Recently I answered a question. What was wrong with my answer? All clues fitted in but it still got downvotes. I know that the answer was a shocking one but it didn't really came to my mind just after reading the question. As I have already mentioned in that answer that I found out about it when I googled 'Conical shaped things'. I know that I am supposed to be gentle on SE. I looked at this link of puzzling SE help that says "Inappropriate language or attention. Avoid vulgar terms and anything sexually suggestive. Also, this is not a dating site." Now neither my answer was vulgar nor totally sexually suggestive.

So finally I need a little insight of what might be the reasons of my downvoted answer and what should i keep in mind while answering a puzzle?

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    $\begingroup$ I suspect the downvotes weren't so much because of anything inappropriate in your answer, but simply because people didn't feel the answer fit the question very well. There was nothing inherently wrong with the answer (in my opinion), but if people don't feel like it answers the question well, they might downvote. Don't take it personally; everyone gets downvotes sometimes. $\endgroup$ Jan 5, 2016 at 15:39

1 Answer 1


It's just not a good answer. I'd be surprised by anyone finding the answer inappropriate or vulgar.

If you look at any number of other accepted answers for riddles, you'll see that each line in the riddle is separately addressed by the best answers. Typically, each line of a riddle is meant to be another clue, rather than several lines being used to make up only one clue.

Also, "square" is a term that has been used in the past as a perjorative, meaning "nerd" or "geek". That's clearly part of the meaning of the first line of the riddle, since the word "nerd" appears, and it has nothing to do with the shape of breasts.

On top of all of that, you have only two real justifications for your answer. One of them makes no sense and the other one doesn't really work with how riddles are typically written.

So in answer to your question, keep the following in mind when answering riddle questions:

  • Each line or sentence of a riddle usually adds something separate to the riddle - like a separate clue.
  • The best answers address each clue, and therefore each line or sentence separately.
  • Most riddles here are either solved very quickly or are pretty subtle. Don't try to justify the first answers you come up with. Instead, attack your own answers and try to figure out how they might not work.
  • The best answers to the best riddles will be indisputable and obvious once the answer is known. If your answer doesn't "click" really well with the riddle, it's probably not the best answer (or the riddle is not great).
  • If you are not a native English speaker, you are starting at a disadvantage with riddles, since there are often idioms and colloquialisms used in riddles that can be challenging. You may have to work twice as hard on riddle puzzles as you would on other types like Math puzzles.

Here's an example riddle for demonstration purposes (by J.R.R. Tolkein):

No legs sat on one leg

Two legs sat on three legs

Four legs got some

Here's a not very good answer:

No legs sat on one leg

Two legs sat on three legs

Four legs got some

It's a relay race, which is run in "legs". The racers rely on each previous racer so they are "sitting" on each other. The last racer got the prize.

One bad thing about this answer is that "sitting" is not a term used in relay races, even though "legs" is. Also, it doesn't explain how each new line adds something separate to the riddle and its answer.

Here's a better answer (the correct one):

No legs sat on one leg

A fish has no legs. It's resting on a table made from a upended log (one leg).

Two legs sat on three legs

A man (with two legs) is sitting on a three-legged stool next to the table while eating the fish.

Four legs got some

When the man is done, he gives the scraps of fish that he didn't eat to his pet cat or dog (both of which are four-legged animals).

First of all, this answer immediately rings true. The "legs" are literal. And having the pet eat the scraps makes perfect sense with the line "four legs got some".

Second, each separate line and clue is addressed and makes perfect sense.

Use the search, sort, and tag filter features to look at the highest voted riddles and look at the accepted and highest voted answers and you'll get a better sense of what the best riddle answers look like.


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