(This question does not apply to questions where the question-asker asks and answers their own question, that's clearly OK and even encouraged)

There have been some questions, for example

What was the first piece of wood to reach the far side of the Moon? Or the first spacecraft?

Have any knots been tied incorrectly on a spacecraft?

where it's pretty clear the question-asker knows the answer but chooses not to post it right away.

They end up being ok because answered by the asker, but in the interim, they attract downvotes.

Given that this kind of question is a legitimate question, could tagging such questions with a tag-specified-for-these-kinds-of-questions prevent the reflexive downvoting that has been seen?

It seems to me that if it's acknowledged from the git-go that the question is a quizbowl type question, people might not be annoyed. Of course there are always drive-by downvoters.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Some stack exchange communities are centered around this type of quiz questions, but is that something we want here? I don't think we have reached a consensus on that. In the case we are not, then asking a question you know the answer to, without also posting the answer, is bad practice. $\endgroup$ Sep 22 '19 at 11:21
  • $\begingroup$ I'm going to stay neutral on this one, but I will say we should be careful about how we phrase such a tag because it could encourage undesirable behavior on the site. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Sep 23 '19 at 0:04
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Personally I dislike them - why should I waste my time answering something where the answer is known - but it seems like some such tag could be a win-win: people that like to post them won't get downvoted, and people who don't like them can easily ignore them. $\endgroup$ Sep 23 '19 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage okay, this asks for a minimization so it could qualify for "space gold?" ;-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 26 '19 at 15:23

I really like the idea and would like to see further discussion!


I've explicitly used "Puzzler1" in titles a few times, and I think that only a fraction of the time did I have some idea of the answer, so I'd like to see a distinction between the discussion of questions for which the OP knows the answer (which I think is a different issue entirely2) and the discussion of questions which might warrant a "puzzler" tag.

Space Trivia

The questions Have any knots been tied incorrectly on a spacecraft? and What was the first piece of wood to reach the far side of the Moon? Or the first spacecraft? have received +4/-3 and +5/-5 votes (currently) so it's possible that "Space Trivia" might not be a good tag, or at least need to be tabled. It might be hard to define or scope that to avoid absurdities.


My personal belief is that this site's user community is capable of curating, maintaining and sustaining a Puzzler question tag, as long as it had a well defined tag wiki and associated meta post that scoped it carefully so that poorly crafted questions with the tag could be quickly and unceremoniously closed.

1in reference to and homage of the Car Guys' weekly Puzzler (the Puzzler website), which was often science or physics-based as the Magliozzi brothers were in Cambridge, MA and both had degrees from MIT.

2in general there's no problem with asking questions in SE for which the OP knows the answer if asked for the purpose of generating helpful or interesting answers rather than "look how clever I am" type motives.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I am in favor of puzzler. I agree that it needs a good tag wiki. Some people might not like these types of questions, but they can ignore them and the tag helps them do that. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Sep 25 '19 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ This answer is better than Organic's answer, but I think you need to explain how you see puzzler being defined. What would it capture? I'm not clear on how it's a useful category. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Aug 4 '20 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage okay I'll rummage around and look for that thinking cap... $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 5 '20 at 2:14

I'd like to revisit this.

I propose we add a Puzzler tag.

This tag is intended for use when the original poster knows the answer to the question being posted, but chooses not to self-answer, "for the purpose of generating helpful or interesting answers". 1 For the purpose of brevity I propose to call this type of question Puzzlers.

The tag is not intended for the (allowed and encouraged) case where the original poster knows the answer, and answers their own question.

Posters of Puzzlers should include the tag at the time of posting the question; the community should not be expected to deduce that the question is a Puzzler and tag it.

Already-posted Puzzlers may have the tag added but there is no requirement to do so.

The intent of the tag is to allow eager Puzzler answerers to seek out Puzzlers easily, and to allow those who dislike Puzzlers to ignore them.

Feedback, please.

