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A riddle was recently posted, but it seems to have been mistakenly deleted as "spam". As with many puzzles on Puzzling.SE, it was an original creation, posted by the person who wrote the puzzle. In this case, the same person had also published the riddle elsewhere; however, a link was clearly displayed in the question to avoid plagiarism and to be transparent.

The question was posted from the account @MinderDaemon, giving full disclosure of its affiliation to the Riddler's Den and to some other PSE users (including myself).

We were familiar with https://puzzling.stackexchange.com/help/promotion, and we made sure not to violate any of the guidelines. Most of it concerns answers and not questions (Puzzling is such a special case within SE!), and we do not "talk about our product/website too much" - we post our own riddles using @MinderDaemon and only mention the site in the most minimal possible way: by providing a link to avoid falling under "plagiarism". The question is a completely legitimate challenge riddle.

There are many riddles and puzzles on this site that come from other sites and textbooks, and some (such as @JoeZ.'s questions from his own website The Temple of Quetzalcoatl) have been published by the same person on PSE and their own website. So long as attribution is given, there have been no consequences.

Firstly, why did this particular question get deleted?

Secondly, with a view to establishing Puzzling-specific site policy, does the community think that challenge questions posted here and also elsewhere should be deleted as spam? (If so, @JoeZ. beware!) Or should they be left alone?

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    $\begingroup$ Why the 3 downvotes? Is this not a valid question? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Aug 24 '15 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ I'm guessing that people might be put off by your unwillingness to just say "I posted a riddle under my sockpuppet", instead beating around the bush with phrasing like "posted by the person who wrote the puzzle" and "the same person had also published the riddle elsewhere". I think the question is actually an important one in terms of site policy on plagiarism/self-promotion, but that could be seen as a turnoff. Note that I have not yet voted on this one. $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Aug 24 '15 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ @BaileyM It's not my sockpuppet. It's a Riddler's Den account run by several different people. I just happen to be the one who used it to post the question today (since I'm the most PSE-active of us). $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Aug 24 '15 at 23:57
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    $\begingroup$ I've been noticing tons of downvotes with no explanation both in meta and in P SE lately. Wasn,t there a strongly suggested 'write an explanation or die' warning or something? Either it's gone or we've been invaded by trolls. Or something. $\endgroup$ – Spacemonkey Aug 27 '15 at 18:09
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First off, Minder Daemon is 100% your sockpuppet, rand. That's alright in and of itself, - you're allowed to have sockpuppets - but it's important context, and don't bother pretending like it's anyone else's.

The difference between the questions coming from textbooks and other sources and yours is that you are part of the group that wrote it.

The difference between many of the questions that haven't been deleted as spam and this one is that you included a linkback to your website saying "this came from here," without stating that you were part of the group that wrote it, and that you are linking back to your own website anywhere a user might nominally read.

In other words, your affiliation is completely unclear from the question.

Furthermore, if you're part of the group that wrote the puzzle, you don't need to attribute yourself for doing so, and so no link back to your website is necessary for the context of the question - optionally, if you'd like, you can include a statement saying that you authored it.


I don't know how to be more blunt than this. These rules exist specifically to stop you from promoting your own websites on Puzzling Stack Exchange.

Feel free to post these riddles on Puzzling.SE, but as soon as you start promoting your own service with these questions, you're now spamming.


Edit: After talking with Bailey M in chat, I've edited the spam attribution out of the question and cleared the spam notice, unlocking and undeleting it. It still feels a bit weird to me, but I'm willing to give this course of action a shot and see how it goes.

