I am currently working on a puzzle, that will inevitably have some manual repetitive tasks in parts. To eliminate this, I am considering doing the tasks myself and putting it in a pastebin. When the puzzle has been solved up to the correct point, I will release the pastebin link so solvers won't have to do it themselves. Should I do this though? Would it be better if solvers completed the whole puzzle by themselves?

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    $\begingroup$ IMO, if your puzzle has repetitive tasks, then it's probably a badly designed puzzle. (I could be wrong though.) $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Mod Feb 18 '17 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Deusovi I hope you're wrong :) The repetitive task is a sort of cipher (like Braille or Morse to decode) except it has to be deciphered by hand and there are lots of letters. $\endgroup$ – Melkor Feb 18 '17 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ Deciphering a long cipher by hand? That's exactly what I was worried about. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Mod Feb 18 '17 at 0:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Deusovi I know it sounds bad but it's just a small part of the wider puzzle. Would it be better if I did the repetitive bit myself then (as I asked in the question)? $\endgroup$ – Melkor Feb 18 '17 at 0:44
  • $\begingroup$ I am trying not to spoil to much, but the enciphered form would be more aesthetically pleasing. $\endgroup$ – Melkor Feb 18 '17 at 0:47
  • $\begingroup$ Why not have your solved version be revealed from some other small hidden puzzle, like an imagur link encoded by the first few characters being decoded? $\endgroup$ – David Starkey Feb 24 '17 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ Is there something bad about this puzzle? mentions the concept of "hard/fun balance", which seems to be relevant here. $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook Mar 2 '17 at 2:22

An enthusiastic yes to a thoughtfully considerate, generous and liberating idea with value well beyond repetitive tasks!   This question could more broadly be redubbed:

Laborious tasks?

Here are some benefits of the suggestion in question — that a puzzle’s poser provide results of laborious portions of the solution, at pose time or later.

  • It is considerate to reduce the un creative effort required to fill out mechanically-derived details.

  • It is generous to share results of mechanical labor that already went into creating and test-solving the puzzle. Usually the poser has generated such results much more efficiently than solvers would think of or even have good tools for.

  • It is liberating to be able, with a clear conscience, to create puzzles with many details when onerous ramifications of those details are not burdened upon solvers.

Such results can readily be supplied in the form of an auxiliary answer to the puzzle — such as a “wikified worksheet”— here rather than off site when possible. To answer as a community wiki not only averts a taint of vote begging but also encourages solvers to share results of further efforts.   Such an answer can exploit other benefits as well.

  • Help clarify the puzzle while allowing the original statement to remain relatively concise.

  • Exemplify a format for solutions.

  • Highlight clues and provide hints, both overtly and subtly.

  • Help divert solvers from extensive efforts along false leads.

Related examples

Please add to this list, as existing examples or, even better of course, as newly created examples.


Some manual repetition is likely okay, buuuut... please be respectful of solvers' time.

I won't elaborate a whole lot on that, because it's more true if it's left as an intuitive general principle. But if you think there's a part of your puzzle that's going to take a lot of time and work slogging through fairly unrewarding manual trials, consider that the puzzle might simply be better if it weren't there.


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