This is a poll to find out the general concensus on the effectiveness of our Sandbox for Proposed Challenges.

To participate, up-vote exactly one of the answers below. There are only "Yes" and "No" answers. There is intentionally no "Maybe" answer, choose "Yes" or "No" as best you can.

By "effective" I mean that the Sandbox does what it's supposed to and provides a place where users can test out their challenges and get consistent, constructive feedback. Feedback that, if followed, will keep their question from being closed when posted, and will fix any potentially confusing parts. (To me, this is the minimum of what the feedback should do. Making the challenge more interesting and up-vote worthy is a step above this.)

You may think the Sandbox is effective and yet think that it could be much improved.

You may think the Sandbox is not effective, and yet think that we have no better way to do it.

Answer this poll with regard to your personal opinion on the general effectiveness of the Sandbox as it stands now. This is not a poll asking whether or not we should change the Sandbox in any way, this is just a gauge for what the general feeling is.

Motivation: I'm asking this because I've always been skeptical about the Sandbox. Many of the sandboxed challenges (there are nearly 900, though of course only a few are still active) have little or no feedback, which may discourage users from ever posting them. I've used the Sandbox 5-10 times but have had plenty of success not bothering with it at all, even at the very start of my PPCG days. I realize I'm an exceptional case, which is why I'm not participating in the poll, but I'm interested in what everyone else thinks.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I've already voiced my opinion on this earlier, and there's some really interesting discussion there (but I'm not going to answer here for similar reasons as mentioned in your last paragraph). \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 3:26
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ "To participate, up-vote exactly one of the answers below. There are only "Yes" and "No" answers." I agree with points from both answers, so can't choose one. The truth is it can be effective for some and not for others, but apparently it's not an option to answer that way. Questions tagged [discussion] should probably allow discussion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Geobits
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 15:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Geobits I know this is not a black and white issue but the intent is to see which side of the issue more people are on. For that I'm enforcing Yes/No. (Discussion might not be the best tag for this but I'm not very familiar with the meta tags.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ think sandbox is good idea in general; my only issue with the sandbox is that ideally it should not be mandatory; ie dont criticize users for not previously using it & maybe be more willing to upvote challenges that passed sandbox vetting (to encourage its use which is "overhead" in some ways), and its a bit tricky when there are a lot of answers on it, ie how does one deal with old ones, se doesnt work well with continually accruing answers, so maybe it needs to be a fresh post at [x] intervals (few mos? half year? etc) \$\endgroup\$
    – vzn
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 18:39
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @vzn We used to retire the sandbox regularly and replace it with new posts. It didn't really work any better (I think it was worse). The idea is to sort the sandbox by activity and not worry about old abandoned posts. If anyone wants to revive an old proposal they only need to edit it, or ask for feedback in the chatroom. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 19:29

2 Answers 2


Yes, I think the Sandbox is effective

You may comment on this answer listing the numbers of the reasons you think the Sandbox is effective:

  1. I regularly use the sandbox to improve my challenges.
  2. I regularly see posted challenges that were improved by their time in the Sandbox.
  3. I regularly see the Sandbox weed out bad/duplicate challenges.
  4. I'm too lazy to prepare an entire question at once, so I write some of it in the Sandbox, and then finish it a year later.
  5. It gives people a chance to attempt my challenge before posting answers "for real", which can help uncover holes in spec way more effectively than any careful reading.
  6. It gives new and upcoming question writers a chance to improves both themselves and their questions. This cycle eventually leads them to believe that Sandbox is not effective anymore :)

You are welcome to add to this list.

