Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #1025: Planning additions to the site
By Valerie Mates (valerie)

#1: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jan 19, 2020

Here is a list of various ideas for additions to the site.

* Add optional e-mail notifications to discussions.
* Display the creation date of the puzzle to the solver.
* Maybe add a "like" button to comments in discussions.
* Show the percent of the grid that is filled in.
* Add a way for people to add a photo or other avatar next to their name in the discussion forums.
* Add an "about me" page that people can click on, to see optional information that people could choose to fill in or leave blank.
* When people link to a puzzle from Facebook, show an "empty puzzle" image . (If I remember right, currently Facebook shows random bits of the page, which doesn't look very nice.)
* Finish fixing the problem where when someone makes a "ruling" about whether a puzzle is logically solvable, the site sometimes loses it. (I put in code that should fix one way that this happens, but more fixes may be needed.)
* Add more fixes for special characters (letters with accents, emoticons, etc.) -- a never-ending task

Are any of these either terrible ideas that you would hate? Or great ideas that should go first?

Are there any bugs that need attention?

What's on your mind about the site?
#2: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jan 19, 2020
As a creator, I think:

* "Like" buttons actually tend to discourage conversations. Even a "ditto" is more encouraging to a creator then a number going up. Also there is "like inflation" where people automatically give likes to people they like instead of using it as an intensifier for good comments.
* An "about me" page is a good idea and it should be able to include a list of puzzles by that user.

As a hinter, I think:
* The % done is a good idea so that a hint can say "when you're about x% done," so the solver knows if the hint is applicable.

> It would be very nice to have a cursor row/column readout that gives the cursor's current location. (The upper left corner would be ideal for this.)

> It would be nice to be able to flag a thread/puzzle to have it show up in the "new comments" even without it having been solved as I leave puzzles without a logical solve in the last logical position.

As a solver, I think:
This site works beautifully.
#3: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jan 19, 2020
Some wonderful ideas. I am definitely staying tuned.

I would like to see the addition of the option that asks if you want to save if you haven't done so when leaving a puzzle.

It would also be nice if a way could be found to keep your comment from disappearing before you are finished with it. I have often left in the middle of a comment to search for information related to my comment only to come back to an empty box or it will disappear as soon as I try to add to it.
#4: Janez (Janez) on Jan 20, 2020
I'd like, on the Find Puzzles page, a more accurate option to select the size of the board.
Right now you can select the area in 5x5 pixels steps, I would like to have the height and width selectable separately, perhaps in 1 pixel increments.
In this way it will be possible to differentiate between 'trains' and 'skyscrapers' with the same area.
#5: Teresa K (fasstar) on Jan 21, 2020
Honestly, I like the site just the way itis. I would be happy if you didn't make any changes.

However, I do have opinions about a few of the ideas:

* No "Like" buttons. I agree with Joe's statement.
* Yes, an "About Me" page would be cool. Photo could go there.
* Create date on solver page would be nice.

One fix I would like to see is when you check for errors, the option to revert to the last save would actually revert to the last save and not randomly erase half your work, as it sometimes does.

Thank you, Valerie!

#6: Byrdie (byrdie) on Jan 21, 2020
Pretty much agree with Teresa. Not a fan of "like." I think it's become over and incorrectly used. I also like the idea of the create date showing.

I would not use the e-mail notification for forum topics. I make the forum the first thing I do when I sign in, even if I don't work on puzzles. I sometimes use it as a time fill when I'm at work. I get enough e-mails from sources I'd rather not but who require your e-mail address for participation.

Not a user of Facebook and don't anticipate I ever will be so I have nothing to add to that discussion.
#7: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jan 21, 2020
Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions and ideas!

To get input from more people, I entered the same question in the WebPBN group on Facebook at the same time as here. On Facebook -- which has a "like" button -- people were enthusiastic about "like" buttons, while here they are not. Me personally, I often long for a "like" button on this site, but I can also see where people would not want it.

In case anybody is interested, here is the thread on Facebook:
#8: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jan 21, 2020
I think a like button would be nice.
#9: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Feb 18, 2020
I've made some of the smallest updates on the list:

1) I've added code that protects the settings for Uniqueness and Solvability from being erased when the author edits a puzzle, as long as the clues haven't changed.

2) When you search by puzzle number, if you put spaces after the puzzle number, the search program would behave weirdly. I've fixed that.

3) I re-removed the link to the broken Chat program from the menu.

4) In the puzzle solving tips, I fixed typos in tips #12, 20, and 23.

5) When people link to a puzzle on Facebook, it used to show random weirdness. Now it should display an image with WebPBN's front-page puzzle, solved. That is an imperfect solution, but much better than showing random weirdness.
#10: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Feb 18, 2020
Hm. I went to look at Karen Stivers' suggestion to let people save default search options, and I ran across something interesting. If you click on "settings" in the left column and then click on the tab for "Options" and scroll down to the bottom of the page, there is an option to set the default sorting method for the puzzle list. But it's not clear *which* puzzle list you are saving settings for. I think maybe it was used for a former version of the front page of the website, which isn't used anymore.
#11: Aurelian Ginkgo (AurelianGinkgo) on Feb 18, 2020
That like button suggestion seems to be the most talked about.

Well, I would "like" it, but that doesn't give you valuable feedback, does it? Actually, I started off wanting one, and actually have for a while, but Joe did make a fantastic point that I hadn't considered. And I agree with him. Why discourage positive comments? At the same time, I feel like if someone (or multiple people) have already said what I was going to say, why be redundant? But then I may never leave any kind of indication that I enjoyed the puzzle or picture or comments.

But there is something I have wanted for a very long time now. YouTube gives the video poster the power to delete comments that are unwelcome. I would love for puzzle-makers to be able to delete comments made by others if they are rude or unkind.
#12: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Feb 18, 2020
Valerie, I think the sort order is probably for the "Puzzle List" page as that is the original home page. Jan just renamed it when he made the new home page.

I just checked, and that is indeed the case.

