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On of the "quality" discussion we tend to come against again and again seems to be related to a basic 'conflict' we have:

  • SE is a site to create permanent value (normally in form of searchable Q&A)

  • Puzzles are fun and entertaining.

If we concentrate on the first too much (we had that!), we kill the site by driving away people and generally ripping the heart out of PuzzlingSE. (...been there. No need to go there again.)

But most of the 'quality' problems of PuzzlingSE comes from concentration too much on the second. Why? Because a lot of things can be fun and entertaining - even related to puzzles - but not all of them are a good fit for this site! (Jokes, trick-questions, little-effort time-waster games, social-media like puzzle games etc...)

I have been think lately, how we can reduce (if not eliminate) such content from this site without being too harsh or overdoing it, and one thing which appeared to me was, that we do not have an appropriate which summarizes this problem. Why not? Because other SE sites don't need it - it is part of the principle site model and goes without saying. But Puzzling.SE is a bit different, so I think the following might be useful (feel free to adapt):


no lasting value
This question/puzzle does not seem to create lasting content value. Puzzles/questions (and their answers) on this site should remain valuable even if 'found' for the first time in future (months/years). 'Game' like content or other strictly presence-centered postings without lasting extra-value should not be posted on this site. Note: It is sometimes possible to edit (answered) puzzle-questions in away that the remain valuable for future readers.


My phrasing might not be ideal, but I think I've made my point. If everybody checks puzzles/answers with "future-value-glasses [TM]" on ( i.e. imagine some non-member finding this puzzles in 3 years time from now - how valuable would it be?), then it becomes pretty clear which postings are "good" and which "aren't". Several of the low-quality postings ( challenges, find 'shorted/longest' etc. ) are simply only "fun-as-long-as-engaged-with" but afterwards they are dead meat.

Some of them, can be edited to become of value - i.e. I find it good to have a source of creatively discovered words/sentences which share a special property etc. - put I think it should be a requirement to edit the content (and final answer) to be of a sort useful in future. If nobody is willing to do this, the question should be closed/deleted and the above would be the most suitable one.



This is of course a . So I'm curious about other opinions.

I maybe should add that any puzzle with (or still without) a valid, explained answer is clearly a thing of permanent value! So most (or at least many) puzzles on site do absolutely belong here! Still, some of them could need some "after-solving"-edit, too.

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    $\begingroup$ Whether or not there is a specified close reason for this, I'd like to add that this is exactly what downvoting can and should be used for. If it has no value, it clearly matches the tooltip's "not useful" bit. $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Jul 21 '15 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Geobits I agree in theory, but experience shows that the number of serious long term members voting like that is easily outnumbered by hey-that-is-currently-funny-votes. $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Jul 21 '15 at 19:02
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, I definitely agree, especially if it hits HNQ. I'm just saying that a listed close reason isn't a good reason to do that instead of downvoting when you can do that along with downvoting. I'm not saying you were implying that, but the post doesn't mention DVs at all so I was just throwing it out there as a reminder (since I don't see as many DVs here as some sites). $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Jul 21 '15 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure I understand. Is there a difference between a puzzle being "good under future values glasses" and "being good"? I imagine the future value is in future readers solving it, and they are likely to enjoy solving it if we now enjoy solving it. (With exceptions for ephemeral interactive puzzles or puzzles based on current events, which are rare.) $\endgroup$ – xnor Jul 21 '15 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ Could you add some examples of posts you might close with this reason? I could interpret this either very broadly (e.g. for eliminating questions where some author input is needed before the correct answer is posted) or very narrowly (e.g. only targeting questions which are explicitly interactive/present-based), but some degree of consistency is necessary for a close reason. $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Jul 22 '15 at 0:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Meelo No time to go on hunting now, but next time I come across one, I'll add it here. Generally, I'm more for applying this "narrowly". It would be - just another - tool to help steering the community into the right direction. Also, I think it would be a close-reason used for "clean-up-editing" of posts which are older. i.e. when you come across a post x months old which just doesn't seem to be of any value (anymore.) $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Jul 23 '15 at 7:28
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    $\begingroup$ @xnor I was thinking of puzzle-questions where the author obviously awaits feedback (to react to). Those puzzles / games ([tag:semi-interactive puzzles]) might be fun and worthwhile while being solved, but the according posting definitely require a proper clean-up edit once done. (Or closure.) Nobody wants to read through hundredths of partial-answers/comments when he stumbles across such a puzzle when the actual hunt is long over... Still those postings could be a great puzzle "archived" if edited properly. $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Jul 23 '15 at 7:31
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    $\begingroup$ I've been thinking a lot about this, and I'm wondering if "no lasting value" is a bit unclear. I really like the sentiment, though. Perhaps "presents no new concepts or ideas"? But then again, we could close it as a duplicate, too. Iunno. I'll take a crack at it in an answer in a bit. $\endgroup$ – user20 Jul 25 '15 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ Would you consider my recent puzzle to have no lasting value, since it depends on search engine results for parts "At 5" and "At 6", and is also based on other things that might change at some point in the future, like the "At 9" part? $\endgroup$ – JLee Aug 2 '15 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee Indeed a tricky example. I think that search-results will be quite persistent for some time - depending on what the actual topic is, but if the puzzle is checked in due time and the search is no longer making sense, I would mark it for closure (then.). I would in general avoid building puzzles on 'actual' events. There was one once build around the next football match of two specific teams taking place on that evening - that one I would definitely mark to close. $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Aug 28 '15 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee no because the puzzle itself doesn't rely on google search records. It relies on a particular type of HDMI cabling. That cabling won't stop existing though it may be harder to find. The answerer merely found the relation by googling. Same with the tannic acid. That's proper research not google specifically. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Aug 28 '18 at 0:33

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