Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #424: International Webpbn
By Jan Wolter (jan)

#1: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 18, 2013

So recently in one of the discussion threads I hazarded a guess that 15 to 20% of webpbn users were not from the USA. But when I tried looking for actual statistics, I found it difficult to get really good numbers.

In the end, I was able to cull the IP addresses of 2485 users who had currently active sessions (ie, people who would not be asked for their login ids the next time they connected to the site). So this doesn't include users who use the site anonymously, probably doesn't include robots, and tends to include more people who check "remember me" at login then otherwise.

14% of the IP addresses were unresolvable - that is, when I asked the Internet "what is the domain name associated with this IP address" then it didn't know. I don't entirely know why so many IP addresses are unresolvable. It seems that some ISPs and companies prefer to do that. In any case, I chose to ignore those, so my sample set was reduced to 2179 users.

Of the remainder, 1785 (82%) had domain names ending in .net .com .edu .org .us .gov .mil or .arpa . Most of these users are probably in the USA. That means that about 18% of users are not in the USA, and my estimate of 15-20% was pretty good.

The actual countries represented are spread pretty broadly across the world, though not surprisingly, Australia and Canada head the list. I was a bit surprised that the UK ranked pretty far down the list.

     48  2.1%  .au  Australia
     42  1.9%  .ca  Canada
     28  1.2%  .br  Brazil
     22  1.0%  .tr  Turkey
     20  0.9%  .fi  Finland
     20  0.9%  .de  Germany
     16  0.7%  .it  Italy
     16  0.7%  .il  Israel
     15  0.7%  .nl  Netherlands
     13  0.6%  .mx  Mexico
     12  0.6%  .hu  Hungary
     10  0.5%  .ar  Argentina
      9  0.4%  .nz  New Zealand
      8  0.4%  .uk  United Kingdom
      7  0.3%  .tw  Taiwan
      7  0.3%  .se  Sweden
      7  0.3%  .ro  Romania
      7  0.3%  .lt  Lithuania
      7  0.3%  .fr  France
      7  0.3%  .ee  Estonia
      6  0.3%  .no  Norway
      6  0.3%  .gr  Greece
      6  0.3%  .es  Spain
      6  0.3%  .dk  Denmark
      6  0.3%  .co  Columbia
      5  0.2%  .pt  Portugal
      5  0.2%  .pl  Poland
      5  0.2%  .be  Belguim
      4  0.2%  .za  South Africa
      3  0.1%  .cz  Czech Republic
      3  0.1%  .cn  China
      2  0.1%  .th  Thailand
      2  0.1%  .ru  Russian Federation
      2  0.1%  .hr  Croatia
      2  0.1%  .ch  Switzerland
      1  0.0%  .ua  Ukraine
      1  0.0%  .sg  Singapore
      1  0.0%  .pa  Panama
      1  0.0%  .lk  Sri Lanka
      1  0.0%  .jp  Japan
      1  0.0%  .is  Iceland
      1  0.0%  .ie  Ireland
      1  0.0%  .hk  Hong Kong
      1  0.0%  .cr  Costa Rica
      1  0.0%  .at  Austria
#2: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 18, 2013
Actually, when I said "pretty broadly across the world" I wasn't really being very accurate. Asia is thinly represented and India and the Middle East are completely missing (though there is one user in Sri Lanka). Africa is represented only by South Africa. So mostly we've got North America, Europe, South America, and Australia.

Mostly that doesn't surprise me, but I would have expected some users from India. Lots of connected users who speak English there. I wonder if the low numbers are connected to the low numbers for the UK. Are they all on griddlers.net?
#3: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 18, 2013
Though it's probably not true, I like to imagine that the 14% of users with unresolvable IP addresses are all NSA codebreakers taking a busman's holiday by solving some logic puzzles.
#4: Kristen Coolman (Kristen) on Sep 18, 2013
More interesting to me is the list of country abbreviations. :)
I know Germany is .de because it's Deutschland, but .za for South Africa was surprising, .hr for Croatia, and .ch for Switzerland.
#5: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Sep 18, 2013
I actually ran across the reason for Switzerland being .ch just a few days ago... lemme look it up:

The domain ch derives from Confoederatio Helvetica (Helvetic Confederation), the Latin name for the country, which was used because of its neutrality with regard to the four official languages of Switzerland.
#6: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 18, 2013
Yeah, Swiss users of the Internet are frequently assumed to be Chinese by ignorant users. Kind of a funny mistake.

Actually it's based on the Latin name for Switzerland "Confoederatio Helvetica". Why Latin? Danged if I know. Maybe it has something to do with the Swiss Guard.

