Riddle quality is dropping. I think most of us have seen it lately: there’s been a slow slide in effort and energy put into riddles, and it’s starting to seriously hurt the site. On Stack Exchange, our goal is to optimize for pearls, not sand, and right now, we’re very much not doing this. If we were, it would not only push the quality of the site up, but also drive us to advance the state of the art.
Nowhere else that I know of on the internet do people collaboratively come together to develop new puzzles - including riddles - and that’s not something we want to stop. However, we need to do something to sort out what makes a riddle high quality for this site, and set better quality standards.
So it’s time for us to set aside some energy and effort to sort this out, and start over with a better structure in place to support riddles. Here’s what we’re proposing:
We set up a permanent riddle feedback sandbox. Anyone interested in posting a riddle posts it in the sandbox (optionally along with its solution), where it can be critiqued and voted upon by others.
The intent is to allowing people to receive feedback on structure and quality. This discussion is also intended to drive a broader discussion of what makes a riddle a good fit, and on-topic, for this site.
(Note: the sandbox would not be for answering these riddles in comments. Attempts to answer in comments would likely be deleted.)
We set up a temporary moratorium on non-sandboxed riddles until we come to a consensus about handling quality standards going forward. During this time, unless a riddle received a score of +10 or more in the riddle sandbox, it would be closed with the following reason:
There is currently a temporary moratorium on posting riddles on Puzzling Stack Exchange. This will last until more complete quality standards are developed, and during that time, no riddles may be posted on the main site unless they are [sandboxed first](link to sandbox). For more information, see [this meta post](link to here).
This will both allow us to discuss which questions should be on the site, as well as figure out which types of riddles we actually miss seeing on the site. I strongly believe some types of riddles will pass unmissed, and these are the types we want to watch out for.
Right now, on Puzzling, we’re stuck in a mindset of “good until it can be shown to be low-quality.” This moratorium is intended to turn that on its head, and change it into something closer to “riddles must prove their value to the site.” The first approach is often not effective when trying to curate high-quality content.
This also isn’t intended to stop riddles from being posted on the main site long-term. Riddles are a legitimate category of puzzle, and there is high value in keeping them around. It is, however, intended to drive stronger restrictions about which riddles we’re okay with having here, and hopefully improve site quality overall.
My goal and hope for this process is that we will come through it with a clear understanding of what makes a high-quality riddle, and of which riddles are not appropriate for this site. That will allow us, the entire Puzzling community, to more effectively moderate the riddles that are posted, and truly start optimizing for pearls I know we can create.
Sincerely, Your Moderator Team