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Let's say a puzzle has a story that might seem real to some people. For example, a puzzle could have a story like "So my friend sent me a message". Do I, as the puzzle creator, have to clarify somewhere in the body of the question that the story is fictional? I'd like to list the pros and cons I've found of not stating that a puzzle is fictional:

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  • It might motivate users more to solve the puzzle.
  • A note that indicates the puzzle is not real might destroy the whole appeal of the story.

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  • It might cause some users to think the puzzle is more important than it actually is, perhaps even placing a bounty on it.
  • Users might get very upset once they find out it is fictional.
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    $\begingroup$ I think nearly everyone here is going to assume it's fictional unless it's clearly not. $\endgroup$ Sep 9 '16 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor I think so too, although I'm not sure and therefore wanted to ask this question. On another note: The tag-description of etiquette says "Stack Overflow" instead of "Puzzling". I guess it's not worth a meta-post, should I just notify a mod in chat? $\endgroup$
    – user14478
    Sep 9 '16 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ You don't have to, but it's highly recommended to "break character" at least once (maybe in the comments?) if the story seems plausible. I know I sometimes get unnecessarily worried over these things because we have had at least one real one before. I'm sure other people get worried, too, and we don't want anyone trying to take real life action over a fictional story. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi Mod
    Sep 9 '16 at 18:15
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    $\begingroup$ (Plus, it's nice to quell any doubts people might have. No reason to stress people out - puzzles are supposed to be fun, not worrisome.) $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi Mod
    Sep 9 '16 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Lukas I just fixed the etiquette tag wiki. $\endgroup$ Sep 9 '16 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ I would suggest that if there is any scope for real doubt about whether the situation described in a question is real then you should post a comment on the question saying explicitly whether or not it is. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan Mod
    Sep 10 '16 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ Like this question? It was real (apparently)... $\endgroup$
    – Mithical
    Sep 10 '16 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ What rand al'thor said, but more strongly: assume a puzzle story is fictional unless and until the puzzle-writer explicitly says otherwise. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Sep 11 '16 at 2:35
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It happened to me with My Puzzling Girlfriend. I discussed the issue a bit there along with some pros and cons of staying in character. As far as etiquette goes what your mom told you about not lying to people still holds true. You can get almost the same effect as "real" by playfully inviting the reader to join the charade. Use the story tag.

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  • $\begingroup$ Lying to someone who asks if the story is real is different from never stating something about whether it's real or not in the question, though. My question was whether a "disclaimer" has to be added to a fake story that might seem real. But the story-tag suggestion is very helpful, I should've read the tag description more carefully... This way this whole question kinda becomes irrelevant. $\endgroup$
    – user14478
    Sep 10 '16 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ @LukasRotter That's true. I must have misinterpreted the part where you talked about the appeal of the story being ruined if there was a note saying it wasn't real. I was taking that to mean something like "I need to fool people into thinking the story is real in order for it to be appealing." I can see now that wasn't your intention. $\endgroup$ Sep 10 '16 at 18:31

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