The South Africa abbreviation is based on the Dutch name "Zuid-Afrikaanse".

Croatia is called "Hrvatska" in Croatian.
#7: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 18, 2013
Joe slipped in.
#8: Norma Dee (norm0908) on Sep 18, 2013
Hate to sound like a broken record, but it's so neat the education we get for free while being entertained by the puzzles.
#9: Kristen Coolman (Kristen) on Sep 18, 2013
Fun facts, all. :)
#10: Thomas Genuine (Genuine) on Sep 19, 2013
The answer: webpbn is probably used more often in countries those have PBN PRESS for a long time. I have a list of those countries, which had these press releases from the early 2000's. Some of these has got own homepage and their readers used it, but in that times there wasn't the possibility of online SOLVING.
My list shows exactly the same rate than yours.
The only great surprise for me was the low data of Japan. They MUST HAVE an own webpbn site in Japanese language, because this puzzle is comes from there originally and very popular.
(I wondered of Hungary's high result. I could identify only one of them in players list... BTW, if you looked for IPs, I must tell you, I played from 3 different places (computers), so I'm alone 3 of 12 of Hungary... :)
And another fact: In Slovakia (partly in Poland and Hungary, too) there are used another version of PBN, with triangles. I like it more (!) but it hasn't website.
Better method would be looking for players name :))
#11: Thomas Genuine (Genuine) on Sep 19, 2013
Another facts:
.com is not belongs to USA. There are a lot of services using this worldwide.
I think you weren't be able to separate UK and India users from USA users. This could cause the low datas...
#12: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 21, 2013
Yes, I know that .com domains are not always exclusively American. But this is the best I can do. I wasn't counting IPs, I was counting sessions. But it's possible for the same users to have multiple simultaneous active sessions on different computers. So there is likely some double counting, but it's probably about to the same degree for different countries. So this data is crappy in about eleven different ways, and you shouldn't put too much faith in it.

If you want to play the triangle version of paint-by-numbers online, try griddlers.net. I do intend to do it here someday, but I've only got a very small part of it implemented so far.

Nonogram puzzles were invented in Japan, and the first such puzzles were published there, but they weren't particularly popular. James Dalgety saw these puzzles, invented the name "Nonogram" for them, and start publishing them in the Sunday Telegraph in the UK, where they still appear every week. That's where they first became popular. Outbreaks of interest occurred in Sweden, South Africa and the USA. I've noticed a lot of interest from Eastern Europe and Russia as well. Eventually these puzzles caught on in Japan as well, but not as much and not till later. So, as Japanese puzzles go, Nonograms are really rather European.

The name "Nonogram" was in reference to one of the inventors of the puzzle, Non Ishida. But eventually she proclaimed that the name should only be used for puzzles she designed herself. So most of the other publishers of these puzzles started inventing new names for them. The Sunday Telegraph chose "Griddlers" and I think that is the name it is best known by in England. That's why I suspect all the English users have ended up on griddlers.net.

It's possible my study didn't separate English and Indian users from USA users, but I also don't recall any English or Indian users showing up in the forums. It's possible that this puzzle type isn't very well known in India.
#13: Synthia McBride (synthia) on Sep 21, 2013
I first discovered these puzzles in Games Magazine 10 or 12 years ago. I then found a site on-line that was run by a Japanese gentleman. I cannot remember the name of the site or the man. He reviewed all the puzzles created by users of the site and only published those he thought best. All the puzzles were black and white and there were no solutions to peek at. I am proud to say that I eventually solved them all and was starting over to re-solve them when the site disappeared. I think the man got too busy with everyday life to run the site. Does anybody else know of this?
#14: Synthia McBride (synthia) on Sep 21, 2013
Oh, BTW, I searched high and low to find another PBN site that worked in a way I liked. I was delighted to find HERE. Thanks for running this.
#15: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 21, 2013
Was that pbn.homelinux.com?

One thing I've been careful to do in the design of this site is not make it dependent on any constant babysitting from me. I've occasionally gone two or three months at a time without looking at or thinking about webpbn.com. So no reviewing of puzzles. That means that there are some really bad puzzles on this site, but it also means the site is friendly to beginners, wild experimenters, and people with radically different taste in puzzles than mine. And it means that me getting bored with it doesn't mean it has to shut down. It just runs on on it's own until I get interested again.
#16: Joel Lynn (furface1) on Sep 21, 2013
I first saw pbn puzzles in Games World of Puzzles magazine, and always looked for them first when I received a new issue. Then about 7 years ago I looked for an online version, started out on pbn.homelinux.com, then when that disappeared I found this site. Now I also visit Conceptis every weekend and do all their new free puzzles. In addition to the Conceptis Pic-a-Pix (like pbn) I also really like the Sym-a-Pix, Link-a-Pix, and Fill-a-Pix puzzles. But I like the user interface better here on webpbn than on Pic-a-Pix, plus the sense of community that has developed through the comments here.