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    $\begingroup$ "Feel free to post these riddles on Puzzling.SE, but as soon as you start linking back to your own service, you're now spamming." - how shall they be posted on both platforms properly, sorry? your answer will model our next actions $\endgroup$ – d'alar'cop Aug 24 '15 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ Re. your first paragraph, I promise there are no voting irregularities (I've carefully checked the rules concerning sockpuppets). And yes, so far I've been the only one to post from that account, but we all know the username and password, so it is a shared account. @d'alar'cop can confirm this. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Aug 24 '15 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ @d'alar'cop You can post the riddles on Puzzling.SE, you just can't promote your own service while doing so. $\endgroup$ – Aza Aug 24 '15 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ You are not understanding me. How shall we have riddles homed in the riddlersden.com and then post them on PSE? $\endgroup$ – d'alar'cop Aug 24 '15 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ @d'alar'cop You can post them on Puzzling.SE without promoting your website in the process. $\endgroup$ – Aza Aug 24 '15 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ also, are you saying that if someone else (not in our "group") posted a riddle from the riddlersden.com with a link... that would not be a problem... this is madness $\endgroup$ – d'alar'cop Aug 24 '15 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ what is "promotion"? are you merely suggesting that we do not include links?... that would be plagiarism $\endgroup$ – d'alar'cop Aug 24 '15 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Emrakul Wouldn't that be plagiarism? I've seen questions deleted before for being exact copies of other sources without disclosing origins. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Aug 24 '15 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ @rand You don't need to attribute yourself. Failing to attribute yourself isn't plagiarism, because you're the author. $\endgroup$ – Aza Aug 24 '15 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ but then PSE may be in violation of plagiarism... if the user deletes themselves from PSE $\endgroup$ – d'alar'cop Aug 24 '15 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ and I reiterate... are you saying that if someone else (not in our "group") posted a riddle from the riddlersden.com with a link... that would not be a problem... this is madness $\endgroup$ – d'alar'cop Aug 24 '15 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ I'm done arguing here. This isn't that complicated. Stop rules lawyering. Don't promote your own product or service. That's all the spirit of spam boils down to. $\endgroup$ – Aza Aug 24 '15 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ I'm done here as well... you can't even have a reasonable debate... your argument is invalid and improperly supported and then you run away with a foolish "appeal to ridicule" and "appeal to authority" rather than admit so or fill the gaping holes in your assertions... goodbye $\endgroup$ – d'alar'cop Aug 24 '15 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ @d'alar'cop (and rand but I can't notify both of you) I believe that Emrakul's trying to say that since you guys are technically the author of a puzzle (albeit only one of you may have wrote it) then you do not have to link back to state so, it is yours and yours alone, and as long as it's stated in the question that you posted your OWN puzzle, that question is forever attributed to yourself. $\endgroup$ – warspyking Aug 24 '15 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ By posting, you've granted SE the right to use the content regardless of the status of your account, @d'alar'cop: "You agree that all Subscriber Content that You contribute to the Network is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to Stack Exchange under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license." Section 3, "Subscriber Content", in the TOS. This is one of the awesome things about the network, to my mind: all the content is then re-usable by anyone else, also under CC-by-SA. $\endgroup$ – Josh Caswell Aug 27 '15 at 19:29
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I'd answer with a question: What is the purpose of Puzzling? The Tour Page simply says that it is for those that study the creation and solving of puzzles.

Current discussion makes it seem that the point is to be the "One Puzzling Site to rule them All" if I may be a bit cheeky. It also feels like there is a bit of a conundrum in this situation where one may argue spam but others worry about plagiaism.

Due to this, I myself feel that these types of circumstances would need to be watched extremely closely for fear of Puzzling being overun with adds and turning into nothing but a commercial site, but I don't see a problem with small links that direct puzzle enthusiasts to other places where they can enjoy their hobby. I find the puzzle in question to be appropriate as the only mention is a small link at the closing of the puzzle. It doesn't appear to talk about the site "too much" as specified in the promotion page. It simply lists where the puzzle was originally posted. If someone uses that to find more puzzles that give them enjoyment, I don't see a problem with that.

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    $\begingroup$ We've already caught a number of other groups astroturfing on Puzzling.SE. The question is: where do you draw the line? $\endgroup$ – Aza Aug 24 '15 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Emrakul Lines can be very vague. Perhaps you should go more for a limit. Treat each occurrence as it's own case and take action when action is needed and it gets out of hand. $\endgroup$ – warspyking Aug 24 '15 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Emrakul I'd agree, as why I said these situations need to be watched very carefully. But, doesn't this puzzle add a high quality puzzle to the site? I imagine that the community would tend to DV/flag/etc. those that went to far, especially if posts like this educate them (look, my political leanings are showing again). $\endgroup$ – Aggie Kidd Aug 24 '15 at 19:42
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    $\begingroup$ @AggieKidd Yeah, I'm going to try a new course of action which is just to edit out the spam links, which I've done here. $\endgroup$ – Aza Aug 25 '15 at 4:24

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