This is neither a real question nor a discussion, so I've been going back and forth in my mind whether to post it or not. In the end, I felt the potential benefits outweigh the bad and went ahead. I won't be mad if this gets closed or downvoted thought...

To start off with a confession: I don't like riddles

This is a personal preference, and I'm not arguing for getting rid of riddles (pun intended) on this site. However, personally, I've sought for a solution to browse PuzzlingSE while not being distracted by 'riddles' all the time. The answer to the problem is no surprise: Clever usage of the search-box. However, as it took me quite a bit to find the appropriate syntax, I want to "share" it here on meta. And, at the same time, I thought to myself that others might have different "tricks" up their sleeve which might be worthwhile sharing. So, this is the reason for my question:

Do you have any useful tips or tricks for using this site worthwhile sharing?

I'd suggest to post each such "tip" as an answer, so that it can be individually upvoted and linked to later.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @emrakul Do you think we should/could get a featured tag for this question? And maybe also to this question ? $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 6:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Would indeed be useful to have a permanent featured post meant for reference and specialty searches/lists and more, but probably only a single dispatch post that contains links to this and other Meta posts. $\endgroup$
    – humn
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 3:13

7 Answers 7


How to ignore tags

You can add the to your ignored tags. You can then choose between filtering them out (not showing them at all), or just greying them out.

You can do this at Your preferences page. (note: this uses a special link, that makes sure that it links to the preference page of the user clicking it. You can make such link by using current instead of an user ID)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Very nice. Didn't know that. $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ You can omit current too, leading to just /users/preferences. $\endgroup$
    – EKons
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 10:17

How to list puzzles and filter out unwanted categories

To find all puzzle questions except those containing a specific tag, use the search field and enter

is:q -[riddle]

This will give you all entries which are questions but do not contain the tag. Unfortunately, search will by default show you the list "by relevenace" so you have to click the "newest" tab afterwards if you're after the latest puzzles.

i.e. If you don't like riddles:

enter image description here

Further reading
How do I search?

  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't it be simpler to add "riddle" to your list of ignored tags, and choose the option "hide questions with ignored tags"? Edit: just saw this was addressed below, sorry. $\endgroup$
    – JProblems
    Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 21:51

Formatting spoilers

You can insert a single-line spoiler easily by using >! at the beginning of any line:

>! This is a spoiler

This is a spoiler

By default, spoilers on subsequent lines are merged into a single paragraph. To insert a line break, add two spaces at the end of a line:

>! This is the first line <-- two spaces
>! This is the second line <-- two spaces
>! <-- two spaces
>! The spoiler markup followed by two spaces creates a blank line in the spoiler block.
>! This line is merged with the previous line, because the previous line doesn't end with two spaces.

This is the first line
This is the second line

The spoiler markup followed by two spaces (above) creates a blank line in the spoiler block. This line is merged with the previous line, because the previous line doesn't end with two spaces.

A blank line between spoiler lines will break formatting:

>! This the first spoiler line

>! This is the second spoiler line

! This is the first spoiler line

! This is the second spoiler line

To separate two spoilers without text between them, you can insert a blank HTML comment between them:

>! This is the first spoiler

<!-- -->

>! This is the second spoiler

This is the first spoiler

This is the second spoiler

Spoilers in comments

Regular spoilers don't work in comments. If you feel like you need to hide something in a comment, here's a nice workaround mentioned by Alconja:

[ [SPOILER - hover to reveal] ](/. "super secret stuff")
[SPOILER - hover to reveal]

You can replace the /. with any hyperlink; the point is not for people to click the hyperlink, but just to hover over it.

Markup inside spoilers

Some markup works the same inside a spoiler, while other markup works differently or is entirely broken.

>!     Indenting four spaces will *not* create a code block.
>! <pre>You can create a code block by using `<pre>` tags instead.</pre>
>! <pre>
>! This even works
>! over multiple lines.
>! </pre>

Indenting four spaces will not create a code block.

You can create a code block by using <pre> tags instead.
 This even works
 over multiple lines.

>! **Bold**, *italic*, and `fixed width text` all work as expected.  
>! So do [hyperlinks](https://puzzling.stackexchange.com/help/formatting)
>! and images: ![sample image](http://example.com/img.jpg).

