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10th January 2013, 10:42
I think there are some valid points here. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am an occasional setter of thematic crosswords, and so I acknowledge at the outset that I am totally biased - please feel free to take my comments in that vein.

Fundamentally, this is a crossword help forum - and it is a free country. The idea of censoring the internet is somewhat terrifying, and it is hardly as if we are dealing with state secrets here (even those of us, like me, who treasure the Listener, amongst other advanced crosswords).

More than that, it is great that more people - who are obviously skilled solvers - are taking an interest in the Listener and are giving, and getting, mutual support.

I personally - and it is just my view - think that it's a shame that SO much information is given away in the questions; they could just as easily be asked/answered either privately, or more cryptically. The thread above pretty gives away all of the "fun" penny-dropping-moments, which is just a bit unnecessary. As a setter, I spend hours - many, many hours - trying to make sure that the penny dropping moments are a thing of delight - and it is really a bit dispiriting to see them just revealed casually.

For what it's worth, I'd feel the same about any "live" competition crossword. It's not that anyone's seriously in it for the prize (no point in trying the Listener if you don't own Chambers!) But the "PDMs" seem obvious when you've got them - but they're not obvious if you haven't yet, and it's a shame to let the cat out of the bag, and spoil the surprise, for solvers who want to come onto forums like this for a "nudge" or even just moral support without having the whole game spoiled.

These are just my thoughts - hope no-one takes offence. The key thing is that people are enjoying doing a great crossword. But (selfishly!) I'd ask people to at least think of the poor setter before asking very overt questions.
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greedy kite

10th January 2013, 11:04
Fascinating, this latest phase in the endless discussion on forum ethics. I don't normally try The Listener, but I agree almost totally with what Tony & the last contributor have just said.In the end surely it boils down to remaining as discreet as possible, having some empathy with the general atmosphere on a particular thread, for which you can never (not even with the best will in the world) dictate rules democratically arrived at.But even then don't we all occasionally go too far, at least in the opinion of some other contributor(s)?
Above all on the question of tone (very difficult to gauge with any certainty online) I would very seriously plead for politeness however serious the disagreements.In the mere 2 years I've been taking part in these two forums there have been very few rea
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greedy kite

10th January 2013, 11:08
(sorry) really serious lapses, but they were quite obviously deliberate & duly "punished".Ultimately I find this point even more important: Internet, as is well recognized nowadays, unfortunately lends itself to abuse by that tiny minority that is just looking for trouble. For a long time now in my opinion the tone on CS has remained civilized, friendly & helpful: long may that continue!
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10th January 2013, 14:43
I was going to respond to the complaints about my post here, and also the moaning on answerbank about this thread which I have just read,but whats the point,I hope those who have complained (apparently some have emailed editor) also put as much energy into the important things in life
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10th January 2013, 18:06
As a new solver of these crosswords, without the encouragement of Leon, Uncle w and others, I would have thought "This is too difficult - I can't be bothered". This puzzle surely must recruit new solvers like me and not just rely on the "old guard" or it will become elite. I think this Crossword Forum is fine the way it is and it a shame that others have criticised what the site has been set to to provide - i.e. crossword HELP. There are surely more important things in life than worrying whether a few Listener answers are being given here!
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10th January 2013, 18:29
I'm an avid puzzler.

Seriously, any help given here usually means that the puzzler has a good grasp on the puzzle and perhaps needs a "nudge".

No-one without a grasp on cryptic, whatever help they may be given can hope to complete any of the themed puzzles, Listener included.

I know The Listener is held dear to some, and it is a competition over the whole year, but that makes it more OK the help out. I'd guess that no-one asking here for help is "elite" enough to have entered every puzzle.

Most asking for help are absolutely delighted to be "half way there".

I don't think helping is doing any harm at all. That's just my opinion, though.
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10th January 2013, 19:17
My view is that if someone gets a little help - or sees a little bit of chat/discussion - it will encourage them to persevere with these difficult puzzles. When I first attempted the Spectator puzzle, I seldom got more than halfway - if I got help with two (or v occasionally) three answers, I'd manage to finish it off. The Listener IS a tricky crossword, but there seems little support to encourage people to keep trying - at times I feel Listener solvers have their own little club and don't want any new members!
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10th January 2013, 19:28

How are we to learn if no-one is prepared to teach?

The Listener will become somewhat defunct if it doesn't attract new people.

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11th January 2013, 09:25
I, for one, am sorry if I have hurt any feelings.

Getting new people doing these crosswords is a great thing, and nudging people in the right direction and giving hints seems a great way of doing it. I think it just goes a bit far when huge spoilers are posted unnecessarily. The whole point of these crosswords is the fun of working out the theme, which the setter has done his or her best to conceal sneakily. It's possible to phrase requests for help without giving away everything in one fell swoop - it's a bit like posting the "twist" in a film which others might not have seen yet.

Aside from that, it can only be a positive thing that people are getting stuck into these crosswords - they are often brilliant, and worth the effort that goes into creating and solving them.

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11th January 2013, 10:43
I meant to add - for anyone getting stuck into the Listener, it's well worth having a look at the Listen With Others blog ( and George versus the Listener (
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