In a recent meta thread the issue of "running locally" was brought up. The main issue is, as best I can put it, "Should we allow submissions in a language that cannot be run locally?"

To be more specific, I am talking about languages which require an Internet connection to meet our definition of a language (the two tests being addition and primality testing). I am not talking about languages which 1) could be run locally, even though the most convenient interpreter is online, or 2) use data which could be stored locally, but usually isn't.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Consideration: What's the difference between "runs arbitrary CJam code by pulling from TryItOnline" and "runs arbitrary MyAmazingGistGolfingLanguage by pulling from a gist URL and calling eval()"? They both send some network request, which basically goes through a "black box" (i.e. the internet), and print out the result, so... \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doorknob The request for TryItOnline will always be the same though, except for language updates. We don't control the contents of TryItOnline outputs, neither could we, but a Gist you have full write access is different to. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VoteToClose No, I'm talking about a language in which the source code is a URL and the "interpreter" pulls from the URL and eval()s the response. Could even be abused with URL shorteners and stuff. What's the difference between this and scraping TIO? \$\endgroup\$
    – Doorknob
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doorknob I don't control TIO. I control Gist. I gain an unfair advantage from controlling the source, but if the language has a 3rd party which is not biased to advantage you in any way, then it's absolutely fine. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Food for thought: is there really such a thing as a language that actually could not be run locally? Even the chatbot from the linked thread could be, I would think, by starting a local web server hosting the SE chat system. \$\endgroup\$
    – David Z
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 19:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidZ Theoretically yes, if a piece of software was created that could only run on a single computer (requiring stuff like processor serial number to match), which hosted a web interface for an interpreter. \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 1:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego but in that case one could create an alternate interpreter (or compiler, etc) without the processor serial number check, which would be able to run anywhere. So the language itself would not be limited to that computer. \$\endgroup\$
    – David Z
    Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 1:17

1 Answer 1


Online interpreters should be treated the same as any other interpreter

You must be able to provide a version (possibly the current version) that predated the challenge being posted where the submission is valid (such as a VCS commit, archived backup, etc.). If this condition is met, then the online interpreter is a valid interpreter, even in the absence of a locally-runnable (read: no internet access required) interpreter.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If I understand what you're saying properly, would this imply that a "Data" program would be valid if the user provides a list of version numbers for each the involved languages? \$\endgroup\$
    – PhiNotPi
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 21:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PhiNotPi Yes. It would be no different than having to specify Python 2 vs 3 if the submission is not equivalent in both (though Python 2 and Python 3 are typically viewed as separate languages, the point still stands). \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 21:28

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