2 weeks ago I had an idea to start a weekly code golf challenge, so I did.

However, after I started, there seem to have been an increase in [code-golf] questions. I believe I bring (healthy) competition to SO, with code-golf questions of +20 votes and +1k views.

Though, at the latest code-golf question (not mine), in the question's comment section, a comment made by @dmckee shown that users indeed felt the increase in code-golf questions and threatened to vote for closure.

My question is, should I continue and post a [code-golf] question on Thursday, as I intended, or stop because of the boom in code-golf questions?

Sorry if this seem stupid or meaningless, but I don't want to pollute/overbomb SO with extra work to moderators.

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shouldn't this be tagged code-golf? –  DIgitalRoss Oct 21 '09 at 20:26
    
Voting to close as too localized for the reason in my answer. –  Jon Seigel Mar 28 '11 at 4:04
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closed as too localized by Jon Seigel, Brad Gilbert, Pops, ChrisF, waiwai933 Mar 30 '11 at 4:43

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8 Answers

up vote 41 down vote accepted

I'm not a code golf fan, so I have code-golf in my list of ignored tags. That's even easier than voting to close and then getting into a flame war. Perhaps the "haters" are not aware of this feature? In any case - keep posting!

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Agreed. If it's allowed and you don't want to see it, ignore it. Simple solution. –  TheTXI Sep 8 '09 at 20:26
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+1 a nice, balanced response to an often-contentious issue. Cheers! –  Argalatyr Sep 8 '09 at 21:51
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Disagree, simply because I don't think those questions belong on SO - they are just clutter that gets indexed by search engines that probably doesn't mean anything to most people. They belong on a forum, not SO. –  Thomas Owens Oct 26 '09 at 18:41
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I had been waiting to see how things progressed before posting to meta (it might not have been necessary at all), but since the question has been raised I will attempt to defend my position.


To start with, I feel that [code-golf] is not within the strict bounds of what is appropriate on Stack Overflow. Simply put: it is a contest, not a question.

That said, I like code-golf and I participate from time to time. These events are fun, and they provide an chance to build a sense of community. Which is why I have never voted to close them in the past.

But two things that have happened recently that concern me:

  1. They are coming at a higher rate. Once a week is not distracting, but the last week has seen five (counting from Code golf: Reverse quine to Code Golf: Email Address Validation without Regular Expressions), and the week before that saw three. As we've seen with other classes of off-topic-but-tolerated fun (like Best [Joke|Comic|...]) new users will notice these and will form the wrong impression about what is acceptable here, will send us more inappropriate "questions", and then they will come to meta hurt and confused if we close their work: not good for anyone.

  2. Some of the recent ones have been asked by low rep users, and feel a lot like the OP was casting about for something to let them post, seized on code golf, and promptly posted a slight modification of an existing [code-golf]. Worse they failed to make it CW.

Hopefully this is a statistical fluctuation, and it will just pass.

But if these things turn into a nuisance, then they should be treated as such.


BTW, Liran Nuna, I felt that the Morse Code problem was a really fine example of the genre. It had a couple of obvious but long approaches, and at least three(!) subtle, more compact ways to attack it. Fun and enlightening.

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I think it's unfair to equate code-golf with jokes/comics, and challenge the notion that "[code-golf] is not within the strict bounds of what is appropriate" on SO. I'm not a great fan of code-golf questions, but they are questions that call for programming code as answers unlike jokes and comics. –  Argalatyr Sep 8 '09 at 21:56
    
I got even more coming in the tone of morse code and even 'harder' to understand (as in, you will not see the 'replace' approach people were trying). –  LiraNuna Sep 8 '09 at 22:19
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well said: it's a contest, not a question. –  Steven A. Lowe Sep 9 '09 at 4:04
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Code golf does not resolve programming questions. It's just an exercise. –  Jeff Davis Aug 5 '10 at 18:27
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Maybe if you can see that others are "flooding the field" with code-golf questions, you could take a by-week and wait for things to settle a little bit. I don't think the people objecting have any problem with code golf in general, it's just the volume has been too high for their tastes recently.

Waiting until next week to post your next challenge could be a good way to show good faith. You could even mention this question in your next challenge so that everyone can see you're trying to be a team player.

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There is now an entire StackExchange 2.0 site dedicated to Code Golf and programming puzzles (currently in beta phase).

So now Code Golf questions can be posted as frequently as you wish, and you don't have to worry about people close-voting them because they're on topic by definition.

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+1 to raise the visibility of the site; I'm still not sure that code golf doesn't belong on SO at all, though! –  SamB May 24 '11 at 15:41
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I don't much care for "code golf"... but i don't see a lot of them either. Certainly nothing compared to the non-programming-related questions, the authors of which would do well to take Adam's advice (or better yet, find another site...)

So, whatever you're doing, keep doing it.

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Personally I find code golf pointless, but I've added it to my ignored tags so it's not a major irritation. However, if you want to make this a regular thing, why not start your own site for it (either a blog or a StackExchange site)?

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A SE site focusing on programming puzzles and contests could be quite fun! I'd sign up for that. You could put a bounty on each question and make the bounties be the primary source of rep on the site. –  Ether Oct 26 '09 at 18:38
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I'd start my own codegolf site, but codegolf.com is taken ;P Also, it needs crowd, SO is full of brilliant developers. –  LiraNuna Oct 27 '09 at 6:18
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I personally don't have a problem with code golf questions (I don't really care for them either, but whatever) so I don't mind if someone posts them.

There is always a chance that the community will have a backlash against something regardless of whether it is allowed. If you see that some users are unfairly closing down, flag for moderator attention and let them make the call as to whether or not it should be allowed.

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I'm not a fan of code-golf because I think it damages the developer community by encouraging bad coding standards and styles and violations of design principles.

However, I like the questions as clear statements of programming problems (complete with test cases) and so I use them as mini challenges to write readable and maintainable solutions.

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To be honest, I don't think there are very many developers that would seriously use any Code Golf techniques in anything other than a Code Golf contest. Programs written in MUMPS excluded of course. –  rob Nov 24 '09 at 19:01
    
@Rob: Oh, you never know: sometimes you actually hit on a good idiom in the golfing process. –  SamB May 24 '11 at 15:42
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