I recently posted a question, and would like to know what is wrong about it, and how it could have been made better. This is not to get the question back, but rather so that I know what makes a good question here, so I can improve next time.

This is my question:


It was put on hold for being too broad.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for asking. It's fantastic that you're getting advice on this so that your future questions/challenges will be better. :D \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 22:13

1 Answer 1


Welcome to Programming Puzzles & Code Golf! I'm delighted that you've joined our community. Making a challenge is difficult and we have a lot of not-so-obvious guidelines about what makes them good and on-topic, but you've come to the right place for more detailed feedback!

In this case there are three aspects of your challenge that generally aren't well received by the community:

  1. It's . Some time ago, we decided by community consensus to change our stance on challenges bearing this tag. Whereas at one point in the site's history they were welcome and typically well-received, we now consider them off-topic and unwelcome.

  2. It's a . These challenges are still welcome but they're exceptionally difficult to do well. In fact, making a challenge a popularity contest is a common pitfall, particularly for newer users. For this reason we now consider them something to avoid when writing challenges. More often than not, popularity contests closed as "too broad."

  3. The goal of the challenge is effectively to circumvent our standard loophole regarding fake random numbers.

I recommend posting challenges to the Sandbox before posting them to the main site. There they can get constructive feedback from the community in a reputation-free environment. I consider the Sandbox to be our single most valuable tool available for challenge authors.

Further, in addition to the part about popularity contests, the full list of things to avoid when writing challenges is worth a read.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much! I'll keep this in mind while I'm here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Aubin
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 22:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @penne12 My pleasure! Don't hesitate to ask any other questions you might have. This community may not be the easiest to get into right away due to our myriad rules, but I like to think we're a generally friendly, welcoming bunch so we'd be happy to help however we can. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex A.
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 22:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Very nice, but I think it would be worth mentioning the sandbox, as a place to "test the waters" particularly when making challenges that do not avoid the things from that thread. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @FryAmTheEggman How could I have omitted the sandbox?! Thanks for reminding me. It's been added. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex A.
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 17:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @penne12 Expanding on Alex's answer: Popularity contests (in most cases) are used to judge the accuracy of a submission, not to judge the "awesomeness" of a submission. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 1:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 @AlexA. for we're a generally friendly, welcoming bunch. I definitely agree. \$\endgroup\$
    – user51533
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 21:49

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