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NiroZ
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This forum, at its core, is all about puzzles. Whether they be puzzles based on DROD mechanics or guessing what someone is thinking (be it movies, games, words or pictures), and whether you are working out a puzzle posed by someone else or figuring out how to puzzle others, it is undeniable that puzzles play a key role on this forum. Indeed, even these contests are all about puzzles, where participants are either providing challenges for others, or attempting them themselves. So why not create a contest about puzzles themselves?

Rules
To enter this contest, you must submit a puzzle, riddle, challenge or paradox, which ends with a single solution. This means that you can actually have as many puzzles as you want, as long as they link together and form a final meta puzzle.

The puzzle must be delivered through words and images, no videos, sounds or flash are allowed.

You may submit up to 3 puzzles.
This puzzle must be able to be solved with utilities that come with a computer and/or pen and paper.

Any type of puzzle is acceptable provided it fits within these parameters.

The puzzle must have an original solution.

Voting
In addition to the above rules, voters will be asked to vote on:

How challenging the puzzle was, without being impossible

How fun the puzzle was, and not frustrating

How well polished the puzzle was, and not confusing or ambiguous.

Submission

To submit your entry, post it in this thread.

Timing

The submission period for this contest will end on the Local Time:07-21-2008 at 01:00 PM, which is in negative 573 weeks, 3 days.

Tips
If you’re not sure what type of puzzle to do, or just want some more information on puzzles or examples, try the Wikipedia page.

Noma (who has held quite a few successful word puzzle contests), has this to say on the topic:

- I find it easiest (and most fun) to create the kind of puzzles I personally enjoy solving.
- Think of the puzzles you enjoyed solving and why. Keep those reasons in mind when writing your own.
- Test out a puzzle on at least one person to make sure it's solvable. Sometimes something that seems obvious to you is actually completely inscrutable.
- If a puzzle has multiple parts, try to have a theme or payoff of some kind. I love clever puzzles that make you go "neat!" at the end. (Like Tahnan's Treasure Room in not dr0d.)

Speaking of Tahnan, he made a very good (although entirely humble) guide to puzzles here

Prizes
The winner of this contest will be acknowledged as the puzzle mastermind and awarded 100 rank points in addition to a prize from the prize pile.

Runner up will receive 50 rank points as a consolation prize

Third place will receive 25 rank points.

[Last edited by NiroZ at 07-17-2008 10:53 AM]
07-06-2008 at 02:55 AM
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Chaco
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So, we are here to make non-Hermetic Puzzles?

If so, then good. While smallness and compactness is an interesting restriction, removing a restriction can lead to greatness just as well as adding one. I may enter. :)

To summarize: Hermetic Puzzles -> tuna fish sandwich; Puzzles Galore -> Dinner table spread?

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07-06-2008 at 03:33 AM
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techant
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quote:
NiroZ wrote:
Rules...
The puzzle must be delivered through words and images, no videos, sounds or flash are allowed.

This puzzle must be able to be solved with utilities that come with a computer and/or pen and paper....


As a point of clarification this would include a DROD hold as either the puzzle or as a display of the puzzle, correct? :yes

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07-06-2008 at 05:33 AM
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Tahnan
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NiroZ asked me if I had any tips for puzzlemakers. Insofar as I still need to answer a PM from noma about the April contest, no one should be surprised that I failed to get back to him. (Part of the problem is that my answer was starting to become a term paper.)

But if you'll permit me a few words, here are some thoughts. (Credentials: winner of the aforementioned Hermetic Puzzles contest; creator of the critically acclaimed* "not dr0d 2: DROD Tower"; author of several MIT Mystery Hunt puzzles; etc.)

*Well, noma seemed to like it.

---

First, the fundamental fact of puzzles: A puzzle is a contest between the author and the solver. Ideally, the author wants to lose.

That may seem strange. But an unsolveable puzzle isn't any fun. What you want, as a constructor, is to present something that the solver will find challenging but possible. You're not the Sphinx facing Oedipus; you're not Bilbo Baggins facing Gollum; your life doesn't depend on beating the solver.

Now then...

1. Always keep your audience in mind. Are they experienced solvers? Do they have a common base of knowledge they can draw on? Basically, a chemistry-themed puzzle will be very different whether it's aimed at sixth graders or CalTech seniors.

2. Difficulty can be adjusted; adjust it as necessary. My favorite illustration of this is the following four clues:
quote:
Bridge location
Oliver from the '80s
Word before Dakota or Carolina
Opposite of south
All four can be used to clue NORTH (positions in a bridge game are named for the cardinal directions), but with decreasing difficulty. (Of course, I could illustrate the same point by referring to the three different difficulty levels of the "Odd Jobs" holds.) The upshot is this: any puzzle can be made easier or harder by changing the amount of information you give the solver. Tweak your puzzle until it's the right level of difficulty. Which leads me to...

3. Don't forget to testsolve if at all possible. You do it for holds; do it for puzzles, too. Sometimes a step you think is obvious will turn out to be hard for solvers to see; sometimes a clue that's intended to be hard will turn out to be really easy. I'm going through this right now, in fact, with a British-style crossword I've written: I have a clue I thought was really clever, but all of my solvers have said they just had to guess at the answer because they couldn't figure it out. (3b: listen to your testers! No matter how much I like the clue I wrote, I need to admit that people can't solve it, which means it has to change. See the fundamental fact, above.)

Testing can also help you avoid red herrings, approaches that seem correct but lead nowhere, which leads me to:

4. Eliminate red herrings. Suppose I present a puzzle in which I want the solver to get the word CASH, so I give the words CONDUIT, ASCENSION, SHAPES, HUMBUG, figuring the solver will just take the first letter of each one. Nice short puzzle; but I give it to a tester, who says, "Well, they're all episode titles from The X-Files, so I've been reading plot summaries for the last hour." That was a huge red herring, and any time a solver spends pursuing that connection will be entirely wasted. Solvers hate that. Testing can help you find unintentional red herrings. As for intentional ones: leave them out.

5. Real puzzles aren't guessing games. In a good puzzle, when a solver gets to the answer, she knows it. I saw a puzzle once that led to the phrase "KIA MODEL", and the solver was then supposed to guess every model of Kia until he hit the right one. That's irritating; and in something like this, where you may not get your answer confirmed, it's downright terrible.

There are some corollaries to this. For instance, the right approach to the puzzle shouldn't be a guessing game, either. I worked on writing the 2003 MIT Mystery Hunt (a weekend-long puzzle solving event), and a friend who'd written the 1999 Hunt still regretted a puzzle with this problem. Essentially, there was a right thing to do, and it got you the answer, and it was entirely reasonable. Unfortunately, it wasn't obvious that it was right; and there were dozens, perhaps scores, of other equally reasonable things you could do that, of course, got you nowhere. That becomes like a guessing game for the solver: "Should I read the first letters? No. Second letters? Third? What if I alphabetize them first? Sort by length? By how often they occur in Hamlet? ..."

Part of the key here is to either (a) use something immediately salient (e.g., the first letters of the words) or (b) make it obvious that there's some other salient fact that can be used (e.g., put in the instructions, "I wonder how many times each word appears in Hamlet?").

---

There are a whole lot of other things I could add, which is why this nearly became the length of a term paper. Feel free to contact me if you want more advice on what makes a puzzle "good" or "bad".

Also, of course, you should be able by now to answer the following question: What DROD element am I thinking of? No guessing necessary; the clues are right here. (After all, what kind of advice on puzzles doesn't include a puzzle?)
07-06-2008 at 07:19 AM
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eb0ny
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quote:
Tahnan wrote:
What DROD element am I thinking of?
It's

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07-06-2008 at 07:44 AM
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Briareos
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quote:
eb0ny wrote:
quote:
Tahnan wrote:
What DROD element am I thinking of?
It's

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07-06-2008 at 09:19 AM
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Tahnan
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Yes, indeed, the element I was thinking of was the "It's". No, wait...

Er, anyway, NiroZ--clarification on "comes with a computer"? Web browsers do...can a puzzle require some web searching to solve? Or, for that matter, trivia like "Which state was the 37th to join the USA?": the question doesn't require a computer, if you know the answer off the top of your head, but many solvers might require a websearch to find the answer.
07-06-2008 at 09:27 AM
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NiroZ
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quote:
Tahnan wrote:
Yes, indeed, the element I was thinking of was the "It's". No, wait...

Er, anyway, NiroZ--clarification on "comes with a computer"? Web browsers do...can a puzzle require some web searching to solve? Or, for that matter, trivia like "Which state was the 37th to join the USA?": the question doesn't require a computer, if you know the answer off the top of your head, but many solvers might require a websearch to find the answer.
I actually meant in terms of technical equipment required to solve the puzzle, not as a research tool. Edited original post as follows.
quote:
Not in order to research, but in terms of calculations and finding solutions. For example, requiring a high powered graphics editor in order to manipulate an image in order to display the answer.
Thus the internet is allowed.

I've also edited the voting criteria to discourage requiring a obscure solution.

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07-06-2008 at 12:51 PM
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Ezlo
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Solution to Tahnan's puzzle

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[Last edited by Ezlo at 07-08-2008 05:35 AM]
07-07-2008 at 11:59 PM
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brian_s
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When submitting a puzzle for this contest, is it necessary to put the solution in a secret tag?
07-10-2008 at 04:54 PM
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I'm a maths student. In one of my intro courses I was assigned a few problems that to my mind make excellent puzzles (no real mathematical background required). Would one of these constitute an acceptable entry, reframed in suitably DRODish terms?

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07-11-2008 at 12:18 AM
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NiroZ
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quote:
brian_s wrote:
When submitting a puzzle for this contest, is it necessary to put the solution in a secret tag?

Probably better to use hide until tags, but hiding it in some way is recommended. We do want people to solve the puzzles.
quote:
Fafnir wrote:
I'm a maths student. In one of my intro courses I was assigned a few problems that to my mind make excellent puzzles (no real mathematical background required). Would one of these constitute an acceptable entry, reframed in suitably DRODish terms?
I would recommend you try and make it as original as possible, but I really can't stop you.

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07-11-2008 at 01:28 AM
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NiroZ
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so, uh, who's up for it?

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07-13-2008 at 09:47 AM
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Not me. This is a terribly unoriginal and vaguely-defined contest. I'm sorry, but it's gotta be said.

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07-13-2008 at 09:49 AM
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NiroZ
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Ok, that was blunt.

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07-13-2008 at 01:52 PM
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noma
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quote:
Jatopian wrote:
Not me. This is a terribly unoriginal and vaguely-defined contest. I'm sorry, but it's gotta be said.
No, I don't think it did need to be said, and certainly not in the unneccesarily harsh way you put it.

Besides, I've got to disagree with you. First, in a search of the Contest board I could only find one contest that asked for participants to create puzzles that don't have to be DROD rooms: the Hermetic Puzzle Contest from 2005 (linked to from a post above,) so I don't see how this contest could be described as "terribly unoriginal." Second, the rules -- while simple and few -- are pretty straightforward and what they allow for is quite a bit of creativity and latitude in the type of puzzle one can make.

I've been in the UK for the last ten days, but should get around to submitting something before the deadline.
07-13-2008 at 06:38 PM
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Jacob
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While I agree to some extent with Jatopian (essentially the contest is just "design a puzzle" with no other qualification, and also it does not make much sense to say "design a paradox...with a solution"), I shall probably submit an entry.

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07-14-2008 at 06:22 PM
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Tim
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noma wrote:
First, in a search of the Contest board I could only find one contest that asked for participants to create puzzles that don't have to be DROD rooms: the Hermetic Puzzle Contest from 2005 (linked to from a post above,)

I'm afraid that you haven't searched enough. To prove this, I'm going to submit the puzzle I've used in the "Short Question, Long Answer" contest. (Besides, I've decided that the puzzle is fun enough to deserve a second chance.)

