm, I guess this entire meta question is then irrelevant, but I'll just leave it in case someone has an interesting thing/opinion to mention. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 2 '20 at 14:48

Defaults can be overridden

...that's why they're called defaults.

If the challenge itself is completely clear, despite the cumbersome I/O rules, we should just downvote it.

No, I think we shouldn't downvote good challenges just because they override some of the defaults.

In the particular case of the linked challenge, I think the I/O restrictions actually make it more interesting. With flexible I/O, it would be mostly trivial, but the weird input format opens up some golfing opportunies (as demonstrated by your answer being 20 17).

Of course, there are good reasons for the defaults, and I hope most questions will still follow them, but having one question overriding them every once in a while is perfectly acceptable.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Cumbersome does not mean "other than the defaults". No one is downvoting a challenge "just because they override some of the defaults", that is a false premise. We are downvoting a challenge because we think it is bad. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wheat Witch Mod
    Mar 2 '20 at 20:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PostRockGarfHunter The only comment on the linked challenge that looks like an explanation for the downvotes says We have many useful defaults which should not be overridden without good reason. It sure looks like overriding the defaults is the reason it’s being downvoted (either that, or it’s just being downvoted without any explanation). \$\endgroup\$
    – Grimmy
    Mar 2 '20 at 21:02
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ May I point you to the "without good reason" part of the quote. Downvoting for overriding the defaults without any reason to do so is very different from downvoting "just because they override some of the defaults" as you present it in your answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wheat Witch Mod
    Mar 2 '20 at 21:28
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ The default rule of flexible I/O is there because we once agreed that golfing I/O was too repetitive and uninteresting. While that decision was made years ago (AFAIK), I believe majority of us still think so, thus the downvotes on the challenge. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bubbler
    Mar 3 '20 at 7:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ The I/O restrictions make it nearly impossible, if not impossible in a language I was planning to solve it in. \$\endgroup\$
    – S.S. Anne
    Mar 3 '20 at 12:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I made the comment and did not down-vote - to be clear I was offering suggestions which I thought would make the challenge more likely to be well-received by the community. I quite liked the question premise. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 4 '20 at 1:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .