If we have the metric of "score per character" for SE answers, which would be the highest? i.e: what is the most elegant-in-conciseness answer?

  • 1
    You know we have SEDE, right? data.stackexchange.com see also data-explorer
    – rene
    Commented Jun 7 at 4:40
  • 5
    @rene It's not obvious how to coax SEDE to tell you the answer. SQL Server doesn't seem to like doing that much division.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jun 7 at 4:44
  • Welcome to Meta SE. FYI, one relatively short (as displayed) answer is here, with a current score of 236. However, I don't think it would be the highest "score per character", especially since the actual full text, as you can see in the edit of it, includes a longer hidden comment. Finally, rather ironically, the OP of the comment above, which appeared while I was writing this comment, is also the author of that answer. Commented Jun 7 at 4:47
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    @JohnOmielan That definitely doesn't count: I was riffing this, shorter (and higher-score) answer.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jun 7 at 4:49
  • @wizzwizz4 Thanks for the feedback. That other answer you linked to, although being shorter & higher score, also has some hidden text in it, I believe likely due to the minimum answer text length requirement. As such, one issue for the OP is whether to consider just characters which are visible, or all of the characters of the actual answer text, when determining what "score per character" answer to be the highest. Commented Jun 7 at 4:53
  • Same as "bigger does not mean better", it's also "shorter answer isn't always better" and it does not always imply being more elegant than others. Commented Jun 7 at 4:57
  • Try this query data.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/query/1846813 and see if that fits your needs (/cc @wizzwizz4)
    – rene
    Commented Jun 7 at 5:05
  • @rene Want to write an answer, for completeness?
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jun 7 at 5:07
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    Math.SE has a highly popular answer that is just the letter "W", but how many characters the database thinks it is, I don't know.
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Jun 7 at 13:30
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    @JonathanZ <p>$$\ \ \ \ \mathsf{W}\ \ \ \ $$</p>, score 1008, ratio ≈27. But "how many characters the database thinks it is" isn't in the question. I'd suggest the ratio should be considered 1008 (making it the winner). You should post that as an answer.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jun 7 at 15:30

3 Answers 3


I can't get Stack Exchange Data Explorer to tell me the answer, but we can take as a lower-bound Joel Spolsky's answer to Will Stack Overflow boycott GoDaddy because of their support for SOPA?. Score 913 at time of writing, and reproduced in full below:


This is, I believe, 53 characters (thanks to how Stack Exchange encodes new-lines) for a ratio of just over 17.226. (Note that SEDE stores the rendered HTML, which is 17 characters in this instance. See rene's answer for a complete answer according to that metric.)

On Stack Overflow, the answer with the highest ratio of votes to characters is Ben Hoffstein's answer to What is the maximum value for an int32?, found using this query. It reads:

It's 2,147,483,647. Easiest way to memorize it is via a tattoo.

With a score of 5055, this has a ratio of around 70. (I'm calculating 80, but I clearly don't understand how the database counts characters.) I doubt any site other than Stack Overflow has enough voters to beat this.

If we're including questions as well, my first crude attempt at a query says that Stack Overflow question 927358, How do I undo the most recent local commits in Git? has a ratio of 110. With a score of 26427 and a character count of 212, I make the ratio a little over 124.65566.

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    Re: database counting, it's because the body is stored in rendered HTML, not raw markdown. Commented Jun 7 at 6:30

You can use a network wide query to list answers (Posts.PostType = 2) across main sites where you calculate score over length of the post body. The Posts.Body field holds the rendered HTML of the post. If you're only interested in the markdown size of the post you would need to look at the PostHistory.Text column but that can't be done network wide because that table has a lot of rows in each database.
Network wide queries take a while to run so I limited the answers of score a greater than 10.

This is the query:

create table #results(site nvarchar(50), link nvarchar(150), score decimal(18,4), chars integer)

exec sede_ineachdb 
insert into #results
select top 10
       [$Site Name$] site
     , concat([$Site Url$], ''/q/'',p.id,''|'', p.id) [Link]
     , score / convert(decimal, len(body) + 1)  [score]
     , len(body)
from posts p 
where posttypeid = 2 -- Answers
and score > 10
order by 3 desc
, 1  -- main sites
, 0  -- no meta
, 1  -- include Uber Meta
, 0  -- no output

select *
from #results
order by 3 desc

When run today the top 3 is:

Keep in mind SEDE is updated once a week on Sunday.
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Thanks to the user @wizzwizz4 's superior searching skills, I offer this answer on mathematics.se as a good candidate:

1008 pts / 1 (visible) character = 1008 pts/char,

Although there was some chicanery used to get such a short answer accepted, (exploiting math.se's LaTeX support), so the pre-processing text is

$$\ \ \ \ \mathsf{W}\ \ \ \ $$

which yields

1008 pts / 30 bytes = 33.5 pts/byte

which might still win anyways.

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