Puzzle moved to the submission thread

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[Last edited by Tim at 07-14-2008 06:53 PM]
07-14-2008 at 06:39 PM
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eb0ny
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Just a quick question: can a person submit more than one puzzle (meaning, several unrelated puzzles - several submissions)?

EDIT: I'll assume I can. If this breaks the rules, I will remove my second submission.

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[Last edited by eb0ny at 07-17-2008 09:44 AM]
07-16-2008 at 12:46 PM
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NiroZ
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sure

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07-17-2008 at 10:52 AM
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Tahnan
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quote:
Tim wrote:
quote:
noma wrote:
First, in a search of the Contest board I could only find one contest that asked for participants to create puzzles that don't have to be DROD rooms: the Hermetic Puzzle Contest from 2005 (linked to from a post above,)

I'm afraid that you haven't searched enough. To prove this, I'm going to submit the puzzle I've used in the "Short Question, Long Answer" contest.
Oooh, two contests in the last five years, then! But seriously, I don't think that's enough to make this "unoriginal", as Jatopian's claim was (and I'm not even all that convinced that the SQ,LA contest involved puzzles per se).

Anyway, still pondering.
07-17-2008 at 11:29 PM
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Tim
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quote:
Tahnan wrote:
Oooh, two contests in the last five years, then! But seriously, I don't think that's enough to make this "unoriginal", as Jatopian's claim was
Well, I did not say the contest wasn't original. I only say that it's very unconvicing to claim something using false facts. In fact, I can probably prove anything if I can start with a untrue fact. But that's off-topic.

In fact, I think this contest is very original. I mean, I've seen many puzzle making contest before, but every one of them has at least one more restriction: long answers, put it in a hold, has a theme, must be in haiku, in a different language. How often have you seen a contest where there are no other limitations?

And as of "vaguely-defined", well, I still haven't got an answer what the "The puzzle must have an original solution." rule means.

Edit: It would also be nice if the newly added rules are highlighted in the first post.

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[Last edited by Tim at 07-17-2008 11:50 PM]
07-17-2008 at 11:46 PM
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Hey by the way Tim, the answer you gave for your puzzle is wrong, you can do it with less sawing. I assume you'll want the pleasure of solving it yourself, so no spoilers from me. :closedeyes
07-17-2008 at 11:50 PM
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quote:
Remlin wrote:
Hey by the way Tim, the answer you gave for your puzzle is wrong, you can do it with less sawing. I assume you'll want the pleasure of solving it yourself, so no spoilers from me. :closedeyes
Thanks. Actually, I do know that. That's why I was asking what that "original solution" means. I'm more interested in exploring the many solutions than looking for a minimal solution. The rules didn't state that I have to attach the correct solution anyway :)

modded you up, by the way.

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07-17-2008 at 11:57 PM
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Modded you down, by the way, Tim. I'm really getting tired of your sarcasm.
07-18-2008 at 04:25 AM
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Tim wrote:
And as of "vaguely-defined", well, I still haven't got an answer what the "The puzzle must have an original solution." rule means.

Edit: It would also be nice if the newly added rules are highlighted in the first post.
I love it how people would rather complain that my contest is 'vaguely defined' rather than ask what a certain sentence meant. It makes it so easy for me to fix up misunderstandings in a contest.

By 'having an original solution' I mean that you can't copy the solution from another puzzle. For example, a riddle where the answer is spider can't just be a copy of another riddle where the answer is spider.

I haven't bothered to highlight edits in the first post because I post the change in the rules in this topic anyway, which IMHO people are more likely to read.

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07-18-2008 at 11:12 AM
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Tahnan
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NiroZ wrote:
By 'having an original solution' I mean that you can't copy the solution from another puzzle.
Not to push the point, but I want to say, before the poll goes up, that I hope the spitemaster's puzzle will be disqualified from consideration: first because it violates the rule that the puzzle must be original, and second because it's blatant plagiarism, underscored by the fact that he introduced it by saying "OK, I have made a love triangle puzzle...", which is an outright lie, as he didn't make anything, he merely copied something.

