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On more than one occasion, I have created a puzzle, usually putting lots of time and thought into it, and it doesn't get much attention and/or it isn't very popular (according to up-votes). Sometimes I realize that it's just not that good/interesting of a puzzle, or too difficult, but more often, I think the idea is cool, but the way it is written could be improved and/or the type of clues given and number of clues given needs to be adjusted, or the format needs to change, or something else could be changed to improve it.

Here's my idea: It would be cool if there was a team of trusted users who could opt to be a critiquer for any specific puzzle (completely optional, puzzle by puzzle). I realy feel like I need a second (and maybe third) set of eyes to at least sanity check, and usually more. A very recent example is this puzzle, which I think could be great, but I wonder if it needs more clues, or clues from a different angle or perspective. I'd love to be able to show and explain the puzzle to 1 or 2 or 3 experienced (and willing) puzzlers who have agreed to be able to be asked to be a critiquer, and get their feedback and/or suggestions. All critiquers wouldn't be able to see all puzzles that asked for critiquer help, but only the specific puzzles that they agreed to critique. Of course, the critiquer would not be allowed to answer the puzzle, or comment on the puzzle until there was an accepted answer.

I don't know if this site can provide this functionality or format. Maybe it can. It would help me become a better puzzle creator, and solver as well, I think.


EDIT: Along the same lines, a variation of this could be, the puzzle creator could opt to release his puzzle to a "test audience" of 3 or 4 willing trusted users. If it's a hit there, then consider posting it, else consider requesting it to be critiqued.


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  • $\begingroup$ Nice idea. There's some sort of "sandboxing" thing on both PPCG and Worldbuilding, I think, but I don't know how it works. A good way of doing this might be a private chatroom, but it'd have to be pretty private (probably set up specially by mods) if we don't want people to be able to find it and read the solutions in order to cheat! $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Jul 8 '15 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ If a function like this is to be implemented, I would suggest that it should be set up similar to how reviews are. Where (after agreeing), you will see the question along with the answer/explanation, and be able to comment to the poster about certain faults/issues (probably best if private). You will then be unable to answer/comment on the main post of this question until an answer has been accepted. $\endgroup$ – Mark N Jul 8 '15 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkN Yes, good point, and also like rand said, a way to chat privately with the critiquers would be necessary (or at least best) in order to explain the puzzle. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 8 '15 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee P.S - I also just recently ran into this issue with this question: puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/17357/… $\endgroup$ – Mark N Jul 8 '15 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ This feature would be a real boon to beginners like me. $\endgroup$ – dennisdeems Jul 9 '15 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder if there's any other way to change the culture to encourage improving puzzles (beyond what would be reasonable as an edit). It feels awful "one shot" right now, given that using the same core puzzle is creating a duplicate - yet the feedback of wider exposure is helpful to telling me how I'd rewrite the puzzle given the chance. $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Jul 16 '15 at 23:56
  • $\begingroup$ Just going to point out that another potential issue with this is that the people who would want to be dedicated critiquers might overlap pretty heavily with the people who are going to provide the best answers to the puzzle (though I do still like the idea). $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Jul 20 '15 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ @BaileyM That's true as of now. As the network of puzzle creators and solvers grows, then hopefully there would be so many people that we would get a good mix. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 21 '15 at 1:44
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Here is my honest concern: Is there actually enough interest in puzzle feedback to warrant setting this up?

I get the impression that few posters actually want feedback on their puzzles. Even fewer would want to revise their puzzle before posting it. The typical user just wants to post something and get upvotes.

I'm glad, JLee, that you care about your puzzle enough to look for a critique before posting. And, reader of meta, perhaps you do as well. But, ironically, the puzzles that would benefit most from a review are from those least likely to seek it.

The PPCG Sandbox model works because of the site culture demands a high standard. Inexperienced users are pushed to use the Sandbox to fix flaws that would get their question downvoted or closed. Barring a large cultural shift here, I can't see this review process as anything but a feature for a few dedicated power-users.

For a feature not for the general user, I think there's a better process than having a formal review or setting up new technology. Perhaps just ask in chat for a few people to look over your work in a and make a separate room for people to look (on honor system). I think getting feedback before you post is a fantastic idea, and I'm sure there would be people happy to help.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 All great points, but maybe if we had a critique system like that, we could promote it, and even suggest it as an option for the many people who need it (or just want it). Sure many or most don't want the help, but for the 1, 5, 10, 20% of people who do, it would be awesome. Maybe even to the point to where it starts winning over others who wouldn't have otherwise put much stock in it! $\endgroup$ – JLee Jul 10 '15 at 2:55

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