The new home page was designed to be as low-burden as possible, so there's no way to customize it.
#13: Meg Smith (mamadragonfreak) on Feb 19, 2020
as a solver i like the way this site works. i am not a fan of like buttons as a rule. perhaps this is because i'm not a facebook user. i prefer more personal comments. any changes that make things easier or clearer are ok by me.
#14: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Feb 22, 2020
New puzzles were getting entered without their Uniqueness and Solvability set, which I think is an unintended consequence of the changes I made to protect these settings from getting erased when someone edits their existing puzzle. So, I've restored a backup of what I changed in the Edit program. I will look at this again on Monday.
#15: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Feb 24, 2020
Sigh. I restored the backup of the "edit" program but not the "save" program that saves newly edited puzzles -- and it was the "save" program that had the bug. So now I've restored the backup of "save," too. This means that the site should be back to setting Uniqueness and Solvability correctly -- but I still have work to do.
#16: Gylinda B Ryan (Nanya) on Mar 11, 2020
I’m 75 years young, so I’m concerned I may not be able to finish ALL the puzzles in the time I have left. Although I expect to have about 15 years to try. Anyway, I truly love, love, love this site. I don’t feel the need for any changes but have no problem if others want them. I agree with Teresa about the “check for errors” function. I try not to use it unless I’m desperate! Great job keeping us happy!
#17: Gylinda B Ryan (Nanya) on Mar 11, 2020
#18: Teresa K (fasstar) on Mar 12, 2020
Welcome Gylinda! I'm 73. You'd be surprised at how many seniors are here. I'm hoping my vision holds out a few more years. The 5-color puzzles are way too frustrating. I usually stick to the 2 or 3 color puzzles. These puzzles are good for the brain, and lately good for creativity. And of course the community is just The Best!! (Thank you, again, Valerie.)
#19: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on May 9, 2020
Can I second Joe's list. Everything about it. I've wanted a percent complete (or XX of XXX pixels) indicator for a long time because i like providing hints and walk-thrus. I'm also Team Dislike Likes
#20: AM (adrian) on Jun 11, 2020
Valerie, I really appreciate your effort to keep this site up and running all these years and to improve it for all of us to enjoy. I've spent countless hours solving many wonderful puzzles created by this great community. Thank you!

Here are a few suggestions:
- display the size (H and V) of blanc and dotted regions in addition to black/colored ones. I'm referring to the numbers that show on the side of the grid when the cursor is on a colored-in region. This would be very useful on large grids.
- make the blue color lighter. On large grids with many small numbers on the side, blue and black numbers are hard to distinguish.
- show the most recent save or solve timestamp and allow sorting by it.
- add the ability to mark numbers with a background color indicating a partial solve of that region different from white (unsolved) and gray (solved)
#21: Byrdie (byrdie) on Jun 12, 2020
Hi Adrian.

Not attempting to fill for however Valerie will answer - I have a similar problem with the blue and black clues. The solution for me has been to "hover" my mouse cursor over the clue and a dialog box will pop up with the color spelled out in text. It might slow down the solving a bit but it works.

Changing the color (also of the marked as solved clues) as I understand it would be a huge undertaking because each of the clue numbers is a graphic item (image) rather than textual. In other words, there is an image for a black two and for a black to with a gray field, a blue two and a blue two with a gray field, etc.
#22: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Jun 12, 2020
Re:#20. If the puzzle grid marked how many blank spaces were in each row/column, then EVERY puzzle would be a fill-in, and there would be no more logic involved.

Did I understand that correctly?
#23: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jun 12, 2020
The colors you see may be related to your monitor. Three monitors ago I inherited a large old fashioned one from someone who had been a web master and needed the best. I had no problems with any colors. I went from there to a laptop and had no problem with blue and black, but had a hard time with blue and green. I'm back to q desk top and now have a problem with blue and black. I tried altering the color qnd I helped it q little but stopped trying because I realized I was in territory I knew nothing about.
#24: AM (adrian) on Jun 12, 2020
Re #22: Kristen - I wasn't referring to the fixed numbers that indicate the target number of black or colored cells. It's true, if you added the target numbers for dotted cells then you would just fill in the grid, not my intention :)

What I meant was to expand the feature that shows the size of a region while solving the puzzle. For example, a 20x20 puzzle may have a line target: "5 5 5". Initially the line would be all blanc, so if the cursor is on that line you would see an additional "20" colored somehow to indicate that you are over a region that includes 20 blanc adjacent cells.

Let's say you filled in two black adjacent cells on that line - when the cursor hovers over one of these two cells you currently see 2 indicating the horizontal size of the black region, but that's not the case for blanc or dotted cells.
#25: AM (adrian) on Jun 12, 2020
Re #21: Byrdie, regarding the number and cell color, I looked at the page structure using Google Chrome dev tools and here's the element for a number:
<text x="47.08" y="45" font-size="14" fill="black" font-family="sans-serif" font-weight="bold" id="cs2.0n">2</text>

And here's the description of the html <text> tag: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/SVG/Element/text

So these numbers are not images but text (at least in the page html), and their color is set by the "fill" attribute, so changing the color should be as simple as changing "fill" from "blue" to "DodgerBlue" (https://www.htmlcsscolor.com/hex/1E90FF) for example.

I actually tested that practically: I changed the "fill" attribute using the same dev tools and the number changed color accordingly.

There are ways to adjust a page locally with a script without any change to the server, but it would still be preferable to do it on the server so everybody can take advantage of it.
#26: Byrdie (byrdie) on Jun 12, 2020
Guess I am either incorrect or misunderstood the explanation that I read quite some time ago. Anyway, works fine for me as is.
#27: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 12, 2020
You're not incorrect, Byrdie, but neither is adrian. The HTML mode uses little pictures of numbers. It has only three sizes. The SVG mode uses vector-drawn text. It can get extremely big, and is easier to read as well.

