I recently posted a challenge question. (Refer link below)
The Survivors of Dictionaria

The idea for this question came to me when I was driving one day and happened to notice that the car behind me was a Renault Duster. The front bumper had the letters 'DUSTER' written across it, and looking at the word in reverse, I realized that the word DUSTER could be morphed into RUSTED simply by interchanging the first and last letter. This was the inspiration for creating the puzzle.

I wondered then if it would be fair to add this in an answer to the challenge. I refrained from doing so at the time, but again came around to wondering what the community's opinion on this matter would be, when I posted the question From Puzzling to StackExchange. (I had a solution of 31 moves, which would have been comprehensively beaten anyway, thus keeping the competition very much alive.)


  • It helps to kick off the challenge and provides an example for others to build on.
  • It helps to capture an honest attempt from the questioner as part of the challenge. It can be seen as 'Hey everyone, so I found that the word DUSTER can be morphed to RUSTED by interchanging the first and last letters. I challenge everyone to find the longest such word!'


  • It would seem unfair that the questioner has had more time to think about the idea and come up with the best possible solution already.

(One alternate could be to include it as an example in the question, but it is one possible answer in itself, so can it be posted as one.)

  • $\begingroup$ I think if your solution in the puzzling to stack exchange puzzle was actually helpful. However, if your solution is one which is too hard to beat or reveals important insights, you should at least wait some time before posting it. $\endgroup$
    – Rohcana
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Anachor: Being a challenge puzzle, there wasn't an aha moment that I could exploit. And my solution of 31 moves goes to show that I hadn't really spent too much time to optimize my solution, with 20 being the current best. In any case, the very first answer to that question had managed 27 moves (albeit with invalid words), thereby making my answer rather useless, seeing as it performs worse than the current best. $\endgroup$
    – CodeNewbie
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ So adding it after a while would often render the answer obsolete, taking into account the swiftness of some community members. $\endgroup$
    – CodeNewbie
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking this in the hope of being able to post an answer each time you post a question, to triple the amount of rep you're likely to get from it? </rep-whore-pride> ;-) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor: Well, something like that. But in effect, it's one way of getting the ball rolling, and setting a loose benchmark to get people more interested. In case of the word ladder question, the very first answer reached 27, then edited to reach 21, which is close to the current best of 20. Meanwhile, an answer of 31 would be more motivational for everyone else. $\endgroup$
    – CodeNewbie
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 17:31

2 Answers 2


In most cases, I think adding an answer is fine, and even a Good ThingTM. We often do something similar for challenges on Programming Puzzles and Code Golf, and call it a reference answer (or something like that).

As you say, it helps kick-start the game, but it also gives others an example to work from. Sometimes it's hard (despite your best effort) to write a completely unambiguous challenge. Without an example, people might have to guess what you're after.

However, the point you list as a "con" is an important one. If you intend it to be a reference answer, don't actually post the best possible answer. If you intend for it to be a competing answer, I'd recommend waiting a while, as mentioned in comments.

Of course, you can add an optimized/competitive answer right away, but this will often discourage people from answering. This goes doubly if your answer is provably the answer. If you did an exhaustive dictionary search or mathematical proof, don't expect others to come up with something better. If your intent is just to put this puzzle/answer on the site, then this may not bother you. If the intent is to challenge others, it's not very helpful.


The drawback of posting your own answer is that it may discourage other posters who would have gotten the ball rolling with small solutions that are unlikely to win. I think posting an answer is OK, but recommend that you wait a little while (maybe 2-6 hours) to encourage participation from early posters.


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