Don't get me wrong, I love this website. I think it's fun and all but I can't help thinking...

How does it correspond to Stack Exchange's mission :

What is Stack Exchange?

Stack Exchange is a growing network of individual communities, each dedicated to serving experts in a specific field. We build libraries of high-quality questions and answers, focused on each community's area of expertise.

How is it building a high quality library of questions and answers that will help experts?

I mean, I highly doubt someone will ever search on Google for the shortest way to build Python code that will produce an ASCII Christmas tree. So how did it make it this far? Is this site an exception ? Is it only because a lot of users backed the site? Isn't some kind of filter made on Area 51?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I remember Jeff calling it (and Code Review) "experimental" once... Edit: Found the post: "an odd duck and a trial balloon..." \$\endgroup\$ – Yannis Jan 8 '14 at 17:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh. So they are indeed exceptions. \$\endgroup\$ – insert clever xmas name Jan 8 '14 at 17:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, it is a beta site remember. If it fails to establish significant value to the community at large then that will likely make it much harder for it to get out of beta. Apparently SE felt that there was at least enough potential there to give it a shot and see if they could in fact come up with questions that would add value. \$\endgroup\$ – Servy Jan 8 '14 at 17:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a totally valid question to ask. That said, I feel like whenever I've looked at a Code Golf question, I've learned something new - a tidbit about a language I didn't know, an optimized (or crazy) way to do something in a language I did know... \$\endgroup\$ – Pëkka Jan 8 '14 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ The most useful thing I learn there is which languages to consciously avoid using for day-to-day work. If code clarity is king, code golf is like an evil wizard bent on destroying the kingdom. \$\endgroup\$ – Geobits Jan 8 '14 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pëkka No one can deny that indeed. \$\endgroup\$ – insert clever xmas name Jan 8 '14 at 18:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've always assumed that the codegolf site was created mainly to give them a place to get all of the golfing questions off of the main SE site. \$\endgroup\$ – breadbox Jan 12 '14 at 22:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm personally a bit surprised it has lasted this long in beta - other sites have been canceled with much shorter lives, I believe. \$\endgroup\$ – Iszi Jan 16 '14 at 7:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @breadbox, No, it's created because there's demand for it. It's that simple. \$\endgroup\$ – Pacerier Apr 30 '15 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pëkka, that kind of "tidbit about a language" can come by simply by reading the manual. Golfing is an indirect way of doing it. \$\endgroup\$ – Pacerier Apr 30 '15 at 18:05

How is it building a high quality library of questions and answers that will help experts?

It isn't, not in the sense of asking Google and getting an answer.

But I would argue that, as an exercise, code golf is highly instructive in areas such as lateral thinking, paradigm shifting, and developing a deep understanding of a programming language. While it may not be an exact mapping to Stack Exchange's model in the Q&A sense, it nevertheless serves the same purpose that browsing Eric Lippert's and Jon Skeet's answers on Stack Overflow does, or working through Project Euler problems does. It educates.

There is indeed a repository of useful programming knowledge on Code Golf; you just have to digest it in a different way.


There's some contention that code golf has a rather unusual place here in StackExchange, some say that code golf serves no purpose.

I have to disagree, as code golf allows programmers and coders to explore the eccentricities and quirks of the languages that we work with, finding tips and tricks that we may never have thought of before; and at the same time the golfing helps us hone our skills further to reduce our code, which is great if you are limited to a certain amount of space.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You'll get more upvotes without the last line...... \$\endgroup\$ – Pacerier Apr 30 '15 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pacerier I have taken it under advisement... very good point... changes made :) \$\endgroup\$ – WallyWest May 2 '15 at 10:00

Think of the reasons why programmers like Project Euler.

Of course, you can't Google and find results from these sites like people do from Stack Overflow, but it certainly helps people think, and read other people's logic of solving the same problem. It tells us about optimized way of doing something (Code Golf).

It makes us feel (a kind of reminder) that there is a still lot to know in the language (whichever language we use to code). Lots of techniques and optimizations, for example you could find a more pythonic way of doing some particular task.

According to me, its purpose is more educative and academic than professional. In this way they are different than other Stack Exchange websites.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you please explain, why the downvotes? \$\endgroup\$ – ps06756 Jan 8 '14 at 18:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I didn't downvote, but: 1) You seem to be re-iterating an earlier answer, without adding much to the discussion. Don't do that, if you agree with an earlier answer just upvote it. 2) You should put a bit more effort in formatting your posts, your answer isn't particularly easy to read. \$\endgroup\$ – Yannis Jan 8 '14 at 18:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Though Project Euler was actually mentioned in this answer first according to the edit histories. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Smith Jan 8 '14 at 19:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ When I downvoted it(before migration), it was because the first sentence was the entire answer. After a couple DVs, more was edited in, but with bad grammar and no formatting, creating a blob of text that simply restated the other answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Geobits Jan 8 '14 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! I'll keep that in mind while answering next time. \$\endgroup\$ – Pratik Singhal Jan 9 '14 at 0:16

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