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12:30 AM
Q: The Blue Periodic Puzzle

DenverCoder1This puzzle follows from the Purple Periodic Puzzle and Green Periodic Puzzle (these puzzles are solved independently). Yet another periodic table has been uncovered and hides a secret word. Can you find out what's strange about this blue periodic table and find the answer?

6 hours later…
6:03 AM
simple but clever clue from a crossword by michael curl:
Old rulers of Iran unaffected by revolution? (5)
That is a very good surface
and I have no idea how that clue works.
6:18 AM
I made a clue myself, mind a test solve?
Report meant without a poster, perhaps (12)
report is announce, meant without a is ment -> announcement is a poster, perhaps?
@Jafe SHAHS (old rulers of Iran, and the word is a palindrome). Nice one.
yeah, i liked that one
pretty hard to make a palindrome clue that isn't obvious
6:24 AM
@Jafe Indeed
Here's a good example of why the attribution close reason is so terrible. It's a simple idea for a puzzle, something one could easily come up with oneself without seeing it anywhere, but because the OP admitted they found it in a book you closed it because they didn't say which book. It's not plagiarism, because they haven't pretended it's their own invention, but if they had the question would've remained open. Ridiculous.
@Randal'Thor Yeah, I wanted to solve that one :(
@Randal'Thor ah, revolution = reversal indicator? Nicee
@GarethMcCaughan Can confirm.
@Anonymus25-ReinstateMonica It's a brilliant puzzle.
@Randal'Thor wow. That is actually a very neat puzzle.
6:28 AM
I wonder what would happen if someone posted a new question, asking about the same puzzle, with source given as "this closed PSE question".
@Randal'Thor That would not be an invalid "attribution", right?
Or we could redact the OP's mention of a book and reopen it under the assumption that, if they didn't mention a source, they probably thought of it themselves.
Either of those seems a very ridiculous workaround for a stupid site rule though.
@Randal'Thor Seriously, I can't understand how Revolution is a reversal indicator
It is more fitted as an anagram indicator
if you revolve something you turn it around
or something like that
I liked the surface of that Clue, although it is not historically accurate, but who cares.
6:40 AM
@Randal'Thor Is there a specific Meta thread about this rule?
@Graylocke I don't think so
@Graylocke There must be, as a custom close reason wouldn't just be introduced without discussion.
Q: New off-topic reason for puzzles where the source is not mentioned

GlorfindelThe custom close reason proposed in the accepted answer is now live! From time to time, I see ♦ moderators closing questions like this one and this one, where the puzzle is clearly not created by the author of the question and attribution is not provided. (The first puzzle has been attributed ...

lol - I just found that.
Although mods were already closing questions because of this even before we had an actual close reason for it.
I always argued that's invalid if the OP clearly states that they found it in a book, or need help with solving it, or anything else that clearly indicates they didn't create the puzzle themselves. Plagiarism is the act of passing someone else's work off as your own, which this sort of thing isn't.
True. The other part is about it not being part of a puzzlehunt or whatever... and that also makes some sense.
I get the direction you are coming from.
6:46 AM
I've also heard arguments that they might be violating copyright or something by reproducing textbook puzzles here. But we aren't here to protect textbook authors' intellectual property. If they happen to find their stuff reproduced on a puzzling forum, they can file a takedown request and SE central can handle it.
We also comment on things where the same user posts question after question from the same particular book... referenced or no.
I think the weirder part of the question being closed was that the OP did actually come back and must have seen the request for attribution..?
There's no reason it couldn't be reopened is there?
@Graylocke true but they probably got the answer already. So, they didn't bother, I think.
i don't like taking someone's copyrighted content from their published book and slapping a literal free content licence on it with no justification but maybe that's just me
Which is an interesting twist to the problem. The only people non-attribution is currently harming is everyone else, because they don't get to see the problem and solution.
Well - not that that flag does even that. We just stop accepting answers on a question that already has one acceptable one.
@Graylocke I've voted to reopen, but then I've always been against this close reason to begin with.
@Jafe The rule makes some sense when the puzzle is something it would've been hard to think of or to create, but this is literally something I could have dreamed up while taking a shower. If the OP hadn't even mentioned the book, we would've assumed, lacking evidence to the contrary, that they'd thought of it themselves.
7:02 AM
Hm... I don't know that I want people deciding if my puzzles are "hard to think of" :/
@Graylocke Hm? Does it matter in cases where attribution isn't an issue?
Oh - only as a criterion for determining whether it is "worth attributing" >.>;
In your case with "no attribution required" ... no it doesn't ;p
Also - I am just being interested in your reasoning - not advocating... devilishly or otherwise :)
@Randal'Thor I have found a new "from whence" too...
Quite a debate in comments ^^;
@Graylocke Eh, general SE rules about plagiarism are in the help centre of every site too, but this sort of thing isn't plagiarism.
30 mins ago, by Rand al'Thor
I always argued that's invalid if the OP clearly states that they found it in a book, or need help with solving it, or anything else that clearly indicates they didn't create the puzzle themselves. Plagiarism is the act of passing someone else's work off as your own, which this sort of thing isn't.
@Jafe I'd certainly be pissed if someone took the puzzles my family depends on for income and posted them online for free...
7:22 AM
@Randal'Thor No I agree you on the technical definition of plagiarism. I was just reading the "discussion" it created. I think it's the definition of attribution that might be the contentious bit, rather than plagiarism.
2 hours later…
9:00 AM
Q: Got a name for our stuff toy

