I just posted a question available here: Print out a valid pokemon team! , which got closed due to lack of details.

I do understand that at first, my question was somewhat unclear, as mentioned by Jonathan Allen, Zgarb, and nph, I forgot to mention if there could be a constant output. I addressed all of the questions in the comments.

However, this post got locked down due to lack of details. None of the people who voted to lock it commented asking for clarifications about the question.

I received three answers (one was my own), so I'm assuming that the question was at least somewhat understandable.

Is there any way to get more feedback on what went wrong, or a way to get the question back up?


2 Answers 2


A deeper issue

As caird explained, the main issue is that the challenge is unclear because its rules are currently not fully self-contained, which means it's not yet in a state to re-open. (Your edits automatically put it in a reopen vote queue.) A black-box verifier on another site is not suitable -- we require that all information needed to confirm a solution as valid is written in the challenge text itself.

I see, however, a deeper issue lurking. Even if the challenge is clear and on-topic, I want to know "Is it fun to golf?"

(I'd usually bring up things like this in the Sandbox, but I'm posting it here as feedback somewhat beyond the question-closing you asked about.)

Narrow reference

My first impression reading the question is "Someone is into Pokemon!" But I don't know anything about Pokemon teams, and I imagine most readers also know little or nothing. And if the challenge were edited with a full explanation of precisely what a Pokemon team is and what the stats are and what the exact Teambuilder text format is, even if this were nicely and clearly written, it would feel like work for me to digest it without knowing why I'm doing so.

The topic strikes me as a narrow reference, as if the challenge is aimed at players of Pokemon Showdown. Maybe that's fine for a niche interest among some community users, but it's far from ideal. We have lots of questions mentioning Pokemon and much more obscure themes, and they try to be written as challenges that anyone can access and appreciate in golfing without prior knowledge.

Where's the beef?

Which brings me to question of, is this really a golfing challenge? It seems like solvers are meant to think a lot about Pokemon and moves within the rules, in order to find ones that are short and compressible or in a golfing language's built-in dictionary. This initially strikes me as a bit far from programming.

Since I don't know what makes a valid team, I may be missing what makes this interesting, and I think it's up to the challenge to try to explain it. Like, maybe the idea is that the space of valid teams is large and complex to optimize over, so we're intended to write code to do a heuristic search. We've had a number of successful choose-your-output-challenges (and a number of unsuccessful ones), where the flexibility in output gives an extra layer of golfing strategy, and different answers pick different ones suited to their language and method.

I see there are now answers posted who outputs being are really short, with one text at 16 bytes. This leaves basically no room to golf now except for the ultra-golfiest languages. In something like Python, I can't do better than print this string verbatim. So, it seems that further improvement would come from thinking more about Pokemon and the Teambuilder format. This suggests it might be off-topic for a site about programming challenges.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Would something like "Your score is the length of the output - the length of the code" be better? (where higher score is better) \$\endgroup\$
    – user96185
    Jul 14, 2020 at 12:57

I cast a close vote on the challenge. I did so because I feel like the rules in the challenge were far too broad, and needed to be significantly clearer. For starters, you shouldn't rely on external sites to explain/address key points in your challenge. I, along with many other users, would recommend that you include, in the challenge, a complete list of valid Pokemon names, along with the moves they can learn. If you don't want to have to make such a list, you can always restrict the Pokemon available.

For me, the specific things that made me cast my VTC were:

  • The lack of specification on "valid Pokemon team", instead using the linked site. It'd be similar to asking users to output a valid sudoku board and linking to an external site in order to verify their output was correct.
  • No explanation on the moves that are valid for specific Pokemon
  • No example output (this is more of a subjective thing, but I find it never hurts to display a simple sample output)

As for getting the question back up, if the challenge is edited to address and clarify the issues I and the other close voters saw with it, it will be nominated for reopening, where users can vote to reopen the challenge and allow more answers. There's nothing you can do to trigger this, aside from editing the challenge.

As a couple of side notes:

  • For the future, I'd recommend you post challenges to the Sandbox before the main site to get feedback. It usually helps avoid issues like this and gives people plenty of time to feedback any problems in the challenge itself.
  • It is usually frowned upon to answer your own question here quickly after posting, especially when using a popular language, as you've had much longer to work on a solution than anyone else. I'd recommend waiting a minimum of three days before posting your own solutions.
  • Once you reach 20 rep, I'd suggest asking users in our site chat room, The Nineteenth Byte for feedback on why challenges were closed, rather than taking it to meta. It's not off-topic here by any stretch of the imagination, but you're much more likely to receive a response in chat

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