I have a question about my Puzzling Stack Exchange post: IQ test matrix: Can you solve it and justify your answer?

I have asked a question about a Raven progressive matrix from an online IQ test and got buried with downvotes. Some users got upset because I hadn't provided a source, but this doesn't fully explain the downvotes. I think most users just don't like these questions. But aren't they valid puzzles? I very much think so. They certainly interest me. I believe some of them to be very challenging, just like a good riddle. You have to come up with different theories that explain the progression of elements in the matrix; it's similar to reading the author's mind. It's a different set of skills from that required in typical logical puzzles. I also find it fascinating that some people are able to find patterns immediately and others (like me in this case) seem to be blind. I am interested in what processes in the brain make one person better at this kind of problems.

Do you confirm that IQ questions aren't well received here? Why else did I get so many downvotes?


1 Answer 1


There are two reasons your post was heavily downvoted:

Yes, this community generally dislikes progressive matrices. As you said, "it's similar to reading the author's mind" -- this is the mark of a bad puzzle. A good puzzle should have a path to the solution "built in" in some way - a bad one requires you to just try things until you happen to guess correctly. Progressive matrices are almost exclusively of the latter type.

And we get many, many progressive matrix puzzles. They are almost always entirely uninteresting, because they just require you to guess at the author's intentions. (And it often appears that the people posting them are just trying to get a higher score on an IQ test -- so that doesn't help the community's opinion of them.)

But more importantly, you repeatedly refused to attribute your question correctly. All questions that come from an outside source must be cited clearly and directly, with a link if the source is from a website. Several of your comments suggested that the author didn't want the questions to be shared anywhere else, and you were posting them knowing this. Not only that, when the attribution policy was pointed out, you gave an intentionally obscured attribution so that nobody could find that you'd posted this question here.

This is likely where the majority of the downvotes come from - the question you posted is clearly not meant to be shared. The proper response to "I can't ask about the answer to this IQ test question without breaking the rules of the test" is not "ask anyway, and make sure that they can't find out that you broke the rules by additionally breaking the rules of Puzzling Stack Exchange".

  • $\begingroup$ First of all, thank you for answering. My experience on this website so far has been quite alienating. I was genuinely interested in knowing the pattern behind the matrix, and all I got was accusations of dishonesty, to which I replied, and only got downvotes and no explanation whatsoever. So thanks for getting back. Now, I have argued why I think progressive matrices are good puzzles, and your definition of a good puzzle is entirely subjective. So it seems very unfair to downvote a question just because you don't like it. I don't like euclidean geometry problems but I'm not downvoting them $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2019 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ I have also explained why I refused to attribute my question, I think quite persuasively. By the way, if you actually read the IQ test website, nowhere does it state that the question should not be shared. I am just a very conscientious person and I have read that solutions shouldn't be easily accessible. Unfortunately I got badly misunderstood... There is no reason why any author wouldn't want his questions to be discussed in this way. But even if that were the case, don't you think I would have just claimed it was from an old IQ textbook or made up some other excuse? $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2019 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ I hope you can appreciate how frustrating it is for an honest person to be accused of dishonesty. Like you, I really like riddles and puzzles and this was just my first attempt at discussing a problem with this community, while also trying to respect the author. Do you think IQ test questions should not be discussed at all? Then make it a rule. But I think it would be a very unfair one. $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2019 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ @TheFootprint this site is community run so the community decides what constitutes a good puzzle. The community also discusses how the site should be run and enforces this by moderation. That is how the site works $\endgroup$
    – Adam
    Aug 30, 2019 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ @TheFootprint It may be the case that you're perfectly within the rules of the IQ test and the intentions of the author. I'm not sure. But it certainly appeared to outside observers like you're intentionally hiding the source so that people can't find out where the question is from, and that's likely why you've been getting a lot of downvotes. (That, and the fact that this indirect attribution is against the attribution policy of PSE even if it's okay with the IQ test creator, and the general opinion on progressive matrices being poor puzzles.) $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi Mod
    Aug 30, 2019 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Deusovi Of course I am within the rules. If this were not the case, you should literally ban all IQ questions because they can't possibly meet these standards. Ask yourself, is it really harmful to discuss a Raven progressive matrix online? I would argue it isn't at all. So I don't really understand why people immediately thought I was in bad faith, because I have been replying quite earnestly to every question, and giving reasonable answers. Do you know of any puzzle authors that don't want their puzzles to be discussed? $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2019 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Deusovi Imagine the author of that matrix angrily commenting "I told you not to discuss it with anyone! How dare you! Mods, please delete this". It's ludicrous, isn't it? So that's why I am quite upset that this is what everyone thought, instead of believing my reasonable explanation... $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2019 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Adam Then I am sure the community will distinguish between good and bad progressive matrices. I argue that my progressive matrix is good because it's quite complex. Don't you hate when you don't understand something? With a progressive matrix, you know that there is a pattern, often quite elegant, but all you see is chaos until something clicks and you see the light. It's a challenge, I like it. $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2019 at 22:10
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    $\begingroup$ @TheFootprint "These standards" are just that the place the question comes from must be clearly cited and linked. Many previous questions from IQ tests have met that standard. (Also, we have had to delete questions before because an author of an IQ test notified us that the questions were violating their copyright.) $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi Mod
    Aug 30, 2019 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Deusovi Sometimes rules have to be changed and exceptions must be made. I believe this is the case. I believe that the reason why the authors might want the question removed is the fact that it shows up on web searches and messes up their statistics on the test takers. There can be no other way in which it is harmful to them. So that is why I went to great lengths to hide the actual link. Do you think that citing the source is that important? It's not clear to me why it's important. Nobody makes money off these things, so I might even claim authorship without harming anyone. $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2019 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Deusovi Ask yourself, are these rules justified or you are just being too strict and rigid? Who gets harmed if other people discuss their puzzles? $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2019 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ @TheFootprint Let's continue this discussion in chat. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi Mod
    Aug 30, 2019 at 22:24

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