Mark GiraffeWe are like babies, we still love our stuff toys even if we are already grown up, and we have 1 specific stuff toy that has a name that doesn't really exist for us humans. I have made a puzzle to figure out each bit of the 6-letter name, and you have to try and figure it out. Good luck. We love ...

3 hours later…
12:10 PM
I agree that this particular case is probably not the best outcome. But "hard cases make bad law", and I think the "no unattributed puzzles" rule is on balance a good one. The large majority of things closed for this reason are, in fact, one or more of (1) plagiarism and (2) attempts to cheat on tests or competitions. Wouldn't it be better, I can already hear you ask, just to have "no plagiarism" and "no cheating in competitions" rules? In fact, don't we already have them? [... continues]
Yes, we do; and no, they aren't enough. They aren't enough because it turns out that plagiarists are often willing to lie. (Not a surprise.) They will say "here is a puzzle that my friend sent me" or "here is a puzzle that I found in a book". The "no unattributed puzzles" rule means that if they want not to have their puzzles closed (hopefully before they get the cheaty answer they're looking for) they have to make up a more detailed and more checkable lie. [... continues]
Sometimes they actually try to do that! We had one person who posted a bunch of questions and claimed that they all came from specific books. But we looked up some of the books and found that they didn't contain those questions (well, more precisely, I think we checked one in detail, and they just changed the name of the book they claimed it came from, and we looked at the book-claims in their other questions and determined that they weren't credible), and closed the questions. [... continues]
They were probably trying to cheat on their homework or maybe in some sort of job application.
The rule also means that when people post things that aren't theirs, we have a way of pushing them to give proper credit. If they just say "I found this in a book" they aren't literally being a plagiarist, but if the puzzle is any good then whoever made it (or, if that information isn't available, at least whoever made it available to the world) deserves the credit.
I wouldn't want to claim that this rule is perfect or anything like it. Sometimes it imposes a burden without doing anything really useful. Sometimes it gets questions closed that on balance we might prefer not to be. But if someone thinks it's a bad idea overall then they need to explain either what better way they have of doing the good things the rule does, or why they don't mind not doing them.
[AFK for half an hour or so now; apologies if any replies to the above get slow responses.]
1:16 PM
Q: Specific numbers and a blank box

DrDThere are 2 rows of numbers shown below. Which number belongs to the blank box with a question mark? Please choose from the three options stated. Why were these particular numbers chosen?

1:42 PM
Q: What do the three groups of girls represent?

risky mysteriesThere are three groups of girls. The first group (three girls) has naturally straight hair. The second group (four girls) used a curler, some missed a few strands that remains straight. The third group (three girls) has naturally curly hair. You look at them regularly. What do the three grou...

2 hours later…
3:24 PM
Q: Try to decode this ciphertext! It's probably enciphered multiple times

William MartensAs the title says: Your mission is to decode this ciphertext. Hint: It's probably enciphered multiple times. Yrj cxc myxn yfqqbs, myxn nxmb obfuuh xn dohqmxd..

Q: MASK or no MASK

Alex bries Everything you need is above..

