Consider the following riddle (as an example):

  • I am (usually) green on top, and brown on the bottom.
  • People always break me before they start to use me.
  • 8 is my most important number

When riddles are posted, you will often see answers something like this:

I think the answer is

  • A tree

I am (usually) green on top, and brown on the bottom.

  • A tree's leaves are usually green, and the trunk is brown

People always break me before they start to use me.

  • When a tree is going to be used for construction, it needs to be cut down first.

8 is my most important number.

  • Not sure

The person posting the answer found a solution that seems to fit some of the clues, so went ahead and posted it. But it doesn't fit all of the clues!

They had no idea how to make the third clue fit with their perceived solution, so they just hand-waved it away.

It seems to me that

  • This is obviously not the correct solution. If it were, you would be able to see how the last clue applied to the answer.
  • The person is either:
    • Too clueless (or too stuck on the first answer to pop into their head) to realize their answer doesn't fit, or
    • Too anxious to be the first to answer that they don't care

In my opinion, riddle answers that only match a portion of the riddle's clues are non-answers, and should be deleted, but they often get upvoted as "good-effort" answers.

Don't get me wrong -- if an answer does try to make the solution fit with every clue in the riddle (even though some could be a bit of a stretch), then I think it needs to be considered as a valid answer, even if it is incorrect.

But if it only matches a portion of the clues, and no effort is made to make it match the rest of the riddle, then I see no reason for it not to be deleted.

Some examples of answers like this, from recent riddles (there are many more): https://puzzling.stackexchange.com/a/18653


  • 2
    $\begingroup$ How do you differentiate that between "this is the right answer, but poster doesn't see the connection to this line" and "this is wrong because there is no connection" without first knowing the answer? If I see a twelve line riddle and an answer that fits eleven of them, I'm not going to delete it just because neither I nor the answerer could figure out the last clue. $\endgroup$
    – Set Big O
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 18:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This just seems awfully subjective. "I think we should delete answers I don't think are complete enough" $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 18:16

1 Answer 1


No. Partial answers need love too.

Those that build toward an answer are perfectly acceptable on most stacks and are useful in their own right.

Intentionally deleting answers that are partly correct doesn't achieve anything other than making it harder for others to come up with a fuller, more correct answer.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In addition, it probably gives an advantage to those with the privilege to see deleted answers that others wouldn't have. $\endgroup$
    – Set Big O
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Geobits - Indeed it does. $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 18:16
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ But is such an answer partially correct? For a riddle, you can't really get "partway" to the solution. Either you have the correct solution or an incorrect solution. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 18:22
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @GentlePurpleRain I don't think that's true at all. Many times I see someone comment "that missing x clue is probably y", like you did for my last answer. Now the incomplete is complete. Are you saying my answer should have been deleted instead? $\endgroup$
    – Set Big O
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 18:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Geobits I see your answer as different, since it clearly matched all of the clues. There was one aspect of each clue that you didn't at first even realize was a clue, which is not the same as saying, "This fits half of the clues, and not the other half of them." $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 20:36

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