Answering the election questionnaire got me thinking: in addition to having an objective winning criterion, all challenges also need an objective validity criterion — there's no point in comparing answers if there's a fuzzy line of what even constitutes a valid answer. This has come up several times in the discussion of popularity contests, or specifically underhanded challenges.

As a made up example of how a challenge could have an objective winning criterion but no such validity criterion, consider "Write a program that prints a funny joke. Shortest code wins." The winning criterion is standard code golf and objective, but deciding what constitutes a funny joke is very much subjective. For winning criteria, we have a close reason, but for validity criteria we don't. I was wondering whether we should decide on a close reason to use in these cases, since it's not entirely clear which one to use. (And I vaguely remember at least one case where someone closed it as "has no objective winning criterion" accompanied by a comment along the lines of "uh, well, yeah it kinda does, but it's still not objective, so...").

A few options I see:

  • Unclear what you're asking: because there's no way to tell from the challenge which answers are admissible and which aren't.
  • Too broad: if the definition of a valid answer is fuzzy, the challenge will allow too many answers, which won't be comparable.
  • Primarily opinion-based: this is probably not what this close reason was meant for, but a challenge with a subjective validity criterion is clearly opinion-based.
  • Custom off-topic reason: certainly the clearest at the moment, but we'd have to type something up each time, and I just know most people won't do it.
  • Use the "objective winning criterion" reason and leave a comment, that you actually mean the validity criterion.
  • Change the "objective winning criterion" reason to cover both winning and validity criteria.
  • Use another close reason slot to add a separate reason for lack of objective validity criterion.
  • ... something else?

I don't have a strong preference for any of these at the moment (although I might form one), so I'm looking forward to reading your opinions and arguments in the answers. :)

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I'd prefer "Change the "objective winning criterion" reason to cover both winning and validity criteria." \$\endgroup\$
    – isaacg
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related challenges -- 1 2 3 ... Related discussions -- 1 2 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 18:21

1 Answer 1


Too Broad

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.

I think this speaks most directly to the heart of the matter (emphasis mine). Without criteria to judge something valid or invalid, anything is an answer. If anything is an answer, it's no different than your typical "what's your favorite X?" question on any other site. VTC as too broad.


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