There are a lot of intelligent people on PPCG, and for that reason a lot of our usual challenges are hard. This means that we are throwing new users straight into the deep end with huge problems which they may not be able to solve.

Therefore, we need a way of getting new users used to the way PPCG works, and how to correctly write programs which answer the question.

You may post any other suggestions for the tutorial.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Difficulty tags have been discussed before and are generally considered to be Not A Good Idea™. Putting together a series of well-written challenges of increasing difficulty might be interesting though and could provide content for the Medium publication Doorknob suggested if that goes ahead. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 10:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ How about golf practice questions? And simple problems aren't always easy to golf, and they aren't always seemed fun for new users. \$\endgroup\$
    – jimmy23013
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jimmy23013 If you have a suggestion you may post it as an answer if you wish ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Beta Decay
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ They are more like questions. How is this more useful than golf practice questions? And are you sure it helps by listing "Hello, World!" first? \$\endgroup\$
    – jimmy23013
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand what the question is. To rephrase what you seem to be saying, so that you can point out where I've misunderstood: a lot of the challenges are hard to solve even without golfing, so we need tutorials to teach people how to golf. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor Oh I see... I've got too hung up on the golfing side of things. It's basically to teach people how to answer questions on PPCG \$\endgroup\$
    – Beta Decay
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would there be a way to point new users to the meta site, or to a beginner's directory for example, from the intro page (the one that gives users a badge just for reading it)? \$\endgroup\$
    – mbomb007
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 18:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mbomb007 I suppose marking the post as featured, if it was on meta. But I otherwise doubt it \$\endgroup\$
    – Beta Decay
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 18:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ "There are a lot of intelligent people on PPCG" citation needed \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 20:25

4 Answers 4


Beginner's directory

What you have is a meta post or (as Martin suggests, a Medium publication) which contains a list of basic challenges sorted from easy to hard. This is mainly for new users to try out golfing and see if they can get their program as short as the answers already posted. This is not necessarily for the new users to post an answer, but they may if they wish.

For example, the obvious choice would be to begin the list with Martin Büttner's "Hello, World!" challenge. The next could be my "Compare two numbers" challenge and so on.

This is to help new users to become familiar with writing answers to questions on PPCG.


General guidance

From the comment discussion on the question it sounds like you are looking to help people understand how to answer, rather than just teach them to golf. Maybe it would help to have some general guidance on what we like to see in answers.

Personally I am more likely to upvote an answer that is interesting and well explained. This kind of general advice could go in one place (perhaps a blog post), while advice specific to the different question types could go in the individual tag wikis. Links to the tag wikis from the blog post would help new users who may not realise the tag wikis are the place to look. This keeps the blog post a manageable size while still providing further reading.

Suggested challenges

I like Beta Decay's suggestion of a list of suggested challenges. Easy to hard makes sense for some things, but it may be worth subdividing in other ways too, perhaps into specialist areas. What is easy will depend on a person's previous experience.

If we have a list for , a list for , a list for , and so on, these lists could possibly be included at the end of the tag wikis, or they could form separate blog posts to be linked to from the tag wikis and the general blog post.


Some people may like to see a step by step walk through of writing long code and then golfing it down. There are already answers that explain the golfing process in detail, and many that provide golfed and ungolfed code for comparison. Such a guide could give examples of little savings, and then link to the tag for further examples, and then also give examples of changing algorithm to give a dramatic saving. This could be followed up with links to answers that give particularly helpful explanations of their workings.

Similar tutorials could be put together for other question types (depending on which ones have people volunteer to write them). People can also indicate here on Meta if they have an area they would particularly like to see a guide for.


This post seems contradictory. The first paragraph says that many problems are hard, and seems to imply we should have an intro to golfing

The second says we should give them an intro to PPCG (the site), not necessarily golfing. These are two very different tasks. Most answers seem to be responding to the first (intro to golfing in general), so I'll address the second:

Therefore, we need a way of getting new users used to the way PPCG works, and how to correctly write programs which answer the question.

It's hard to accurately judge my biases, but I believe that there are more bad first time questions than answers. If you want to get them used to "the way it works here", I think you're focusing on the wrong area.

If the spec is written clearly and well, you typically get mostly decent answers, even from new users. They may trip on the rules a bit and need a comment to clarify, but that could happen on an answer to any question, whether it's "Hello, World!" or something harder. This is (almost) completely unrelated to challenge difficulty.

Writing your first question is much different. Those quite often get voted down and closed rather quickly, and I see a lot more "hurt feelings" comments from the OP than is typical on an answer where they didn't count bytes in the proper way, for example.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What about the users who are too intimidated by the format to ever post an answer? \$\endgroup\$
    – lirtosiast
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 23:40

References List

This would be a simple post containing go-to (pun intended) references for users. These could include and not be limited to the following: websites for esoteric programming languages, tutorials, online interpreters, helpful meta posts, etc.

List in progress:


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