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I believe it is an acknowledged fact that with the popularity of the site the volume of traffic and new puzzles has strongly increased. While this is generally good, it also means it becomes increasingly harder to "catch" interesting/hard/creative/you-name-it/etc. puzzles if you're not checking regularly.

This is a known 'problem' and there have been several suggestions discussed and some action taken. Things like the Fortnightly Topic Challenge and the Best-of-series try to deal with this, but they both have their advantages and disadvantages. The first is more of a challenge; i.e. it does not look into existing puzzles and does not add puzzles once the time is over. The other is both highly subjective and also limited in the amount of listed puzzles. Also, it is not easy to browse for a specific 'type' or 'meta-type' of puzzles that way.

A lot of (new) users to this site are likely wanting to find "Good puzzles in the style of..." or "Puzzles which are long/complex/whatever/..." and it is not easy to browse with that in mind.

By my understanding, it is StackExchange consensus that meta tags are evil and should not be created/used. (So we do not want , , etc.)


My questions/suggestion:

Should we start a curated post here on Meta which provides meta-tag- or property-sorted lists of hand-picked puzzles?

This could serve as a 'sorted' entry-point to new or returning users. The style would be similar to the Fortnightly Topic Challenge, but the "grouping" parameter would not be a tag, but some non-taggable property. The post(s) would also be continuously expanded on (as long as the community cares.)

I'm aware that this is, to some extent, a step 'backwards' (like hand-picked link-lists vs. Google); I'm not suggesting this as a replacement but rather as an accompanying feature. I also think it is in the interest of the site to have a "growing" legacy of some sort, and hand-picked "jewels" of puzzles (or 'bad-examples' or whatever!) can be better found that way.

What do you think?


A potential format of these posts (to be discussed) would be that each has a clear title like, for example:

List of Puzzles that property....
- List of Puzzles that require a lot of work to solve.
- List of Puzzles that are good to use in RPG adventures.
- etc.

The question then defines in more detail what the property is (if needed) and answers contain a single link plus some comment similar to the 'Best-of' posts, allowing others to vote on each entry.

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  • $\begingroup$ This sounds like a display case of "answer" posts that could clean up a presently sloppy triple point among what we already have: (a) often-whimsical voting, (b) low-barrier tagging, and (c) each others' unspecific lists of favorites. Keying on the suggestion's word "curated," I don't even see a problem if some of the categories posted were duplicates of tags. I do tend to check out "staff favorites" lists in bookstores. $\endgroup$ – humn Jun 9 '16 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ I really like this idea... or more accurately I really like the idea of the result of this proposal. I.e. having well curated, categorised lists of puzzles is an awesome goal, but my concern is that the actual job of curating (remembering is hard, and searching takes effort) might cause it to either not get off the ground, or to cause lists to not be well maintained... $\endgroup$ – Alconja Jun 10 '16 at 5:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Alconja Yes, I can see this happen, but there is no requirement for 'completeness' and even an incomplete list serves already a purpose. What I think is needed as 'start-off', however, is a discussion about one or two worthwhile 'categories' to start a list for. Because if there is more consensus on that, more people are likely willing to contribute. $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Jun 10 '16 at 6:06
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    $\begingroup$ This is true. Another approach that might help build momentum is to have it in a single master post, with each list just being a community wiki answer. Would help keep bumping the post on meta keeping it fresh in peoples minds and encouraging contribution. Downside is that you'd lose the ability to vote on individual items in the list (though we could just have a blanket rule that people should post them in order of score). $\endgroup$ – Alconja Jun 10 '16 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Alconja I thought about that as well, but I think separate post which are linked by a common style and internal quick-links like the best-of and the challenge series should serve the same purpose. If one such post gets modified and highlighted it reminds of the other ones easily and the links ensure people can just browser through. Also I like the idea of separate comments/details for each link as opposed to having just long lists of links. In this respect, the best-of series is great. $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Jun 10 '16 at 6:34
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I think ultimately you're right. I'm trying to solve a problem that doesn't actually exist yet. :) Better to aim at the best solution and then worry about how to get there. $\endgroup$ – Alconja Jun 10 '16 at 6:36
  • $\begingroup$ I've already registered my enthusiasm for this concept but would, incidentally, find little value in anonymous vote counts compared to the value in seeing what peculiarities of easily-overlooked specimen puzzles might be appreciated and by whom. Every week I miss interesting, not necessarily popular, puzzles and have already spent lifetimes scratching through a mere fraction of the archives. $\endgroup$ – humn Jun 11 '16 at 0:23
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    $\begingroup$ @humn I'm thinking about creating a "difficulty" plugin where we could vote for the difficulty of a puzzle (between 0 and 5). this would send the vote to a DB and show the average difficulty near every questions. However I don't have the knowledge to do such a thing alone ! $\endgroup$ – Fabich Jun 22 '16 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Lordofdark So meta that this is meta-building the site. I like it :c) $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Jun 22 '16 at 13:52
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Yes. The site would be improved by curated lists of puzzles.

But the goal might be served most smoothly, though somewhat inefficiently, with posts by individual self-designated curators rather than by categories. Here is a partially thought-out possible approach.

  • An $\color{#0c0}{\large\raise-.1ex\checkmark}\kern-.2em$ accepted “index” answer could list all categories but contain no individual puzzles

    • Each category has links to all individual answers that include that category.

    • Anyone can freely add a category or a link.

    • This index leads all answers, because it is accepted, regardless of whether they are ordered by activity, time or votes.

  • Each individual answer could contain multiple categories maintained by its poster, who is effectively that answer’s curator

    • An individual answer includes all categories of interest to that curator.

    • Each category includes whichever puzzles that curator wishes for whatever reasons.

Benefits over centralized curation by category:

  • No need to debate what should or should not be included.

  • No need to fit all entries into a category.

  • No need to agree on a format for entries.

  • Self promotion will be obvious and easy to assess or ignore.

  • If someone appreciates the tastes of a certain curator in one category, they can quickly see what the same curator finds interesting in other categories.

  • If someone is bewildered by the tastes of a certain curator, it can be taken as an opportunity to help broaden their own perspective.

Disadvantages compared to centralized curation:

  • More steps are required to find all puzzles in a single category.

  • Inconsistent standards for entries.

  • Duplication of entries.

Challenge(s) regardless of system:

  • Disagreement on how to distinguish or merge similar categories in the master list.

(Feel free to add to these benefits, disadvantages or challenges rather than comment.)

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, @humn, for reviving this and providing a potential path forward here. Two things worry me about this general approach. First, that "Dan's List" might not be a meaningful category for people and that certain lists will be voted up for not-obvious reasons. Second: bloat/decay. You could easily have 30 people who want to post an answer, each with 3 categories, each category with 10 questions, etc. And as users inevitably leave the site, their personal answers wouldn't necessarily be wrong, just stagnant. $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Oct 21 '16 at 18:46

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