You can switch modes by going to the Settings page and then to the Options tab and making your choice under Drawing Mode. SVG mode is described as experimental, but I have had no problems with it and I have been using it for at least six years.
#28: robert ciosek (bobciosek) on Jun 13, 2020
In addition to difficulty and quality, there could be a "fun" or "enjoyability" rating
#29: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 13, 2020
Quality includes "fun" and "enjoyability". They are part of the quality of the puzzle.

In fact I would say they are the major part. If a puzzle has an excellent picture but a terrible solve, I rate it as low quality.
#30: Barb Edwards (babarann) on Jun 14, 2020
Try tilting your screen a little bit to change the nuances of the color. I once ordered a cute pair of soft pink sneakers online, and when they arrived they were neon orange! I looked again at the website, and as I tilted the screen the color changed. Not a technical solution but it might help! :-)
#31: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jun 14, 2020
Re #29: I agree with Joe: The rating for "quality" includes "fun" and "enjoyability."

I will look into making the blue a little bit lighter. I think that change would be helpful to a lot of us.
#32: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jun 14, 2020
I should also note that during the pandemic I don't have childcare, and I'm the single parent of a twelve-year-old with fairly extreme special needs who is at home full time, plus there's work for my customers to fit in, too, so it may be a while before I have time available to work on anything big. The main thing saving my sanity lately is that my kiddo has been taking an hours-long nap every day.

I encourage people to keep adding suggestions and requests to the list -- it is helpful to have them here together in one place. But realistically it may be a while before I can work on these.
#33: AM (adrian) on Jun 15, 2020
Re #31: I have been avoiding puzzles with blue for this reason, it will be exciting to be able to solve them again. Thank you, Valerie!
#34: Teresa K (fasstar) on Jun 17, 2020
Q: What's black and white and red all over?

A: The color combination for puzzles that are easier on the eyes, especially older eyes with visual impairments, a VERY common occurrence on this site. For the time being, while Valerie is time-limited, it would be most appreciated if puzzle creators would avoid blue, if possible, just for awhile. Pure B&W puzzles are always welcome!

Valerie, I also am full time caregiver for my two "high maintenance" special needs kids. Take your time with making changes. We can live and solve quite happily with the colors as is. Thank you for your kind attention to our wishes and desires. (✬‿✬)
#35: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jun 17, 2020
Blue and black in the same puzzle would be Ok. But just try to avoid having them next to each other.
#36: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Jun 17, 2020
If the blue were to change, would it be for all puzzles old and new or just new puzzles? If just new puzzles, what about old puzzles that get an edit by the author?
#37: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jun 17, 2020
It wouldn't bother me to leave the old ones as is. So which ever is easier get my vote.
#38: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 17, 2020
The color is in the displaying, so all puzzles would be displayed with the new color. I'm pretty sure that "blue" is saved in the puzzle db as the number 4 (or 5*, but definitely not as the actual color value to be displayed).

*I'm guessing the puzzles are stored with

On a puzzle you can use the number keys to change the pixel under the mouse to any color even if there are no clues to that color. To do this 0=unknown, 1=white, 2=black, 3=red, 4=green, 5=blue.

However, the unknown state would never be saved in a model puzzle.

But now I talk myself back into 5 because the puzzle can also be saved in progress and that would need unknowns. And they should have the same format to make comparison easier...

It would probably be easier to just ask Valerie, but speculation is fun.
#39: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jun 18, 2020
Changing the colors would be hard in HTML mode because that involves changing a lot of image files. However, changing the colors in SVG mode should be easier.

In SVG mode, the colors seem to be stored in an array called
Draw.colors. The colors stored are "#cccccc" (greyed out color), "#ffffff" (white - pure), "#515151" (black which is really a dark grey), "#ff0000" (red - pure), "#00b000" (green, but a little pale), and "#0000ff" (blue - pure)

*If* this is the only place those colors are specified, then changing them is just a matter of changing one line of code.

The problem then is figuring out a combination of colors that satisfies all the complaints. There are many who have difficulty with blue/black (myself among them). However, there are also those who find green/blue difficult to distinguish. And there are a few who cannot see red/green.

Blue/black seems to be an age related thing (https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/special-issues/seniors/your-aging-eyes). A lighter blue may help with that. (In my own case, I would only need the clue numbers to be lightened, but that would entail enven more programming.)

Red/green is a classic genetic defect, and the solution to that would be to make sure the brightness of the two colors are sufficiently different. Right now they're fairly close with red being a bit darker.

I'm not sure what to do about the blue/green problem as I can't find a color-blindness simulator that makes them close to indistinguishable.

One possible solution is to let people choose their own colors with a slider for each color. This could be done on a per-puzzle basis, or even saved as part of their preference. (I would think that this would work on the saturation or brightness of the color rather than changing the hues themselves?)

However, as I said above, this is really only feasible in the SVG mode.

By the way, if you haven't tried the SVG mode, I highly recommend that you do now. It makes the text clearer and you can make the puzzles larger. Go to [Settings] on the side bar, then choose the "Options" tab. Under "Drawing Mode:" choose "Use SVG mode". There's a warning that it's experimental, but it has been working flawlessly for years now.

Here is the main site that I used to compare colors:
Drag this photo to the page:

Other sites gave similar results, but with more work & kludges.
> https://davidmathlogic.com/colorblind/#%23ff0000-%2300b000-%230000ff-%23515151 (I already fixed the top color palette to ours)
> https://www.toptal.com/designers/colorfilter/ (You can use the PNG image URL above)
> E.g. https://app.datawrapper.de/chart/GycvI/upload (choose a sample dataset and then change the colors to webPBN ones)
#40: Byrdie (byrdie) on Jun 18, 2020
I've frequently used blue as a "shadow" color in puzzles that are otherwise black & white and have seen more than a few others that did the same. I guess the shade of blue wouldn't particularly matter but it will effect the overall appearance. I definitely don't think it's fair to ask others to create puzzles without blue until the change is made.