Bold, italic, and fixed width text all work as expected.
So do hyperlinks and images: sample image

>! - Markup for bulleted lists *does not work*:  
>! 1. Numbered lists...  
>! 1. ...do not automatically renumber.  
>! You can use HTML for lists instead:  
>! <ul>
>! <li> bulleted list </li>
>! <ol>
>! <li> Nested numbered list </li>
>! <li> Number two </li>
>! </ol>
>! </ul>  

- Markup for bulleted lists does not work:

1. Numbered lists...
1. ...do not automatically renumber.

You can use HTML for lists instead:

  • bulleted list
    1. Nested numbered list
    2. Number two

>! > Block quote markup won't work inside a spoiler either. 
>! <blockquote>You can use the `<blockquote>` tag instead.</blockquote>

> Block quote markup won't work inside a spoiler either.

You can use the <blockquote> tag instead.

MathJax inside spoilers

See: Spoiler markup does not break line for series of MathJAX equations in post previews

  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer that we can link to new users ! However I don't recommend the last solution (2 blocks with blank in the middle) : a single block would be easier to read. $\endgroup$
    – Fabich
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 14:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Lordofdark Generally, I agree. However, there have been a couple of situations where I've found it useful to have two blocks in a row. Maybe you want to give people the option of reading one block without revealing the other, or maybe the two concepts are really not connected, and benefit from being separated. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ The hovering workaround doesn't work on mobile -- and if it does, it's not really obvious to me how to see it. $\endgroup$
    – ffao
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 2:49
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the <pre> tag option within spoilers. I was looking for something like that at some point. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 19:07

How "Favorites" can be used

Use "favorites" to keep track of unsolved puzzles that:

  • you're working on
  • you want to know the answer to
  • you'd like to up/down vote, but want to wait until you see the solution

Once you've added stars to puzzles you're interested in, you can view them on your user page (under Activity, Favorites). Better yet, you can sort by activity, so any new answers/hints/bounties/etc will cause them to be bumped back to the top for pseudo-notification. Once you're done with the puzzle, just unstar it again.


How to notify a question author of a modified answer post

  • Use @UserName in a comment (of the edited answer) to automatically send the user UserName a notification (containing the comment).

  • When you type @ in a comment, other authors of this post are suggested by the auto-complete.

  • You can also type any user-name, not only the suggested ones. In particular, you can notify the question-author by using his user-name.

  • Note, that the author of the question/answer the comment belongs to is always getting a notification automatically.

enter image description here

See also: Could we get 'answer edited' notifications?

  • $\begingroup$ +1 because my pseudo is in the picture $\endgroup$
    – Fabich
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 20:42

How to link to questions and specific answers

  • You can link to any question by just pasting the URL to it directly. The display code will automatically show the title of that question as a link.

    example: In the text field of a question or answer you can type:


    and it will be rendered as:

    Useful Tips & Tricks?

  • You only need the URL up to the posting number, i.e. you could also just use


    Useful Tips & Tricks?

  • To link to a specific answer from a question, you need to first find the answer's url number. One way of finding out is to access the 'edit' of that answer and check the URL there. In the following example, the answer # is 4902

    enter image description here

    With the knowledge of this NUMBER, you can enter a link using /NUMBER#NUMBER as extension to the questions's link:


    Useful Tips & Tricks?

  • You can also only use the number of the answer alone, but then the link will not be replaced by the question's title:



  • Finally, you can always name a link yourself using the standard format of "insert URL":

    [enter link description here][2]
    [2]: https://puzzling.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4902

    enter link description here

Further reading
Editing help, Links
Direct Link to a Comment
How can I link to a specific answer
Link to a question, answer or comment
Add data.SE style “magic links” to comments
How to reference material written by others (Guidelines, at English Language & Usage SE)
Hidden features of Stack Exchange

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Note that you can get the link to any answer or comment by clicking the "Share" link underneath it. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 11:45
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Actually, to get a link to a comment, click the date/time at the end of the comment, and then copy the URL from your browser's address bar. There isn't a "share" link for comments. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 16:32

How do I get some fancy symbol/font/format ?

  • Puzzling Stack Exchange supports MathJax

You can find lots of examples!


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