Sometimes it happens that my questions get closed immediately after posting them, but then with a little effort and explaining they get opened again. I'm posting this in the hope that this will be the case for my latest question.
My question is the longest period iterating quine, which has been closed as a duplicate of Quit Whining, Start Quining!, because that question also involves iterating quines. However, I hope with a bit of effort I can convince 5 or more of you that despite the similar topic the challenges are really quite fundamentally different, and that my question is therefore worthy of being given a chance.
The "quit whining" challenge is a straight up code-golf. It has a spec, and the winner is the shortest program to meet the spec.
In contrast, my challenge is a code-challenge based on optimising an objective function, subject to a restriction on code length. In that respect it is more similar to Paint Starry Night, objectively, in 1kB of code than it is to the supposed duplicate. This is by design. In fact, this new question is somewhat purer than the Starry Night one, because it boils down to something reminiscent of Scott Aaronson's who can name the bigger number?, but in code form. You could say (in quite a strong sense) that it's a busy beaver problem in disguise.
Again, this is by design. I've thought for a long time that a good busy beaver type question would be a neat thing to have on the site. The busy beaver problem is the kind of challenge I like: it sounds nice and simple, and it's easy to make progress at first, but then later on it turns out to be literally one of the hardest problems that exists. There's really no limit to the amount of cleverness that people can draw on to produce competitive answers.
So from a competition design perspective, the busy beaver problem would be a nice thing to base a challenge on. But the problem is, how do you convert the concept of steps taken by a Turing machine into something nice and language-agnostic, suitable for this site? Execution time wouldn't work in any practical sense and nothing else presented itself, so for a long time I gave up on the idea.
But then this past week I hit upon the idea of iterating quines. The nice thing about quines is that the iterations are really well-defined, in any language. And of course, quines are fun, and anything that adds fun is a bonus. (That is what we're here for, right?)
So I was happy to have had a thought that would finally let me implement my old idea. Of course the first thing I did was check through the previous quines question, and of course I noted that there was already one based on iterating quines. But after carefully examining it it was clear that this question wasn't designed to encourage the same deep mathematical reasoning as mine, and I was reasonably confident that although this might not be obvious to every reviewer straight away, at least there were enough other obvious differences (e.g. code-challenge vs. code-golf) that it wouldn't be leapt upon and closed prematurely.
So, I spent some time on a rainy Saturday to make the question seem clear and simple, and to have a low barrier to entry for initial participants. Because again, that's the kind of challenge I like. The kind that seems simple to start with, but then later on turns out to be really quite mathematically deep, and to require really very non-trivial solutions indeed. That's the kind of thing I find fun.
(As a concrete example, someone points out in the comments that it's easy to reach a score of 2^(2^64). But of course, I expected that score to be reached early on. The whole point of the challenge is that 2^(2^64) is a really, really small number compared to the busy beaver numbers, so there's a huge amount of space above that for more competitive answers to occupy.)
But of course, putting effort into making something look simple runs the risk that people will assume it is simple. I think that based on a casual read-through, it's too easy to get the feeling that this is kind of a bit different from the "stop whining" question, but not really that different. The differences are not immediately apparent, and while that is also by design, perhaps it is a design flaw, at least in terms of the practicality of having the challenge exist on this site, and so I'd appreciate pointers on how to avoid this situation in future.
So to be clear, I have two objectives in posting this:
That five kind souls (or one kind moderator) will read and understand what I wrote above, and cast reopen votes on my question;
That we can have a civil discussion about how to post deceptively simple questions, perhaps based on similar ideas to old questions that lack the same challenge structure, without them being closed. I'm here to have fun, and a conversation about how to do that effectively would be nice.
One thing I would prefer to avoid if I can though, is too much argument or discussion about whether my question really is a duplicate or not. I'm sorry, but that just isn't the kind of thing I find fun. If you think it should be closed, just wait until it's reopened (or not), and then cast a close vote if you must. That's how the system's supposed to work - let's not spoil our fun by fighting instead.