1 quoted from uhoh at https://space.meta.stackexchange.com/a/1383/6944

  • $\begingroup$ I try to write questions that others will find either useful or interesting, regardless of how well I know the answer. For about 1/3 of my questions I already know the answer, another 1/3 I know where I could find the answer, and the final 1/3 I couldn't answer myself. By this suggestion, 1/3 of my questions would be marked Puzzler! Seems a bit too much. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Jul 1 '20 at 3:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I am not sure why you would resist tagging your questions in a way that is consistent with what you know to be the case. $\endgroup$ Jul 1 '20 at 3:45
  • $\begingroup$ I think the types of questions that have problems are not only where the asker already knows the answer but also that others feel this isn't worth the effort of researching an answer. So people downvote the question. Once the asker provides the answer, the question then seems interesting or useful, and receives some upvotes. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Jul 1 '20 at 3:53
  • $\begingroup$ There's no particular reason you should care about this, but until something along these lines gets implemented, I will be skipping all your questions. $\endgroup$ Jul 1 '20 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ That seems rather harsh. If people find a question useful or interesting, it should not matter whether the asker already knew the answer. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Jul 1 '20 at 4:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I consider answering puzzler questions to be a waste of my time, and I don't wish to try and figure which ones are not. As I said, there's no reason you should care; it's a personal quirk and I won't be downvoting them, just ignoring them completely. $\endgroup$ Jul 1 '20 at 4:14
  • $\begingroup$ Here's an example of a question that more than several people didn't like based on suspicion that I knew the answer at the time of asking (and they were correct). What was the first piece of wood to reach the far side of the Moon? Or the first spacecraft? Here's an example of a question that I had no idea of the answer, yet was accused of knowing $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 1 '20 at 10:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I'm fond of the idea of a puzzler tag, but the reason here seems to be in order to mark questions where the OP knows (or suspects?) the answer so that it can be ignored. If that is the tag's raison d'être then it's kind of an invasive test, and people can be accused of adding nor not adding the tag in bad faith after the fact. There really isn't anything else in SE that requires a testimonial or the admission of some personal bit of information, so if this is why the tag exists it may be problematic. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 1 '20 at 10:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I understand what you're saying. My counter is that if a person posts a puzzler without saying so, they are acting in bad faith, because that is not what stack exchange was designed for. I freely admit this is a personal quirk and I have a means for addressing the issue, so it's ok with me if nithing is done. $\endgroup$ Jul 1 '20 at 11:37
  • $\begingroup$ besides the accumulation of good answers to on-topic questions, I don't think there are any objective definitions of what the site is or isn't "for" that depend upon the OP's level awareness of the answer to the question. There may be very many strong personal views on that, but that doesn't mean any particular user's view is "ground truth". That SE is for "people who know stuff to write answers to questions asked by the people who don't know stuff" is a misconception. As far as I can tell it's just about the generation of good answers to on-topic questions. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 1 '20 at 12:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You could well be right. I doubt it was set up for the purpose of asking puzzlers but clearly they are not explicitly forbidden. I don't think tagging them honestly would prevent the accumulation of good answers, but maybe it would. $\endgroup$ Jul 1 '20 at 12:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ well "puzzlers" still needs to be defined before we can know if SE was set up for them. Since the definition of what is or isn't a puzzler is still quite fluid on this page it's impossible to say. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 3 '20 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I know I said I was going to stay neutral on this one, but asking questions you already know the answer to is perfectly acceptable on StackExchange as long as they are not trivial. You may not personally like this practice, but it is explicitly welcomed on the site, and it would be extremely problematic to design a tag whose only purpose would be to separate out these questions, as there's nothing really in common with those questions at all and it's impossible to know unless a user volunteers the information that they already knew the answer. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Aug 4 '20 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage I understand. I will deal with it in my own way. $\endgroup$ Aug 4 '20 at 20:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would disagree that "asking a question to which one already knows the answer without simultaneously posting that answer" is welcomed on the site, as it falls foul of "show your research". It is indeed impossible to know when this is the case, but creating a tag I know this one allows them to volunteer that information. The tag could be removed once they post their answer. $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Nov 28 '20 at 18:20

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