I want to make another puzzle which would be much better than the first one, but I doubt it would be any better.

Since 4 of my questions have been negatively received, I know that I'm going to be put in a question ban. I just don't know when it would happen.

Also, it has been 4 days since I last asked my question, and you ask me to wait 4 more days. Dang! I would like to try and improve, but I'm sure it is already too late.

Is there anything I can do to stop the negativity? Maybe not. I already have made my answers official, and not everyone is happy.


1 Answer 1


It seems your introduction to the world of Puzzling.SE has not been as smooth as you'd hoped, with 4 of your first 5 questions in negative scores and one of them closed to boot. Here is some advice that I hope might help you - and any other newcomers who find themselves in a similar situation:


Dwelling on the prospect of an upcoming question ban will only breed negativity. Instead, focus on what improvements you can make to the puzzles you are posting. Here are a few tips based off the puzzles you have posted so far. I cannot speak for the whole community, but hopefully most of the things I say below do reflect others' thoughts on these puzzles as well as my own.

  1. Puzzle 1 (+2/-4) - This puzzle was incredibly vague, and generally perceived as "Guess what I'm thinking of." It had the potential to generate a whole heap of different answers from different users (Atoms! The colour white! Oxygen!) and it was probably more luck than anything else that the first answer given was your intended one. This type of guessing question is generally discouraged on Puzzling, as it's more of a game than a puzzle... Advice: Steer away from guessing games.

  2. Puzzle 2 (+2/-7) - This suffered many of the same problems as the first, being another guessing-game (this time generating three answers). In addition, some of the language you used seemed either intentionally misleading or just plain incorrect - "unlock", specifically, caused many users issues in the comments, and "since Day 1" was so vague that it was open to wild interpretation. Many users also commented that you were adding hints too soon and too often - remember, Puzzling is a global community and users do not (in general) tend to be monitoring the site constantly: give people time to see your question before adding hints. Advice: Consider the wording you use in puzzles carefully; make sure it is reasonable and an accurate reflection of the solution. Give people time to see your question before adding hints - waiting 24-48 hours before dropping a hint is usually a good rule of thumb.

  3. Puzzle 3 (+1/0) - This puzzle wasn't especially bad as such, rather it suffered from just being 'not all that interesting', I'm afraid. It was a good idea to ask seven questions to lead us to an overall answer - but what links the seven questions you chose? Nothing. This puzzle would have really benefitted from a theme - why not give clues towards seven countries, or seven TV shows, or (and this would probably be most relevant for the answer you had in mind) something like seven items of clothing, which would have fitted with the answer much more appropriately than seven random words? Also, reading off the initials of different answers is a very overused method of leading to the final answer and thus not the most exciting or interesting mechanism - this would probably have been forgiven if the questions had shared a theme, but in combination with the unrelated trivia it just seemed a bit... sloppy (sorry). Advice: Theme your puzzles. If you have a solution that you would like to design a puzzle for, actively theme the puzzle around it.

  4. Puzzle 4 (+2/-3) - When I saw the answer to this one my first thought was "What even is that?!" This puzzle struggled because it is unfair. First, each clue leads to a different letter through a different mechanism (no theme), and many of these are not intuitive at all. Q2 was good - a clue for Oscar, which is known to represent 'O' in the phonetic alphabet: good! If the other 5 clues had also led to phonetic alphabet letters, this would have been a good, solid mechanism. But using 'Internet' for 'I' and 'Yield' for 'Y'... there are probably better ways to clue those letters. Plus, for Q1, Q3 and Q4 we're almost back to 'guess what I'm thinking' territory. Then, to top it all off the final answer (which we were expected to derive from an anagram) was a completely made-up word! How was anybody expected to deduce that without the additional, very specific hints you had to add? You knew the answer already, but nobody else had even heard of this name before... Advice: Be fair to your solvers! Make sure clues to individual letters do so unambiguously. Anagrams should only be used for real words that can be reasonably worked out. Aim for solution words that others can relate to and have a reasonable chance to deduce.

  5. Puzzle 5 (+1/-5) - This question is just plain unclear, hence the chosen reason for closing. When you ask solvers to 'pick letters from each chosen word' - How? Which ones? If this will not be systematically or according to some kind of pattern then we're back to guessing again. Beside this point, the question is worded very confusingly - sentences, syllables, letters... (I think you may mean 'synonym' rather than 'syllable' for one thing...) Advice: Proof-read your questions before posting to be sure they are worded correctly and accurately. Make sure you have included enough information to make it solvable.

I have taken time to provide this feedback in the hope that it might help you understand some of the reasons why you may be experiencing a high rate of downvotes right now. These are all issues that can be fixed :)

One final piece of advice: If you wish to get better at setting puzzles, solve puzzles! Explore this site, read some of the top-voted questions, go over the back-catalogues of users whose puzzles you have come to enjoy, and get a feel for what makes a good puzzle. If you don't understand a puzzle's solution you can always post a comment asking for further explanation or post in The Sphinx's Lair, our site's main chatroom. People interested in puzzles also tend to be interested in helping others gain an appreciation of them too.

Stick around, get to know the site. Read, solve, learn and develop (that's what I'm trying to do!).

Good luck, and Happy Puzzling!

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ :`) Thank you. Big advice, really will try to improve here. $\endgroup$
    – user73834
    Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 13:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @MarkGiraffe No worries :) We're all a little rough around the edges when we start out on any new venture. Be kind to yourself, take on board all feedback and advice, and most importantly: have fun! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 13:37

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