My understanding of our consensus was that OWCs are currently required for tips 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.
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 tips 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; tips isn't a competition, shouldn't be, and can't be.
If the real question is if all tips questions should relate to an objective winning criterion, my answer is still no; what about restricted-source? This is another polyglot tips question that seems to have been well-received by the community, and for good reason. And there's no reason a restricted-source or polyglot tips 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" tips questions, that's a different discussion entirely.
No, but ...
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 tips question.
This allows potentially for tips 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. restricted-source) 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 tips 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 tips question does not need an objective scoring criterion to be on topic, but the linked question is still not on topic.
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 tips 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 polyglot or restricted-source, it should be allowed.
I don't think tips 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 fastest-code 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 tips 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. code-golf, then it would be on-topic here. As it stands however, it is not.
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 tips questions should be posted on meta and thus do not require an "objective winning criterion".