Let's start from the start.

I think that there are two types of hard riddles. One: whose answer is very hard to guess. These riddles are interesting (in my opinion) and always leaves us something to learn. Two (broad): there are too many possible answers for this kind of riddle and the only hard part is choosing which answer matches better. I think it's annoying. And usually people answer multiple answers in a single answer. (You know what I am trying to say!)

The first kind is perfectly great but here I am concerned about the second. Something that happens usually on these kinds of riddles is that the whole webpage is covered with all the possible answers and sometimes even after 10 posted answer, the OP doesn't get his intended answer. Usually OP posts a hint after 3 or 4 answers to narrow down the puzzle. But is it what hints are for ? To narrow down the puzzles? Hints are to show the direction when there is no where to go, just like a catalyst.

Hints should be used when there is nothing that our peers can think. In my opinion it should not be posted when there are too many possible answers because in this case the riddle itself is too broad.

Final Questions:

  • Should we accept the riddle with the hint? I mean, it's upto the answerer if he wants to read the hint(s) or not because well, riddle should be solvable even without the hint.

  • Should we flag the riddle as too broad without looking at what the hints say?

This thing is usually found in the riddles and that's why i typed 'riddle' this whole time otherwise it is equally valid for other kind of puzzles.

  • $\begingroup$ I think you're seeing a problem where there isn't one. There's no need to close questions just because a riddle hasn't been answered within an arbitrary length of time. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2016 at 10:14
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    $\begingroup$ As to hints: they are pretty clearly "part of the puzzle" and as such should be taken into account when making judgments about it. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2016 at 10:17
  • $\begingroup$ @question_asker i am not saying that a riddle should be closed just because it wasn't answered in some time.I am asking if a riddle is too broad' and half of its answers are based on the hint then should we close it. For your second comment let me give you an example. Say you are given an address to go somewhere. Now if you know the way then you don't need anyone to tell you the way.But if you do not know the way then ofcourse you'll ask someone..That someone is HINT. Now suppose that there are many places of the same address. What will you do then?.All I want to say is that hints are in extra $\endgroup$
    – manshu
    Feb 19, 2016 at 11:20
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    $\begingroup$ @question_asker Hints are for those who couldn't complete the riddle. Not for those who already have 3 or 4 answers in his mind. That would be like completing the same puzzle 3 or 4 times...and sometimes even after 3 or 4 completion we do not have the OP's intended answer. $\endgroup$
    – manshu
    Feb 19, 2016 at 11:26
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree. The person posing the question doesn't know how many answers any other user has in their mind. Hints are a courtesy done by the asker to help people come to the answer. Just because I can't solve a puzzle doesn't mean it's "too broad". And "3 or 4" isn't a lot of anything. If we were routinely seeing puzzles with 10+ answers (we aren't), then I might start to think we have a problem with puzzles being too broad. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2016 at 11:37
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    $\begingroup$ @question_asker Here are some recent examples where it could be easily determined (even by the OP) if a puzzle have multiple answers or not 1 2 3... I am sure there must have been many others before I joined this community..and by 3 and 4, I meant 3 and 4 by just one user.. $\endgroup$
    – manshu
    Feb 19, 2016 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ This is an example of a riddle that would be incredibly broad without the hints. $\endgroup$
    – f''
    Feb 20, 2016 at 2:45

2 Answers 2


In this base-10 alphametic, each letter represents a different digit and numbers can't start with 0. What digit does each letter represent?

+ U


U is 2.

That's terrible style. A hint is supposed to be optional, but in this example the "hint" is necessary because someone solving the puzzle without it would find it completely impossible to end up with the single "right" answer.

While you might want to avoid hints when attempting to solve a puzzle, you should never avoid them when evaluating a puzzle.

When evaluating a puzzle, you should consider whether someone who is avoiding the hints will be able to get the right answer and rule out the other ones. If a hint provides information that is required in order to select one of multiple solutions that would otherwise be equally valid, then it should not be presented as a hint. Instead, it should be in the main part of the question, where it is not assumed that someone can skip it and still get the right answer.

Narrowing a question after it is posted is not optimal, but if it has to be done, it should be by adding details or conditions to the question, not by adding hints. A question where multiple answers fit equally well without the hints is too broad. It doesn't have to be closed, but the necessary information should be moved from the hints into the main part of the question itself.

  • $\begingroup$ Well said. I agree wholeheartedly. $\endgroup$ Feb 20, 2016 at 5:41


If you are flagging (or voting to close) any question or answer, you should definitely have read the entire question/answer before doing so. Otherwise you are making a judgement based on incomplete information, and doing everyone else a disservice.

While you might want to avoid hints when attempting to solve a puzzle, you should never avoid them when evaluating a puzzle.

That being said, riddles which start out ridiculously broad and are then narrowed down by hints should be discouraged. If you see a riddle that could be interpreted very broadly, comment right away. Perhaps you could point out 3 or 4 potential interpretations that fit, and suggest that the OP narrow the scope of the riddle.

In reality, puzzles sometimes need refinement after the fact, but in the ideal, every puzzle should be self-contained and solvable with one unique solution that obviously fits better than any other when it is posted. Refining it after the fact makes for a poor puzzling experience for both the asker and answerers.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for this answer - it covers a lot of things I said in my comments and discussion with OP. I think that last paragraph up there is worth talking about, though: like it or not, a public site where anyone can post will never have perfect posts, and I think commenting is the most surefire way to encourage people to tweak their puzzles without scaring them off. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2016 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ I've always wondered about this, because hints added post hoc are almost like the OP editing the question to say "I like your answers, but they didn't work." It's always bothered me a bit, but I've never really given it much thought. It's the only thing making me wonder if closing these is something we should be doing, though - do you evaluate these hints by the same standard as well? $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Feb 19, 2016 at 17:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Emrakul Personally, I think if an OP is refining the question to narrow the scope because the given answers fit the question but not the intended answer, then the edits should be made to the question itself, rather than as added hints. But realistically any question that gets changed to the extent that it invalidates existing answers demonstrates poor question quality. I've come across a number of questions after-the-fact where I don't understand why anyone answered the way they did, only to realize that the question was heavily edited after-the-fact. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2016 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Emrakul Perhaps such questions ought to be closed outright. I'm undecided on this one. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2016 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ @GentlePurpleRain I think if we're going to talk about it this way, we need to be sure we're making a distinction between "hints added because nobody got it, and the OP wants someone to get it" and "hints added (or changes made) because the extant answers don't satisfy the OP". Because right now, we're just very broadly talking about "hints", and the former scenario seems perfectly fine, while I share your objection to the latter. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2016 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ And for the record, the links provided by manshu don't really match what he claims about them - the first is the closest of the three to being "too broad", but has only been up for a couple of days. The other two... I really don't see how they fit as "too broad" - multiple people posting wrong answers does not indicate a problem with the question any more than not knowing a language indicates a problem with the language. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2016 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ In my opinion, a hint in a spoiler tag isn't part of the question. If the hint is added because nobody could think of a solution, that's fine, because the question without the hint has only one verifiably correct answer. But if the hint is added because there are too many solutions, then the question without the hint has multiple verifiably correct answers. A "hint" that eliminates otherwise correct solutions should really be presented as part of the question. $\endgroup$
    – f''
    Feb 20, 2016 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ To put much of this discussion concisely: Hints are not 'patches' to a flawed puzzle. Don't use them as such. $\endgroup$
    – Rubio Mod
    Jun 15, 2019 at 9:48

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