Why Wait Three Days Before Posting Solutions?

Peter B. Ensch says:

> On the SPOILER issue - surely as long as messages are tagged
> as such people can choose whether they read the suggested
> solutions or not regardless of when they appear. 

My idea was that solutions should be off-limits for three days so that the 'discuss' list would be a place where everyone could discuss possible ambiguities in the problem statement and such.

But also, and perhaps more important, I didn't want to quiz to be about who could produce an answer the most quickly. There's already a Perl Golf forum, and while I agree that golf is fun, interesting, and educational, I think it has a very big problem: it encourages people to spend a lot of effort in coming up with the shortest possible solution. No matter how crappy the solution is, if it's short, it wins.

As programmers, we're not supposed to be trying to find the shortest solution. We're trying to find the best solution. Golf educates people to think the wrong way and to have the wrong habits.

Similarly, I don't want to QOTW to be about who can immediately come up with the solution that requires the least thought. I want people to ponder and reflect. I want them to think of a couple of different approaches and weigh them. I want them to have until Saturday to do that.

Larry Wall has said more than once that the biggest problem with the way most people design programming languages is that the language designer has a problem that he needs to solve; then he thinks of a solution; then he implements it. But the right approach is to think of three or four solutions and then implement the best one. I think that programmers in general have the same trouble. They go ahead and implement things in the first way that comes to mind, and more often than not it's the wrong approach. I want people to think a little sooner and code a little later.

Of course there's no way I can force people to do this, and I wouldn't force them to even if I were able. But I can encourage it, and one way I want to encourage that it by giving people three days to think about the QOTW questions on their own before they start looking at other peoples' solutions.

I hope that clears things up.

> I can imagine situations where I am totally stumped on a problem and
> need a hint.

I can also imagine situations where you might be totally stumped. But I think you might be giving up too soon. Perhaps you should try sleeping on it for a couple of nights, thinking about it in the morning when you're fresh and rested, leafing through the book to see if anything presents itself, or something like that, before you decide you're totally stumped and need a hint. You might be smarter than you think.

If you can't think of anything for three days, I'll agree you probably need a hint. And hey! Hints will start arriving on Saturday! How about that?

> Just my opinion...

Thanks for that. Now you know my opinion. I hope it makes sense.

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