Code golf has been played on SO for most of the site's life, and the consensus has been strongly in favor of allowing it, but there is also a widely held feeling that such contests should be community wiki.

Now the team has made it impossible (well, hard) to make a question CW.

So, policy and practice are now out of sync. What should be done

  • Allow [code-golf] without CW
  • Disallow [code-golf]
  • Mercilessly bully the team until they give us the CW check-box back
  • Push for a Code Golf stackexchange site
  • other?
  • Where is the official documentation for this change?
    – user102937
    Oct 15, 2010 at 0:24
  • @Robert: the "has made it impossible" link is the best I've got so far. But you can also note waffles response, below, where he accepts that assertion as true and denies any chance of reversing it (not that I was ever serious about that). Oct 15, 2010 at 0:25
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    CW was a flawed concept anyway; it had widespread disagreement over its true purpose, and was stretched well beyond its original meaning by the community. If it is truly gone, I say good riddance.
    – user102937
    Oct 15, 2010 at 0:31
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    @Robert: As I understand it the concept remains, but now it can only be applied manually to answers. However, the various automatic triggers will apply as they have in the past. Oct 15, 2010 at 0:32
  • Here it is: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/67581/…
    – user102937
    Oct 15, 2010 at 0:33
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    A relevant question at Meta Programmers SE: Where do Code Golf/Code Challenge questions belong?
    – Pops
    Oct 15, 2010 at 2:06
  • I don't know about strongly in favor.
    – Gnome
    Oct 20, 2010 at 20:14
  • @Roger: Yeah. Maybe not really strongly, but persistent. And being on the losing side I fell obliged to give the winners credit. Oct 20, 2010 at 21:08
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    Phrasing it as winning and losing doesn't help (but I know what you mean); it's about Q&A vs random semi-related things. SO doesn't have to be your only programming-related resource. Similar to things I recall you saying about "we've tolerated certain things as CW even though that's not the purpose of CW".
    – Gnome
    Oct 20, 2010 at 21:13

6 Answers 6


First ... let's have a look at the scale of the problem

We are talking 175 questions out of one million. That is not even statistically significant.

A quick way to keep status-quo would be to flag them for moderator attention on creation, moderators can wiki them.

Bullying the team to "bring it back" is not going to work, why would you want to re-introduce a feature that was causing lots of grief for 150 questions?

  • 6
    But, waffles, we've had so much success bullying the team to reverse other changes... Oct 15, 2010 at 0:20
  • 2
    I for one think that was a bad idea. Why not have the CW checkbox available to people who wouldn't screw it up ? (eg: 5k, 10k, or more if needed?) Oct 15, 2010 at 1:03
  • @Null: At least, if they did they would know it was their own damn fault... Oct 15, 2010 at 2:46
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    @Null, Jeff was not totally against having the option for high rep users to have this, however I would like to give the current change 1-2 months ... which only adds up to 8 or so questions we have to cope with. If the new system fails us, we can look at altering it.
    – waffles
    Oct 15, 2010 at 3:41
  • 1-2 months is a lot of time for people to pad rep; I suggest you monitor the numbers very carefully for any obvious signs of gaming.
    – Aarobot
    Oct 15, 2010 at 18:25
  • Async Google Analytics has gone 2 days without being made CW, and votes have been case totaling 100 rep for various people... Oct 20, 2010 at 20:27
  • @dmckee, I CWd it, just pop a comment here ... or flag for mod attention next time
    – waffles
    Oct 20, 2010 at 22:57
  • @waffles: I though I did flag it. Oct 20, 2010 at 23:05

I'm long since on the record that [code-golf]--while good fun--is not strictly a Stack Overflow topic, so my personal preference is for taking [code-golf] off of Stack Overflow and pushing for the programming puzzles site.

  • -1 because this answer has nothing to do with "in light of the new CW policy."
    – Jon Seigel
    Oct 15, 2010 at 2:10
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    Jon: The status quo isn't possible--yeah I saw waffles' suggestion to flag, but like shog9 I don't think it is stable--and the option of setting up a stackexchange stie is new, so this represents a change from my old position which was "You're out of luck." (and was, alas, firmly overruled). Oct 15, 2010 at 2:48
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    I'm rather tired of the code golf issue, but I'll reiterate that it seems another system than SE would do it much more justice.
    – Gnome
    Oct 20, 2010 at 20:16

My initial impulse is to suggest a two-pronged strategy: vote to close as NaRQ (because it's true) and flag for moderator attention suggesting a forced-wikification (because it's practical).

