# Let's customise the "How to Answer" pop-up

It was recently suggested in a comment to point at our standard loopholes (and potentially other implicit community rules) next to the Answer text area (similar to the How to ask? sidebar when writing a question):

Wouldn't there be a way to customize the "answer" box so that there is a warning about standard loopholes?

While there is no sidebar like the one for questions, new and anonymous users will see this overlay while writing an answer:

(The link leads to /help/how-to-answer.)

That body of text doesn't make a lot of sense for PPCG. But it turns out that it can be customised for each site. This is the perfect place to point to loopholes and similar things, so let's rewrite this.

I have drafted a new version here, which is probably still far from perfect.

Thanks for contributing an answer to Programming Puzzles & Code Golf Stack Exchange!

If this is an answer to a challenge:

• Include a short header which indicates the language(s) of your code and the score as defined by the challenge.
• All answers should show some effort towards reaching a better score. For instance, answers to code golf challenges should try to be as short as possible (within the constraints of the chosen language). You can always include a readable version of the code in addition to the competitive one.
• Don't try to answer a challenge by exploiting loopholes in the specification. Answers abusing any of the standard loopholes are considered invalid.

• Please make sure to answer the question and provide sufficient detail.

In either case, avoid ...

• @DLosc I'm personally not a fan of any sort of loophole abuse, and I think the community is generally moving away from appreciating rule-lawyering (but I may be wrong... might be worth a separate meta post). If you think you've found an exceptionally clever way to work around a significant part of the challenge, you should probably ask the OP whether they intentionally left this option open. Sep 28 '15 at 14:53
• How do those discussions usually evolve? will this be turned into a feature-request or something? what is the next step? Thanks. Oct 15 '15 at 22:06
• @coredump I had already pinged a dev, but retagging it sounds like a good idea. Oct 16 '15 at 6:15

This was recently changed to the text proposed by coredump. New users who enter the Your Answer box will see:

• I guess this would make many spam answers by unknowing users non-existent. I guess now it's "How to Ask"'s time to include that this site is for programming puzzles and code golf competitions, not general programming questions (and the necessary link to SO). Feb 9 '17 at 16:45
• Thanks so much! I'm really glad to see this
– cat
Feb 9 '17 at 18:04
• If it's not too late to suggest changes, I like all of this except "Please make sure to answer the question and provide sufficient detail". I don't see how either applies except for the rare Q&A tips question. If "answer the question" means to obey the spec, the first point covers that.
– xnor
Feb 10 '17 at 5:38

I am evidently sold on the idea. Here is a modified version in order to bring more thoughts on this.

### If this is an answer to a challenge

• Be sure to follow the challenge specification. However, please refrain from exploiting obvious loopholes. Answers abusing any of the standard loopholes are considered invalid. If you think a specification is unclear or underspecified, comment on the question instead.

• Try to optimize your score. For instance, answers to challenges should attempt to be as short as possible. You can always include a readable version of the code in addition to the competitive one. Explanations of your answer make it more interesting to read and are very much encouraged.

• Include a short header which indicates the language(s) of your code and its score, as defined by the challenge.

### More generally

• Please make sure to answer the question and provide sufficient detail.

• Please don't recommend that everyone include an <h1> in their answer. It's bad style to have more than one of those per page. Sep 28 '15 at 22:11
• @PeterTaylor I removed that part. But I am curious: doesn't everybody already use # to format headers? Sep 29 '15 at 4:50
• No. I'm not the only one who uses ##. Sep 29 '15 at 7:17
• All answers should show some effort towards reaching a better score. This could read as If you can't get a better score than others, don't bother especially to non-native speakers. Not sure if there's a better way to formulate it. Oct 1 '15 at 8:18
• @sanchises I disagree. The next sentence makes it clear. Oct 1 '15 at 16:26
• @mbomb007 If sanchises finds the the sentence confusing, maybe others will be confused too. What about "Answers should attempt to optimize their score". Also a little shorter. Oct 1 '15 at 19:17
• ‘Also a little shorter’ — I love how you’re trying to golf the ‘How to Answer’ text =D
– Jan
Oct 7 '15 at 23:11
• @Jan Too bad whitespace is significant :-) Oct 8 '15 at 9:16
• Feb 9 '17 at 14:54
• @MartinEnder Thanks for telling me. That's great. Feb 15 '17 at 7:05

Here's a sightly condensed version. Using nested lists takes up less space, and the title can be merged with the first paragraph.

# Thanks for contributing to Programming Puzzles & Code Golf Stack Exchange!

• If this is an answer to a challenge:
• Add a header indicating the language(s) of your code and the score as defined by the challenge.
• All answers should show some effort towards reaching a better score. For instance, answers to code golf challenges should try to be as short as possible (within the constraints of the chosen language). You can always include a readable version of the code in addition to the competitive one.
• Don't try to answer a challenge by exploiting loopholes in the specification. Answers abusing any of the standard loopholes are considered invalid.
• If this is an answer to a question about code golf:
• Please make sure to answer the question and provide sufficient detail.
• In either case, avoid...