The discussion surrounding a recent well-received non- question has brought up an interesting question: do questions need objective winning criteria?

My understanding of our consensus was that OWCs are currently required for questions, so that tips can be compared objectively. However, I can't seem to find any posts about it, and nobody in TNB seemed super sure either way.

So, do questions need winning criteria, assuming they're on-topic to CGCC (such as or tips)?


7 Answers 7



Or more to the point, how?

Frankly, I'm on the fence about the linked question. However, whatever's wrong with it isn't that it lacks an objective winning criterion, because every question save for the "help me golf this specific code" variety (which I can't say I'm any more fond of!) lacks an objective winning criterion. A tip isn't a solution or code; isn't a competition, shouldn't be, and can't be.

If the real question is if all questions should relate to an objective winning criterion, my answer is still no; what about ? This is another question that seems to have been well-received by the community, and for good reason. And there's no reason a or question should also have to specifically concern an objective winning criterion, because the same concepts will apply regardless.

If we want to institute a policy against "narrow" questions, that's a different discussion entirely.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the idea is that tips must give ideas on how others can improve their score in other challenges \$\endgroup\$
    – mousetail
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mousetail For polyglot and restricted-source, it can be hard enough to have something that works at all; from there, most concepts that could be used to golf something functional could also be used to bowl it or optimize for some other ad-hoc criterion. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:32

No, but ...

is the Q&A portion of our site. The point of (at least as I view it) is to provide assistance with ppcg-style challenges (mostly code-golf).

I think in order for it to be on topic for our site it needs to be clearly related to a question on the site, or a question that could be on our site. This is a bit subjective, but that's fine. It allows for human judgement. An objective scoring criterion is neither a necessary nor sufficient component of a question.

This allows potentially for that don't have an objective scoring criterion. For example if you are struggling to even meet the validity criterion of a challenge (e.g. ) you can ask for help with that and do the golfing yourself later. I think that makes perfect sense for an on topic question. In fact the tips for restricted source type questions are already like this and people seem ok with that.

However the question linked, I don't think is on topic. It is asking about making a polyglot, which is like a ppcg question, but the asker already has a valid polyglot and just wants to make it "neater". This isn't really what PPCG is about, in fact if we are about anything we are about making code less neat. It's hard to think of a PPCG question where this would be helpful so it's not on topic.

In summary: A question does not need an objective scoring criterion to be on topic, but the linked question is still not on topic.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for "it allows for human judgement" and "validity criterion" \$\endgroup\$
    – Bubbler
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 23:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this puts what I was trying to say into words far better than I possibly could've. I think there's still some subjectivity left in "to provide assistance with ppcg-style challenges", but the concept of a validity criterion makes it so much easier to clarify why polyglot/restricted-source/source-layout tips feel on-topic and sequence/hello-world ones don't. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 1:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree that the linked question is offtopic. Where else would you ask such a question? \$\endgroup\$
    – Seggan
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 15:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Seggan Not every question needs a place. It's not our job to find where a question needs to be asked. Just whether it is appropriate here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wheat Wizard Mod
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 15:58


The on-topic page for our site states that:

Non-challenge questions that are related to solving programming puzzles or a particular type of challenge are also on topic. However, if you have a general programming question, it should be asked on Stack Overflow or a different Stack Exchange site.

Therefore, if a question is asking about how to solve a programming puzzle/particular kind of challenge that can be linked to a well-defined tag such as or , it should be allowed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't this be a "No" to "Do [tips] questions need an objective winning criterion"? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RadvylfPrograms shhh I may or may not have gotten the question mixed up as "Are tips questions without an OWC good to go" \$\endgroup\$
    – lyxal
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:01


I don't think questions should require OWCs. This is for a few reasons:

  • Stack Exchange is made for Q&A, most of which is not objective. This works fine on other sites, so there's no reason it can't work here
  • While these sorts of questions are on-topic on SO, our community has much more of a focus on things like polyglotting and source layout, so better tips will likely be posted (and quicker, since there's significantly more attention that can be directed toward each question than on SO)
  • Not all challenge types can have objective tips provided; e.g., a general tip will have different impacts depending on the context

Tips question need a winning criterion, but it does not need to be completely objective

This site is about solving challenges as optimally as possible. Tips questions are only on topic if they could help someone to achieve that goal.

However, the winning criteria do not need to be "objective". A single tips questions can help people solve a variety of different challenges, each with a slightly (or significantly) different winning criteria. Thus a "objective" measurement is nearly impossible and undesirable. A broad category is sufficient.

Writing a "as good as possible" golfing language would be on topic for example. While each golfing language has different goals there are plenty of principles that apply to all. I'd consider it the same as "tips for golfing with restricted source", since each tip may or may not be applicable depending on the exact way the source is restricted.



A fundamental premise for all questions on this site is that they have an objective winning criteria. This is iterated in our Tour, our help page and the Welcome page. This distinction is one of the main differences between us and the other computer science SE sites.

A question still needs to meet this requirement, the only difference is that answers give advice to the asker on improving their score, rather than competing against each other for the best score.

The linked question, as written, would currently be on-topic on Stack Overflow, as it's about taking a piece of code that currently doesn't work, and attempting to fix it. If some OWC was provided, e.g. , then it would be on-topic here. As it stands however, it is not.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not neccesarily: the on topic page only says all challenge posts require an OWC \$\endgroup\$
    – lyxal
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 but I think we would have to make an exception for codegolf.stackexchange.com/q/198446 and possibly others. \$\endgroup\$
    – pxeger
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @pxeger Questions like that still have an OWC, albeit somewhat meta: to create a language that can score as well as possible on golf challenges \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @cairdcoinheringaahing That's not objective tho \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @pxeger I'd argue the linked question has a winning criteria (if not entirely objective): to make a language that is as good as possible for golfing. \$\endgroup\$
    – mousetail
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 14:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mousetail I think tips like "sacrifice some golfiness for usability by doing [thing]" would be valid there too. I don't think it makes sense to assign a winning criterion to that question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 13:13

Tips should be on Meta

I understand that currently they can be posted on both places. However, I think that:

  • It makes it harder to find tips because they are scattered
  • It doesn't fit as a "Code Golf or Coding Challenge"
  • It is more related to "how this site works"
  • Questions "should" have an objective winning criterion

Thus, I think that questions should be posted on meta and thus do not require an "objective winning criterion".

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    \$\begingroup\$ Meta is for discussion of the site itself, not Q&A. Tips are not hard to find on CGCC (we tag them all with tips), and they'd be just as scattered on Meta. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 13:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems that they could be on both main and meta, the point here is to put them in one place. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Tips are not and never have been on-topic on Meta. That's simply not what Meta's for. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 13:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yet tips for launching a language is on meta \$\endgroup\$
    – mousetail
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 13:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mousetail I'd argue it should be on main, esp. since the more general tips for golfing languages is. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 18:03

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