I asked this question recently. There were many answers, and it was accused of being too broad. I've been over the comments and the answers a few times, now. I'm not claiming it is perfect by any means, but I don't understand the criticism.

I want it to work. What do I need to change to make it work?

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It seems like it's actually a good question, and has spawned a lot of good answers, but the problem is that the rules here state that any puzzle needs to have one answer that is uniquely verifiable. That is, there should not be two or more answers that seem equally valid based on the parameters of the question.

Unfortunately, this means that a lot of "situation" questions like the one you posed, while interesting questions in themselves, don't fit within the parameters of Puzzling.SE.

You may have one particular answer in mind, but if someone is able to follow all the parameters of the question and come up with another answer that fits them all, that answer is equally valid, and the question is too broad.

It may be that there is nothing you can change to make this work. This type of question is notoriouly hard to constrain to a single valid answer, since it seems like the whole point of the question is to brainstorm valid strategies. There may be ways that you can disallow certain solutions by applying more parameters to the situation, but you can never guarantee that you have disallowed all of them.

Another possibility is to combine this "situation" type of puzzle with some other puzzle. Maybe the robot came up with a solution and wrote it down in encrypted form. Someone who thinks they have the solution can compare their solution to what the robot wrote to see if it matches. (This is a weak example, but there are many other ways you could use other types of puzzles to constrain the solution.)

TL;DR: There may be nothing you can do, since this type of puzzle is very difficult to constrain to one single correct, verifiable answer. Combining it with another type of puzzle might help you get there.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the response. I guess the biggest disconnect here is that I don't see how this problem has multiple answers. Yes, the exact construction of the "experiment" an answerer chooses could be different, but the fundamental basis almost certainly cannot. I tried using kind language when commenting on those answers, but they all did something in violation of the logic of the puzzle or invented/inferred something outside of the story. I really don't see a second correct answer. $\endgroup$ – Dark Thunder Aug 1 '19 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ As an aside, I am also quite against the militant use of the "uniquely verifiable" rule. You know most questions on this site wouldn't pass that test. It makes me feel unwanted, if I'm being honest. $\endgroup$ – Dark Thunder Aug 1 '19 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ @DarkThunder Thanks for your feedback. I think some of these rules were put in place to prevent "guess what I'm thinking"-type questions. We want puzzles, not guessing games on this site. I'm not saying that your post is a guessing game, but the community has come up with rules for what is appropriate, and unfortunately it makes posts like yours very hard to do effectively. Like I said in my answer, it's a good question, but just doesn't quite fit the format of puzzles that work well in StackExchange's Q&A setting. $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Aug 1 '19 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ @DarkThunder Your argument that all correct answers are logically the same may be valid, yet we still have multiple answers to the question, involving very different practice, even if the logic is similar. Perhaps this is a grey area? (I don't claim to be an expert.) I do know that we don't want a bunch of duplicate answers to a question any more than we want a bunch of different valid answers. $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Aug 1 '19 at 17:55

Being told that this puzzle doesn't belong here makes me sad.

I'm not trying to be overly dramatic, but I really feel like I'm being picked on. Look at the questions on the home page right now, you're telling me all of those questions are less broad than this one was? Most of the questions on this site are "guess what I'm thinking"... there's an enigmatic tag for crying out loud!

What angers me is that this was just supposed to be a fun, classic, puzzle from someone I have a lot of respect for. I would be happy to correct my adaptation of that story, if that was problem. Instead of being fun this whole ordeal is stressing me out. I'm defending my puzzle being called "too broad" by comments that are incredibly vague themselves. I get that a "broad" question makes for bad puzzle, but what makes this one BROAD??? The answer ends up being a little paragraph instead of a concise one-word answer? You better get the white-out ready you're gonna have to delete half the site! (the good half I might add)

Well, anyway... nobody defended me, so I guess I know what the score is. Don't worry about it, I won't be doing this again... I promise you that.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just because a story has a problem that is later resolved doesn't mean that that problem is a puzzle. A puzzle should have one clearly best solution. The story might only give one solution, but that does not mean it is the only way the problem could be resolved. (And in fact, it's usually not the only way: the author picks a resolution not because it is the most plausible, but because it works best for the story they are trying to tell.) $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Aug 2 '19 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ "Too broad" does not mean "answers are long", but "there are many possible equally-valid answers". Even if it's a great story, and Asimov is a very talented writer, that does not mean it's an acceptable puzzle for this site. The problem is not your adaptation, but the fact that it is simply not a puzzle: it's a problem that could be resolved in many different ways. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Aug 2 '19 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ We're not picking on you. I'd say the general sentiment here, if anything, is that we're disappointed that we had to close a question with such a nice premise! Your question had 16 upvotes, which is relatively a lot compared to most questions. Do you really think we're proud of ourselves for closing it off? Do try and understand our mentality: We really, really want to avoid questions that devolve into a game of "guess what I'm thinking", because it's just no fun and not in the spirit of puzzling. It's not always clear to users if their puzzle will turn into such, as in your case. $\endgroup$ – greenturtle3141 Aug 2 '19 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ Also, keep in mind that we're not saying your question "doesn't belong here". We closed it, but didn't delete it. The difference is that we delete questions that have no value whatsoever, such as spam or "please answer this math homework questions for me". Your questions does not and will not fall into this category. Questions are closed to prevent more answers from being added. $\endgroup$ – greenturtle3141 Aug 2 '19 at 22:09

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