What color is the sky in your world?
#41: Teresa K (fasstar) on Jun 18, 2020
Oh, Byrdie, of course it's not fair to ask people to not use blue in their puzzles. I didn't mean to imply that no one should use blue in their puzzles. I just stated a wish for those who might like to create more B&W or B&W&R or R&G&W or R&B&W, that many of us would appreciate it. If you want/need to use blue in a puzzle, go ahead. No biggie.

#42: AM (adrian) on Jun 18, 2020
Compared to when SVG was first used on this site, its use has grown to the point where all major browsers fully support it: https://caniuse.com/#feat=svg.

It may be time to switch webpbn to SVG only, but the site usage stats may paint a different picture: it's entirely possible that a large number of webpbn fans still use older OSs which only support older versions of some of the browsers.
#43: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jun 18, 2020
I tried SVG a while back and had to switch back. I don't remember exactly what the problem was.

There is a way for users to adjust the colors on their own device. I just changed mine and now the black is a nice charcoal gray and black next to the blue is no longer a problem. Don't ask me how I did it. I just opened the Control Panel and started doing a careful trial and error. I now have a nicer blue and I don't have a blue, green problem like I had on my last screen.

So, maybe the color problem can be solved by the user and Valerie would not have to worry about making a change.
#44: Aurelian Ginkgo (AurelianGinkgo) on Jun 18, 2020
@34: Teresa, I know I am being a smart Alec with this, but it has not been stated yet, and I can't hold back from bringing it up. You said that for your eyes to see better, you avoid blue. But I have been wondering - what if the puzzle has no black? Heh heh.

@39: Joe, this is only a theory, but maybe the differentiating between blue and green is hard for someone who has cataracts? My mom suffers from that and thinks yellow is pink all the time, especially in poor lighting. Besides that, it messes with how she sees all sorts of colors. But we'd have to get a yes from someone who has cataracts, I suppose.

Norma, were you the one who said you had trouble with blue and green together? Is this a possibility?
#45: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jun 18, 2020
No, Aurelian. I had cataract surgery on both eyes before then. .It was just how the colors appeared on my screen. It was an older lap top and not that great. When at my sister's one time when I still owned that laptop I brought up this site on her computer to show her something and her screen colors were totally different.
#46: AM (adrian) on Jun 22, 2020
@Valerie, another improvement that would considerably help with the tedious aspects of solving especially large grids would be to show the numbers indicating the H and V size of a region (blanc, dotted, black or colored) right near the cursor instead of on the side of the grid. As the cursor moves and hovers above different regions, the numbers would move too, and update when over each new region.

I know that this may seem like a small and unimportant detail to some, but just from the way I myself solve these puzzles, I believe this feature would speed up the process by giving instant feedback about the region that is under the cursor instead of having to constantly look left/right or up/down at the sides of the grid.

It's the same type of ergonomic detail that makes using keyboard shortcuts much more efficient than constantly switching between the mouse and the keyboard.

All these individually small delays add up after a while.

And BTW, I'm fully aware that this has a very low chance of seeing the light of day any time soon due to your busy schedule, but I thought I would still put it out there just for the record.

Thank you.
#47: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jul 27, 2020
Since Michel Plourde has been creating puzzles with descriptions in French, I am wondering if adding a Google Translate button would be helpful.

I have not been fast at getting to *any* of the additions to the site, especially with kids at home during the pandemic. And fixing the site's support for international characters (that is, letters with accents and other marks) is a higher priority than adding a translate button -- but much harder to do. But adding a translate button is pretty easy.

I wanted to see if it could be done, so I created a sample page that people can play with. Spoiler alert: It shows the description in French of a solved puzzle and offers to translate it, so if you don't want to see the description of puzzle 34349 "Epoque des chevaliers", don't click on it.


Possible issues:
1) Part of the page doesn't get drawn until after a person solves the puzzle. I don't know if the translate button would be able to "see" that to translate it.
2) Google doesn't support translate buttons anymore, so at some point this could vanish.
3) Since part of the page is already in English, to get it to translate the French parts into English, I'm finding I need to first select some other language to translate to, and then English gets added to the list of options that I can select, but it doesn't seem to initially be there as an option.
4) Would it change the character of the site if it was easier for speakers of various languages to talk to each other? Is that good, or bad, or just different?

Anyway, I am curious to hear people's thoughts.

#48: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jul 27, 2020
I think it would be nice to see a translation without having to go through the motions of copy, paste, etc with Google. It might encourage our non English speaking members to participate more. If we responded in English would they be able to translate our response to their language?

Does anyone remember (I think it was Jack Parr who started it) when he would line up several people speaking different languages and the first person would whisper a joke to the next person and that person would translate the joke into the language of the next person and each person would do the same. Then they would tell you the joke in English and have the last person translate what was whispered to them to English. More often than not than not the ending translation bore no relationship to the original.
#49: Aurelian Ginkgo (AurelianGinkgo) on Jul 27, 2020
Hmmm... I'm on the fence. I love translating from French myself because it helps me improve my French. I'd get lazy if it was too easy. On the other hand, I know very little Spanish and there is a solver who sometimes leaves very nice comments in Spanish; I believe his name is Julio, if I remember correctly. It would be nice to translate his comments with the click of button.

I agree with Norma about encouraging non-English speakers to participate in discussions. Their thoughts are important for sure. I'm also thinking issue 3 sounds like a tangly mess and I wouldn't want you to open a can of worms that you thought would be a piece of cake to install and trouble-shoot.

At the moment, I'm coming to the conclusion, "Eh, what would it hurt? Go for it!" I'm sure, however, there are pros and cons I have not considered. I'm interested in what others can bring to the table.
#50: Aurelian Ginkgo (AurelianGinkgo) on Jul 27, 2020
Also, I just checked out the sample page. Hahahaha! Jota's name translated! Also... what is with the delete button?!!! Is that something only you get Valerie? It wasn't next to all the commentors' names either. I'm curious, bit I admit my questions are not of much importance. They are only curiosities.
#51: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jul 28, 2020
Re #48: Yes, adding a Google Translate button would let people translate to their own language.

I've seen people use Google Translate to translate a phrase through several languages and then back to English, to see how it gets changed. It usually ends up beyond recognition.

