Similar to "chestnuts" for riddles, sometimes math puzzles are based on things that have already been done. For example, a recent magic-square question has an answer that is very easily searchable, with a solution that goes back a bit over a century.

Do I simply copy/paste the solution and explain it a bit (along with attribution, of course)? Should I wait a while and let people puzzle it over instead? By "easily searchable" I mean it's within the top few hits on Google for somewhat obvious search terms, so I don't expect it will be long before someone finds and/or answers it.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a good question that I also have. I think maybe it is a good idea to let people who don't know the puzzle try it for some time. But even if I refrain from posting, some other user who knows it will post the solution. $\endgroup$
    – Rohcana
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


I think, in general, there is nothing wrong with copying the solution from elsewhere and citing your source. Having good solutions posted as answers to a puzzle is helpful to people who want to understand the puzzle better, no matter where that solution came from. As long as your answer is a good reference for future puzzle enthusiasts who want to understand more about the puzzle, then it is a good answer in my mind.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't see the relevance of "no googling". If I happen to know the answer already then should I sabotage my write-up because I don't recall the full details I need to cite the original work? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 12:59

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