I tried Griddlers a couple of times, but again, I like webpbn better.

Jan, I really do appreciate having these puzzles to solve. Did you ever imagine there would be so many created by the users of your site?
#17: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 21, 2013
Uh, yeah. I actually expected a lot more by now, but then, I don't exactly do a lot to promote the site.

The thing that boggles my mind about griddlers.net is that they seem to only allow line solvable puzzle. No edge logic, no smile logic, nothing. All the users of that site must believe that that is all there is to paint-by-number puzzles. They are missing half the fun.
#18: Joe (infrapinklizzard) on Sep 21, 2013
One of the essential feature that this site has is the ability to keep track of clues. I am amazed that this is not considered necessary by so many sites.

On a different note, xkcd made a map of the internet IP address space (based on a fractal so the 2-dimensional map space keeps all the continuous one-dimensional address space contiguous). This was from 7yrs ago (and is IPv4), so I'm not sure how accurate it would be now. I thought it was cool, though. http://xkcd.com/195/
#19: Synthia McBride (synthia) on Sep 21, 2013
Jan and Joel, yes pbn.homelinux.com was the other site. Again let me say thank you, Jan, for setting it up. I am in awe the knowledge of math and computer programming that it takes to set up and run pbn. I do not understand all that stuff, but I do LOVE to solve the puzzles and I love the ease with which solving is done. And that's because you have created a really good program.
#20: Thomas Genuine (Genuine) on Sep 22, 2013
Jan, that is the problem with griddler. Although we made a study about there's no line/edge/color/smile etc. logics. There is only pure logic. When a puzzle can be solved by this "universal logic", it's a good logic puzzle. I think, your "other side policy" is better, but IMHO would be much better, if "multiple solving" puzzles were be forbidden. Your checking function is quite good, I found mistakes only in remarks on problems. Generally in WPF rules declamate that excusively "unique" puzzles can be made on international competitions (as WPC and its national participations). It belongs to ALL types of logic puzzles (not only pbn-s)
#21: Jan Wolter (jan) on Sep 22, 2013
Currently 481 out of 18179 puzzles have multiple solutions. That's 2.6% of the total.

If I had had the checker when I started the site, I probably would have banned multiple solution puzzles. But as it is, they are almost all flagged in advance now, so you know that the puzzle is going to have multiple solutions before you start. If you hate such puzzles, don't do them.

But I think it's important to remember that your honest opinions and my honest opinions are not everyone's honest opinions. Many many people solve paint by number puzzles by starting with real mathematical logic, and then later, as the puzzle image becomes obvious, shifting over to "picture logic". Such people often solve puzzles with multiple solutions without ever noticing that there are multiple solutions. They might well have a good time. Puzzle 910, for example, has multiple solutions and a rating of 4.5/5.0. People love it. So why should I delete puzzle 910?

I'm sure most people would agree that having multiple solutions is a defect. But lots of puzzles have one kind of defect or another. It may have other strengths that make up for it.

Of course, many multiple solution puzzles just stink, and aren't enjoyed by anyone. Occasionally I'll delete something like that, but I don't want to be in the business of manually judging every puzzle on the site. I don't think that would make the site better, and anyway I'm too lazy and not sufficiently certain of the absolute rightness of my personal opinions.
#22: Brian Bellis (mootpoint) on Sep 22, 2013
On a different note Jan...Any idea how many other regular solvers disappeared from this site on or around May 5 (Adam's last day here). I wonder if he/they are okay. How can one know about their lives in the real world.
#23: Thomas Genuine (Genuine) on Sep 23, 2013
Jan, I'd never offered to delete puzzles. It would be better to repair these multiple ones.
a/ by disability of sharing (when checking shows it multiplied, maker has to repair it before sharing)
b/ These shared puzzles can be easily repair. 480 is not a too big number. Your example (#910) can be the best example for this, too. It can be a real 5*)
About India: In these days there is a HUGE and exciting logic puzzles competition
#24: Bryan (Cyclone) on Sep 26, 2013
In reply to the 4th comment by Kristen:

.za is derived from the Dutch "Zuid-Afrika", but otherwise cannot be connected via English names. .sa is already used by Saudi Arabia.
#25: Kristen Coolman (Kristen) on Sep 26, 2013
Thanks, Bryan! Jan already told me in comment 6. :)

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