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ 1. I think my challenges benefit greatly from spending some time in the sandbox. There always a couple of details I didn't notice that people can sort out before it goes live. 2. Admittedly, a few questions do get ignored (these are very few though!) - if this happens to me I ask for it a couple of times in chat, and if still nothing happens I take it as an indicator that the challenge is TL;DR or not interesting in general, which also very helpful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 3:27
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ 3. We get a lot of question (sandbox or not) which aren't very well thought through, and if they are posted in the sandbox we have a hope of educating the author about our standards and salvaging the challenge. You are like one of two people on this site who can churn out one (near ;)) perfect challenge after the other without ever asking anyone for feedback. I think your success with this is more anecdotal than anything else and should not be used as a general argument for the necessity or effectiveness of the sandbox. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 3:28
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Sandbox at least gives an opportunity for people to comment, which is better than nothing. And even if they don't, it gives you a chance to see how your question looks on screen, well away from the main site, for you to see how it looks, cool off, and maybe tweak it a bit. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 0:48
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, I think some inspiration comes from ideas abandoned in the sandbox. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 0:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ One great point of the sandbox is that it prevents people from posting questions on the main site that will immediatly get closed as duplicates. Skimming through the sandbox I often comment posts that I recognize as duplicates. I know other users do this too, such as Peter Taylor. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fatalize
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 7:34

No, I don't think the Sandbox is effective

You may comment on this answer listing the numbers of the reasons you think the Sandbox is not effective:

  1. My sandbox posts have received little or no feedback, leaving them in an uncertain limbo.
  2. I regularly see decent sandbox posts with little or no feedback.
  3. I have had plenty of success posting challenges directly to the main page without using the Sandbox.
  4. Sometimes well-sandboxed questions are found to have significant flaws after being posted, sometimes immediately.
  5. I hate it when people write their entire program while my question is still in the Sandbox, and then answer immediately when I post it to main.
  6. There's no guarantee that the right people will see my post in the sandbox, and the reception on the sandbox might be more positive or more negative than it would be as an officially posted question.
  7. Sort by active means that if a post doesn't get much feedback, it fades away to the bottom of the page and is rarely seen

You are welcome to add to this list.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ This comment exchange is a great example of the limitations of the sandbox. \$\endgroup\$
    – xnor
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 8:43
  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ I think point 5 warrants some discussion, which probably shouldn't happen in these comments. This is coming up over and over, but I don't see at as problem - in fact I think it might be a benefit. a) People trying your challenge is the best way to find out if the spec still has problems. b) It doesn't give them any advantage in the competition, except for maybe a few more upvotes due to FGITW, but c) this greatly improves the chances for going HNQ, which also increases the exposure of all other answers (and your challenge, of course). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 13:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @xnor it's not like that question didn´t attract comments in the sandbox, it's just some issues were sorted and others went unnoticed. There are 14 comments on it, including one of yours. The link for those who have the rep to see it: meta.codegolf.stackexchange.com/a/3646/15599 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 1:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @steveverrill That's what I'm saying: It's a question that got lots of attention, but nobody thought of the issue until it was posted, which suggests a limitation of the sandbox. It catches some issues but lets others through. \$\endgroup\$
    – xnor
    Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 5:02
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Are we forgetting the most important use case of sandbox - It helps new and upcoming question writers to improve themselves and their entries ? Its not really meant for pro users, but that still does not mean that pro users cannot benefit anything from it. I have many a times seen Martin's questions being improved drastically. \$\endgroup\$
    – Optimizer
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 18:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @xnor, it might be a good example of a limitation of the sandbox, but if so that limitation would be that sometimes OP doesn't understand all the implications of the comments, or ask questions which elicit the information they need. That the golfing languages would use base conversion and sort was obvious to me, and implicit in my +3 comment. But it seems that OP didn't realise that would happen until it happened, at which point it's too late to ban it. I rather assumed that someone with 3000 rep would have foreseen that the bonus was irrelevant to GS, CJam, Pyth. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 19:04
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Apart from 5, I think all the points 1 to 6 are real problems, but they do not make the sandbox ineffective, just imperfect. I still much prefer having an imperfect sandbox to none at all. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 23:57
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The biggest issue is, a sandboxed challenge might get feedback from one or two people, at the most. It doesn't help to tell people to use the sandbox when we're not going to make an effort to give feedback until posts hit main. \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think 2 and 6 are a problem \$\endgroup\$
    – user46167
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 21:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've noticed 1, 2, 3, and 6. I think Optimizer brings up a good point that the Sandbox can mainly be useful for new users (who aren't here to comment) but these problems still apply. \$\endgroup\$
    – Luke
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 13:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ My best challenge and one of my best SE posts never caught a glimpse of the sandbox. It was rough, but it went pretty well. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 5, 2019 at 2:52

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