Sometimes I don't know the answer to a puzzle, especially with math related puzzles, but I do like to share to others what I already discovered, to help others in finding a solution for example. Is it okay to post it as an answer even though it doesn't actual answer the question?

EDIT: I noticed this is very much related to What is the etiquette for collaborating on the solution to a complicated puzzle? only after I asked this question

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    $\begingroup$ I personally love it when people do this - it encourages collaborative problem-solving and reveals thought processes others might not have considered. Also, I see it on so many puzzles that a case couldn't possibly be made against it, policywise. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ btw, I just did it on puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/28584/… $\endgroup$
    – Ivo
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ Way to lead by example, @IvoBeckers, you discreetly spoilerized the partial answer and have already received a few votes of approval for it $\endgroup$
    – humn
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 2:19
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of What is the etiquette for collaborating on the solution to a complicated puzzle? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ I definitely love this, but it does end up posing the question - who gets the credit when it's all said and done, if one person figures out each part of a puzzle, but no person figured out more than one part, on their own? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Khale_Kitha You could summarize all in a community post as it was done here $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 21:36
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    $\begingroup$ @BmyGuest True, but as mentioned by question_asker, in the linked post - it's been posed, before, as an idea, and turned down by the community. At that point, no one gets credit for the work. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 0:18

1 Answer 1


Since this lacks an answer and probably deserves one, I'll contribute one by offering my standard comment on "answers" that don't go quite far enough to providing a solution:

(... so how does this contribute toward a solution? As this stands, it's Not an Answer, not even a partial one. Having fragmentary thoughts on aspects of a puzzle might be comment-worthy, but you probably want at least a germ of an idea that seems to lead forward before you should post as even a partial answer.)

If you're providing undirected thoughts that occurred to you while looking at a puzzle, and haven't pursued them to see if they seem to lead toward a solution path, it's not appropriate to post that as an answer.

Conversely, if your "thought process [...] doesn't answer the question" but demonstrably leads in a promising direction that materially advances the solution process, then (as we see regularly, and as validated in the linked question, What is the etiquette for collaborating on the solution to a complicated puzzle?), that thought process would make a good "partial answer" post—or give you a starting point for a collaborative effort with others in a chat room and/or a CW post, as we've seen happen for several more extensive puzzles.

(Even if it turns out you're chasing a red herring, just eliminating that path of investigation advances the solution process, so while ideally your thought process actually makes progress along the path to the solution, it's not strictly necessary that it does so.)

See also: Is it appropriate to work out a solution in an answer when the solution isn't complete yet? for some additional related thoughts.


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