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I posted a riddle over a week ago, and 3 hints at an interval of 24 hours each.
There aren't any answers to it and a week has passed. I know puzzles on this website can go unanswered for months, even years, but I'm worried it's a little too difficult.

Thus I felt like asking if I should add more hints, and on a non specific note, how many hints should I specifically add to a puzzle to not make it too hard, but at the same time obvious?

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  • $\begingroup$ You can also raise a bounty for more attention $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Dec 18, 2021 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ @bobble I already lost 200 rep over a question whose OP went inactive as soon as I raised the bounty shrugs , I am really scared to post another bounty now $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2021 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ @bobble anyways its not about my puzzle in specific, like if a new user were to post a puzzle, how many hints should he typically post? $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2021 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ It depends on the puzzle, I've no idea towards a general answer. It also depends on the setter's preferences and the solver's ability, both of which will vary wildly. $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Dec 18, 2021 at 19:01

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I don't see how there could be a general answer to "how many hints should I add to make it neither too hard nor too obvious?". For some puzzles the answer will be zero. For others, depending on the hints, it might be lots.

But what is true is that the person who makes a puzzle can have a very wrong idea of how difficult it will be for other people to solve. So you need to be prepared to add more hints than you expect.

As for your riddle in particular, I don't know. It might just happen that not many people saw it. (I think I saw it, had a quick think and didn't see a way in, and haven't paid it any attention since then. Having looked again, I might have the glimmerings of an idea, maybe.) You certainly shouldn't be discouraged by the fact that a puzzle hasn't been solved after a while.

The approach you took, posting hints at ~1day intervals, seems very reasonable.

If at some point you feel that there's no way to give more hints without giving everything away, you can always post the answer yourself. Or just leave it there in the hope that one day someone will turn up. (But note that at some point you might grow tired of PSE, and it would be a pity to leave the thing a mystery then...)

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree. I guess i get discouraged too easily , plus I posted after years of inactivity so it hit me harder, furthermore it didn't have many upvotes so that made it worse. Nevertheless , I won't post the answer myself (because that would be lame), and just like I grew tired of PSE about a year ago and I came back , I know that I am nerdy and bored enough to keep visiting time and again. But I do get your point, thanks for your answer it actually did help me. I am planning to post a new puzzle soon so hopefully that goes my way. $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2021 at 19:33
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In my opinion, the optimal case is when the post doesn't need any hints. When hints are required, one may argue that the post isn't complete, or that it wasn't at its best before posting.

So generally speaking, when asked

How many hints should I typically add to my puzzle?

I believe it should be zero. Of course, that is the mindset you should have before posting, but who knows how the post will be received after posting? If it really turns out "too hard" and you need to add hints, I'd say the less needed (and added), the better.

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