Well, let's dig deeper and ask, what is the point of code golfing? It's mental exercise, similar to the usual code reviews, but with a slightly twisted goal. I think that golfing can be beneficial for helping to truly understand a language, including all its syntactical details and standard library features.
What is the thought process involved in golfing? I think it goes more or less like this:
- Switch to a simpler algorithm, if possible
- Stop doing obviously stupid stuff, such as repeating code
- Stop doing luxurious stuff like error handling
- Stop doing sensible stuff such as initializing variables in C
- Look for micro-optimizations that save a character or two
- Minify identifiers, reduce parentheses and braces, strip whitespace and eliminate comments
On this site, we routinely do (1) and (2). Of course, code quality diminishes as you proceed past step (2). When you read golfed code, you mentally undo (6) → (5) → (4) → (3) → (2). Shortening beyond (2) feels like it should be off-topic for this site.
Golfing on the Code Golf SE is quite a different ball game!
- Code Golf SE allows responses in any language, including GolfScript.
- Code Golf SE usually poses a question, and asks responders for blank-slate solutions. Golfing on this site, if allowed, would still be a review of some sort. Many of the responses have all explained how to shorten the code relative to the original, in a way that you could learn from each suggestion.
What accounts for the popularity of the code-golf questions https://codereview.stackexchange.com/q/33827/9357 and Python server that only returns error 418? One factor is that they were posed in Java and Python, respectively — two "straitjacket" languages that are designed to thwart obfuscation. In C or Perl, the outcome might have been uglier, both in terms of the code and the audience response. Another consideration is that they were both extremely simple tasks with not too many different possible approaches.
- Code golfing is not an entirely pointless sport
- There may be people who prefer Code Review-style golfing as opposed to Code Golf and Programming Puzzles-style golfing
… do we still want to allow golfing here?
Possible answers, I think, are:
- Yes, we can practice a gentler style of golfing here than on Code Golf SE. Just tag code-golf questions so that users who are disgusted by the idea can ignore them.
- No, allowing golfing risks splitting the community, devaluing the reputation scores of the "good" programmers, and contradicting our site's elevator pitch. The distinction between Code Golf and this site would be too fine for users to understand. (They already have enough difficulty knowing which questions belong on Stack Overflow or Programmers instead.)
Considering all of the above, I'd vote no. In my opinion, although those two questions were kind of fun, they shouldn't set a precedent. I'd be in favour of having them and the code-golf tag deleted from this site to prevent the proliferation of future golfing questions.