I've already raised the issue of the title prompt for questions, which after community consensus was changed by Community Manager Shog9 to read "What's your puzzle or your puzzle-related question?" rather than "What's your creation and solving of puzzles question?"

But just now I noticed the "How to Ask" box which pops up on the top right whenever you go to the Ask Question page, and which also seems quite inappropriate for a site whose main focus is on posting and solving puzzles rather than on posting questions which need answers:


This is what everybody sees whenever they go to post a question on PSE. It's such a poor reflection of what our 'questions' are usually about here that it's quite likely to cause confusion, especially for new users who aren't used to the site and the SE system.

This raises two questions.

  • Firstly: is it possible for any of the text in this popup to be changed by SE staff?

  • Secondly: if so, what should we change it to? Suggestions and discussion welcome!

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The "provide details" part just reminds me of the tooltip of the up-/downvote button: "This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear", which can be a bit misleading. In my opinion, there are also many other parts of the standard SE texts that should be customizable (Puzzling is a very special snowflake), for example in the tour: "Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do." But I do agree that the "How to ask" section is more important, since it will be viewed by more users. $\endgroup$
    – user14478
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


I think it goes without saying that

Is your question about creation and solving of puzzles?

should be changed to something like

Is your question a puzzle, or a question about the creation and solving of puzzles?

and “Share your research.” is irrelevant/meaningless for puzzles.  (I suppose it may be relevant for questions about puzzles, but, as you point out, we get very few of those, so this instruction will just confuse most people.)

This leaves us with “We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.” and “Provide details.”  This prompted me to do some quick queries on Data Explorer.  While there has been a recent uptick in “Off Topic” closures (perhaps because of the sandbox?), the most common close reasons over the history of the site have been “Duplicate” and “Too Broad” (almost equally frequently).  Accordingly, the “How to Ask” guidelines should perhaps say something like

  • Please ensure that your puzzle has only one possible answer (or one clearly best answer).  Ensure that the puzzle contains all the information needed to determine that answer.  Any information that is needed to determine the answer should be part of the puzzle and not gratuitously tacked on as a “hint”.

  • Please search our community to see whether your question (or an equivalent one) has already been asked.


  • The wording in my first bullet, above, probably needs some work, inasmuch as we seem to allow questions that require externally-available “common” knowledge.  Would it be appropriate to mention , , , and similar tags here?
  • The second bullet should probably be added Stack Exchange-wide.
  • $\begingroup$ +1 to this, although the first bullet point does need some rewording and the second is probably unnecessary. Puzzling actually has a lot less duplicate closures than most SE sites, because we have so many original puzzles created by the OPs rather than asking-for-help questions, so if that second bullet point is needed anywhere, it's not here! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 22:59
  • $\begingroup$ (Also, there's still the issue of whether or not it's even possible to change the wording of the How to Ask box, on which we're still waiting to hear back from a CM or anyone else who knows.) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 22:59

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