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I am pretty new here thus sorry if my question is a bit stupid. This is related but I am asking for kind of the "opposite".

I mean, one can struggle to solve a puzzle and ask for an hint. But if it is done in the comment, it can ruin the pleasure for the other users to solve a hard problem. Also, I guess that timing is important : it seems useless to ask for help from OP twenty minutes after he asked his question. Hence my question:

When is it acceptable (if it is) to ask for a hint on a puzzle?

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When you ask for a hint - and I agree with Deusovi that you can do that whenever you feel for it - it might be a good idea to also state why you need a hint, i.e. if there is a particular issue with the puzzle which makes it hard etc. You might also consider posting a partial answer in which you summarize your thoughts up to that point. This might also help the puzzle-author to better judge what kind of hint is appropriate.

For a puzzle-author such "requests for hints" can be a valuable resource, as they will tell him how the puzzle is perceived as far as difficulty is concerned. I, for once, like all sorts of feedback on my puzzles.

However, just don't expect that "asking for a hint" will automatically result in a hint given. As Deusovi pointed out, it's up to the author whether he thinks hints are in order or not.

Also, some OP might want to give the community as a whole a bit more time before spoiling it because one individual asked for help. A little patience might be required.

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  • $\begingroup$ trigger?­­­­­­­ $\endgroup$ – f'' Jul 19 '16 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ I will accept your response as it comes more complete than the other ones. The "kind of hint" is important here, thank you! $\endgroup$ – IAmInPLS Jul 20 '16 at 7:06
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You can ask for a hint whenever you want - there's not really a hard and fast rule. The question poser will usually hold off on giving hints until they feel it's necessary.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your clarification about the "hard and fast" rule which I was afraid of. +1 $\endgroup$ – IAmInPLS Jul 20 '16 at 7:08
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Well, first of all your question is not at all stupid but rather important.
You can always ask for hints from the OP(Original Poster), and tell at what point you're struck. It can be a subtle or even explicit that you want hint for say solving a sub-part of the puzzle.

Also, it actually depends on the one who is asking the question, sometimes he would give you hints but sometimes any giveaway hints might ruin the fun of puzzle.

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    $\begingroup$ Agree with you, giving hints away could ruin the puzzle $\endgroup$ – IAmInPLS Jul 20 '16 at 7:08
  • $\begingroup$ yes, it would be like someone spoils a movie for you by telling you a major event in the plot. $\endgroup$ – ABcDexter Jul 20 '16 at 7:17

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