I submitted a puzzle of my own making:

If the world were flat, would I always be able to see Mount Everest (the tallest structure) off in the distance?

In my mind, there is only one "correct" solution to the puzzle.

However, as I did not place enough restrictions on the puzzle that I thought were obvious ("You have to look towards Mt. Everest", "You are not blind", "You are outdoors", etc), several other answers were added which were not intended. I'm assuming it is for this reason that the puzzle has been put on hold as "too broad":

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format.

I disagree with the question being flagged as "too broad"; I feel it is a fault of the answers, not a fault of the question.

As it seems to be the pattern on this site, after the "correct answer" has been given, rather than post duplicates of the same answer, what you often get is a steady stream of "lateral thinking" solutions to what is not a lateral thinking problem.

So long as they are clever, I don't mind a few lateral thinking answers, but I feel they should be posted as comments rather than answers.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A key difference here is that your puzzle is not tagged as a lateral-thinking puzzle, while most of this variety are. The lateral thinking answers, therefore, aren't really in the spirit of the puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – Bailey M
    Jul 17 '15 at 13:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Flagging the question as "too broad" is not necessarily meant as a "kill-this-question" action. See it rather as a "This question needs refinement/edit" flag, playing the ball back to you. If your original intention was that there is only a single solution, but the responses of the people showed otherwise, then the question needs improvement. That's what the close-vote indicates. It is very, very easy to have an initial question "too broad" and it is a learning-curve everybody has to take. But investing some time to make puzzles better (even after a solution) is worth it! $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Jul 23 '15 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ I downvoted this question: not because it's too broad, but because it's not a puzzle. $\endgroup$ Aug 31 '16 at 14:06

Here are my thoughts on the question:

  1. There are assumptions that you have left unstated.
  2. I think a flat word needs a bit of an explanation.
  3. Would you always be able to see Mount Everest? Who can say? We don't know where you are. Do you mean from any arbitrary point on the disc? Chances are good there is something in the way obstructing your view. From the bottom of the Grand Canyon, for example? Probably not.
  4. I think the question you intend to ask is an interesting one, but as you discovered, you have left the door wide open for all sorts of absurd, bad-faith responses.
  5. I don't think it would be too difficult to revise the question in a manner that would remove the temptation to post a bad-faith response.
  • $\begingroup$ Not to mention that the only possible 'flat world' would be a Alderson disk, and if you were on the other side of it, you won't be able to view Mt Everest. $\endgroup$
    – cst1992
    Apr 28 '16 at 11:41

I think we could all benefit from a distinction between answer and solution.

Your question has one intended solution, but anything that anyone says in response to a question is an answer if they state it as such.

Speaking strictly from a design perspective, it would be HORRIBLE to have only the solution below the question. All answers, especially wrong ones, have some level of merit to them that offers insight to anyone reading up on your puzzle or riddle. But the main thing is, there's a TON of space on the website for answers.

The "comments" section should be reserved for commentary of the question, commentary regarding other commentary, requests for clarification, pointing out what kind of logic might be used to help find the answer, or offering some insight into what might help start someone down the right path. But everyone has different ideas about what that might be, and that's ok.

There are at times a few posts that are incomplete answers. I try to avoid doing this myself because if you're wrong you tend to be way off the mark, but others may disagree so I won't fault them for that. If you want to start solving a problem and then get back to it later, that's a good way to go about doing it in the comfort of your own home - a lot of people do word search or crossword puzzles this way. I personally find it rude because the site is essentially community property, but I probably shouldn't impose that view on others. In any event, it would be very hard to come up with a hard and fast rule on how correct your answer has to be before you're allowed to post it, especially when you don't know how close you might be to the right answer. These are puzzles, after all.

  • $\begingroup$ Depending on the type of puzzles, "incomplete" answers are sometimes a very positive thing. I, for example, encourage people to do this on longer puzzles, so that I can learn about their thinking-process and adapt the puzzle, if needed. However, I generally state that I like in-work-answers in the actual question. It's partly a matter of taste... $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Jul 23 '15 at 14:38

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