So occasionally I go through some recently added puzzle questions (from other users) and try to add distinctiveness to the titles, if they need it - for a post with a title that doesn't really distinguish it from other puzzles of the same type (e.g. "My First Riddle!" "Try This Puzzle!"), I'll add something to try and make it more different from other puzzle-titles, while remaining in line with the author's intention (e.g. for a riddle I've been usually appending the first line of the riddle to the title - example).

But this one has me stumped:

The current title is basically indistinguishable from any other puzzle of that type, so could do with some added distinctiveness.

But the puzzle doesn't have a particular theme or keyword that could naturally gravitate to the title.

Can't use the cipher name because that would give away part of the answer.

Can't use the cleartext for the same reason.

Don't want to use the ciphertext because it's gibberish, which is potentially annoying for other users and doesn't really add much distinctiveness.


  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Cryptography questions always seem to have this problem; without some context or story behind why the puzzle exists, I would gander that it's relatively impossible to give them unique titles. $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Oct 23, 2015 at 16:35
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ The fact that a code puzzle has no distinctive features to mention in the title is a sign that it's a boring code puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – xnor
    Oct 23, 2015 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ @xnor I found that link worth revisiting - thank you! $\endgroup$
    – A E
    Oct 23, 2015 at 21:39

3 Answers 3


For this one, what about

Tymh to get cracking!

Any user is trivially in the position to create an unsolvable code. In fact, I have already decided that in lieu of rage-quitting this site should the need arise, I will pose a book cipher from my own diary, or some ASCII noise, or something equally annoying. And as you noticed, I could call it "Cryptography Time", or "Can you decode this", and nobody would know how to get started.

So you have to somehow indicate that your puzzle is solvable. One way would be just to build up reputation of being a fair-problem poster, but this relies on some Meta information, which seems not right to me, as it puts new users at a disadvantage.

This means that there should be a hint somewhere in the puzzle that the code is breakable. This could be in the attached story (maybe a historic setting without computers), or as an extra hint, or as a fairly obvious weakness in the code to be decoded.

Looking at the answers to the puzzle, your code has at least two clear weaknesses: knowledge that there is a keyword, and repeating character sets in the code (enhanced by the uncoded spacing). Either of these could be used in the title, but for the keyword I can't see immediately much better than "Find the key and decode the text" which isn't much of an improvement on the original. But luckily (or not??) the code has some repeating text that looks a bit like "Time", so you can use that in the title. I venture that this could drag a potential solver in, but isn't too much of a clue that the puzzle is given away, as any quick analysis will first check for code repetition and letter frequency.

Maybe for a future Vignere Cipher (or similar) puzzle there could be an attached story of how you got to know about the existence of a keyword, that also restricts the technology to pre-computer age, and which would lead to a good title, "A whispered word at the Tavern", or something simlar, but that would then be a different puzzle.


For cryptograms, I like titles that make sense once it's solved but isn't really helpful in solving in. I'm also a big fan of flavor. For the particular puzzle you linked, I'd have used something like:

A Superhero's Lament

and made up more of a story to along with it. Perhaps it was the message they wanted inscribed on their tombstone should they ever perish or they wrote it on the moon so everyone could see it.


I'm not sure if this is a good idea or not, but one idea could be to just put the first line of the CODETEXT into the title.

As you already say, there is nothing distinct in the puzzle that would help identify it, that can be actually revealed. Hence, one has never seen the puzzle will not understand much unless he/she actually reads the puzzle (not just the title). Then the only use of the title, it seems, is to remind someone who has already gone through the question once.


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