# Are puzzles that overthink their answers appropriate?

I wasn't quite sure how to phrase this, but I stumbled on this puzzle and was surprised to see the amount of thought going into it.

The answer - that suspect 3 must have done it because the murder occurred in the women's bathroom - may feel overly simplified but it is the correct one. The puzzle isn't properly attributed but is clearly from something like a magazine, intended for casual fun rather than intense logical reasoning.

I'm not saying that puzzle solvers shouldn't try and get creative with their answers if they're working theoretically, but should such discussions (if they are appropriate) have their own tag?

• By 'working theoretically' I mean, for example, considering what might have happened if the conditions were x, y and z like some of the commenters on that puzzle are doing. Sep 10 '19 at 8:36
• Just here to remind everyone that anyone can walk into the women's bathroom and so calling it an oversimplification doesn't do it justice
Sep 10 '19 at 8:50
• You've kind of highlighted my point: that type of puzzle is not meant for that sort of extrapolation. In real life, yes, anyone can walk into any bathroom, a murderer could be hidden in the ceiling, a practising knife-thrower with a travelling circus in the field next door to the building's aim might not be great. The linked puzzle is a simple logic puzzle, and the answer is intended to be 3, so is trying to make it more complicated than it is helpful? Or should it be it's own category/tag? Sep 10 '19 at 9:47

I don't think people are "overthinking its answer" - from the missing knife and what may be a scratch on 4's neck, it seems pretty clear that 4 is indeed the (or at least, an) intended answer. You're asserting that your answer is definitely correct based on... your guess about the actual source of the puzzle? I'm not sure I understand the reasoning here.

And are you saying that the puzzle is overthinking the answer, or the answerers are? I don't understand your actual concern besides "I disagree with the general consensus", but that's not necessarily a problem with the post in question.

However, I've seen many "puzzles" with this same art style and presentation that are intentionally ambiguous. (The obvious examples are the "order of operations" and "which container will fill first", many variants of which have spread around the internet.) It's very possible that this was made as clickbait to get lots of comments arguing about the answer (and hence more views), with no actual One True Answer™ in mind.

• Okay, I agree I might be wrong about my answer, but this puzzle has been around the internet for years (if you google ‘who is the killer woman in bathroom’ you’ll see the many variations/replications) and has also been in print for longer than that. My problem is not that I ‘disagree with the general consensus’, it’s that there IS no consensus and, as you mention, it’s designed to generate endless comments rather than an answer. Creative thinking exercises are great and good practice for puzzle solving, but I don’t think they qualify as puzzles by themselves. Sep 11 '19 at 5:52
• @Tonks I agree that "creative thinking exercises" don't qualify as puzzles. And that's exactly why we have close reasons for questions that don't have a clear answer, or whose answers are opinion-based.
– Deusovi Mod
Sep 11 '19 at 8:29
• Thank you for your explanation, I see now that the on-hold/close cases cover what I mean - sorry it was so difficult to explain! Sep 12 '19 at 13:30

Well, I am the one who posted that question. today I saw question regarding it so I want to justify my question.

1. First of all, there are options given to help people to identify the answer. it is just like MCQ question options. ( so the answers is obviously among the given options)
2. These are visual puzzles to see your visual thinking, it is not about making stories of your own. (ignore those people who are making stories are bad answer if the story do not match the clues given in the picture)
4. In any crime scene, it is not easy to find a murderer ( watch online crime videos ). everyone is like not like sherlock and there is always more than one people who are suspicious in murder cases.
5. So in the given puzzle, your task is simply to identify the clues against the suspects given to you.
6. if you came up with most of the clues against someone and also able to clarify another person as innocent then your answer is really a good one.
7. I justified the answer that women is not a murderer and also why the man is a murderer. You can see the women do not have any blood spots, she is having her knife, her clothes are decent, if she murdered her with a knife there should be at least a struggle she is a woman, after all. if you see the picture clearly all the evidence goes against 4.

Now what are the crap answered given to me ( people making own stories instead of finding clues in the picture to solve the puzzle)

1. victim may be an ill and weakened state? it is mentioned anywhere?
2. victim may have done suicide? option is already given and it is a murder mentioned in the question then why suicide?
3. only women can go inside women washroom ( I also justified the point wherever in the world you will find a women bathroom you will also find a men bathroom near it. it is because of water supply and throwing waste in gutters. apart from that it anyone can go inside women washroom with proper planning it makes him even less suspicious if he is a man... )

My point is: Everyone knows it has clear answer 4 but some people are misleading the answer. if you check the quora link of the puzzle 4 as a murderer got 59k upvotes which are the highest.

if you ask someone what is 1 + 1? he will say 2 but what if another person say you are wrong it is 11 below is the proof

<script>
var ans = "1" + "1";
document.write(ans); // output 11

</script>


because there are people who do lateral thinking, I am not saying it is wrong to do lateral thinking. In the above example, they consider 1 as a string and concatenated the string in javascript. ( + symbol is used for concatenation ).

I think these questions should also be closed... if you consider it does not have a proper answer because of somone people who are ruining the puzzle by making their own stories...

Mysterious loss of weight

IQ test: a Letter sequence

there are many more and you guys knew it...

• That's my point - lateral thinking is not in itself a puzzle, and it's nearly impossible to solve puzzles this way. If you were sitting an MCQ exam and the question was '1 + 1 = ?' with the answers being a) 2, b) 11, c) K, or D) dihidrogen, it would be impossible to get the answer right or wrong without guessing. As defined by this forum, puzzles should have an answer. Lateral thinking is great for constructing puzzles, maybe your puzzle would work better as an inspiration for a challenge - come up with a puzzle based on this scenario? Sep 12 '19 at 13:29
• @Tonks lateral thinking is possible in all the types of questions... there are upvotes for the effort but they are not considered as an answer... I am updating examples of similar questions in my post... Sep 12 '19 at 13:33
• the 'Mysterious Loss of weight' question has an answer, if you look at quark epoch's comments throughout the post (although a fun question it does seem a bit 'guess what i'm thinking'), and the IQ test question also has an answer as explained by the original poster of the puzzle on the German message board. I think what I mean is that there should be an answer, which Deusovi has already explained to me is covered by the close/on hold rules. Sep 12 '19 at 14:59
• No one wants to play "guess what I am thinking". It does not matter the slightest what the intended answer is. If it cannot be agreed upon that one answer is objectively the definitive answer then the question is clearly "too-broad" or occasionally "primarily opinion based". This is a problem with information and subjectivity