Are knowledge/trivia puzzles on-topic? I'm talking about puzzles that are solved basically by knowing or looking up facts. I'm not talking about puzzles where this is just one element, or where the answer can be confirmed as fact but must be deduced or intuited first.


Start with an unlucky Friday
Denmark, Norway and Switzerland
Words that end with “-gry” aside from “angry” and “hungry”
Canada and USA geography puzzle

(Related post)

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The first one has a lot of potential as a puzzle type, to my mind. It's along the same lines as a crossword. In that particular instance, the clues are too straightforward to be interesting to me, but it looks like it would be good fun if they were a bit more circumloquacious and cryptic. "Number of gables on Hawthorne's house", e.g., is a good start but still pretty easy. $\endgroup$
    – jscs
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 21:26

2 Answers 2


For me, the borderline between a puzzle and a (trivia) question/quiz is whether or not somebody has either

  • to combine facts (in a non-obvious way) to arrive at the solution

or to

  • have make some sort of 'progress' through the whole thing. (i.e. knowing fact 1 allows you to understand and deduce to fact 2 etc.)

The second is a bit more "cross-word" style like - which, after all, is also just putting "facts" together. Still one solves it - one does not only know it.

Personally, to answer your actual question, I think trivia questions should not be on topic, but it is not always clear cut case to which category a posting belongs.

I agree with the comment of Josh Caswell that your first example, for me, is a puzzle. The others aren't really.

In general, I would start by rigorously down voting trivia-questions. Only if this is not enough to deter massive amounts of such questions should we go to the next level and vote-to-close.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, yes. Trivia is something you have; a puzzle is something you do. An analogous dichotomy would be scavenger hunts (go collect/visit this list of things/places) and treasure hunts (figure out what to collect/where to go). $\endgroup$
    – jscs
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ @JoshCaswell, I think a mathematician might argue that 'logic' is the thing you do in solving a puzzle (or at least, one of the things you do). If we're too strict in assigning formal-logic-and-set-theory-and-number-theory-type-things to maths (or computer science) and disowning knowledge-type-things as too trivial, then it seems to me we're in danger of putting ourselves in a little small corner where there isn't any 'puzzling' left to do! :) $\endgroup$
    – A E
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 17:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree with your criteria that fact-getting steps are fine if the result is combined into a whole, though I myself would have set a higher bar that the combining or progress takes ingenuity and cannot be step-by-step instruction-following. $\endgroup$
    – xnor
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ @xnor I left it that "easy" to not exclude word-searches or cross-words, which are puzzles for sure. A puzzle is not always about logic - the very "puzzle" isn't. It's a search, try & error process of putting pieces together... $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 20:25

Let's allow them.


  • It saves us from having to debate/decide on the fuzzy line between facts, trivia, quizzes and puzzles.

  • If we tag them (suggested tags: 'quiz'? 'trivia'?) then anyone who doesn't like them can easily set an ignore tag and not have to see them.

  • There isn't an obviously-better place for them elsewhere on the SE network.

I've devised an example of the sliding scale / grey area between facts and puzzles.

We all agree that 'world capitals' is a knowledge/trivia kind of thing, right?

Below is a clueless crossword made out of world capital cities. Your challenge is to complete it by filling in the name of a current world capital city in each space.

World capital cities - clueless crossword

Puzzle, or trivia?

I think it's a subjective judgement which could go either way. I don't see one single set of obviously-right criteria for determining it.

And so by simply allowing 'knowledge'/'trivia'-type puzzles - but making sure they're clearly tagged so that anyone who doesn't like them can completely avoid seeing them - we can avoid wasting time debating the subjective-and-doesn't-really-matter-anyway question of where the dividing line between puzzles and knowledge is to be found.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ That's clearly a puzzle, because it requires more than memorization and recall (or the external-to-brain version of that: looking it up in a book). The trivia version would be something like "list the top twenty world capitals by length of their name". Your third bullet point is no argument: there's no obviously-better place for think-outside-the-box puzzles, jokes, or posts about constructing tinfoil hats, but that doesn't mean they fit on Puzzling. $\endgroup$
    – jscs
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 18:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think your example of a crossword with words chosen from a list is definitely a puzzle, though I myself wouldn't enjoy looking through a long list. Even if you just gave all the words used, it would be a puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – xnor
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 20:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm the first upvoter of this answer :-) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 13:18

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