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19th June 2022, 10:00
Mooncow, I’m curious. Do you send your solutions in if you’ve required help from the forum to complete? I’m just trying to understand the relevance of the the statistics
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19th June 2022, 10:40
I remember when some of the old school Listener solvers thought it was cheating to use a dictionary. Where do you draw the line? Is it cheating to seek help from a knowledgeable person but not to use Wiki or a spreadsheet etc? We can now only receive "gentle" hints on our progess towards answerbank.
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19th June 2022, 21:57
quisling, that's a good question that I have thought about before. I *do* use Chambers to help me, including the app's pattern-matching lookup, though I don't have Bradford's or similar. But I do try to solve most puzzles without direct help. I think if there were a puzzle I'd needed a significant amount of assistance with from someone else (whether on this forum or elsewhere), I would probably still send it in to be part of my year's progress but I might include a note asking for it not to be included in the prize draw. I would be a bit embarrassed to be offered a prize for a solution I felt wasn't really fully my own work...

However, I think this hasn't actually arisen for me. Until a few years ago, I only did Listeners occasionally, and never sent them in. I started doing them regularly a few years back, and for the first few I needed a lot of help from this forum and elsewhere to get through them within a week, but I wasn't yet sending those in. After the first few, I got to the point where I could usually struggle through under my own steam, and that's when I also started sending them in. Certainly for the last year or so the most common reason I've looked to the forum for help is with parsing and understanding a clue that I have solved, which is for my own satisfaction and not part of solving the crossword. Mostly I jump onto this forum after I have my solution already, to see what people thought or said about it for interest.
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19th June 2022, 22:00
I realise I said "significant" above, so that prompts a question: how much is a "significant" amount of assistance? In addition to figuring out the parsing of some clues, I have sometimes looked to the forum for help while still working on my solution, for two main things: (a) clarification or understanding of the rubric, in a few cases where it was a bit convoluted or unclear, and the thoughts of more experienced solvers were useful, and (b) getting started with a few clues when I've been making no or slow progress. In both these cases it's a question of getting moving quicker: I've never felt that something I've read has meant that I've solved something I wouldn't otherwise have solved, just that other people's thoughts have saved me a bit of time and confusion and frustration. So I've never had any hesitation about sending in my solution once completed, even in these cases. I would estimate that about two-thirds of the puzzles I complete entirely before looking at this forum at all, and I'm happy to say that this one, my first prize award, was one of those!

To be honest, thinking about what appears in these threads, when things are running smoothly/properly, like at the moment, I don't think I'd criticise anyone for submitting their solution if they'd just consulted this forum and asked for hints -- for most puzzles, the vast majority of the clues are not mentioned at all in the forum, and we're pretty good on the whole at maintaining a degree of hint-giving and only indirect nudges about the theme, so even if someone has taken everything they can find on this forum as help for their solving I think they've still produced the bulk of the solution themselves. This is one of the reasons I like this forum as a source of hints and discussion -- there are other places that Listener clues and solutions are discussed with less discretion, and I deliberately avoid those as I wouldn't feel happy about submitting an answer if I'd had (intentionally or not) more significant/blatant help.
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