This Stack Exchange site is somewhat unique in that (for the most part) the asker of a question already knows the answer to the question.

On other sites, where people are legitimately trying to find an answer, it makes sense for those answering to be able to answer as quickly as possible, but on Puzzling, where the goal (I assume) is to provide users with the opportunity to try to solve a tricky puzzle, quick answers can sometimes detract from this goal.

I realize that spoiler blocks are intended to help with this problem, but they aren't always effective, and sometimes just the presence of an answer can be enough to discourage others from trying to solve the puzzle.

My proposal (if it is technically feasible) would be to allow the asker of a question to optionally set a time limit for the revealing of answers. Users would be able to answer as usual, but none of the answers would show up on the site (except to the answer's author and optionally the question's author) until the time limit had expired.

I think this would help encourage more people to submit answers (and quality answers), since they don't yet know if the puzzle has been solved.

This does seem like a deviation from the standard Stack Exchange policy, but, as I mentioned above, Puzzling is somewhat unique among SE sites, so it might need different policy.

I anticipate that many people might not like this proposal. If not, please state clearly what the problems with it are. If you do like it, please indicate what you like about it.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 What an excellent idea and many great and valid points! But, it would make going through the answers much more difficult, since there may be 10 or 20 or 30 or more identical or nearly identical answers, and that doesn't even consider all the myriads of partly correct and just plain wrong answers. That would be hard for the OP and everyone else. But still, I think I'd like to try it, since the points you brought up are so true. Maybe it would work if the time delay options included ONLY: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or 30 minutes. $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Jul 9, 2015 at 19:00
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    $\begingroup$ -1 I don't understand the point. "quick answers can sometimes detract from this goal" - WHY? If it's an easy puzzle that's quickly solved, people will just wait until the delay time is up and then there'll be a FGitW race, rather than immediately. If it's a hard puzzle, nobody's going to solve it right away anyway, and a partial answer from one user (the only thing that might be posted quickly) often helps another to come up with the full answer. $\endgroup$ Jul 9, 2015 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor: The idea was that people could still post immediately, but their answers only show up after the allotted time. I think, as you mentioned, there is often a race to be the first to answer, and this would encourage more people to answer because they wouldn't know if they were first, so they'd still answer with the hopes of being first, rather than giving up because someone had already posted a (sometimes substandard) answer. $\endgroup$ Jul 10, 2015 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ I like this idea because it seems to me that once a question has an answer it doesn't get viewed as much. $\endgroup$ Jul 14, 2015 at 16:32

1 Answer 1


Nice Idea but I can think of two situations where it would cause problems.

An easy looking question with a counter intuitive answer is posted. Lots of people will post the wrong answer, not knowing is wrong because they never had the chance to read the worst rated answers and know they are wrong. Their will be lots of wrong answers.

A question with a flaw in the way it has been stated, creating a loophole, is posted and the questioner doesn't realise. When the answers are revealed the answers using the loophole will get up votes because they look like they found the clever loop hole thinking it was intended. If the questioner wants to fix their question they must now annoy even more people than normal who had put in extra effort knowing they need to write the best answer not just the first answer.

Not saying there aren't pros to the idea but I think the cons would cause too many problems.

  • $\begingroup$ I see your point, but I think those issues are more with question quality than with this proposed process. We already have exactly what you describe happening with poorly constructed questions; I don't think this process would really make that much difference. If you end up with several very wrong answers, they can be downvoted and/or deleted. This would probably actually help the good answers float to the top, because those voting can consider all answers and vote on those they consider the best, rather than voting for the current best until it is superseded by something better. $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2015 at 4:32

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