Re #49: To clarify, it's the person reading the page who needs to select a language from the pulldown list. So that's a tangly problem for readers, not something that the code on the site could change.

Re #50: I hadn't paid much attention to the Delete link, but I guess it's there because I am an admin. Interesting that it isn't there next to all of the comments. I was curious why not, so I looked in the software. It says that response #1 to each puzzle doesn't have a Delete link. I think that must be a typo and Jan was thinking that response #1 was the puzzle's description. But that would be a bug, since the puzzle's description is stored elsewhere. Maybe in the past it was stored in the first response, or even as response #0, inside the database? Interesting!
#52: Teresa K (fasstar) on Jul 28, 2020
I enjoy seeing titles and descriptions in the creator's native language. I enjoy trying to guess what it means. And I enjoy using Google Translate to find out how close I came. I also use Google Translate to write comments in the other person's language. Easy.

My question is: Are Michael's puzzles originals or copies from publications? I don't buy or solve published puzzles. Our monitor who caught this kind of thing is not around anymore, so how do we know if puzzles are being plagiarized?
#53: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jul 28, 2020
Teresa some copies are easy to find. Yesterday one of the past puzzles posted was one of Donna McFarland's copies. It was of Disney's Olaf. I simply asked Google for Olaf in pixels and there it was.

Of course, puzzles from other sources are not as easy
#54: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jul 28, 2020
If a puzzle is a copyright violation, please let me know, so I can delete it. Thanks!
#55: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jul 29, 2020
I added more code to the site's HTML to say that (1) this site is in English, and (2) the site uses the international character set called "UTF-8."

This seems to have had two effects:

1) More accents and other special characters are being displayed correctly -- though still not all of them in all places.

2) When there is a lot of French on a page, my browser (Google Chrome) offers to translate it into English. If Google Chrome turns out to do this consistently, then maybe we don't need a Translate button. Or maybe we still do, since not everybody uses Google Chrome as their browser.

What are your thoughts?
#56: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Jul 29, 2020
That was neat, to see how well (or poorly) my explanations translated. Interesting to see a distinction between "chevalier" and "cavalier"
#57: Blue gitane (gitane) on Jul 30, 2020
I'd like to see the clues posted at the bottom of the grid, like they are at the top. I've seen this feature before on other sites and it allows you to solve a grid without always scrolling up and down. I like to solve large grids, but it can be quite tiring. At least it allows me to exercise my memory. But I always come back to WPBN because it's the best!

I'm French Canadian, but I'm quite bilingual. To translate from French to English (or vice versa), I find that DeepL is much better than Google Translate, and it's free too. I used it to translate my comment, what do you think?

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) / J'aimerais voir les indices affichés au bas de la grille, comme ils le sont en haut. J'ai déjà vu cette fonction sur d'autres sites et elle permet de résoudre une grille sans avoir à toujours la faire défiler de haut en bas. J'aime bien résoudre de grandes grilles, mais cela peut être assez fatigant. Au moins, cela me permet d'exercer ma mémoire. Je reviens cependant toujours sur WPBN parce que c'est le meilleur!

Je suis Canadienne française, mais assez bilingue. Pour traduire du français à l'anglais (ou inversement), je trouve que le site DeepL est beaucoup plus performant que Google Translate et il est gratuit également. Je l'ai utilisé pour traduire mon commentaire, qu'en pensez-vous?
#58: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jul 30, 2020
Blue gitane, you can move the clues yourself. Just use the arrow keys to move them.
#59: Blue gitane (gitane) on Jul 31, 2020
Oh, wow! I didn't get that before. Thx a lot!
#60: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jul 31, 2020
Thanks Blue and Joe!
#61: Valerie Mates (valerie) on May 2, 2022
Between pandemic and kiddo, I am still at nearly zero on doing *any* of the programming listed here. Hopefully someday! Right now I have some more additions to the list:

1) Yonah suggested having a "subscribe" option so that you can request to be notified when a new puzzle is posted. I envision this as having two options: you could choose to be e-mailed an immediate notification of every puzzle, or you could choose a "daily digest" that lists all of the puzzles that were posted that day.

2) I don't think all of the puzzle solvers notice the discussion pages. So I was thinking that when people have newly solved a puzzle, it would be nice to have some way of ushering them more directly into the discussion of that puzzle. Maybe a way of having the discussion thread pop up right there on the same page as the puzzle, or adding text to "Yahoo, you solved it!" to say something like "Yahoo, you solved it! Come join the discussion!" with a link to the discussion page.

3) There isn't a good way to communicate something to everybody on the site, and I think that would be a help. Even something as simple as changing the front page to give more priority to showing links to discussion threads would help. This feels like an initial idea that needs more thought.

As always, ideas are welcome!
#62: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jul 24, 2022
A question:

Aurelian Ginkgo suggested, "I would love for puzzle-makers to be able to delete comments made by others if they are rude or unkind."

I like this idea too, and it's pretty easy to program, but I wanted to check to see what people think. Should the creator of a puzzle be able to delete comments on that puzzle?
#63: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jul 24, 2022
That would be an excellent idea. From time to time an indivitual will come on board and make unearned hateful and insulting remarks just to annoy people. And when election time rolls around some of the long time members can get even carried away.
#64: Byrdie (byrdie) on Jul 24, 2022
I remember Jan was not a fan of censorship, don't think I am either. Perhaps a way to "report" objectionable comments and leave it to the discretion of the moderator(s)?
#65: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jul 24, 2022
About all he said is what appears on the creat puzzle page: If the image in your puzzle might be offensive to some users, please note this in the title.
#66: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jul 24, 2022
Jan left several comments about how he was against censorship. For example: https://www.webpbn.com/index.cgi?page=read.cgi%3Ftype%3DP%26id%3D3727%26start%3D40
#67: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Jul 24, 2022
I also think that the ability to delete others' comments can lead to cliques and schisms.

