I want to open a discussion about this recent highly-popular question that has been closed and reopened a few times: Animation of Code Golf.
The turbulence of that question and similar past questions is clearly related to the fact that there is disagreement on whether "art contests" can be programming challenges. (See The line between art and programming.)
But Martin Büttner's first comment on the question, and other past comments I've seen, made me think that the main schism is between those who think programming contests should be judged on implementation only, and those who think they should be judged on implementation and output.
This part of the comment brought this to mind:
... In this challenge very few people would look at the implementation and only vote by prettiness which is in no way correlated to a clever implementation. Imagine one solution which throws a 3rd-party syntax highlighting at the GIF and another which uses a very clever edit distance algorithm. Guess which one gets the votes?
The point made is surely true. People will vote for the thing with flashy output, often regardless of implementation. Such might be the nature of many of our closed "art contests". But I want to ask: Is judging on output necessarily bad? (People do it anyway of course.)
When I think "programming contest" I think of lots of people competing in some sort task that requires programming, and has definite winner(s) and losers. Whether the goal is to create beautiful code or beautiful output (or both) is up to the contest author. As long as programming is required and there's a winner, it is a "programming contest".
We rarely get (and quickly remove) questions that don't involve programming, and we always enforce objective winning criteria, so the issue lies in what parts of the program are being judged.
One could quickly argue that "programming contest" obviously implies that the programming itself is the part being judged, but regardless of those semantics, is there really harm in letting "art contests" and the like (especially popular ones) remain open?
This is a site based on entertainment and user interaction after all. I see no harm in allowing users to compete in contests where the output is explicitly part of the judging. If you're worried your coding efforts will be overlooked in such questions then you needn't answer them. And it's not like we're overflowing with questions, we may as well keep what we can.
(P.S. I'm not totally on the pro-art-contest side, I'm playing devils advocate a little here. Mainly my goal is to open up the discussion.)
(P.P.S. I mean no offense to Martin Büttner, your comment just spurred me to voice my say :) )