(I'm not mincing words here. As a professional academic and professional puzzler, plagiarism ranks well above "adultery" and "embezzlement" on my personal list of crimes ordered by severity.)
07-21-2008 at 08:55 PM
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techant
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quote:
Tahnan wrote:
quote:
NiroZ wrote:
By 'having an original solution' I mean that you can't copy the solution from another puzzle.
Not to push the point, but I want to say, before the poll goes up, that I hope the spitemaster's puzzle will be disqualified from consideration: first because it violates the rule that the puzzle must be original, and second because it's blatant plagiarism, underscored by the fact that he introduced it by saying "OK, I have made a love triangle puzzle...", which is an outright lie, as he didn't make anything, he merely copied something.

(I'm not mincing words here. As a professional academic and professional puzzler, plagiarism ranks well above "adultery" and "embezzlement" on my personal list of crimes ordered by severity.)


I understand your outrage about plagiarism, (but I still put "adultery" above it). As to if that was the intend communication here I don't know if I agree. Now before you get all upset thinking I am defending The spitemaster let me say that after I read the rules I thought it meant that you could use a puzzle or riddle that was created by someone else as long as it had a unique solution, or only one solution. Not that you and only you must be the creator of the entry.

In fact I was going to use a riddle that someone told me as a teen, many years ago. I googled it and saw that it was still an active riddle. I was going to put my own DROD spin on it but then I decided to go a totally different direction. If I could only have one entry (the rule at the time, and I did see the change) I was going to pick my most favorite idea. By the way the third one was a version of clue played with DROD characters. You may see it sometime in the future so I won't give away more.

The point is I could have been accused of the same thing when plagiarism was not my intendtion in the least. I did see that The spitemaster edited his topic to say where he got the riddle. The point is I don't support keeping his entry out of the voting.

EDIT: I thought I should add that my Sudoku puzzle was my own creation. I came up with it all except the Sudoku concept itself.
Also, Thank you NiroZ for being brave enough to run a contest. I hope that we don't discourage others from running a contest by being too harsh rather than showing kind constructive criticism.


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[Last edited by techant at 07-22-2008 07:29 AM]
07-22-2008 at 07:06 AM
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NiroZ
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You hit the nail on the head, Techant. It is impossible to come up with a completely original puzzle, otherwise all of you would be disqualified. But you all (except the spitemaster) made your own recreation of a well known puzzle, with a unique solution.

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07-22-2008 at 07:17 AM
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icon Re: Puzzles Galore (0)  
quote:
techant wrote:
...I thought it meant that you could use a puzzle or riddle that was created by someone else as long as it had a unique solution, or only one solution. Not that you and only you must be the creator of the entry.
But...no. Just no. The idea that you could submit someone else's work as a contest entry is so utterly wrong to me that I can't even give a clear argument for it, any more than I could explain why a contest entry can't involve killing anyone except to say "because killing people is wrong."

And: the spitemaster didn't say "Here's a puzzle I found that I think you'll like." He said, "Here's a puzzle I wrote": he actively represented someone else's work as his own.

As for NiroZ's comment that

quote:
It is impossible to come up with a completely original puzzle...


Well, that's true in a particularly trivial sense. The crossword in today's New York Times isn't "completely original" in that other people have written crosswords before. But the editor would outright reject a crossword puzzle if it was copied from another source. The point of "completely original" isn't that the framework must be, but that the actual intellectual content must be. "Sudoku" isn't original, but techant presented one she wrote herself, and with a new twist to it. "Crossword" isn't original, but mxvladi made his own grid, filled it with words on his own, wrote his own clues. These things aren't in the same ballpark as the "non-original" submission of a puzzle copied directly from someone else's book (or copied directly with minimal cosmetic changes).
07-22-2008 at 07:56 AM
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