After the migration from mi.yodeya to StackExchange, are riddle-type questions considered appropriate? According to the answer from @RebeccaChernoff to the question "Appropriateness of survey questions", I would imagine that they are appropriate - after all, riddles do have an objective answer. In fact, I would even take the argument a little further and posit that a riddle is not significantly different than asking and answering your own question, which is explicitly allowed on other SE sites. But before I ask any riddle questions, I'd like to confirm that others in the community agree.


4 Answers 4


We expect this site to have a few exceptions from "the way things are usually done around here" (that is, on SE sites)—because the community is used to "the way things are usually done around here" (that is, on mi.yodeya).

While the two communities are similar, and everyone on any SE site is encouraged to check out other SE sites, we do understand that you have a history of your own. So while, for instance, riddle questions like the would be discouraged on new SE sites, no one's going to come in and start slaying questions with a jawbone.

OTOH, over time, we'd like to bring things into alignment as much as possible—simply because we've found that standards that work on 50 sites are likely to work on site #51. Consequently, I've been asked to work with Isaac towards this end (okay, actually, I volunteered). Isaac, next time you're available, can you drop into the chat and give me a yell?

  • Sounds great. I'll see you there some time soon. As long as the conversation is happening out in the open, I hope that anyone else who's interested in these issues can and will drop in too.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented May 22, 2011 at 6:32
  • 3
    Side note: the mi-yodeya-series are not riddles, in that I (the asker) don't have an answer in mind that I'm concealing. I'm honestly asking "What is a significant Jewish fact related to the number N?" Now, I realize that that's not a very deep or consequential question, but I maintain that it's a real question.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented May 22, 2011 at 6:35
  • 5
    BTW, Nice Biblical reference. (8^)
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented May 22, 2011 at 6:41
  • 8
    hehehe, "slaying questions with a jawbone", lol. First meme of the site!
    – AviD
    Commented May 22, 2011 at 8:19
  • 2
    @IsaacMoses - But to pick up on the point Dori made, I think it should be pointed out that there was some discussion (albeit without the benefit of a meta site) on m.y that was left unresolved as to whether actual riddle questions (e.g. those that ended up getting tagged "meta") were appropriate.
    – WAF
    Commented May 22, 2011 at 13:32
  • 1
    ...make that "ended up getting tagged 'riddle'"
    – WAF
    Commented May 22, 2011 at 23:55
  • +1 because now your 6 answers on Meta are in ascending value
    – HodofHod
    Commented Oct 26, 2011 at 1:34

My problem with riddle questions is that they are, in a way, the opposite of the kind of questions we want here. Generally, we want people to include as much relevant information in their question as possible, both so that people can learn from the question and so that answers can be well-suited to what the question is actually looking for. With riddles, the asker makes an effort to conceal relevant information, to keep the answer from being obvious. In terms of the SE How to Ask document, riddle questions do not share research and are inherently vague.


I have now closed nearly all of the questions in . I salvaged a handful that I thought could stand on their own as real questions and removed the riddle tag from them. I also wrote the following into the tag's wiki:

NOTE: Riddles are discouraged as questions on StackExchange. Any riddle questions posted here are likely to be closed.

For more information or to contribute to the communal discussion of this issue, see this meta post.

  • 6
    I support your point of view, @Isaac. If there is something to be learned from the information ultimately contained in the riddle, why not ask it as a question? The purpose of a riddle is to entertain by obfuscating the information contained in the question. This type of activity seems more appropriate for a chat room rather than this type of Q&A compilation of knowledge. It just doesn't fit without detracting from the main purpose of the site. Commented May 23, 2011 at 2:06
  • 5
    +1. "The fifth panel also applies to" Yodeyans.
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 21:52
  • @msh210 +1 to you! I've got that one up on my cubicle wall.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented May 24, 2012 at 22:13
  • Hmmm I can't find this in the new about center. Do you know where it would/should be?
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 7:01
  • @DoubleAA, I suppose it could be added to the Notes here. Or it could be sufficient to make it into a faq post.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 7:19
  • judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/5319/…
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 5:31
  • I strongly disagree. Riddles are cultural, and so they add to the flavor of the site. See my reasoning in my answer.
    – Moshe
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 13:38
  • @Moshe Drashas are of cultural importance, too, as a Mussar Shmuesin. But they don't make good fits for our model.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 13:47
  • There's a fine line between riddles and questions, because riddles are questions, although questions aren't necessarily riddles.
    – Moshe
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 13:48
  • The proof is that there are questions that have been salvaged. I think that mine fits that criteria.
    – Moshe
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 13:49

I dunno, riddles are kinda fun. If they're tagged "riddle", then what's the harm in having them on the site? It's not like we're a huge volume site and allowing people to post riddles is going to bring the server to its knees...

Even more, I think riddles are beneficial to the site, because they will attract attention from exactly the kind of people we want frequenting Judaism.SE - people who enjoy a good Jewish intellectual challenge!

  • What about if the riddle is posed in reverse, i.e. phrase it as a problematic situation, and probe for the missing bits? @Isaac, would you agree then?
    – AviD
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 10:08
  • E.g. "In what situation would a food be permissible simply by thinking that it's not - whereas if one thinks it is permissible, it wouldnt be?"
    – AviD
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 10:08
  • 1
    I don't think it should be necessary to turn yourself into a pretzel to phrase the riddle as a "real" question. I think we should just allow riddles, with the "riddle" tag, and be done with it!
    – Shaul Behr
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 10:17
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    It's not the servers we're worried about; it's readers' attention. We want the overall quality of the content here to be high and continuously improving, so that experts are interested in hanging around. As I said, riddles are inherently quality-challenged because they hide information. In addition, unlike real questions, they're not really subject to improvement by the community because of the hidden information and because an implied part of the question is "what am I thinking of?" So, even if some of them pose a nice challenge, those that don't are un-fixable.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 14:36

I actually disagree with the accepted answer for two reasons:

  1. I could cover up a riddle by not tagging it riddle. A no-riddle policy becomes unenforceable that way. By the time a riddle is discovered as such, there's already been discussion. It would be heavy-handed to delete it at that point

  2. Some subcultures of Jewish culture thrive on questions as a form of teaching. There's the old cliche about Jews answering questions with questions. Granted that doesn't fit the Stack Exchange model at all, but allowing riddles is a good compromise in my opinion.

Provided that a riddle offers as much information as possible without divulging the correct answer, it's a question.

Another thing to consider is the lifespan of an insane erred question. Once a question is posted, it is usually answered in a few hours to a few days.

Then it becomes complete and all of the necessary information is available.

One might argue that spoilers should be required, but we already have support for that across the network.

There is a related approach to homework on Stack Overflow.

  • 4
    1 is incorrect. Riddles (as defined there) are detectable by the content of the question post, independent of the tag. 2 is fine for your own site, but we are an SE site where we use the SE model, not the model of those "subcultures of Jewish culture".
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 13:43

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