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I created a couple challenges recently which I was hoping would be pretty interesting, but turned into something significantly less interesting due to an oversight or regrettable rule.

In De-interleave log lines, I allowed answers to output the de-interleaved logs as a concatenated list with no separators. This essentially turned the challenge into a sorting task.

In Quineoid Triple - A(B) = C, I hadn't considered that each of the three programs might only differ by a single byte, making the challenge far less interesting than I was hoping.

I want to fix these issues, but I don't seem to have any options.

  • Duplicating the challenge with a minor rule change is still a duplicate. Even a well-thought out set of significant rule changes can easily be solved with only small modifications.
  • Changing the rules after the fact is unacceptable if it eliminates answers that would have been valid previously.
  • Bonuses which might encourage a more interesting approach are frowned upon
  • Bounties can help, but having to stake some reputation any time you make an "almost interesting" challenge to get better answers is just salt in the wound.

What can be done about challenges like this?

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  • If there are few answers you can maybe change the rules:

    1. Leave a comment in the challenge saying the change to are considering to make. This is for people who are writing an answer now or intend to do so.
    2. Ask the owners of the current answers if they mind you changing the rules. Quite often they will agree, if the rule change makes the challenge more interesting.
    3. If they agree change the rules. Consider deleting the comment from step 1 or/and adding a new comment explaining the change.
  • If the above is not feasible, you can post a new challenge with additional changes, besides the modified rules, to prevent it from being a duplicate. Of course, the changes should give rise to a challenge that is interesting enough.

    For instance, in the De-interleave log lines challenge you can perhaps change the input so that it can include lines without an app tag, and then those lines correspond to the most recent app.

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