A while back, I came across the tag, and thought it was kind of cool. Only one question uses it so far (as of the writing of this question), but there's the potential for development, which I saw after a brief conversation in chat.

I'm tempted to ask a couple questions using the tag, but I'd like to know about possible ground rules first. Here are a few questions I have about the tag:

  • Should questions be about hypothetical algorithms - i.e. about how to make an algorithm to do something - or about an actual implemented algorithm that someone else has made?
  • Should questions be more technical or casual - that is, might actual code be used in an answer, or pseudocode?
  • Should questions be about the code behind a computation, or the mathematics behind a computation (i.e. coming up with an equation/algorithm to determine population size)?

I can break these questions up into separate meta questions, but I figured that it might be good to consolidate discussion about the scope of the tag into one place, since it hasn't been discussed much yet, if at all.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Considering that the one question that has this tag thus far is "Ratio between planet-size and terrain elevation?", it seems like "algorithm" here was intended as "what are methods for calculating X given Y?". Hence more like the last part of your bullet points: "the mathematics behind a computation (i.e. coming up with an equation/algorithm to determine population size)". Valid answers to such questions would probably be fairly math-heavy. Note that the OP of that question is active on the site; you might want to drop a comment on that question pointing to this meta question. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Oct 24, 2015 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling Great idea; I did that. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Oct 25, 2015 at 0:17

1 Answer 1


As much as possible, I think that question should avoid implementation(s) for the same reason that we avoid questions about what individual characters will do since answers of this kind are useful only to the OP, not anyone else.

Pseudocode should be used in answers so that the resulting process can be easily translated to which ever language the OP uses. Also, an algorithm's description in pseudocode will allow non-programmers to access the process. Not all algorithms are intended to be turned into computer code.

Actual implementation questions are probably off topic because those are programming questions and WB isn't about programming. That's StackOverflow.

Technical or casual should be just fine as long as the required algorithm isn't too narrow or too broad.

Questions about the math behind an algorithm would be okay. Questions about implementation of the algorithm would be off-topic.


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