I posted a puzzle a while ago called Giving Gifts to Twins. It has been over a year, and I have updated it every few months with additional hints. Every time I update it, it gets a brief period of activity, but the answer I intended has never shown up.

What should I do in this situation?

  • Self-answer the question (in a spoiler)?
  • Continue to post hints?
  • Add more information to the main challenge?
  • Nothing?

I do believe that once the correct answer is found (or revealed), it will fit better than the existing answers.

  • $\begingroup$ A few notes, that probably don't quite constitute a complete answer: 1) Questions that fall off the front page will get forgotten (with the exception of certain high profile puzzles, which riddles will rarely be), so you probably want to do something, which will bump your puzzle back into view. 2) There's lots of very clever people that frequent this site, so if your puzzle isn't getting solved it may be a sign that it is either too hard, or too niche, so adding more info/hint is probably a good idea. $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Jan 5, 2018 at 5:22
  • $\begingroup$ also, this belongs on the main site, not on meta I think. $\endgroup$ Jan 5, 2018 at 7:49
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @micsthepick this certainly belongs on the meta because it's related to the policy making/clarification on this site. This post is not a puzzle at all. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew T.
    Jan 5, 2018 at 8:58
  • $\begingroup$ @andrewT not all posts on puzzling have to be puzzles. Questions on how to make or present puzzles are in fact only belong on puzzling and not puzzling meta $\endgroup$ Jan 6, 2018 at 0:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @micsthepick after reading some other meta posts, I stand corrected. Also, I can see that this might fit on the main site based on the title only, but the choices given by the OP is specific to SE only (Q&A format) which I still believe the meta is the correct one. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew T.
    Jan 6, 2018 at 1:33

3 Answers 3


This will vary from person to person. But, if there's no interest in a puzzle, here's the process I would take (and that I have seen other people take). The order here is not exact -- in particular, the middle three steps could be rearranged. (For instance, if a solution was very close I'd give a bounty before hints.) But generally, these are the options I'd consider in roughly the order I'd take them.

  • Transcribe things. Get any tedious parts of the puzzle out of the way. Make your puzzle as accessible as possible. If you have an image or audio file, convert as much of it as possible to text -- if all the solvable pieces can be transcribed, that's even better (and you should make a note of that!). (This should probably be done anyway, but if you haven't done it yet you should do it here.)
  • Confirm progress. If any partial answers have been posted, tell them what parts were on the right track. This gives solvers something to focus on, and perhaps they can use this information to see why other parts of their partial solution were incorrect.
  • Give hints. Hint as much of the puzzle as possible without giving a major "aha moment" away. Start vague, and become more specific over time. Edit these hints into the question, and perhaps notify people who were interested in the puzzle before. (This may give them motivation to finish the puzzle.) You might also want to edit the puzzle to clarify parts that you see people getting stuck on.
  • Start a bounty. This can draw people to take another look at the puzzle, but won't always work. Make the bounty proportional to the amount of progress left - a 50-rep bounty will be fine if it's a small puzzle, but a larger one might be needed for a larger puzzle (or one with more work to do).
  • Self-answer. Explain the intended solution path. Add comments on what worked and what didn't, where people got stuck, and what you'd do if you were to remake the puzzle.

I've already more or less covered this in my answer to How long should I wait before providing the answer to my riddle? The three key ingredients are time, edited-in hints, and possibly bounties. The more hints you give, the more solvable the puzzle will become; a bounty will help to draw attention and motivate solvers; but you don't have to rush with any of this, because time might be all people need.

As a last resort, yes, you might want to self-answer your own question. It would be sad if a good puzzle came to that, though - a self-answer would deprive other people of the fun of solving it and posting their own answer. I'd rather suggest that you keep adding hints instead (not even necessarily spoilertagged - if the existing answers fit fairly well, you might want to add more lines into the riddle itself, to avoid it being too broad).

  • $\begingroup$ No answer deprives anyone of the fun of solving a puzzle. If the answer is suitably spoilered or "below the fold", everyone can try the puzzle before looking at the answer. They won't get rep, of course, but they might still have a resonable amount of fun. (Yes, if there is an accepted answer, people will look at it when they are stuck. But that's not the (self-) answerer's fault.) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Jan 9, 2018 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm That's why I put "the fun of solving it and posting their own answer" :-) Also: in theory you're absolutely right, but in practice, I wonder how many people actually put time into solving a puzzle here without looking at the spoilertags when there's already a correct/accepted answer? $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2018 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, sorry, didn't read properly. When an answer is out there, people are probably more likely to give in and just look. (I usually do that.) I wonder whether some encouraging words at the beginning of an answer by someone else than the OP can get people to give the puzzle at least a try. But that's not the topic of this question. FWIW, I agree with your points here. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Jan 9, 2018 at 18:37

I do not think there is anything wrong in answering your own question. In fact the site provides a Tab to do just that.

If you think it is a very challenging question and needs more views then you might want to use Bounty for it

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "the site provides a Tab to do just that" - yes, but that functionality (and this help centre page) originate on other SE sites which work very differently to Puzzling. Here, it would be considered very strange to post an immediate self-answer, or to self-answer at all unless all else has failed. $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2018 at 14:50

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .