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I'm a regular lurker of PP&CG. Today I encountered a situation I'm not sure how this community regularly responds to. I'm asking this to learn more about the common and accepted practices here, and what I should be doing if I'm in a position to act.

The situation was that I saw an unusual answer to a shortest-in-bytes-wins challenge: it wasn't golfed at all. Not only that, but it was more verbose than necessary for the sake of some useful programming practices we'd usually forsake for code golf (like a descriptive error message).

I considered leaving a comment politely encouraging them to find ways to make their code shorter, but maybe they're just answering because they see doing it at all as a worthwhile challenge and feel like sharing their work. Or something, I don't know. I also don't know if that's seen as fine here or not.

How do we respond to totally ungolfed answers? Encourage golfing? Leave it be? Vote on it somehow? Something else? (Is there even a common way to handle this?)

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    \$\begingroup\$ This seems subtly different from meeting the challenge specification, but it is covered by the help centre. \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax May 10 '16 at 14:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ This actually is a duplicate. The answer covers "Answers that produce correct results, comply with the rules of the challenge, but aren't a serious contender for the winning criteria" \$\endgroup\$ – Nathan Merrill May 10 '16 at 14:30
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This is covered in our help center:

All solutions to challenges should:

  • Correctly implement the required specification.
  • Be a serious contender for the winning criteria in use. For example, an entry to a code golf contest needs to be golfed, and an entry to a speed contest should make some attempt to be fast.

Our policy on invalid answers dictates that they should ultimately be removed, but not before giving the poster a chance to fix the post.

Considering this answer was posted by a new user, it's important to be welcoming, explaining the scope of the site and the purpose of code golf instead rather than citing rules and threatening deletion. Suggesting how the code could be made shorter and maybe a link to the corresponding question could be helpful too. I wouldn't cast a downvote at this point, but that's a personal choice.

That being said, the most likely outcome of this scenario is that the user never comes back, since he never intended participating in a code golf contest. If that happens (the poster didn't respond to the comment or you find an ungolfed answer that is over a month old), please flag it for moderator attention.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So is flagging an invalid solution as in need of moderator intervention preferred to not an answer? I sometimes find -- I think -- invalid answers, flag them as not an answer and get my flag disputed ... \$\endgroup\$ – Jonathan Frech Sep 25 '18 at 1:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ NAA flags go through a review queue first and may be disputed before reaching a moderator. I'd only flag as NAA if the answer diesn't even attempt to participate in tge challenge. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis Sep 25 '18 at 3:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thus an invalid answer should be flagged as INOMI with a comment stating its invalidity? \$\endgroup\$ – Jonathan Frech Sep 25 '18 at 3:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, that's the best way. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis Sep 25 '18 at 3:29
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The on topic page specifically says:

All solutions to challenges should:

  • Correctly implement the required specification.
  • Be a serious contender for the winning criteria in use. For example, an entry to a code golf contest needs to be golfed, and an entry to a speed contest should make some attempt to be fast.

(emphasis mine)

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