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59 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Requiring minimum scores In short, don't post a code golf that says "Your code has to be shorter than 100 bytes" (the same applies to any other winning criterion). The usual motivation is that the ...
Martin Ender's user avatar
52 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Don't allow / ask for different things in languages with different capabilities Don't write specs like "Do X. If your language doesn't support X, you can do Y instead". Examples are: Do some math in ...
nimi's user avatar
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52 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Non-observable program requirements The validity of a program should depend on things that can be observed when the program is treated as a black box. Examples are data written to standard output or ...
feersum's user avatar
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45 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Saying you should produce one or several outputs randomly without further specification One random output Say someone writes a challenge about generating a labyrinth of a given size (width and height) ...
Luis Mendo's user avatar
  • 105k
37 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Formulating the challenge as something and then including a twist that completely changes the task Don't hide information from the reader. Don't enounce the challenge as something that later on it ...
Luis Mendo's user avatar
  • 105k
37 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

The prime numbers We have 226 questions about prime numbers at the time of writing. Almost every single one of these involves some adaptation of the “canonical prime checking code” or the “canonical ...
lynn's user avatar
  • 68.8k
37 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Allowing standard loopholes in general Don't say "Standard loopholes are allowed". They ban silly things like making up a language where the solution is a single character or just printing the string ...
xnor's user avatar
  • 145k
35 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Adding unnecessary fluff See also: Chameleon challenges, Cumbersome I/O formats, Do X without Y What's the main point of the challenge? Try to keep the challenge to just that. Don't go adding frills ...
Sp3000's user avatar
  • 61.9k
33 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Patching out approaches On your challenge, someone posts a solution that's cheap and not at all what you intended. You have the option to change the rules, but do so very carefully as there's many ...
xnor's user avatar
  • 145k
32 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Input Validation This is a subset of adding special cases for completeness that seems to come up pretty often. From a given set of possible inputs, a solution shouldn't have to sort out inputs that ...
Jo King's user avatar
  • 47.2k
25 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Hidden pattern in the output for code golf challenges You should not post a challenge in which an essential part is to find a pattern in the required output, which is not stated in the challenge but ...
Luis Mendo's user avatar
  • 105k
24 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Narrow references Beware of challenge topics that tickle your fancy, but others won't appreciate. An in-joke among friends A reference to a movie you like A task from actual code you wrote A small ...
xnor's user avatar
  • 145k
22 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Using old challenges as a model Just because an old challenge did something doesn't mean yours should too. Many old challenges wouldn't pass muster nowadays. Don't be surprised if your challenge is ...
xnor's user avatar
  • 145k
21 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Excessively long back stories This is a site for people who like programming challenges. They already want to see your idea for a challenge. You don't need a back story to make your challenge appeal ...
trichoplax is on Codidact now's user avatar
20 votes
Accepted

The broken window of "Produce the number 2014 without any numbers in your source code"

Add a disclaimer: Note: New straightforward "Do X without Y" questions are not considered novel anymore and may be closed as duplicates of this question. But I think it should be worded better. ...
jimmy23013's user avatar
18 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Exceptional edge cases Don't require special behavior when the input is the empty list, the number 0, a negative length, etc. This makes for nasty surprises for solvers who worked on a solution only ...
xnor's user avatar
  • 145k
18 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Adding special cases for the sake of completeness This is a generalization of "complicated" number types, and is similar in scope to adding unnecessary fluff. What I mean by this is that many ...
Esolanging Fruit's user avatar
16 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Using the sandbox to "defend" your challenge The sandbox is meant to be an aid to improve the challenge. But once posted to the main site, the quality of the challenge is entirely the poster'...
Luis Mendo's user avatar
  • 105k
16 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Assuming you've addressed sandbox feedback When your challenge is in the sandbox and someone suggests a change or clarification, make sure your edit actually addresses their point. Too often the same ...
xnor's user avatar
  • 145k
14 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Requiring multiple types as return value This is very similar to Explicitly disallowing or disadvantaging arbitrary (classes of) languages though it's more subtle (and not necessarily explicit): A ...
ბიმო's user avatar
  • 16.8k
14 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Parsing expressions In challenges dealing with algebraic expressions, don't make the golfer parse input strings like x^3-2x+1 or ...
xnor's user avatar
  • 145k
14 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Multipart challenges with unrelated sub-tasks In general, a challenge on Code Golf should focus on a single core task. Challenges with multiple sub-tasks are discouraged, especially when the sub-tasks ...
Bubbler's user avatar
  • 77k
14 votes

How should challenge authors be rewarded for creating exemplary challenges?

I suggested a potential feature request related to this when we were discussing ideas about the fact that we're not a Q&A site. This is of course a suggestion that would require changes to the ...
Martin Ender's user avatar
13 votes

Should we disallow non-observable requirements?

Only for code golf I think disallowing non-observable requirements is good, but should be limited to pure code golf (without restricted-complexity for instance). As Nathan Merrill points out, many ...
xnor's user avatar
  • 145k
12 votes

Tips for King of the Hill challenges

Account for turn order advantage I've come across a number of challenges that would have wildly varying outcomes depending on who went first (or last) in the turn order, such that figuring out who was ...
Mwr247's user avatar
  • 3,572
11 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Real-valued output without further specification, or with a bad one For integer outputs, you can check correctness with exact equality. For exact fractions, many challenges require to output a (...
Bubbler's user avatar
  • 77k
11 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Think twice if you're writing a challenge around an algorithm you found on the Internet Simply put, it will never work as you expect, (though it could work as "a challenge") unless you pick ...
Bubbler's user avatar
  • 77k
11 votes

Things to avoid when writing challenges

Problems without solutions When writing a challenge, make sure it is actually solvable within the framework of recreational programming. While a task like "Identify objects in a picture" is ...
AlienAtSystem's user avatar

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