But I do tend to be the starry-eyed optimist when it comes to this stuff. So there's probably a really good reason why this won't work... If nothing else, I'll probably be ignored simply for spamming the mod-queue.


Apparently, someone added this line to the Programmers.SE FAQ:

Programmers - Stack Exchange is for expert programmers who are interested in subjective discussions on software development.

This can include topics such as:

  • Software engineering
  • Developer testing
  • Developer tools and techniques
  • Practical algorithms and data structures
  • Design patterns
  • Architecture
  • Development methodologies
  • Quality assurance
  • Software law
  • Code golf & programming puzzles
  • Freelancing and business concerns

So the sanctioned solution is apparently to close them as off-topic and ask them on Programmers.SE, a site that has enough of a problem with useless, helpful-to-nobody questions.

  • OK...that interesting. Programmers is not where I'd have guess [code-golf] belongs. Oct 15, 2010 at 17:00
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    According to the revision history, it was Jeff who added that section.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Oct 15, 2010 at 17:07
  • @Grace Huh, that was before the community wiki change, but they could still be related (the migration path for code golf had to be set up before removing CW). Obviously, it was a silent change, as people only discovered it 8 days after the fact.
    – user149432
    Oct 15, 2010 at 17:11
  • Does a migration path actually exist? I was under the impression beta sites did not get migration paths in or out.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Oct 15, 2010 at 17:15
  • @Grace in principle. That is, the answer to the question "Where do code golf questions belong now that there is no community wiki?" needed an answer, and it's been decided that it's the same answer as "Where do questions about subjective issues in programming belong?"
    – user149432
    Oct 15, 2010 at 17:25
  • That's mixing up time-tables and conspiracy theory. As mentioned, the FAQ update was done prior to the CW upgrade. In fact, it was before the question was even brought up for anyone to even propose disabling CW for questions. And Jeff's answer seems to indicate he wasn't exactly pushing for no-CW-on-questions at the time, either. It's more likely the decision to push Code Golf to Programmers was, in fact, done prior to the CW change.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Oct 15, 2010 at 17:34
  • @Grace, how'd you get to that revision history?
    – Pops
    Oct 15, 2010 at 17:43
  • @Grace one would assume that, before making a change that affects the entire system, SOIS would consider the implications of making that change before making it. Code Golf is a pretty prominent example of what's allowed on SO because of CW. In fact, all of the question topics added tended to have been tolerated on SO provided they were CW. I don't think it's a conspiracy theory (or necessarily a bad thing, which is what that implies) that Jeff anticipated the issues with killing CW. It just needed to be announced, not silently added to the FAQ.
    – user149432
    Oct 15, 2010 at 17:45
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    If Jeff was anticipating issues with the new CW upgrade, then why would he make the change to the FAQ before even announcing any form of consideration for removing CW from questions? That sounds a bit backwards, doesn't it? A more reasonable conclusion is that they drew it from the list of things they considered since mid-September as being on Programmers. In fact, everything in that new FAQ seems to be drawn from that list, pending the generalization of things like Scrum -> Methodologies.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Oct 15, 2010 at 18:01
  • @Popular I just stole the link from my earlier question.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Oct 15, 2010 at 18:46
  • 1
    @Grace, okay, then how did you find it when you were writing the earlier question?
    – Pops
    Oct 15, 2010 at 19:17

On Code Golf questions, just flag the question for moderator attention, and ask that the question be made Community Wiki.

Or, hack the question into CW. If you're posting a Code Golf question, you're probably capable of doing that. :)

  • I fixed that hack in dev :) so its not really going to work for long
    – waffles
    Oct 15, 2010 at 3:42

Allow [code-golf] without CW.

If someone did the work to come up with a programming answer, then they deserve the rep.

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    You won't be surprised to learn that I really loath this option. These are games and no one is being helped except by purest chance, and the voting seems to be according to various popularity metrics. Oct 15, 2010 at 0:23
  • @dmckee, well I guess I don't know how the voting is being done right now. I figured it'd be based on good code, which is always educational to study. Oct 15, 2010 at 0:33
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    I wouldn't exactly call code posted at Code Golf good code. Clever? Yes. Brief? Undoubtedly. But good?
    – user102937
    Oct 15, 2010 at 0:45
  • @Robert, I guess it might not be completely 'good' since it will be brief and clever, and not worry about the niceties. But I imagine there's some tricks to learn. Oct 15, 2010 at 0:50

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