My question is specifically based on this puzzle of mine which was closed a few months back on the main site. Now, I failed to understand why it was closed and didn't get a satisfactory answer at that time too.

Now, closing puzzles which aren't good enough is fine with me. But, I sincerely believe that the OP should be informed of where he needs to improve on his puzzle so that in the future, he doesn't face the same problems again. The users who voted to close the puzzle could suggest ways on how to improve the puzzle rather than a simple "I voted to close this puzzle as off-topic.. bla bla bla" which does no favours to anyone.

I also tried to ask for an answer at the Sphinx Lair,which is one of the most active chatrooms at PSE, but I received no answers, (probably because it was weekends).

My question is, Why was this question closed? I would appreciate an answer which could suggest how to improve on similar puzzles, were I to post them in the future.

P.S. This was the intended solution

  • $\begingroup$ Care to share the answer to the puzzle. Right now the answers are George, Chester, John or the gun on the floor all with different logic applied and obviously none of them correct. Feedback would probably be easier to give if we know the thought process that went into the question and what information everyone missed that would give an unambiguous answer. $\endgroup$
    – gtwebb
    Oct 26, 2016 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ @gtwebb I would link the answer that I posted on the Sphinx Lair a few days back.. Just hold on... $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Oct 26, 2016 at 17:48

3 Answers 3


Since you seem genuinely curious about why several people thought your puzzle was too broad, here are some specific details. Note that I hadn't seen your puzzle before just now, so I'm looking at it with fresh eyes.

  1. "Clearly, someone else was after the bank loot..." That statement is not at all clear from the details of the story itself. There was a shootout in the dark and we're supposed to infer that one of the FBI men was actually trying to kill his entire team? In the dark?
  2. It's not clear enough where everyone was. Were they all outside? Were they all inside? We know George was told to stay around the back, but for everyone else, did they enter the shack? And was there a back door?
  3. When did the firing start and when did the darkness start? The story says "Then, in the fire, the lantern hanging overhead shattered on the floor. Darkness engulfed the shack. Heavy gunfire erupted." So was there gunfire first that caused the darkness? Then also heavy gunfire? If so, who fired the first shot, since it was still light in there?
  4. There are not many must-explain details. Meaning: you could simply say: "George had motive (meager salary, kids to feed) and a sub-machine gun so he could've sprayed the room with bullets hoping to take the money and run" and nothing in the story really contradicts this. Or you could say "Chester was the only one not shot, so he probably did it" and nothing really contradicts this. Or Matt did it because "he said he got hit in the thigh," but did he really get hit in the thigh? Or John did it because his was the only weapon with a high enough caliber to pierce walls, and nothing contradicts these either. Hence, too broad.

Overall, when you're hoping for people to zoom in on a solution that depends on specific details, you need a much clearer setup. You could probably modify this by adding, for example, a floor plan of the crime scene with the locations of all the men marked just before the shooting started, or be clearer about exactly what is and isn't known (Was every gun fired? Were the walls penetrable by some ammo but not other ammo? Was the window in the back the right height for a stray bullet to hit George in the ear?).

Whatever vision of this puzzle is in your head is not, I think, the one you communicated with your story. So try reading it to someone who hasn't heard it before, then see what questions they have, and where you are willing to add a little clarity. Because for us to identify the correct solution, there has to be more detail to rule out some of the many other possible solutions.

  • $\begingroup$ I thank you for your detailed feedback. And the questions that you have raised are also valid. I should have probably spent a bit more time on this and ironed out all the flaws. I would take care in the future. Thanks once again. $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Oct 24, 2016 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ A great answer, with valuable feedback. $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2016 at 17:45

I voted to close that one because it was too broad. There were too many possible answers, and nothing narrowing them down or making any of them stand out.

I didn't leave a comment because the "too broad" close reason text already aptly described why I voted to close.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ could I clarify as to how the puzzle is too broad? The answers weren't apt enough and the guys themselves weren't too sure probably hoping for a lateral thinking tag which wasn't there. $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Oct 24, 2016 at 14:13

After looking at the answer I believe it is too broad/ambiguous (although I couldn't vote at the time)

Here are my comments I've tried to grab the quotes from the question that I guess would lead to the conclusion given and have given my reason why I don't think they are concrete enough for an unambiguous question.

It was Matt Jameson

Chester was outside the shack all the time and had to carry a lantern with him. Highly unlikely-he could have shot.

Young Chester was in his first man hunt and was visibly nervous keeping his shotgun close to him.

Heavy gunfire erupted. Chester lit the lantern that he had been told to bring illuminating the shack.

Nothing states He was holding the lantern the whole time and from the first sentence I would have guessed he would have been ready to fire due to being nervous or he could have put the lantern down done his shooting and then picked up the lantern, lit it and headed in when he was asked for light.

George was hit in the ear and had dropped his gun in the excitement. He couldn't have shot all.

Joe had a slug in the gut, Washington got one on the shoulder. George had been hit in his left ear. He was still outside the shack in the back, but his gun lay inside, while Matt Jameson said he got hit on the thigh.

They all were shot so I don't see why this would disqualify George

It must be between Joe or Matt. However, Joe would be retiring this year and he had already brought an old cottage in the countryside. He doesn't need the money. However, Matt had to pay off some debts of his. He needed the money and possibly shot himself.

Just because someone has enough money doesn't mean they don't want more. It could take a cozy retirement into a lavish retirement


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