Ever since I've been active on this site, I've usually added a score header to my answers like this:

Malbolge, 1337

i.e. just a score number, with no units. My rationale for doing this is as follows:

  • bytes is the default scoring unit for . Unless otherwise stated, the default scoring unit is bytes, and this doesn't necessarily need to be repeated. I like to follow the DRY principle if possible, and code-golf seems to be an appropriate place for this as any. Conversely, if any other non-default scoring method is used (e.g. unicode characters), then I explicitly state this.
  • For , score is often more than just a byte count. In some cases, there are additions to a score if for example extra command-line options or files are used. Moreover, bonuses (not popular, I know) are sometimes applied. These result in composite and/or non-integer scores. To me these scores are simply scalar values, and forcing units of bytes doesn't necessarily make sense.

This approach seems to have been acceptable until recently whereby I've received several edits from users who are apparently dismayed at the lack of "bytes".

Are such edits considered "good" corrections?

Is it acceptable to leave "bytes" out of answer headers in default code-golf answers?

I don't mind if other users always want to state "bytes".

  • \$\begingroup\$ Excluding "bytes" does break the leaderboard, so I'd appreciate if people included it so I don't have to fix the bug :P \$\endgroup\$
    – Downgoat
    Apr 27, 2016 at 0:19
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Downgoat If it broke some kind of official Stack Exchange software that would be one thing, but if it's a personal userscript, you shouldn't expect people to use the site a certain way just so it works with something that not everyone has installed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex A.
    Apr 27, 2016 at 0:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Downgoat <shrug> the leaderboard seems to be working fine here for example. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 27, 2016 at 0:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlexA. notice the ":P" and "appreciate". Format however you want but the upside-down goat will by happier if you add bytes \$\endgroup\$
    – Downgoat
    Apr 27, 2016 at 0:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Downgoat The leaderboard snippet doesn't care about the format of the header at all, except that it needs a comma to find the language and then looks for the last number that isn't inside <s>...</s>. You can use it score by puppies if you want. It would probably make sense to generalise the leaderboard userscript like that as well. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 27, 2016 at 7:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems like you misspelled Java as Malbolge. \$\endgroup\$
    – cat
    Apr 27, 2016 at 16:15
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ They are equally long (But Malbolge is hell) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2016 at 2:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ i think your header is bad but i think you should be allowed to use it \$\endgroup\$ May 2, 2016 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ The scoring method is defined in the challenge, so the units are redundant in the solution. It does serve as a double check (someone who adds "999 chars" indicates they have misunderstood that scoring is in bytes) but this double check doesn't apply to solutions that have "bytes" edited in by a passing third person. \$\endgroup\$
    – trichoplax
    May 9, 2016 at 11:28

3 Answers 3


Please do not make this type of edit.

  • Firstly, this is a matter of personal opinion. You shouldn't be editing posts for style. There is no benefit that can come from changing "color" to "colour;" that's solely a matter of personal usage, and there's no reason to change it from one person's particular usage to that of someone else. Similarly, swapping between "bytes," "chars," "characters," and nothing isn't going to get us anywhere.

  • Occasionally, I've also seen this as the only edit to a post. This is even worse. As noted in the Help Center:

    Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged - try to make the post significantly better when you edit, correcting all problems that you observe.

    Editing a post bumps it back to the top of the "active questions" list (which is actively harmful when the edit is a trivial or superfluous one), creates overhead for the original author of the post, and implies that your way is somehow "better" than somebody else's, which is simply false given that this topic has never (to my knowledge) even been addressed on meta before.

    Even when coupled with a "real" edit, micro-managing prescriptivism does not achieve anything in the long run. If you really think one way is objectively superior to another, bring it up on meta; otherwise, personal style should be left alone in edits.

  • Sometimes there's a reason for why something is done a certain way. For example, vim scoring is... well, complicated; I prefer to leave the unit out because while vim answers can technically be measured in bytes, they're really keystrokes.

    As mentioned in the OP, as well, there can be a variety of other reasons to prefer one format over another. If you think you have a reasonable basis for changing the format of the header from one form to another, drop a comment on the post at the very most, and allow the OP to change the formatting if they so desire. Otherwise, don't make assumptions about whether the header format was just chosen arbitrarily.

It's perhaps also worth noting that this isn't a catch-all. Some new users don't know how to write answers using the standard template, so changing

Here is a solution in the Rust language

fn main(){println!("Hello, World!");}

to use the standard header format is still perfectly fine. The issue is with modifying one well-accepted format to conform to what is only somebody else's opinion, without ample cause or reason. Edit for correctness, not for style.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I agree that adding the unit doesn't justify an edit, but since you mention bytes and characters: it's a bit misleading if a header says "characters" on a challenge scored by bytes and vice versa, so if someone corrected that I would probably accept the edit (although even then, your second point is important that people should try if they can improve other things about the post as well). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 27, 2016 at 7:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinBüttner Agreed, if a challenge explicitly requires scoring by characters (or other non-default), then I would recommend putting this in answers too, just to be sure everyone is playing on the same field. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 27, 2016 at 17:12

You're free to format your header as you like. Many people prefer having "bytes" in there (myself included), but there's nothing that says you have to do that.

Suggested edits that just try to add the word "byte" are completely superfluous and should be declined or rolled back.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ If it does get accepted, rolling it back is pointless as it creates yet another pointless edit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Downgoat
    Apr 27, 2016 at 0:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Downgoat The point of rolling back useless edits is that it signals to other users that such edits aren't appropriate. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex A.
    Apr 27, 2016 at 0:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Users aren't notified of rollbacks. In the case of one, the user most probably be completely unaware their edit was rolled back. \$\endgroup\$
    – Downgoat
    Apr 27, 2016 at 0:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Downgoat That doesn't really matter. It'll still be in the revision history and an astute editor will notice upon another read that their edit was removed. It's more to show other users that the edit isn't appropriate. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex A.
    Apr 27, 2016 at 0:25

Edits that add the scoring unit of the challenge are okay

With the exception of pop-con votes, the scoring criteria should be said in the header.

So xx bytes, yy chars, etc.

This also includes challenges that score in points, as long as the value won't change. (i.e. votes go up and down, length doesn't)


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