This question of mine was very poorly received, getting 5 downvotes. However, it is totally suited for this site, as evidenced by the fact that there are no close votes. Why was my question "attacked" like this?


2 Answers 2


Not a downvoter, but some thoughts. First of all, make sure not to confuse close votes and up/downvotes since they serve two different purposes. Close votes are for questions that are inappropriate for this site, either as not related to puzzling or for violating the rules of what's allowed here. Up/downvotes are for determining whether it's a good puzzle or not.

Below are my thoughts on how that puzzle might be improved. It's not exactly what you asked, but "how people vote" is not something you can do anything about so I think it's better to focus on things you can control.

So the idea is we're going to have the solver reconstruct some phrase by adding back letters we've removed, and those letters form a word. The first thing I'd point out is you want to use a phrase that makes sense when reconstructed. A good choice could be something that the solver immediately recognises once reconstructed (something like "fourscore and seven years ago"), but you'd have to make sure it's not obvious with the selected letters removed. A phrase like "the babies started running" on the other hand makes no sense (since a baby can't run), so the solver is left wondering why that would be the phrase they're supposed to reconstruct.

Now, the removed letters spell out a word, but that's not the final answer. So the solver is given the indication that there's something else to be solved. They have the word EASTER and need to find out which season that is in. However, it's really obvious what the answer is, so there's no additional solving needed to get the final answer. And if that's the case, why not give the final answer directly? The solver is not going to feel extra clever about figuring which season Easter is in. I'd either give the answer directly in the first part or make the second part harder so that the solver gets some satisfaction from figuring it out.

Another thing to keep in mind is making sure the answer isn't ambiguous – for example, Easter is in autumn for those of us in the southern hemisphere.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The point about Easter being in Autumn in the southern hemisphere is probably a big factor here. Because to users from there this puzzle is 100% plain wrong. $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Dec 23, 2022 at 7:32
  • $\begingroup$ The goal of the "season" bit is to not make it too obvious that we should find missing letters. $\endgroup$
    – mathlander
    Sep 19, 2023 at 15:04

I don't know for sure (and was not among the downvoters), but my guess is that the question was regarded as too easy. It presents a sentence in which some words have letters missing. Find the missing letters and you're done. (Not quite, since the puzzle asks "what season was it" rather than "what were the missing letters", but the step from the missing letters to the answer is also very straightforward.)

Very easy puzzles aren't objectively bad, of course, but a downvote means "less of this here, please" and I assume the downvoters felt that they prefer puzzles with more to get one's teeth into.

(I suggest not thinking of downvotes as attacks, by the way, but I appreciate that it's psychologically difficult not to.)

  • $\begingroup$ Your remark about 'attacks' being the wrong word here is an important one. It's a big mental obstacle for new users but absolutely has to be overcome in order for a user to learn and grow. $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Dec 23, 2022 at 7:36
  • $\begingroup$ Note that mathlander talked about the question being attacked; I think that's much healthier than thinking of downvotes as attacks on the author. But still better, I think, to get out of the frame of mind where this feels like a fight at all :-). $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan Mod
    Dec 24, 2022 at 12:15

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