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How should our FAQ look like?

One suggestion per answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ We should look at all stackexchange sites' FAQs, look here blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/07/… and make some good mix. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nakilon
    Jan 27, 2011 at 22:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisJesterYoung Why did you tag this faq? That tag is for posts that themselves are FAQs. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Feb 27, 2014 at 13:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doorknob The answers here are FAQ, or were intended to be. Should they be migrated to their own separate posts (that are tagged as faq)? Perhaps. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 14, 2014 at 13:05

4 Answers 4

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What is a code golf?

A code golf is a challenge to solve the problem using the shortest code possible. Different contests use different criteria:

  • Shortest source code, or shortest any code (including object code)? The former will usually exclude assembly-language entries.
  • Is the length counted in bytes or Unicode code points (or something else :-O)?
  • How are shell-bang lines counted? How are any command-line arguments required counted?
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your second point on byte-counting is rather tricky when actual physical encodings are brought into the matter. I don’t really think you can count bytes because you don’t know the encoding, and this can make a tremendous difference. Just consider UTF-16 alone: is it with or without BOM? Do we really want ASCII characters to count as two bytes? I think you have to count logical Unicode code points, not bytes. Even the CRLF vs LF issue is sticky, and not easily addressed. \$\endgroup\$
    – tchrist
    Jan 5, 2014 at 18:36
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Should subjective questions be encouraged?

[Replace this with actual policy once we have it. Discussion follows.]

Code golf is clear-cut (to a point; see this post for more details): as long as the rules are unambiguous, it's clear to see which entry wins.

However, a number of early questions on this site sought "creative" solutions. This is much more subjective to judge, and could simply become a "whatever the OP likes best" question, which is not what Stack Exchange is designed for, IMO.

Therefore, we should have a policy on what level of subjectiveness should be encouraged, and/or allowed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm against questions that must be judged on subjective metrics. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 24, 2011 at 19:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dmckee: +1 I couldn't agree more. :-) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 24, 2011 at 20:35
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What is the scope of CodeGolf.SE?

[The site (if not domain) has been renamed "Programming Puzzles & Code Golf", so this entry may well be redundant. I'm keeping it here for posterity.]

CodeGolf.SE is the site for code golf and other programming puzzles. We use the name CodeGolf.SE for two reasons:

  1. "Code golf" is the most popular kind of coding game on Stack Overflow, so CodeGolf.SE should appeal to that crowd
  2. CodeGolf.SE is much easier to say and type than CodeGolfAndProgrammingPuzzles.SE.

When writing a question, please tag it with if it's a golfing question, and if it's not.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ (Please feel free to update the tags and/or the "mission statement" to reflect current consensus.) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 7, 2011 at 0:54
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Why do the number of characters matter?

(someone else would have to fill this in since I'm not really convinced this is super important)

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    \$\begingroup\$ This one's easy! This site is "Code Golf & Programming Puzzles". That means at least 50% of the site's charter is code golfing. By definition, code golf is a contest for the shortest code to solve a problem: in real golf, you want to get the ball into the hole with fewest strokes; in code golf, you want to solve the problem with fewest (key)strokes. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2011 at 21:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ As for why code golf has value: it's instantly obvious which solution is "best"---just look at its size! It's totally objective, and there is no dispute as to which answer should win. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2011 at 21:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just for the record: if the winning criterion is not "shortest code", then it is not a code golf, and should not be called one. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28, 2011 at 21:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Chris Jester-Young, what if it's "fewest semi-colons" or some other arbitrary measure to be minimized? It might not be true code golf but it would be kinda "golfy" to coin a phrase. \$\endgroup\$
    – zzzzBov
    Mar 9, 2011 at 4:44

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