The community is in the process of deciding which questions of the form "Here's a puzzle" should be on-topic, particularly when the poster knows the answer (see, e.g., here and here). I'm not taking a position on this issue right now. I want to suggest an idea regarding posting puzzles as questions, to see what other folks think.
One of the great things about Stack Exchange is that it provides a permanent record of questions and answers, which can continue to be useful to people long after the question has been answered. If we want to allow puzzles as questions, then someone should be able to visit this site and browse puzzles (with solutions).
Right now, there are some issues with this.
- Some puzzles don't have accepted answers. Someone should not need to read the comments to determine the correct answer to a puzzle.
- Some accepted answers are not written like an answer. What I mean is, some answers have wording "I think the answer is probably blah, because blah". Even if the answer and reasoning are correct, it sounds like a guess, not an answer. There are sometimes superfluous arguments in support of these answers, because they're written like defenses.
- Accepted answers sometimes have minor differences/omissions from the answer the poster had in mind. The person who posted this question sometimes leaves a comment to this effect. Again, I don't think someone should need to read the comments to get the full solution.
It occurs to me that in many cases, the person in the best position to write a high-quality solution to a puzzle is the person who posted the puzzle.
Proposal: A policy that when someone posts a puzzle as a question, they should also post (and accept?) a solution, if they know one.
This would improve the quality of answers.
In the status-quo, people asking questions deliberately conceal information. In my opinion this is against the spirit of the Stack Exchange network.
This would make voting easier. The quality of a puzzle depends heavily on what the answer is.
I'm sort of guessing here. If somebody else wants to rewrite or add to the list of cons, please feel free.
- This might make solving puzzles here less fun for people. I imagine part of the excitement is racing with other users to see who gets the answer first, and getting recognition and reputation for having the best answer.