A challenge was recently posted without a winning criterion and subsequently closed. I added one. The revision was then rolled back and I was told that only the OP could make functional changes to a challenge.

I disagree with this reaction. If the OP is a newbie and demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge about how the site works, I should be able to flex my editing privileges by making larger changes than I would for a high-rep user. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Adding a winning criteria that fits.
    • I think that the default victory condition should be , unless the challenge lends itself well towards another category.
  • Removing language restrictions that are unnecessary.
    • The default assumption is that they are unnecessary until proven otherwise.
  • Closing loopholes that are glaring.
    • This would normally be done in the Sandbox, which newbies tend to skip.

Edit: I do not propose this instead of commenting to let the user know how the site works. I propose this in addition to commenting to let the user know how the site works.


3 Answers 3


I don't think there isn't a big problem with this. If the challenge needs a few minor edits, then of course you don't want to change it up completely. If it looks like a homework dump that would otherwise be deleted by the script that cleans up downvoted/closed questions, then go for it.

Of course I may be a bit biased since I've done this before. Upon initial posting, Make a one sequence looked like this:

A sequence of integers is a one- sequence if the difference between any two consecutive numbers in this sequence is -1 or 1 and its first element is 0.

More precisely: a1, a2, ..., an is a one-sequence if:

For any k (1 ≤  k < n): |a[k] - a[k+1]|=1, 

Given n and s ─ sum of all elements in a. W need to construct a one-sequence with the given parameters.

Like If n=8 and s=4 then one of such sequence is [0 1 2 1 0 -1 0 1].

Note if for given n and s we cant form such sequence than also we need to tell that its not possible.Otherwise we need to tell any of such one sequence.How to do this problem Please help.

There is no winning criteria listed, bad grammar/layout, no input/output format... basically most of the things that we look at when judging a question. It's even clear (to me, at least), that the OP did not care about golfiness at all, and just wanted to know how to do it.

It was downvoted (-3 IIRC) closed as off-topic in short order. I saw the potential for an interesting golf and edited it, two hours after posting. It was then reopened and is now at +11 with 9 answers.

In my opinion, this is exactly the type of thing we should be doing. That question would have been deleted via script, I have no doubt. Yes, I could have waited for that and posted it again myself (and gotten some rep for it to boot), but why do that when I could polish it now and give the OP (who was brand new to the site) an example of what a challenge should look like to learn from?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ And that OP's second question was equally bad and is currently on -3. If the goal is to fix one question then editing it immediately has some merit, but if the goal is to educate people to ask questions well then the starting point should be comments suggesting to the OP how they should fix it. Auto-deletion takes 30 days, so it's not a dichotomy between "Fix it instantly" and "Auto-delete". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 10:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ IIRC there was a bit of back and forth commenting on that one that got cleared once it was reopened, but I can't check to make sure (so didn't really address it in the answer). In general I agree that it's not 100% black/white. \$\endgroup\$
    – Geobits
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 13:53

(One important information miss out in this particular case is that he question was put on hold for not having a winning criteria)

There are a few catches here:

  • We are not sure that OP's intention is actually a shortest code. It can be any of the many other things (for example, fastest code). This details was not clear in the question and it is why the question was put on hold.
  • OP can very well be asking for tips and that is the reason for adding a language restriction. Being a newbie, (s)he might not be aware of an informal requirement of adding an example code to questions asking for tips
  • If the answer is put on hold, the next action item is for the OP to clear things out. If the above listed things are not clear, then making all the changes listed by Rainbolt here non-intuitive. The best course of action in this scenario is to put the suggestions as a comment and wait for the OP to clarify things.
  • If your views are conflicting with another user, then you can always ask for moderator's hammer.

The question which triggered this meta post actually had a comment telling why it is being put on hold, but till date there are no comments what so ever suggesting the changes to make the post better.

Now if OP is not replying for a day or so and you think that the post can be improved to a point that it can be reopened and adds value to the site, then I think the best action is to ask a fresh question which is properly structured.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why does it matter whether the question was closed or not? Do my editing privileges depend on that? Should I only edit closed questions? That said, I clarified in the question since you seem to think that it is relevant information. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 14:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re: "[...] but till date there are no comments what so ever suggesting the changes to make the post better" A simple look at the edit history, which even 1 rep users have access to, would show my suggested changes (which you rolled back). There were also multiple comments discussing those changes (that were deleted by a moderator). And finally, there remains the first comment that tells the user exactly why his question was closed. What more are you asking for? \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 14:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rainbolt re your first comment. I did not say that you can only edit closed question. I have no idea how you got to that conclusion. I just wanted to bring to other users' notice that the question had some missing information that was not clear in the original question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Optimizer
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ How are my questions to you a "conclusion"? They were not rhetorical. I'm still at a loss as to why you think the missing information was relevant. Information that is not relevant should be missing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 17:37

I think there's a very thin line that has to be walked here. For example, say a user asks a question. It's very basic, but it's got an interesting logical puzzle to it. The user, not really sure of the tags and whatnot, tags the question as a [code-challenge].

Now, the user forgot to add a winning condition. If a user with edit capability alters the question to have a winning condition that falls in [code-golf], would that fit what the original poster wanted? Maybe the poster wanted something in [code-bowling] or [popularity-contest]. By assuming the winning condition, you assume that your preferences apply to everyone on the site.

But then, what if you see a question with a winning condition that you don't entirely like? Can you change it to suit your preferences better?

Being able to make minor edits, formatting changes, etc. makes sense. These are things that any proper editor would do. However an editor doesn't completely change content. That is to the author to do. Instead of suggesting an edit, send the user a message or write a comment saying that the post is too vague, too basic, or too open ended. Let them discuss with other users to learn about how the community works, instead of assuming you know what is best for the content of their post.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ First, another site exists for interesting logic puzzles, and it is not here. Second, the suggestion that I might modify existing criteria to suit my own preferences is an extreme exaggeration. I suggest removing that paragraph. Third, if a user tags their post with no winning criteria code-challenge, then I probably do know best how to mold their challenge into something that fits on the site. I know a performance challenge when I see one. I know a King of the Hill when I see one. In the absence of anything that would indicate otherwise, code-golf is a safe bet. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fourth and finally, your answer addressed only one third of the question: adding winning criteria to a post that lacks one. You skipped over closing loopholes and removing unnecessary language restrictions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 16:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ First, the core of the challenges on this site is interesting logic puzzles. That's the nature of programming. Second, while you may not alter criteria for your own purposes, others may use this as precedence to do so themselves. This is a possible case that would need to be addressed when saying high level users can change/add to the criteria of a puzzle they find lacking. Third, one could do a code-golf. However, that is an assumption you make based on other questions asked. What if the poster is trying to add variety to the coding challenges SE site? \$\endgroup\$
    – tfitzger
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 19:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fourth and finally, you are correct that I skipped over those sections directly. They are supposed to be covered more in the whole of not changing the meaning of another users question. So what if they put language restrictions on or if they leave loopholes open. Maybe they meant to allow those loopholes. Maybe the challenge was meant to be difficult in one specific language. That's why I suggest opening dialog with the user instead of assuming you know what they want better than they do. Instruct them on good form instead of hijacking their post. \$\endgroup\$
    – tfitzger
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 19:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Instruct them on good form instead of hijacking their post." I did not propose making edits instead of letting them know how the site works. I proposed making edits in addition to letting them know how the site works. That is clearly stated at the bottom of my question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 20:16

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