I'm solving an enigmatic-puzzle, in particular, this. If I found routes that ended up in a dead-end, but which I am sure that was deliberately added in by the puzzle creator, should I post them as an answer? Thanks! The number of red herrings was significant.


3 Answers 3


In general, my personal opinion would be 'no, that's not answer-worthy, but it's probably worth posting as a comment'.

I may be more reluctant to post partial answers than most, but as I mentioned in this other meta post, my general criteria are that partial answers should make a significant amount of definite progress: specifically, to the point where the partial answer could be a reasonably large component of a full answer. In my opinion, finding a lot of wrong paths isn't really progress that could significantly contribute to a full answer (because the wrong paths are not a core part of the solution).

And I also wouldn't consider doing an "obvious" thing to be much progress either. (What counts as "obvious" though will be a bit subjective, of course.) For example, in your Piece de Resistance series, I solved one of the subpuzzles, but posted it as a comment rather than an answer because I felt it was 'obvious': it was likely to be helpful for someone else, but unlikely to be something that other people could not get themselves with a bit of work.

In this particular situation, I think it's borderline - I wouldn't have posted it as an answer myself, because it mostly 'feels' to me more like data collection rather than progress. (If I did this much and couldn't get any farther, I might consider posting a Community Wiki answer - those are often used for data-collection work.)

But I also wouldn't complain (very much) about it being there: you've done some nontrivial anagrams, and OP has hinted in the comments that these red herring phrases may actually be relevant.


As the OP of the question in question (hi!), here is my view...

In the general case, I completely agree with Deusovi's comments. Any attempted answer should usually demonstrate proper progress in the direction of finding a solution. The previous discussions re cryptic clues, etc. stand to reason - solving an individual clue when it's a drop in the ocean compared to the rest of the puzzle seems like fishing for rep rather than a serious attempt to engage with the puzzle long enough to crack it. My rule of thumb in such a situation is 'wait til you have solved at least half but then keep going til you find yourself stuck' - at that point I find commenters or partial answers can give you the helpful nudges you need to fill the last gaps in your solution.

However, for this particular puzzle it is difficult to apply my rule of thumb, because its nature means spotting that 'magic' halfway point is tricky. As alluded to in the flavour text (if you spotted the allusions) there were many deliberate red herrings built into this puzzle. The 'antagonist' in the narrative makes it clear that it might not be too straightforward to spot the method of solving immediately, and thus I would suggest that in this particular case a useful approach for other solvers is to declare the red herrings you have so far identified to rule out the dead ends...

Whether this should be as a comment or as a partial answer is the question then. Here I would say that if you have found enough red herrings to require more than a comment (like your answer) or if a red herring you found took considerable commitment and effort to find (like hdsdv's), a partial answer is justified. It enables you to give more detail than a comment and can warn others away from particular routes of questioning more noticeably, sparing them the "wish I'd known that earlier" moment. If you had only identified the presence of HERRING in the letter grid, however, I would wonder why you thought that important enough to post by itself and wish you'd given my hard-crafted puzzle some proper attention before drawing attention to yourself! (Interestingly, at the time of writing there are still coded hints and red herrings to identify in the puzzle, even though Deusovi has already found the end solution!)

As a final note, I deliberately created this puzzle with several red herrings hidden via different mechanisms because I was intrigued as to which type of clue would be found first. Different puzzlers' minds work in different ways and it is fascinating (and impressive) to see that on display when a puzzle contains as many different elements as this one does. Seeing great deductions made by inquisitive minds put to the test is part of the reward of creating a puzzle - so when writing an answer, treat every puzzle as if you had made it yourself, and ask what kind of answer you would feel showed an appreciation for the effort that had gone into its creation... then write it! :)


After seeing @Deusovi's and @Stiv's insightful answers, I propose this:

When the tag means that the solver has to work out the mechanism of the puzzle, then yes. Otherwise, post it as a comment.

Explanation can be found on the other two answers. Please vote upon this answer for your opinion. Let's see if we can reach a consensus.

  • $\begingroup$ I still disagree with this. I don't think that "here's something that doesn't work" is a good partial answer, whether that's a failed solution to a cryptic crossword or a failed strategy for solving an [enigmatic-puzzle]. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi Mod
    Oct 21, 2019 at 16:46
  • $\begingroup$ (To elaborate: In my opinion, a partial answer is one that could be feasibly extended into a full answer, and forms a "core component" of that answer. That's why it's called a partial answer. "Here's something that doesn't work" isn't likely to be a core part of a solution path.) $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi Mod
    Oct 22, 2019 at 18:13

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