The past few days we've seen a huge influx of puzzling.SE questions, but strangely enough, most of them I recognize from a long time ago, but often times these "puzzles" are reworded awkwardly to make them sound unique.

I'm not sure if it's just me, but I feel as if this site is slowly becoming a compilation of puzzles from other sites. I think it is rare that we get unique puzzles that people have created themselves, and instead we are getting content that is accessible elsewhere that is now slowly getting into this site.

I may be wording this wrong, but I feel as if the quality of content on this site is becoming rather lacking. We are not seeing unique questions, but questions that have been rehashed from other sites.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually, a surprising amount of our content is original. (Though we do get external dumps, too.) $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Nov 8, 2014 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ I feel this way. But I think that this a good thing in a way - because then SE can be a one-stop place for these things - SE is often the top google hit - why not for puzzles? $\endgroup$
    – d'alar'cop
    Nov 8, 2014 at 6:34
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    $\begingroup$ The goal of SE is to answer questions, not to become a repository of reposts from other sites. Because that is existing information that has been answered sufficiently enough elsewhere; why do we need to really rehost these puzzles? $\endgroup$
    – yuritsuki
    Nov 8, 2014 at 7:09
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    $\begingroup$ OK, but it's nice to have a central repository - and other sites' existence is probably far more transient than SE - so what is answered elsewhere may not be tomorrow $\endgroup$
    – d'alar'cop
    Nov 10, 2014 at 9:47
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    $\begingroup$ This is not a new problem. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2014 at 11:08

2 Answers 2


Quality is separate issue from originality. If anything, puzzles taken from elsewhere tend to be higher-quality, since they have been test-solved by many and regarded well enough to spread.

Whereas, original puzzles are liable to have holes or ambiguities or require reading the poster's mind. It's hard to make a good original puzzle. There's plenty of puzzles here that seem to be self-created, but many just aren't that good.

I can understand being bothered by most of the puzzles being ones you've seen before, or that the community has generally seen before. I'd favor a tag for self-created puzzles if that helps.

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    $\begingroup$ +10 to this answer if I could. There are literally millions of brainteasers, riddles, math problems, etc. out there. Even when I do my best to come up with an original puzzle, 9 times out of 10 somebody else has come up with it first. It's just the nature of the brainteaser beast. Getting a puzzle right in that "sweet spot" of being interesting, novel, not too hard, not too easy, and easy to explain is incredibly challenging. Allowing existing puzzles to come in is an absolute must. $\endgroup$
    – COTO
    Nov 12, 2014 at 4:20

Other than dwindling question quality, I'm not sure this is a problem.

There are countless Stack Overflow questions where someone asks an easy to answer question, and people respond with "Do the research yourself" or "the first Google result tells you". One way or another, the question and its answer become very popular and the question becomes the first Google search result. Thus, a question that is "low quality" by SE standards becomes the place to get the answer to that question. This question is one such example; it's really easy to find in many different places, but now the SO answer is easily the best one available.

Now, maybe programming issues lend themselves well to the question/answer format SE is going for, but maybe we can see the same phenomenon here. If we post "the same old puzzle" here, it might get oddly insightful answers from odd and insightful people. We might get people who link to similar questions and answers, or three answers that tackle the same puzzle three different ways, or to three levels of rigor and detail. All of that goes beyond "here's a riddle and there's the answer". Daydreaming aside, I think there's value in having it all in one place; it would be nice to think of a puzzle and think, "hey, I'll see if there's anything on Puzzling like this".

So if you see a repeat of a question on Puzzling, absolutely flag it as a duplicate. Draw the asker's attention to the original, so it can get more upvotes and become the place to look for such a puzzle. If you see a question that's just too simple or otherwise not high quality, "downvote it into oblivion" or flag it appropriately. But as far as I'm concerned, asking a question another site has asked (answered) before is a chance to ask (answer) it better.

  • $\begingroup$ The difference being, in SO, bad questions with no research effort, get downvoted or closed within minutes. Questions on this site? People copy from other sites, and barely anyone bats an eye $\endgroup$
    – yuritsuki
    Nov 11, 2014 at 3:07
  • $\begingroup$ This is an example of a question showing no research effort that didn't get downvoted or closed within years, and yet now it's incredibly useful in showing many methods and their pros and cons. If we post a riddle common enough to be easily searchable, we might get several different approaches as well. $\endgroup$ Nov 11, 2014 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ “Other than dwindling question quality” — and isn't the question quality a problem? $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2014 at 11:07
  • $\begingroup$ @EnvisionAndDevelop Asked in '09 $\endgroup$
    – yuritsuki
    Nov 12, 2014 at 11:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles certainly. Make a meta post about that, if you'd like! This was about hosting content found elsewhere. Quality is an independent issue. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2014 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ @thinlyveiledquestionmark yes, what's the problem with that? $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2014 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ Given that SO had much fewer rules and have constantly added them throughout the years, that question doesn't exemplify the current state of questions on SO today. So that's clearly a bad example on your part. We have far more rules and regulations today on all sites than we did in 09 $\endgroup$
    – yuritsuki
    Nov 12, 2014 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @thinlyveiledquestionmark Puzzling is also currently new. I'm not seeing the problem in comparing one new site to another. Besides, I'm not talking about whether or not questions follow the rules. I'm talking about questions with answers found elsewhere, and that question is an excellent example. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2014 at 18:21

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