Our benevolent mod Martin recently sandboxed a challenge for golfing "Hello, World!", as we do not yet have such a challenge on this site. It seems that Martin intends for it to be more of a catalog of the shortest possible "Hello, World!" programs in many languages rather than a contest to see who can create the shortest submission in any language. This brings up an interesting point: Should challenges which are primarily intended to be catalogs rather than contests be on topic here?

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    \$\begingroup\$ For reference, there was a previous, extremely popular question that was basically a "catalog" with a very bad scoring system stapled onto it: here. These questions feel very "in the spirit of" PPCG, and I see no reason to deem them off-topic if the community likes them. \$\endgroup\$
    – lynn
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 23:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mauris While I think these should be on topic, I don't think "it's popular, so it's on-topic" is a solid basis for an argument, at least not for Stack Exchange's quality standards. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 23:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinBüttner I feel like PPCG has been historically lax with on-topic compared to bigger Stack Exchange sites like SO. How do you feel about "tips for golfing in XXX" questions? \$\endgroup\$
    – lynn
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 23:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mauris Definitely on topic, but not because they are popular. This isn't the place for that discussion though. Feel free to join us in chat if you want to continue it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 23:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlexA., you're wrong. dmckee, one of the original mods, is on record as saying that they deliberately didn't close down the off-topic popularity-contest as an experiment. IIRC the mods perceived the site as stagnating or in decline. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 6:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems that Martin intends for it to be more of a catalog of the shortest possible "Hello, World!" programs in many languages rather than a contest to see who can create the shortest submission in any language. : As someone who normally golfs in a "losing" language, I don't see the issue here. What's the actual difference between a "catalog" and a list of golfed answers as usual? More languages? That doesn't seem to be something we should discourage. \$\endgroup\$
    – Geobits
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Geobits I should note that I'm not trying to say that they are off topic, I'm just asking for community input at Doorknob's suggestion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex A.
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 15:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sure. My main point is that I don't see it as any different than most challenges (so wonder if I'm missing some distinction). To play, you pick a language, write code, and golf it :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Geobits
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 15:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Geobits The distinction is that there's no real way to "win" since it isn't a contest, though the participation is effectively the same. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex A.
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 17:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ My main concern is that the vast majority of answers are going to be very straightforward and simple. I don't think there are that many languages where you can golf outputting a short string. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fatalize
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 8:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ You make it sound like our other mods are evil: "Our benevolent mod, Martin. Alex A, on the other hand..." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 5:45

2 Answers 2


Since we're talking about my sandbox post here, let me make the case for yes, this should be on topic!

  • It's not actually different from a code golf challenge, except I won't accept an answer, and it encourages answers in many different languages (using words, but nothing else). In fact, as Doorknob mentioned in his answer, this is actually part of our mission as described in the help centre. All I did was call it by name.
  • We already have questions like this. E.g. I consider our basic quine challenge, Golf you a quine for great good!, such a catalogue. Whenever I discover a new quine in an esolang, I go to that challenge and add it there.
  • Whenever someone complains that Pyth, CJam and friends suck all the enjoyment out of golfing, we always say "you have to treat this as a competition within your language not between languages". It would be weird to outlaw challenges which emphasise that aspect specifically.
  • Stack Exchange is still about building great content. We're a Stack Exchange site about code golf (amongst other things, but mainly code golf). Since (as far as I'm aware) no other reputable site collects "The shortest way to do X in any language" (emphasis on "shortest"), I think this is a great opportunity for us to build good content for code golfers and esolang enthusiasts.
  • Many (even common) esolangs haven't been thoroughly explored yet when it comes to golfing, and having these catalogue-like questions provides an additional incentive to study golfing techniques in these languages in depth.

I'd actually be up for creating a tag for these, I don't think we should create a separate tag for these because I'm not entirely sure what differentiates them from a normal challenge other than a) it's a very common task, b) there won't be an accepted answer, c) the OP explicitly asks for the shortest solution per language, but those are just words, right?

PS: Because this has come up twice now, I'm strictly against making these categorically Community Wikis. Most answers will be the work of single users who deserve the rep for it. If many users contribute to a single answer, that one answer can still be made CW if the original author doesn't feel like he deserves all the rep any more. I think we've got enough sportsmanship around here for that to work out.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not against the idea (I think it's a good idea), but you said: Since (as far as I'm aware) no other reputable site collects "The Shortest Way to Do X in Any Language"..., and I just wanted to point out Roseta Code \$\endgroup\$
    – gilad hoch
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 5:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @giladhoch Yes, I'm aware of Rosetta Code, but the emphasis was on "shortest". Rosetta Code rather lists the most "canonical" or "idiomatic" solution, I'd say. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 8:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Should this be a Rosetta code challenge? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 12:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JanDvorak I think that would just encourage answering in a ton of uninteresting languages instead of focusing on finding the best possible solution in the interesting/harder ones. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 12:20

(I'm speaking as a regular user here, not as a moderator.)

I think that this is definitely a plausible idea (perhaps a ?) if

  • The question is made Community Wiki (and hence all the answers).

  • There can only be one answer per language.

    • Editing an answer to improve / golf someone else's code is okay.
  • No answer is accepted.

  • (Optional) Answers should contain as much (necessary) explanation of golfing tricks / techniques used as possible.

All of our current challenges are essentially (incomplete) "catalogs" of solutions in different languages anyway. We even have this in our Tour:

With your help, we're working together to build a library of programming puzzles and their solutions.

@MartinBüttner explains why such questions would be beneficial in his sandbox post, and with the criteria that I propose, I can't see how this could be problematic at all.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree with the community wiki thing. If many people contribute to one particular answer it can still be turned CW, but I'd expect in most cases a great answer to be one user's work who deserves all the rep for it. There are tons of "free" or "easy" answers in many languages, but I don't expect them to get many (or any) upvotes, so I don't think that's a problem either. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 23:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's also no reason to allow only one answer per language if we have a stack snippet to pick out the winner per language. There might be several interesting approaches that are worth keeping. And it would be hard to draw the line between things like Python 2/3, Perl 5/6, ES5/6 etc. Maybe I find the shortest Ruby solution, but it only works in 1.9? I'd rather add my own "Ruby 1.9` answer than worry about where it belongs. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 23:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinBüttner The first three points mostly go hand in hand. Seeing as this is more of a community-oriented effort rather than a challenge to each individual, it would make sense to organize it in this manner. (Under this model, multiple solutions would be allowed in one answer.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 23:44

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