Recently there was a post with question which is used in an interview process by one company. I had an impression that at least questions from ongoing contests are closed/deleted (see e.g. here). Even though this policy does not seem to be strict, I was expecting it to apply to the aforementioned post as well, heaving in mind that reasoning regarding ongoing contests and interviews should be similar.

As per now, this question is not closed, which could have been due to the fact that MSE community was not aware of its source. However, another user posted as an answer (I guess his low rating did not allow him to comment) that this particular problem is used in an interview. Not only this question was not closed, but this answer - the only indication of the source of this question - was deleted by a moderator, a decision which is at least questionable.

I have come across this issue a couple of days ago, and have immediately flagged this question for a moderator attention. Unfortunately, I have not seen any reaction to that.

My questions are:

  1. How should I expect these issues to be resolved in future, i.e. should we close/delete questions once we have a solid proof they are originally designed math problems used in the interview process?

  2. If moderators are reading this, what happened in this particular case: why the answer by Dylan Castillo was deleted (perhaps only Daniel Fischer can answer that), and why there was no any visible reaction to my request?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I agree that the deleted answer should have been converted to a comment instead. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Oct 19, 2016 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ Note that even ongoing contests need to satisfy some specific criteria to fall under the policy. It seems to me that questions of this sort will practically never satisfy these. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2016 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ @TobiasKildetoft: that's why I'm not asking whether this question can be considered as a one from an ongoing math contest. Instead I think two cases are quite similar, and I wonder what is the policy for the case of original interview questions, which are currently in use. $\endgroup$
    – SBF
    Oct 19, 2016 at 15:26
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What I mean is that there are good reasons for those criteria, so I don't think an extension to interviews is feasible. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2016 at 15:40

2 Answers 2


I am personally not inclined to section off a group of questions as forever "unaskable" because they might happen to be part of some outside process. I'm sure I am not alone in this, and is at least part of the reason why our contest policy explicitly requires that in order to fall under the policy a contest must have a fixed end date, and that the policy only affects questions from "ongoing" contests.

To a certain extent I feel that this issue may be above my pay grade as a moderator here. (Which considering my annual salary of 0,00 doesn't really say much.)

I notice that Optiver's Job Openings Europe: Researcher page (linked to in the now-deleted answer) contains that very question which was posted here verbatim without attribution. There might* be a better claim for copyright infringement. Consider having someone at your company peruse the "Copyright Policy" section of the Terms of Service and go through the required steps. This is an issue that can only be dealt with at the company level.

I know that this will only affect lazily copied questions, but I feel that the users wanting to "cheat" the process are exactly the kind to lazily copy a question.


  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your reply, I also think a copyright argument is sensible in this situation, just hoped that the issue can be resolved on a community level. I also understand your reasoning about time bounds of the contests. $\endgroup$
    – SBF
    Oct 20, 2016 at 7:32

I think that interview questions can fall under the "qualifying examination" part of our contest policy. However, to fall under the contest policy,

the "contest" should be active for a fixed, finite duration of time, with a definite start and end date

and as far as I can determine, that is not the case here, thus the question at hand doesn't seem to fall under our contest policy.

Hence the only decision to be made was whether to simply delete the posted non-answer, or whether to convert it to a comment. Since the question had been open and answered for six weeks already when Mr. Castillo posted, I didn't think that converting it to a comment at that point would do anything worthwhile. The horse had already bolted. I'm not sure about that, though, and if people say it should be converted to a comment, I won't object.

and have immediately flagged this question for a moderator attention. Unfortunately, I have not seen any reaction to that.

I have replied to your first flag asking for the reason for the deletion, you can find the reply in your flag summary. I'm not going to touch your second flag, as that is not purely informational and concerns one of my actions as a moderator. You'll have to wait for one of the other moderators to deal with that.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your reply, I was not notified on the update on the flag summary, so was not aware of your reaction. $\endgroup$
    – SBF
    Oct 20, 2016 at 7:27

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