This morning I posted a challenge (2k users only). It's back in the sandbox now, visible for anybody and for review. I had this challenge in the sandbox for 5 days before I posted it. With some help we worked out minor bugs. I missed one thing in my example calculation before going live, but that's fixed now as well.

However. After I posted it this morning it almost immediately received multiple down votes. The comments I got where:

  1. About date/time

What should programming languages do that cannot access the current time? Like BF etc?

Well I don't have an answer for that. I think if only questions are allowed that every language can solve, a lot of other challenge must considered invalid. And if a language is not suitable for a task, simply don't use it.

  1. Verification

And since this formula seems very approximate, you'll have to be clear on how answers are to be verified

I thought that in his question everything is really clear. There's a concrete formula. Everything on top is explicitly described as well. And of course the formula is an approximate expression but that's not the point of the question. Actually what has to be done looks very definite to me.

It would be great if you could help me, if I'm totally on the wrong path here. I don't know whether the down votes came because of those comments. Maybe you see different things, then please address them too.

I still think it's a well worded and clear question with a very concrete calculation. Of course it's not accurate that any space agencies will use some golfed code from this site in the end. I thought it might be something different beside the usual array and string manipulation. I like to repost it sometime, but currently I'm unsure about it.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with you regarding point 1. While we don't like people to exclude languages unnecessarily, not every challenge has to be solvable in every language when it comes to technical limitations. Re 2. I haven't read the spec in detail, but it might help to require accuracy to N decimal places/significant digits. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2016 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinBüttner The specs say: "Output the value in km with 3 fractional digits." - Is this the accuracy you're talking about? And I don't like it either to exclude languages per se. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2016 at 15:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Regarding my comment, I was just looking for a way to know whether a solution was correct (e.g. state output must match formula and provide definitive test cases). If I thought it was worth deleting, I would have voted to close. \$\endgroup\$
    – grc
    Jan 25, 2016 at 15:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @grc Thanks for your feedback. I thought I must have worked some huge flaws into this one. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2016 at 15:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth lowering the accuracy required though. Following the formula to 12 digits makes it hard to golf. \$\endgroup\$
    – grc
    Jan 25, 2016 at 15:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @grc Good point I'll lower it down km and discard the fractional digits. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2016 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


Personally, I don't think it's very unclear at all.

Date/time: I don't see the issue here, to be honest. Just say "you need to use a language that can figure out the current time". Another option would be to allow time as input.

Verification: Again, since you have example code, verification should be simple. To be lenient with floating point nonsense, you specify an minimum accuracy, so no major issues there.

The only real problem I see with it is a matter of opinion. It seems a bit... boring. A straightforward calculation doesn't appear to leave much room for golfing. I didn't downvote because of this, and others may disagree. Still, it might be worth looking at ways to make it more interesting.

There are other possible reasons for a downvote. For example, some people don't like bonuses on what should be a straight golf, etc. Without a direct comment about that, though, it's hard to know exactly what it was.

However, I don't understand why you deleted it. As far as I can tell, it wasn't very badly received. Before deletion, it was at +4/-2, which isn't really a bad judgement. Don't be so hard on yourself.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your feedback. I added the continuous part to spice it up a little, because it's somehow interesting to see the amount in which this number is constantly changing. I deleted it, because I wanted to work out huge bugs before it got out of hand. But yours and Dennis answer gave me some feedback that it's not that bad at all. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2016 at 15:29
  1. Not all programming languages can perform all tasks. That's simply a fact.

    There are artificial reasons that exclude some languages (e.g., input must be read from a file) and there are natural reasons (e.g., accesing the current time). As long as some languages are excluded for natural reasons, I don't think there's anything wrong with it.

    I dare to guess that even if you optionally passed the current time as input to the programs, you wouldn't get a brainfuck answer anyway. The floating point multiplication and the cosine won't be very pleasent to deal with.

  2. As long as you clearly state that the output must match *your formula (rather than the real value), I don't see a problem here.

    Note that this might the use of built-ins impossible, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

As for other potential sources of downvotes, note that bonuses are now officially one of the things to avoid when writing challenges.

Last but not least, while two is technically multiple downvotes, it makes it seem worse than it is. I wouldn't rush to conclusions just because two users clicked the downvote button.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your feedback. I'll remove the bonus thing. "[…] rather than the real value […]" - you mean the really scientific approved 100% accurate value? And thanks for pointing that it's not that bad at all. I think I'm going to undelete it after the adjustments and give it another chance. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 25, 2016 at 15:34

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