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We had a discussion a while back in which we determined that a specific category of puzzles called mass-producible puzzles were off-topic if presented as specific questions.

I feel like the recent glut of "security to the party" questions count. People are saying these puzzles are original. Yes, they are different, but they are all challenge-response puzzles, with numbers and input and output, and the only substantial difference in the problem statement is in the explanation of the rule.

What does everyone else think? Can we classify these puzzles as off-topic in one fell swoop because they're MPPs?

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you consider cryptograms offtopic too? $\endgroup$
    – Kenshin
    Nov 16 '14 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ If they are presented as challenges, then yes, they are off-topic, unless they have some major distinguishing factor in the core way they work to differentiate them from regular cryptograms. A difference in key, algorithm, or message would not count toward that. $\endgroup$
    – user88
    Nov 16 '14 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ In fact, cryptograms were specifically addressed in an earlier meta question. $\endgroup$
    – user88
    Nov 16 '14 at 23:06
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I think only low-quality party-security questions are mass producible. Unlike, say, cryptograms or sudokus, which can be generated by a computer program, each individual security question requires an individual clever idea, a thematic and intuitive link between input and output.

Yes, the rush of party questions did produce some mappings that were derivative and arbitrary, but I see that more as an indictment of the copycat frenzy. But the security-question format is not itself to blame -- this could well have been any accessible type of puzzle that got popular. We should judge puzzles on their own merit, not through guilt by association.

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  • $\begingroup$ The same situation happened to code trolling on PCG.SE. We eventually decided to nuke the tag from orbit, even though there were a few questions that did in fact attract answers of arguably high quality. $\endgroup$
    – user88
    Nov 17 '14 at 1:42
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeZ I was around for the code trolling fiasco and think that this situation is not nearly as bad. Code trolling had the fundamental problem of being about "trolling", and it just wouldn't die. If security questions don't return to a reasonable level and instead do continue to send a flood of low-quality imitators, I'd support taking action against them, under the banner of quality rather as than a legalistic attempt to reclassify them as mass-producible. $\endgroup$
    – xnor
    Nov 17 '14 at 1:52
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    $\begingroup$ Well, primarily the reason I decided to propose the mass-producibility flag is because I felt that was one reason they were low-quality. $\endgroup$
    – user88
    Nov 17 '14 at 1:56
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Not sure, but I think if we do we should also close any question with multiple parts as part of the one fell swoop, rather than just single out the security questions alone.

I do think it would be a shame for the the early versions of the security party puzzles which were quite unique, simple and witty, but other users then began to create additional puzzles with random complex mappings that ruined the spirit and the fun of the party puzzles in my opinion, which should have simple, elegant solutions.

My view would be to remove the puzzles where the "key" is very similar to a previous security puzzle, for example a mathematical key. But puzzles where the "key" is unique, simple and elegant, such as counting the digital display on a clock, could be kept.

I believe we should be aiming to improve the quality of individual questions rather than trying to eliminate whole groups of questions in one fell swoop. I therefore think we should go through each question one by one and evaluate the merits of that question and determine if it is high quality or not.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's a good point. I brought attention specifically to the party security puzzles just because they were the most prevalent and egregious case. $\endgroup$
    – user88
    Nov 16 '14 at 23:07
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While I do think that such "security to the party" have a lot of room for creative and thus wanted puzzles. However they do seem to be getting repetitive even if each solution is distinct, since they have near identical back stories and numerical titles which don't help with identification.

As for mass producible puzzles, instead of having multiple posts for each puzzle specifically, we should have one question regarding methods of solving. I also think we should allow questions about specific puzzles if they are in some way distinctive eg. A sudoku where standard techniques fail

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