The Programmers.SE FAQ no longer has a mention of Code Golf, as Code Golf is now back to being the domain of Stack Overflow while the Code Golf Area 51 proposal gets off the ground.

Reference: Jeff Atwood on Have Code Golf questions been implicitly disallowed on StackOverflow, now that migration to PSE is possible?

Now that Community Wiki is dead (long live Community Wiki!), I understand that there is some concern that code golf questions would be nothing more than rep farms on Stack Overflow.

The basis for that sentiment is that they really don't help anyone, so why should anyone get rep for the question or answers? Since the main way to kill rep, Community Wiki, is dead, code golf questions are now A Bad Thing for Stack Overflow.

I get that reasoning. But now, the Programmers.SE FAQ has the following:

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

Programmers.SE has had a serious problem since its inception because people have considered it to be a dumping ground for questions not good enough to be on the "real" sites. This doesn't help, at all.

Consider also two of the Good Subjective, Bad Subjective question guidelines (for which Programmers.SE has an explicit close reason):

Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers. The best subjective questions inspire your peers to share their actual experiences, not just post a mindless one-liner or cartoon in hopes of being rewarded with upvotes for being merely “first.” Sharing an experience takes at least one paragraph; ideally several paragraphs. If I’m asking about how to bake cookies, don’t give me a list of grocery items: milk. butter. vanilla. eggs. There is virtually nothing I can learn from a short, static list of grocery items that make up a recipe. Instead, tell me what happened the last time you made cookies from that recipe! Share your detailed experiences, so that we all might learn from them.

Great subjective questions are more than just mindless social fun. The best subjective questions avoid the social pitfalls of “Getting To Know You” (GTKY) and mindless entertainment. Sometimes people just want to poll a community for ideas that might help solve a problem (best book, best approach). These can be okay when there is actual knowledge in the collection of answers. What isn’t okay are the social bonding questions which are designed just to impress others, such as “What is the coolest/stupidest/weirdest/funniest thing you saw/did/tasted today?”, or questions where the site’s actual topic is tacked on as a token afterthought, such as “Favorite food for programmers.” If you removed the “for programmers” part of this question, is it really unique to our profession? Could an average member of our community reasonably be expected to learn something that makes them better at their job from this question? If not, then it’s a bad subjective question.

What is the rationale behind this decision?

  • 6
    If code golf were moved to P.SE, I think that would be my only reason for going there. ;) Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 17:14
  • @gno: You are a code golfer? Since when?
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 18:28
  • 1
    @Aarobot: Since day 15. ;) Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 18:49
  • 3
    @gno: Well, I just heard a loud pop that sounded like it came from inside my head. Excuse me whiles I investigizzlefloopleburhurdurrrzzzz4
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 18:56
  • Related question on Prog.SE/Meta: meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/38/… Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 17:59
  • 4
    FYI: Code Golf has just entered commitment phase.
    – kennytm
    Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 18:08

3 Answers 3


Having Code Golf questions on Prog.SE confuses what the site is about (people and techniques, not code).

Whether or not codegolf questions belong on StackOverflow is a debate for people that want to discuss that, but the outcome of that is irrelevant to Prog.SE, which is not designed to be nor desired as a dumping ground for SO rejects.

If actual code is involved, it very likely doesn't belong on Prog.SE.


I'm not really sure that it makes sense to try to apply the subjective question guidelines here, since Code Golf questions are... not subjective. They may attract many answers, but there is always going to be one single best answer: the one with the shortest code that still produces the correct results.

Honestly, based on the kinds of questions I seem to be seeing getting the most attention on Programmers.SE, Code Golf questions would be a net positive.

  • 2
    There is some subjectivity that arises during code-golfing in the form of how people vote. People will often vote more for what is unique or funny (i.e. Brainf*ck solutions) or for what they are familiar with, so popular languages often garner more votes regardless of code length. Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 18:39
  • @gnos: there is always some subjectivity when people vote, and I don't see why that would make the question more appropriate to programmers Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 18:41
  • 2
    @Kop: While you are correct about all voting containing some amount of subjectivity, I think that this subjectivity is amplified substantially for questions that pit language vs. language. Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 18:45
  • 4
    @gno: There is always subjectivity on how people vote. Even on perfectly vanilla questions, some people just vote for the highest number (rep or score). What makes a question objective vs. subjective is the ability to choose a correct or best answer based on objective criteria. Code Golf meets that. It just (perhaps) doesn't belong on Stack Overflow because those questions are contrived, not real problems that need solving.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 18:51

Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers.

Wordiness is not a substitute for quality. I can (and have...) stretch a one-liner into a page-long, verbose, patronizing, analogy-clogged, repetitious screed... That doesn't make it a better answer.

The goal for Code Golf answers is to be as short as possible, and no shorter. This is not a bad goal for any answer. If the question itself is so trivial as to inspire trivially short answers, then so be it - but this is hardly a requirement for Code Golf!

Great subjective questions are more than just mindless social fun.

Social and fun likely do apply here, but "mindless"? I hardly think so.

I'm not a big fan of Code Golf questions. While on occasion I do like solving puzzles SO provides plenty of real-world puzzles to solve - and adding "game"-type questions seems like a distraction from this goal. That said, I don't have a problem with them staying on SO, provided they're rare and follow strict guidelines. As great as some challenges can be, there's always the temptation for knock-offs to ride their coattails without putting the time and effort into producing something good - we had a bit of a compromise (use CW or be closed) to reduce the temptation, but since that's fallen through P.SE seems like a decent choice: the "close based on question quality" strategy seems to be the intended path forward for that site anyway, so at least there's a clear rationale for getting rid of the lazy / poorly thought-out ones.

  • > This is not a bad goal for any answer. - Maybe you should lead by example, would you? Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 19:46
  • @Lady: Kinda late to start, eh?
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 19:49
  • @Shog: It's never too late to get rid of a bad habit. Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 20:03
  • @Lady: at this point though, there's too much history to provide a good example - I'd have an easier time just pretending it's intentional and calling it a "style".
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 20:07
  • @Shog: You can call it what you want, but it has nothing to do with "style". Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 20:21
  • 4
    @Lady: If laziness isn't a style, I don't want to be stylish.
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 20:24
  • @Shog: Sure. Laziness is the well of creativity. Just go on and do - nothing. That's what I call "being en vogue". Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 20:34

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