2 hours later…
5:08 PM
@Graylocke Mm, I guess my vocal objections to labelling "I need help with this puzzle I found" questions as plagiarism were heeded and so the close reason talks about attribution rather than plagiarism. I still don't like that close reason though - it always seems like somewhat pointless rules-lawyering, policing things which aren't really our responsibility, and a sort of "meta" reason for closing even if there's nothing wrong with the puzzle itself.
@GarethMcCaughan That's a good point that plagiarists often lie, and thanks for the specific stories which shed a bit more light on the motivation behind introducing this close reason. But the very close reason itself means that people can often get their questions closed by telling the truth and left open by lying. That's one of the things I dislike about it: that it implicitly encourages people to lie.
If anyone has a puzzle that's not their own but they don't remember or don't want to reveal the exact source, the easiest way for them to post it without getting closed is to lie and say they invented it themselves. Mostly, if it's an interesting puzzle rather than just a straight copy-paste or image insertion from a specific source, that's a perfectly plausible claim which nobody would doubt or could disprove.
As an example of why someone wouldnt want to reveal the exact source, look at my own very first question here. I actually do remember where this came from, but it's not a citeable source (a local pub-quiz type thing), and I won't give the exact source/location of the event because that would essentially dox me.
With a worse memory, maybe I would've forgotten where I heard it but still known I heard it somewhere. But honestly admitting that, for a new user nowadays, would mean closure.
@GarethMcCaughan Since you raised this specific example: how does the close reason we have actually help in such a situation? If the questions are specifically sourced, then according to the close reason it's OK - who's going to go to the bother of going to check if the source given is a lie? That actually gives another way of working around the close reason by lying: cite a source which seems plausible but is obscure enough that nobody can find it to check. Or, hell, a book which doesn't even exist.
@Randal'Thor What vocal objections? I've just looked at the TSL transcript for a full month before that meta question and its answers, and I don't see any discussion in which you made any such objections; and at the Secret Puzzling Moderators' Hideout transcript for the same period, where I don't see any sign that anyone mentioned objections you'd raised.
It is indeed possible for a determined cheater to lie in ways it's hard to catch. Empirically, that's not what happens. The usual case is that they just post the thing, we ask where it came from, and they disappear and never return. The next most common case (I think; we don't keep statistics) is that they say truthfully-so-far-as-we-know where it came from, and it's from something they're not allowed to post here, and we close it for that reason. The next most common [...continues]
... (same disclaimer as above) is that they lie in some way we can identify. To the best of my knowledge, the hardest anyone has seriously tried to obfuscate the origin of a puzzle is that person who picked books they thought were plausible.
In principle someone could just make up a plausible-sounding book that we'll never be able to check. In practice, that doesn't seem to happen.
5:26 PM
@GarethMcCaughan Maybe not at the exact time that meta was posted, but I've had some quite heated discussions about plagiarism in this room in 2017-18.
@GarethMcCaughan ... or it does happen and you never noticed (survivor bias). Just playing devil's advocate: I have zero evidence that it has happened, just that it could.
I am aware that we might just not have seen it happen. That's why I was careful to say explicitly "to the best of my knowledge". But I genuinely don't think that's happening, not least because offhand I can't think of any cases where a puzzle was attributed to a super-obscure source definite enough to be checkable in principle but uncheckable in practice. (Other than one or two of the bogus books in the case mentioned above; but, again, we caught that one.)
I understand that sometimes you may be unwilling to cite your source in order e.g. to avoid self-doxing, or for that matter just because citing it is no use to anyone (I doubt that telling us what particular pub quiz you got that question from would have made anyone's lives any easier).
In practice, (1) we don't normally jump on such questions unless we suspect some sort of cheatery is going on, and (2) frankly PSE wouldn't be much diminished by not having them.
@GarethMcCaughan Fair enough. I'm aware that you and probably all the PSE mods have more experience with dealing with this type of attribution issue than me. (I've dealt with a few mass-plagiarism cases on SFF, but they were more along the lines of "copy-paste questions from other forums" than this kind of thing.)
Maybe you would have been put off if the response to your first question had been a demand for more information, and we'd have lost someone who turned out to be a very active user. That would have been a shame. It might have been the wrong tradeoff at the time. But circumstances change, and I think we get a lot more junk now than then.
So we need stronger filters.
The cost may be that some good people are put off by being asked questions they would prefer not to have to answer. Again, that would be a shame. But my feeling is that that's outweighed by having less junk.
(Note that having a lot of low-quality puzzles is something else that may cause good people to go away.)
The particular question you point to -- the first one you posted here -- is an old chestnut and I'm quite certain that if we went looking for the earliest occurrence of it it wouldn't be hard to find something that antedated your pub quiz. (For exactly that reason, probably no one would bother looking.)
@GarethMcCaughan True.
We have another meta post specifically about chestnuts ... rummages
5:41 PM
Q: Gathering chestnuts

Jon EricsonOn of the first things that was brought up on meta was whether simply asking a puzzle as a question was part of the scope of the site. The consensus seems to be a resounding "yes". However, I've noticed a class of questions that give me pause: Burning ropes as timers Hats and Aliens The Puzzle o...

Hmm, I might've been thinking of the first section of this answer:
> A search for the key phrase turns up "About 94,700 results". Some of them are user contributions (blogs, forums, Facebook, etc.), but some sites have a copyright notice attached. Of course, that's meaningless because the riddle was a chestnut 30+ years ago when I first heard it. Whoever created the riddle has long ago lost the ability to claim any sort of ownership over it.
Following a couple of links from there takes us to puzzling.stackexchange.com/help/referencing (which despite the URL is not PSE-specific, and I think long predates PSE's specific policies on plagiarism, attribution, etc.) which already contains in it the requirements made formal by the "no attribution" close reason you dislike so much.
(In the context of answers rather than questions, but PSE is strange and in many way its questions and answers have opposite roles to on other SE sites.)
5 hours later…
11:03 PM
Q: The Nurikabe of Peace

Jeremy DoverToday is the 75th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill's speech "The Sinews of Peace" which introduced to the world the phrase "The Iron Curtain". This puzzle is inspired by that phrase: in addition to normal Nurikabe rules, the completed grid must also have an "iron curtain", a full row of cells...


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