I've noticed large quantities of low-effort riddles being posted recently. Is there anything we can do about them? Riddles have always been an issue here, although last time this was asked the consensus was that they should be allowed. Lately though I find myself unsure, though: plain riddles with no other 'gimmicks' are easily mass-producible, low-quality, yet somehow upvoted.

Should we do anything? If so, what?

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    $\begingroup$ Isn't this why we have downvotes? I think this is kind of a global problem on Stack Exchange, people don't like to downvote bad questions. $\endgroup$ Apr 13, 2016 at 4:50
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    $\begingroup$ @2012rcampion: The problem expressed in the comments of the above thread still remains: low quality content still gets upvoted. It could be the fact that small amounts of content are easier to judge, the lack of downvotes for users below 125 rep, or a number of other things. Downvotes alone don't seem to be solving the problem though. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi Mod
    Apr 13, 2016 at 5:02

3 Answers 3


Good riddles are an awesome addition to the site. Low quality puzzles, of any type, are not good for the site.

The problem, as I see it, is twofold:

  1. Making a good riddle is hard, but making a mediocre one is really easy (to make matters worse, it can be hard to tell if something is good until it has been answered, so lots of mediocre content gets produced and it gets readily upvoted before it's necessarily obvious that it's bad)
  2. Content on this site seems to come in waves, and "easy to produce" content even more so. People see a riddle and think, "I could do that", and have a crack (I've seen a similar wave of rebuses lately, previous waves of riddles, and it appears there has even been waves of chess puzzles before).

So what is the solution? Again, twofold (and again, this doesn't just apply to riddles):

  1. Downvote mediocrity liberally, and vote-to-close truly bad/broad questions
  2. Wait it out. People get tired of repetition, and the wave will die down again soon enough.
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    $\begingroup$ To my mind, the parenthetical comment in your first point is the key to why your answer is correct. Doing something implies making a judgement and judgement in the absence of a solution is problematic. $\endgroup$ Apr 13, 2016 at 11:22
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    $\begingroup$ This is the most correct opinion I've read on the meta site in a long time. $\endgroup$ Apr 13, 2016 at 12:07
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    $\begingroup$ When I'm not sure about the quality of a riddle because it hasn't been answered yet, I refrain from voting. Then I go back when it has been answered and decide whether to vote it up or down. $\endgroup$ Apr 13, 2016 at 14:50
  1. One problem is that there is no guideline for what upvoting a question is supposed to indicate at Puzzling.SE. Presumably, the answer is that it indicates a good quality puzzle; or in general SE terms, that it "shows research effort". However, because of the satisfaction derived from being able to solve/answer a puzzle, it's quite possible that some of the upvotes are from those casual puzzlers who felt happy with finding a puzzle that they could more easily relate to, as is often the case with these riddles.
  2. A possible solution for mediocrity in any context is to put excellence in its midst. When you can see the two side by side, then it is easier to appreciate the difference. So if there's something other than downvoting that we can hope to actively do, perhaps it is to create more high quality riddles. Even if solvers don't notice it, at least those posing the riddles should.
  • $\begingroup$ Not directly related to this thread: It so happens that I've been working on a couple of riddle ideas in the past few days. Hopefully they turn out to be at least a little better. ;) $\endgroup$ Apr 14, 2016 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ ISTM that your two paragraphs may conflict. If "casual puzzlers" are upvoting easy riddles because they "felt happy with finding a puzzle that they could more easily" solve, then adding harder puzzles to the mix might just encourage the "casual puzzlers" to go in search of easier ones. $\endgroup$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:52

Low-effort riddles have always been an headache. They waste our precious time and even more precious, efforts. But...

What are Low-quality riddles?

In PSE terms, they are those riddles which have multiple good answers and OP is just asking us "Tell me, what I am thinking." That's not how riddles should be. It should have a definite answer. They should be like "You'll know when you find out."

One thing I'd like to note is that easy riddles are not always low-quality riddles. Both of them are quite different things. A riddle can be quite nice even if it's easy. But we have also seen some easy puzzles with the tag when they should have tag. According to wikipedia, "A riddle is a statement or question or phrase having a double or veiled meaning, put forth as a puzzle to be solved." And I think the riddles should always be posed in way that they have double meaning but a single answer. But we understand if the number of answers increase to three, don't we?

What is the solution?

I think that we are handling these kinds of riddles in quite nice way and we should keep doing that. So I don't think we need to change our way of viewing these kinds of riddles. We can downvote when we need to and we can flag too. But if we are downvoting, we should always leave a reason of it. They will find out about their mistakes and maybe learn from them. That's why they are here, I suppose.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm kind of ashamed because one of my first posts here qualifies as a low-effort riddle. $\endgroup$ Jun 5, 2016 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ It is quite normal for new puzzlers. You will definitely improve after some riddles. $\endgroup$
    – manshu
    Jun 6, 2016 at 7:35

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