Getting rid of opposing viewpoints leads to echo chambers. It is what is happening in the US currently as everyone is withdrawing into "safe spaces" where the opposing viewpoints are obsessively scrubbed away. The only way "the other's" viewpoint is seen is in exaggerated form as straw men. Any nuance is removed, and the other side is not allowed to defend or explain their view.

This is obviously not inevitable, but it is a step in that direction when what we need is a march in the other direction.
#68: JoDeen Mozena (ozymoe) on Jul 25, 2022
I'm not a fan of censorship. That being said, egregious comments, (though some think "egregious comments," mean any not lining up with their own views,) should be able to be removed by you, Valerie, if deemed to be inappropriate. I'm not quite sure, but my guess is these type comments are few and far between. We are a community made up of people with diverse convictions. As long as we are not attacking any member of the community personally, I see no reason not to be able to express political or religious views (for example), especially if they are labeled as such in the title.
#69: Gator (gator) on Jul 25, 2022
I have seen other forums where users can report a post as objectionable and if enough users report it as such, then the post is hidden by default, but it can still be viewed if clicked on. This is sort of a compromise between the two.

If it was one way or the other though, I would be against deleting the comments as I am not a fan of censorship either.
#70: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Jul 25, 2022
I think a good compromise between freedom of speech and censorship might be the ability to flag something as offensive Then, we could allow people the choice to read or not just as when we look at the solution to a puzzle and choose to look at spoilers, hints, or both. The big question would still be who gets to decide? I don't really want to arbitrate and I wouldn't know what criteria to use. There is a spectrum of offensive speech from hate speech, threats, vulgarity, profanity, political discord, opinion. Where would we draw the line?
#71: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jul 25, 2022
Hm. Lots of thoughts.

I value freedom of speech.
I value people's tact and kindness.

I would never delete a comment for thoughtfully expressing a view that is different from my own.

I know Jan used to occasionally delete or un-publish what he considered to be a really bad puzzle, for example scribbles that don't form a picture and can't be solved. I do that too, though it is quite rare.

I sometimes delete blank comments, and the extra copies of duplicate postings.

On rare occasion I'll delete a comment that just says "This puzzle stinks" or suchlike.

I've deleted a few puzzles that were reported to me as copyright violations.

Shortly after Jan died, someone contacted me and complained that a discussion in the forum was not family-friendly and that Jan wouldn't have allowed it there. I looked up the discussion and removed some overtly sexual comments -- and then, later on, that entire thread was lost in the 2016 database crash. If someone sent me the same question today, I am not sure that I would do the same thing. I *do* want the site to be welcoming to people of all ages, including children, but I'm also highly uncomfortable with deleting people's words, so I would certainly be conflicted about how to handle it.

Then there's that one puzzle that some people thought looked like Nazi propaganda, which caused a lot of discussion here and on Facebook, and so I reluctantly took it offline. I don't want to re-open that discussion in this thread (if you do want to talk about that puzzle, please go comment in one of the discussions about it, not here), but it is something that I've deleted. I also took another puzzle by the same author offline because it made me uncomfortable, but then someone (Bill, I think) asked for the puzzle to be put back online, so I did.

There are lots of types of offensiveness that as far as I know haven't come up on this site, but which would make me awfully conflicted about whether to keep or delete. As a puzzle site, I think the point here is to have fun and be welcoming to lots of people, not to explore the limits of offensiveness.

Mostly, I think that because the site has a culture of people behaving in collaborative ways, new people come along, see the existing culture here, and then they follow the norm that they see and behave in ways that are kind and collaborative. I really like and value that, and want to perpetuate it.


I fiercely dislike having a "Report" button next to everything on a site. It feels to me like living in a police state, where anything could be reported to some kind of mysterious, shadowy authorities. Also, since "the authorities" here is me, I don't want to encourage people to send me complaints, because I think that changes the way people see other people's postings in a way that I'd rather not encourage. (My local NextDoor has a "Report" button next to every posting, and it's a sewer there.) (The "Report" button isn't what made that site a sewer, but it also hasn't done anything to fix the problem.)

I do like sites where the users can up-vote and down-vote whether a posting is offensive, and if it gets enough votes of offensiveness then it is "hidden" so that you don't see it automatically, but you can click to un-hide it and see what it said. Though again that puts a "Report" or a "vote" button next to each posting, and I think that changes the culture of a site. Also, I would always be curious and click on anything that was hidden, so I would end up seeing the offensive thing anyway.

Each puzzle belongs to its creator. I'd be fine with creators being able to delete comments on their own puzzles. I don't think creators would do a lot of deleting, but I would be comfortable with trusting each person with that responsibility for their own puzzles. It fits the culture here of people behaving responsibly.
#72: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Jul 25, 2022
It would be nice to be able to delete inappropriate comments from just my puzzles. But I certainly would not feel it was my right to judge what is said in other puzzles. There have been a few times when feelings got ruffled on this site, but for the most part it has been a place where one can go without people "yelling" and "screaming" at each other.
#73: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jul 25, 2022
I very much value that!
#74: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Jul 26, 2022
I agree with most of what has been said here, especially from the people who have been around the site for a long time. I'll add that there have been threads in the past that I know some "knee jerk reactions", some "ruffled feathers" and/or some hurt feelings would have lead to an over-use of any comment-deleting ability. That said, just as I have the utmost respect for Jan's thoughts and actions on these matters, have nothing but the same respect for yours, Valerie. Whatever you are comfortable with, I'm in support.
#75: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Jul 28, 2022
My suggestion: perhaps give the puzzle author the option to hide a comment deemed offensive. Then, the reader has the option to click on the offending comment, if they want to see what was written.

If the puzzle author has left the site, maybe if you [Valerie] receive complaints, you could add a disclaimer to the puzzle title, like "May contain offensive comments" and the solver can choose whether or not to read them.
#76: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jul 28, 2022
Hm. My first thought was, "I like that a lot!" But then my next thought was that then there would probably need to be an option next to every posting where its author could click on it and mark it as offensive. And I think that will look to people like offensive comments are an expected part of participating in the site, an everyday option that people can choose. And I'd rather encourage a culture where offensiveness is rare and startling and people (hopefully!) think twice before going there, not an everyday option where people can just click a box and go ahead.

