This question is (according to the OP) a rephrasing of this question. The reason a second question was asked is that Lukas Rotter gave an answer which worked with the initial phrasing, but was not the intended answer. Lukas's answer is accepted for the original question.

Is this kind of re-asking okay here? Usually when an unintended answer is given, the OP comments about that, and then waits for more answers to be given. Asking a rephrase of the question also feels like a duplicate. The OP is explicitly looking for a different answer, though - does that change anything?

This post is intended to generate discussion about:

  • if re-asking, with different phrasing to avoid an unintended answer, is allowed
  • if yes, then the implications of that - should we be encouraging this? Make a policy guiding re-asking? Etc.
  • if no, what to do with these two questions
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This is by no means official, but among the regulars here it's somewhat common to accept only the intended answer, and drop a bounty for the good, unintended answer. This leaves the asker free to edit the phrasing, possibly invalidating the unintended answer, while recognising and rewarding the validity of the alternate solution. (It also serves as a nice self-imposed rep penalty for being too vague in the first place.) $\endgroup$
    – Bass
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Bass, guess I haven't been around long enough to notice that then. Also a decent solution. $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 14:17

1 Answer 1


Okay, since it's been a day I'll post my thoughts for voting.

I think that re-asking a question with a different phrasing is good, provided that the new phrasing removes ambiguity and invalidates the unintended answer. We often have questions which are not specific enough with their initial phrasing. (Mostly [enigmatic-puzzle] and [riddle]). Usually, the OP will just say "nope, not what I was looking for" and leave it at that.

This is discouraging, especially if the answer works well for the given puzzle. It's also an indicator of a lower-quality puzzle. By re-posting with significantly modified phrasing, the puzzle can be improved to remove the loopholes that allowed for an unintended answer. The unintended answer can be accepted because it answers the puzzle as initially presented.

To summarize: I think that re-asking a rephrased puzzle should be encouraged because

  • It allows the puzzle to be improved
  • It allows the unintended answer to be acknowledged as valid

The next obvious question is when re-asking should not be done. I believe that if the given answers fall in to either of these categories:

  • Not in the spirit of the puzzle
  • Requires stretching some/all of the clues (and OP confirms that correct answer fits the puzzle better) - and note that a clue is different than a hint, and hidden hints should not be required to solve

then they are not "correct" unintended answers, and are not an indication that the puzzle is too ambiguous.

So what can we do? If a puzzle is attracting answer(s) that satisfactorily answer it, but are confirmed as unintended, we should encourage posters to re-work their puzzle. The original puzzle may be closed as Too Broad if that applies. The re-phrased puzzle should have extra/changed clues that clearly invalidate all previous answers. (If previous answers still apply, close as Duplicate). The previous puzzle's best answer, even though unintended, should be accepted, and the new puzzle should be of higher quality.

Vote up/down to indicate whether you agree!

  • $\begingroup$ I am the author of the puzzles specifically mentioned. I admit I was unsure what to do in this situation. I also admit it was my fault. I didn't check carefully the non-existence of Oh (the element of surprise) and Ho (Holmium), but instead assumed it, which was very careless. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ @David That's fine! Most of us have made mistakes with our early puzzles. The important thing is to learn to find loopholes before posting. My proposal here is because I liked your method of closing the loophole after posting, once it was brought to your attention. $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ This is not the approach I would have thought of but it's really good. I like it and will try to bear it in mind in the future for myself. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 21, 2022 at 15:34

You must log in to answer this question.

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