I have an idea for an escape room puzzle (for the FTC) that culminates in a four letter code to "unlock" a "combination lock." Of course, this a virtual medium, but I thought I could emulate the satisfaction of solving an escape room by allowing the solver to insert the code into a template of a TinyURL that links to an Imgur image with a success message.

Looking on Meta to see if this would be a viable approach, I found some discussion about the self-containedness of puzzles. I don't think this applies here, since the TinyURL is not required to solve the puzzle and just to have a way to show you got the right answer that isn't the OP just saying "Yup, you got it!" and accepting it (there will be a disclaimer that says this), but I haven't seen any examples of this in other questions and I'm not sure if it follows good question-asking protocol.

Additionally, I can't verify the almost half a million possibilities to make sure that nothing nefarious, inappropriate, offensive, etc. is or will be on the other end of the TinyURL link, so I'm having second thoughts about this approach. I've thought about using it as a cipher key, but since it's only four letters, I think it might be too easy to brute force the right answer out of the encrypted text.


  1. Is providing a way for a solver to verify their answer (ie. something that is explicitly and exclusively meant for verification, not like a hint in the title that makes more sense with the answer) without OP intervention allowed/good practice on the site?
  2. At the risk of getting off-topic, are there any (safe) ways of doing so?
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Another option I thought of, which is self-contained but much more brute-forcable, is providing some ciphertext with a success message, which would be decrypted using the answer string as a key (e.g a Vigenère cipher). Again, way more brute-force vulnerable, especially if you can get part of the key correct $\endgroup$ – bobble Feb 28 at 2:54

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