So I lean toward some other way of approaching it.
#77: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jul 29, 2022
Hm. Still thinking about this. If the option just said "hide" and not "this is offensive," there are a lot of things that hiding comments could be used for. Like for example if a puzzle shows a song lyric and people are supposed to guess which song, then the answer could be put in a hidden comment so that people wouldn't see the name of the song until they were ready to. So I think there are a lot of possible uses for hiding comments, not just offensiveness. So now I'm back to thinking "This could work!"
#78: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Jul 29, 2022
Ooh, that's a good idea! I *think* the puzzle creator can mark anyone's comment as a Spoiler, or maybe that was an earlier feature. The only issue I can think of, is that hints and spoilers are revealed once the puzzle is solved, so the "reveal hidden comments" option would have to be placed in a different layer of code.
#79: JoDeen Mozena (ozymoe) on Jul 29, 2022
I love you, Valerie. You choose to spend some of your valuable time on our little concerns here. I wish I could give you a big "next door neighbor" hug, but will have to settle for just letting you know, every once in awhile, how much of a difference your care-taking makes in a lot of lives, certainly mine.
#80: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Aug 6, 2022
Aw! Hugs to you too, JoDeen!

Back on the topic of changes to webpbn, on the staging site I've added Joe's suggestion of displaying the row number and column number where the mouse pointer is, and I'm not sure whose suggestion (maybe David Bouldin's or Gator's or Joe's? or Sofi Bloom on Facebook?) of showing the percent of the puzzle that is filled in.

I've currently coded it only for HTML mode, so if you've set your account to solve puzzles in SVG mode, you won't see it yet.

I'd appreciate it if people could try it out and offer suggestions. Is it distracting? Is it useful? Is it in a good location on the screen? Can you break it by using some particular combination of buttons and keys and clicks? Does it work okay when you solve a big puzzle on a slow computer?

If you'd like to try it out, the staging site is at https://staging.webpbn.com/
#81: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Aug 7, 2022
Another update: I've updated SVG mode with the code that shows row, column, and percent complete.

I'd appreciate if people would try it out and give feedback. I'd much appreciate feedback now, while it is in test mode, so that it's had a fair number of eyes on it before it's on the live site.

If you would like to try it out, here is the link to the staging site: https://staging.webpbn.com/
#82: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Aug 7, 2022
Very nice. This will help me solve when I need a clue or two. When someone has written some clues giving row and column nunbers it will go so much faster than relying on my sometimes inablility to count correctly.
#83: JoDeen Mozena (ozymoe) on Aug 8, 2022
I'm not as tech savvy as some, so I don't find it changing or helping me solve any differently than I already do. It doesn't distract me. It's just not giving me any faster or easier way to solve that I can see. I DO like seeing the percentage of the puzzle I have solved, though. At first, I thought the percentage meant something else, but as soon as I understood the percentage had nothing to do with the row or column information, it was ok. You just happened to put that stat there, instead of someplace else, right?
#84: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Aug 8, 2022
Yup! The percent is what percent of the puzzle has been filled in. So if a puzzle had 100 squares, with 10 dots and 10 blue squares filled in, then it would be at 20%.

I think the row and column are most useful when people are giving or reading hints -- they make it easier to locate a particular square to talk about it.
#85: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Aug 8, 2022
Is it telling that I hit the Random Puzzle button on the test site and #3 popped up? I absolutely love the addition. Obviously it's not something that's needed for every puzzle, but for complicated ones with a lot of tracking it will be VERY helpful! I feel like both will help those who love helping others! Thank you so much!
#86: Gator (gator) on Aug 10, 2022
The row/column information is great. Much appreciated.
#87: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Aug 10, 2022
Thanks to everybody who tried it out and gave feedback. The code for showing the row, column, and percent is online now.
#88: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Aug 13, 2022
Is anybody *not* seeing row, column, and percent when you work on a puzzle? There are four versions of the code, and I put the code for it in two of them, because I didn't think the other two versions were being used anymore.
#89: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Aug 13, 2022
I see it. My versions are "Version 3.4; SVG 3.2; RE 3.4" according to the Tab function
#90: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Aug 18, 2022
To keep people posted: I'm still thinking through the color changes that aim to make the blue look more different from the other colors, so I haven't made any changes to this site; they are only on the staging site. The widened 1's just look weird to me. I think I could get used to them, but I don't love them. I'm thinking I need to do some anti-aliasing on them -- that is, instead of making one column of dark blue pixels into two columns of dark blue pixels, instead I would use one dark blue column and one lighter blue column. Or two lighter blue columns, one on each side. I am not sure that that will be the right answer either, but it may turn out to be closer.

Also, I was thinking about asking for advice from a friend who's really amazing at placing individual pixels to make art, but he sometimes takes a year to answer e-mail, so asking him is probably not a good option. But then I realized that this site is chock full of people who are really amazing at exactly that! So if anybody would like to make an attempt at making better looking wide 1's, please let me know and I can describe to you the details of what size grid and what colors to use.
#91: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Aug 18, 2022
A gory detail that's probably not important to anybody:

In #88 I was asking about the four versions of the code that may run when people work on puzzles, depending on the features in your browser. Nobody said that they were using two of the versions. So I checked the last five or six days of webserver logs to see if anybody had used those two versions. Nobody had, so I took them offline. If anybody misses them someday, I can put them back online again.
#92: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Aug 31, 2022
In #71 I listed everything that I could remember deleting from this site. Adding to that list: Yesterday I deleted puzzle #35904. It had an image where I couldn't really see any of the details, but it was supposed to be an image of child pornography of a fictional character. I am not sure whether hosting it here was legal -- I need to do more reading about the details of the law, both the question of which countries' laws apply to a site with users from many countries, as well as the question of whether the contents of that puzzle's image were legal.
#93: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Sep 21, 2022
To keep people posted: Starting a month ago I've been having major childcare issues, which are continuing. This makes it challenging to work on the code for the site. I can still do some, but it's slow.
#94: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Sep 21, 2022
Hopefully your childcare issues resolve soon...for your own benefit not ours. Don't stress about how much or how little you are able to do on here. We are all just IMMENSELY grateful for everything you do here...no matter the pace. You are very loved! Take good care of yourself and your family and good luck!!
#95: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Sep 21, 2022
Ditto David. Couldn't have said it better. Hang in there, Valerie. Your children come first. We can wait.
#96: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Sep 21, 2022
Aw, I love both of you too! <3

My youngest is currently at home full-time, no school, until I decide what's next for him. For my own sanity it's really nice to be able to do some work on programming projects and not just parenting all the time, so my plan is to keep plugging away at bits of webpbn code when I can.

