Well, not off-topic, but unintended.

Here's the question:

The magical water drum

Simple enough, but it has a catch. I tried to make it as solid as possible without turning it into a graduate-level physics problem, but now it's generating answers that are playing with my words and hostile comments.

Example answer:


The walls of the barrel are capable of absorbing at least 4 liters of water

Example comment: The magical water drum

@cst1992 So you discount his answer but accept when some else "fills" it with something other than water as well? That to me would suggest downvoting the question.

Frankly, I was angry.

What am I supposed to do? I can select only one answer, and I chose the one that fit the best(the number of votes reflects that, if I may say so).

Should I close the question?


2 Answers 2


The [lateral-thinking] tag was applied to this puzzle: "A puzzle solved through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable only using logic." You should expect creative answers.

There are two reasonable ways to deal with unexpected creative answers:

  1. Continue to update your puzzle to give the audience a better idea of why their answers don't fit precisely.
  2. Thank each answerer individually for the effort they put into coming up with a creative answer, but inform them that it isn't what was intended.

It's just a puzzling site; there's no need to get angry or upset. I'm sorry that you have been met with some hostile comments, but try your best to be excellent to each other.

..and party on, dudes.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "inform them that it isn't what was intended" What is the reason of putting the lateral thinking tag if you don't want the most creative answer but rather an intended answer? $\endgroup$
    – manshu
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ Generally speaking, a puzzle should have an intended answer. Without one, it is more likely to be closed as "too broad", even with the [lateral-thinking] tag. The tag is there to indicate exactly what it says: the intended answer is reached through means that are not necessarily obvious at first blush. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 17:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The tag says "A puzzle solved through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable only using logic". I don't see the word "intended" anywhere. To me, "lateral thinking" generally indicates what are sometimes called "situation puzzles". Like, "here's a seemingly impossible situation; how did it happen?" And then the answerer only need to come up with the most creative idea. $\endgroup$
    – manshu
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ @manshu I am with Ian on this one. There may be multiple ways to come up with creative answers, especially when the OP asks an self-made puzzle. But the OP usually has one intended way in my mind. That is kind of implied when the question is asked. If other possible solutions come up that were not envisioned, OP should update the question to eliminate them. In case, this is not possible, he should let the answerer know that this is potentially correct but not what he expected, and definitely upvote the answer. A +5 repo difference doesn't really matter in the long run. $\endgroup$
    – Munir
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 17:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think that the [lateral-thinking] tag can always create some "bad correct answers". For example one can answer "You live in a world where the solution to question is ..." When you use the [lateral-thinking] tag you have to be ready for this and be very specific from the begining and adapt your question. $\endgroup$
    – Fabich
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Lordofdark That's very hard to do, as I found out to my cost... $\endgroup$
    – cst1992
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 22:05

Should I close the question?

No. (Since this is a discussion, I'm just giving my opinion.)

I'm enjoying seeing some of the alternate solutions to the puzzle. Why close it?

There's so many of these puzzling old chestnuts that have interesting answers beyond the intended ones. Where better to compile those answers than Stack Exchange? Where better to explore the boundaries of puzzle phrasing and setup. This is a fun place to solve puzzles, but it is also a site for puzzle-creation and study. From the description:

Puzzling Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for those who create, solve, and study puzzles.

Part of the challenge here is perfecting our puzzles, not just doling out rep to the best solvers. Here is an opportunity to perfect your wording, or to explore alternate answers.

I like your puzzle, but the intended answer is physics-based. It's only natural that people are going to come up with other physics-based solutions to the problem. Some of them are farfetched, and get voted down. Some of them are valid and interesting and get voted up. I don't see how any of this harms anyone. It's people enjoying themselves because of your puzzle. Where can we do this sort of thing if not here?

  • $\begingroup$ What to do about the comments then? I created the puzzle so that I and the people answering it will have fun. That purpose gets nullified when people get personal and judgmental. $\endgroup$
    – cst1992
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 18:38
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ My suggestion is: Don't take it personally. I'm looking at the comment you used as an example. I can see why it made you mad. Strictly speaking, however, it doesn't need to be personal. The person criticized your approach, but that's allowed if it is on-topic. Critiques, corrections, and even downvoting are all part of the site. If there's something valid in the criticism, perhaps you can use it. If the criticism is baseless and petty, then you can freely ignore it. If it gets inappropriate, you can flag it. $\endgroup$
    – Solocutor
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 19:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .