Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #189: Rulings on Uniqueness and Solvability
By Jan Wolter (jan)

#1: Jan Wolter (jan) on Aug 24, 2009

Up till now I've been the one making final rulings on whether or not a puzzle has a unique solution and is logically solvable (well, actually the checker program rules on most puzzles automatically).

I've been meaning for a while to enable other users to do this too. At some point I wrote a program that would scan the database for users who had rated puzzles the same way I did before I got around to making rulings on them, hoping to identify people who would be good candidates for being granted this power, but I never actually got around to writing the code needed to grant such a power to people.

Lately, I've noticed that the easiest way to figure out how to rule on a puzzle is to wait for Gator to post a comment saying whether or not it is logically solvable. I can't recall any case where I disagreed with him. So I think it's time to eliminate the middle man and let him make rulings.

So, I've written the code that I believe will allow me to allow other people to make rulings on puzzles, and I'd like to make Gator the first person to be granted that power, if he chooses to accept.

So, the differences that a person with the power to rule on puzzles will see are:

  1. The "Uniqueness" and "Solvability" pulldown under puzzles always appear, instead of only appearing on puzzles where no ruling has been made.
  2. Those pulldowns include additional options, which say things like "DEFINITELY solvable by logic alone". Selecting that instead of "solvable by logic alone" makes a ruling instead of just casting a vote.
  3. The "Helper" button is always enabled for all puzzles.
  4. When you make rulings, a message saying something like "so and so ruled this puzzle logically solvable" will be automatically posted to the comments thread for the puzzle.

Accepting this power confers the responsibility to use it only appropriately, but how much you use it is up to you. You are not being asked to go out and rate every puzzle on the site. Do as much as you enjoy doing, and no more.

It is nice if WCP puzzles can be ruled on before the judges have to judge them, since the ones that are not logically solvable are usually disqualified.

Yes, you may overrule my previous rulings, if it seems appropriate. I'm not the world's greatest solver. I sometimes miss ways to solve puzzles logically.

My usual procedure when I hit a puzzle that I'm unsure of how to rule on is to just make no ruling and leave it up to the user vote. Usually the user vote in such cases will fall to "may require some guessing", which is fine. There is no burning need for every puzzle to be ruled on.

So, Gator, can I turn this on for you?

#2: Gator (Gator) on Aug 24, 2009
Sounds good to me!

I largely focus on puzzles that are small or the ones that say requires guessing. I'll also try to hit the WCP entries more often.

I have one question though: Are the ones marked as "Multiple Solutions" as a result of the checker or from user votes? I usually avoid Multiple Solutions puzzles as I feel they are a waste of time to have to guess at a solution.

And as far as using it inappropriately...well that would be illogical. :)
#3: Robyn Broyles (ginkgo100) on Aug 24, 2009
I thought "multiple solutions" comes up any time that (a) the checker identifies more than one valid solution, or (b) a user solves the puzzle with a solution other than the intended one.
#4: Jan Wolter (jan) on Aug 24, 2009
Robyn has exactly right. These days the "multiple solutions" question is resolved for nearly all puzzles by the checker. However, the checker is capped at one second of run time, to keep it from bogging down the server, so occasionally there are puzzles that it doesn't manage to solve.

On those puzzles, if a user saves a solution that is (1) valid and (2) different from the goal solution, then it is automatically marked as having multiple solutions.

If neither of those things happen, then we fall back to voting, and eventually to someone making a ruling.

Actually, I don't do big puzzles a lot either, and it's pretty much only on big puzzles that pbnsolve takes more than a second, so most such puzzles just hang around in the "may have multiple solutions" state.
#5: Jan Wolter (jan) on Aug 24, 2009
OK, I just flicked the switch on Gator's account so he can now rule on uniqueness and solvability.
#6: Adam Nielson (monkeyboy) on Aug 24, 2009
Ditto this: "Lately, I've noticed that the easiest way to figure out how to rule on a puzzle is to wait for Gator to post a comment saying whether or not it is logically solvable."
#7: Gator (Gator) on Sep 9, 2009
Jan - I need a second opinion on puzzle #5590.
#8: Gator (Gator) on Jan 4, 2010
Jan - Can you take a look at #7533: Let There Be Courage? The puzzle is marked as logically solvable, yet Adam, Teresa, and myself cannot find a way to solve it without resorting to edge logic. For it to be marked this way, I believe the checker would have had to have verified it as line logic solvable. Could this be an issue with the checker?
#9: Gator (Gator) on Mar 30, 2010
Jan - please take a look at #8169 when you get a chance. Thanks.
#10: Gator (Gator) on Jul 16, 2010
Jan - please see what's going on with puzzle #9587. I have marked it as solvable twice now, but it is back to saying some guessing. Strange...
#11: Gator (Gator) on Aug 11, 2010
Jan - I solved #9894 with normal line logic. For some reason, the puzzle is not marked as "DEFINITELY completely solvable by logic alone". I did not mark it so that you could take a look at it.

EDIT: Actually every puzzle I'm coming across is this way. Even ones that I have solved before.
#12: Wombat (wombatilim) on Aug 11, 2010
I noticed this last night also; I was encountering puzzles that had the solvability menu that were line logic-solvable and actually a couple of years old.
#13: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jan 4, 2023
The comments for puzzle 6414 (Dragon) sent me here -- I hadn't found this thread until now.

The current list of people who can enter rulings is:

* Andrew Schultz (blurglecruncheon)
* David Bouldin (dbouldin)
* Gator (Gator)
* Joe (infrapinklizzard)
* Ki Bitzar (kibitzar)
* Kristen Coolman (kristen)
* Teresa K (fasstar)
* Wombat (wombatilim)
* and me.

There are a few comments here about puzzles that had been marked as Definitely solvable and then the marking went away. There was an old bug that did that; it was fixed a while ago. Also if the original author edits a puzzle, sometimes the Definitely setting will be erased then, too -- that's on my list of issues on the site to look into.
#14: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jan 12, 2023
Adding to #13: I've added a fix for when the original author edits a puzzle and the Definitely setting goes away. Now if the clues are unchanged, then the solvability setting stays the same.
#15: Wombat (wombatilim) on Jan 13, 2023
Valerie, I'm not sure if this is related to the change you just made but my two most recent line & color solvable puzzles weren't automatically given that rating even though the checker had no problem with them. They were puzzles 36335 and 36338 if you have any logging that can help you figure it out.
#16: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jan 13, 2023
Thanks - I'll take a look at it.
#17: Valerie Mates (valerie) on Jan 13, 2023
I've added code so that it now goes: "If this is a puzzle being published for the first time or if the clues have changed, then update the solvability rating, otherwise leave it unchanged." Thanks again for finding that!
#18: Wombat (wombatilim) on Jan 13, 2023
Awesome, it's working now. Thanks!

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