Today I did have time to work on the icons for the site, to get Android phones to show the site's own icon instead of just showing a "P" in a circle as a link to the site. Though now the main icon for the site -- the one that shows in tabs on a computer's browser -- looks slightly odd, so I may go back in and change them all around again.
#97: Byrdie (byrdie) on Sep 21, 2022
Ditto the other comments, Valerie. Your child/children are the priority. We all participate on WebPBN for fun and for free. IMHO, none of us have the right to make any demands on your time, especially when it might interfere with your family.
#98: JoDeen Mozena (ozymoe) on Sep 22, 2022
Just agreeing with the others...the kids come first...however, if working on the site is an escape sometimes...glad that happens, too. Lol...we all love you, Valerie.
#99: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Oct 17, 2022
Another thought: Here in the discussion forum, I always wish for a menu option that would show me what I want to see. Something like "Show me all of the new postings since last time I looked."

Would anybody else find that useful? Or some other option for how you read things here?
#100: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Oct 17, 2022
Would that be different from the current "New Comments for All Puzzles"?

I usually start with "New Replies to Your Postings" and don't look further than that. (I make sure to throw a comment into my own puzzles pretty early so I don't have to bother with "New Comments for Your Puzzles") About twice a year I'll go on a forum binge and look at all "New Comments for Solved Puzzles", sometimes adding a comment when I can't help it :)
#101: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Oct 18, 2022
Come to think of it, it's almost exactly that -- it's just that there are thousands of comments on the site that I haven't read, and "New Comments for All Puzzles" is going to cycle through all of those, while I want something more like "Show me only the new comments that have been posted since last time I looked at comments."
#102: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Oct 19, 2022
Ah, there's the rub. You have to slog through the comments for ALL the puzzles, in order to see just the new ones. ^_^
#103: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Feb 7, 2023
I've written code where people can create a profile that other people can see. Right now it's only on the staging site. I'd appreciate it if some people would log in there and try it out and let me know if you spot any bugs or anything that's confusing. The staging site is, as always, at https://staging.webpbn.com/ . You can edit your profile there by clicking on Settings and then on the tab that says "About Me."

Once some people try it out and the code is fine tuned, then I'll copy it over here.

Question: Should people who are not logged in be able to see people's profiles? Or only logged-in people?
#104: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Feb 7, 2023
Only logged-in gets my vote.
#105: Wombat (wombatilim) on Feb 8, 2023
I agree with only logged-in people.
#106: Byrdie (byrdie) on Feb 10, 2023
One more for "logged in."
#107: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Feb 19, 2023
I moved the new code that makes usernames clickable to the website. As requested, only logged-in users can see people's bio. Thanks to Joe for testing it out on the staging site.

If you want to edit your bio, you can go to Settings and click on the "About Me" tab to set it up. Or just click on your username anywhere on the site and there's a link you can use to edit your bio.

As always, if you spot something that isn't working correctly, or if you have suggestions or questions, please let me know!
#108: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Feb 21, 2023
I intended to test it out but forgot to jump back in with edits. Glad to see it worked out and has been integrated so quickly! Thank you for everything you do!
#109: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Feb 21, 2023
I changed the look of the username links so that they look less obvious and blend in better. The change is in a file that doesn't load right away for most people, so it may be a few days before it takes effect for you.
#110: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Apr 22, 2023
I've been working for a while on changes that will make the site more usable on a phone. A phone won't ever be a good place to work on really large puzzles, but I think it's going to be usable for puzzles up to about 20x20. Also now it should be possible to read and reply in the discussion forums on a phone, where before that was hard to do.

Right now this code is only on the staging site. It's a big enough change that I am hoping that lots of people will try it out before I copy it to the main site.

Making the site phone-friendly required changes to nearly every part of the site. I aimed to keep the computer-sized version looking the same as always, but behind the scenes I modernized a lot of the HTML and then updated it so that the same page should adapt to any size of screen, including phone-sized screens.

What I need tested is: Please try the staging site using a regular browser on your computer, to make sure that it still works right. And also please try it with a phone. Please test out weird browsers and normal ones, and oddball devices and normal ones, to check that it works. Please solve some puzzles, search for things, read the discussion forum, post a reply, and check all the other pages too, especially if there are features that you use that other people may not use. If anything weird happens or something doesn't look right, please let me know. Also, please let me know if you get any error messages in a tiny font -- I need to find all of those and make sure they are big enough to read.

One new feature: I added a button called "Hide Menu" that makes the menu column disappear. When it's gone, there's a tiny button at the top that says "Menu," which you can click on to bring back the menu. That helps to free up some screen space for puzzle solving. In addition to being needed on phones, I think it will also be useful for using a regular computer to solve very wide puzzles, to make a little more of the screen available for puzzle-solving.

The staging site is here:
I copied all of the users from the main site to the staging some time ago, so you probably have an account there.

I still need to do some work on pages with tabs, in order to fit the tabs on a phone screen.

The staging site has some code for other features that aren't fully written (for example e-mail notifications are partially written and currently turned off). Just so you know.

Anyway, please try this out and let me know how it goes. Once it's working well for everybody, then I'll copy the changes over to the main site.

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