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Puzzle Solutions

Okay, puzzle solutions. When I asked readers to suggest improvements for the new site, the most common request was that a solution box be provided with each puzzle on the main page, so that one could reach each solution with a single click.

Actually, we can do this now:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Click for Answer

The reason we don’t do it this way is that this site has 14,000 subscribers, and most of them use clients that don’t support javascript. This means that if I follow the method above, the solution will be displayed openly to those readers.

My workaround has been to put the solution on a separate page. This way I can publish a puzzle on the homepage and syndicate it safely to RSS and email, but then everyone has to click through to the post page in order to see the solution, which is clumsy.

I want to improve this, but I can’t think of a fix that meets all the requirements:

  1. It must work in the RSS and email feeds.
  2. It must support puzzle solutions that include images.
  3. It should be intuitive to newcomers.
  4. The solution must remain concealed if you forward a post to a friend or discover it in the archives or via the Random Item button.

The Random Item button draws randomly from the main WordPress database, so I can’t afford to have the solutions floating around in there as separate posts. (That’s how we used to do it.) In a nutshell, what we need is a way to include a hidden solution with each puzzle, as above, but in a way that will be preserved reliably in RSS.

What do you think?

8 Responses to “Puzzle Solutions”

  1. Keep the link to the puzzle page with the answer as you do at the moment, but add an extra javascript function that will load the answer via AJAX and display it.

    Functionally it will look the same as your above example to your users that have javascript support, but other users will be sent to the solution on the other page as before.

    Drop me a line if you like, I can help you with it.

    • Mandybrigwell says:

      Alistair’s idea sounds ideal – could you do what he suggests and drop him a line? :)

      • Greg Ross says:

        Yup, already done. We’re going to pursue it in February. In the meantime, I’m simplifying all the puzzles in the archive so that the solutions can be reached with a single click from the main page.

    • bhamapurushotham says:

      Dear sir,

      i fully agree with you. The solution should not be given openly, which will not allow the viewers to think themselves to arrive at the solution. The charm of the puzzle can’t be enjoyed then Best wishes,

  2. Greg Ross says:

    It just occurred to me that the javascript trouble pertains only to the puzzles in the current RSS feed, which is only the 10 most recent posts. So once a puzzle is safely off the front page, I could just remove the excerpt and let the puzzle run in the archives as a self-contained unit, as above. That doesn’t exactly solve the problem, but it reduces it quite a bit — most of the puzzle solutions on the site could be reached with a single click instead of two. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this before. Perhaps I’m overlooking something?

  3. Max S says:

    Would people be disappointed if the RSS feeds didn’t contain any posts that are from the “puzzle” category? Just don’t add that category to the feed.

  4. Greg Ross says:

    That’s another solution. Opinions on that?

    I think I’ll go ahead and start removing excerpts from the existing puzzles — there seems no reason not to do that.

  5. Mandybrigwell says:

    Please don’t remove anything from the RSS feed – I only visit your site when the RSS feed shows a new post.

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