In a similar vein to my previous meta post, we're going to have to deal with having the sandbox on meta. And currently, the sandbox situation is a bit... messy. Here's a simple plan (or, at least, starting point) in order to deal with the difficulty of the current way of handling this (which is basically "retire the sandbox whenever someone feels like it").

  • Create a post for a description of the sandbox. Instead of pasting that huge boilerplate each time a new sandbox is created, simply link to this post. (A directory may also be included, which seems like a good and generally well-accepted idea.)

    • I have already posted a [faq-proposed] post, which can be found by following that link.
    • This linked post also standardizes on the title, tags, and body of sandbox posts. I will perform a mass edit if / when we agree on a standard. (This may not even be necessary if we decide not to retire sandboxes.)
  • Agree on how to handle the retirement of sandboxes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited title to focus on one issue (retirement). I think the already-posted faq is sufficient for the other. Don't have much time to edit post body atm. \$\endgroup\$
    – Geobits
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


Proposal for the handling of retired sandboxes - Don't!

I suggest to stop retiring sandboxes and keep using a single one. Sandboxes should be sorted by activity, because even at 50 or 100 answers, they are too big to find the active ones when sorting by votes. Assuming everyone does that, we can basically forget about the additional pages, because they will be populated by either posted, deleted or abandoned proposals. If someone's proposal takes a while and floats off the front page, they can always get more attention by posting a link to it in the chat room and asking for feedback. If the challenge is good to go, they'll be told, and if not, they will probably make some edits which will also bump the question to the top.

This would be even more effective if we deleted posted challenges. I really doubt that anyone actually follows those links we leave behind or looks through revision histories to see how challenge specs evolved. That seems like a very romantic idea, but I don't think that's actually happening. Hence, posted challenges may as well be deleted since they don't really serve any purpose other than cluttering up the sandbox. Of course, deleted answers won't move to the bottom if you're sorting by activity, but if we all did that, it might even make sorting by votes feasible even if the sandbox gets older.


  • When you post a challenge, edit down your proposal to the title and a link to the challenge. Then delete it. (The former step is just being nice to people who can see deleted posts.)
  • Get in the habit of sorting the sandbox by activity.
  • Never retire the sandbox.

Let me know if I've overlooked any obvious downsides (which is likely), so I can try to address them.

Edit: Doorknob requested feedback from an SE dev whether some large number of answers on a single question will cause technical problems. The answer is that there is no limit we are likely to reach and due to pagination, load times won't be affected either.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that if we go down this route, it might be a good idea to merge all the previous sandboxes together just to clean up the mess. (I guess I would then go through all the answers and mass-delete the posted ones.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 15:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorting by activity promotes lavishing attention on questions that already have attention and forgetting ones that slipped through the cracks. Asking users to bump their questions is not a behavior I want to promote. The fact that one needs this artificial behavior to get around the sort is an argument against sorting by activity. \$\endgroup\$
    – xnor
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 17:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @xnor It's not getting any better with retiring the sandbox and requiring people to repost their proposals if they don't want to be forgotten. But I'd hope that if we delete posted challenges, sorting by votes could even be feasible. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 17:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I totally agree that retiring the sandbox is bad. As for things being forgotten, I think it's mostly the same issue as late-posted answers being ignored, and if we come up with a new sort to fix that, we should use that for the sandbox. \$\endgroup\$
    – xnor
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 17:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Instead of editing to bump a question to the top of active, you can ask for feedback on it in the chat room if you don't want your question to get lost. \$\endgroup\$
    – hmatt1
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @chilemagic You guys are right about not recommending a bumping for the sake of bumping. See my edit, do you think that's better? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 17:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinBüttner I like it! Deleting posted challenges would be important if we do one sandbox to avoid clutter. The problem with sorting by votes is that new sandbox posts will always have 0 votes and will always need attention. I don't think we'll be able to get away from sorting by active (it'd be nice if that was the default). Also wanted to throw out the idea for a sandbox-question tag for the main site that shows your question graduated from the sandbox since if the answers are deleted you won't have any evidence it was in the sandbox unless you can see deleted answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – hmatt1
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 18:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @chilemagic I don't see the importance of being able to link a post on main back to a proposal in the sandbox (which I also why I'm against keeping them around anyway). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 18:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ The sandbox is totally unfeasible on the app as there is no way to sort through answers by active; it automatically does it by votes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 14:29

Proposal for the handling of retired sandboxes

  • When a sandbox reaches 100 answers or more, it should be retired.
  • There will always be two sandboxes at a time: one retiring sandbox (the previous sandbox) and the current sandbox. When the current sandbox retires, it becomes the retiring one, and the current retiring one is "properly" retired.
  • When a sandbox is retired, (retired) is appended to its title, and this text is prepended to its body:

    This sandbox is retired.

    To find the current sandbox, see the sandbox FAQ. Please post new proposals in the current sandbox, although proposals here may still be worked on until they are ready to be posted.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Assuming this is adopted, why make the cutoff 100 posts rather than X pages? 3 1/3 pages just seems pretty odd. \$\endgroup\$
    – Geobits
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 19:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Geobits I'd say shorter is better. Maybe 2 pages? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ypnypn
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 16:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe "current sandbox" should be a link to the current sandbox? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vi.
    Commented Aug 23, 2014 at 11:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Vi. then you have to update all the old sandboxes every time you retire one. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 23, 2014 at 19:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnnonomusPenguin, Just make some clever codegolf-savvy template, like on MediaWiki. Actually the link can lead to some search request which leads the fresh sandbox as the first result. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vi.
    Commented Aug 23, 2014 at 19:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Vi. hehe, should we sandbox a popularity contest for the most liked way to do this? (Just kidding) :P \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 23, 2014 at 21:26

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