Never knowingly undersolved.

Fifteensquared Feedback

Posted by Admin on February 17th, 2009


This post is now closed. Please use the ‘Site Feedback’ page instead.

61 Responses to “Fifteensquared Feedback”

  1. muck says:

    Fifteensquared is great. The crossword threads on were so boring.

    I am pleased to see comments on puzzle blogs restricted to clue-related only.
    Although the ‘extraneous chit-chat’ was at least friendly, it is much better on the new chat bits.

    Keep up the good work

  2. mhl says:

    A couple of very small things:

    It would be nice if the CSS for cite elements didn’t have ‘text-transform: capitalize’, since people tend to quote names in the (often unintended) title-case form.

    The other thing I was going to mention is that it used to be the case that Unicode characters in comments were mishandled, but I suppose that may have been fixed with the upgrade to the new version of WordPress. If there isn’t a smiley at the end of this sentence then it doesn’t work at the moment ?

    Thanks for the excellent site.

  3. Bella says:

    I’m not sure if my query belongs in this category but my curiosity leads me to ask what the info on right of this page means? How and when do people use these? Should I be logging in each time I leave a comment? I refer to the words:

    Entries (RSS)
    Comments (RSS)

    Log in

  4. Derek Lazenby says:

    The RSS stuff just allows you to get notifications of updates, Entries for blogs (I think) and comments for normal posts. The best way of handling RSS notifications is to have an RSS reader. I have a free one, so I get a list of all posts which I can ignore or read at will. But it does mean I don’t have to keep checking for replies, I can just look at a list. I use the same reader for BBC News, BBC Weather etc etc whatever interests me that has regular updates. So I just clicked on the Comments(RSS) link, copied the url it took me to into my RSS reader, job done. Instant RSS feeds to my PC.

    I use the freebie called RSSReader. It’s simple and works apart from one trivial quirk. Mail me if you ever use a reader and want help.

    Not sure what the other bits mean. That’s probably for Admin and Bloggers at a guess. No doubt someone else will tell you. I’ve never needed them.

  5. chatmeister says:

    You don’t need to log-in (under Meta) to leave a comment. You only need to log-in if you are a blogger and want to post a blog. The ‘Subscribe’ options are, as Derek describes, so that you can subscribe to to ‘Entries’ (posts/blogs) or ‘Comments’ and have them delivered direct to your pc.

  6. Bella says:

    Thanks Derek & Neil. Now my curiosity is satisfied, I’ll just stick to my usual posting comments from the box at the bottom of the page. My on-line life is too cluttered too cluttered now without adding more stuff to it. :)

  7. Tyro says:

    I finally got the hang of RSS just before all the nonsense comments started, so I’ve turned my feed off now.

  8. chatmeister says:

    We have spent quite a bit of time during the past couple of weeks trying to find a way of preventing the Chat Room comments from entering the RSS feed. Unfortunately the software currently available to us only suppresses posts and not comments. We will continue to investigate this issue in the hope of finding a solution.

  9. MaryEllen says:

    I wish people wouldn’t refer to answers in recent crosswords when commenting on a blogger’s solution.

    I don’t have internet at home, so print crosswords out at the library but don’t always do them in order, and when checking how I’ve arrived at answers, I’m sometimes faced with spoilers.

    Similarly, a blogger might give a big fat headline clue to a themed crossword – rather hard to miss when scrolling for the grid I’m after.

  10. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hmm. That would take half the point away. It might have been better if there was a diiferent structure to this place, but that may just be a constraint of the software.

    Ideal for you would be if the blogs could be one level down from where they are, being replaced with a simple placeholder that just identifies the date and author (say).
    Then you could scroll to the crossword you wanted without seeing any details. But at this late stage it would probably be a nightmare for admin to change it.

    Don’t forget though, if you just want to read the blogs, you don’t have to go down to the comments level. You can ignore those completely. The blog is just as readable at it’s own level as well as the comments level.

  11. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Big fat hints: the bloggers are mostly very restrained and just put the puzzle number, setter, and any printed title. If you want to avoid having significant content in reports shown when you first show the site, store a category view like “Trivia” as a favourite, and use that as your starting point.

    On comment content, it’s probably polite if people only refer backwards, and preferably to puzzles in the same series. Then, as long as you tackled each series in the order it was published, you’d be OK. But the temptation to say something like “The Daily Bugle used the same trick three days ago” can be hard to resist. Possible strategy for that: choose some puzzles that you always solve before looking at today’s blog for any puzzle. For any others, maybe put them away for a couple of weeks so that you forget comments on individual clues.

  12. Chatmeister says:

    Comments that were not related to site feedback have been moved to the General Crossword Discussion post.

  13. ilancaron says:

    Is there a way (there used to be once upon a time I thing) to see page access statistics? (most popular posts etc.)

  14. mhl says:

    The RSS feeds for comments on the “Chat Room” threads don’t seem to be working at the moment. For example, fetching the one for the “General Crossword Discussion” thread:

    … just returns a 302 redirecting to the XHTML for the page itself.

  15. Barnaby Page says:

    It would be very useful if for each thread the date of the most recent comment were shown (e.g.: Posted in Guardian | 18 Comments (latest 26/04/09) ». This would enable those of us who are following a number of threads to quickly check for new posts from the relevant newspaper page, without actually clicking through to the thread.

  16. Gaufrid says:

    Comments #13 & 14 have been answered via email.

    Regarding your comment #15, I agree that this addition would be useful but unfortunately it is not an option available in the current software. I am sure the relevant ‘theme’ files could be modified by someone proficient in PHP programming, and familiar with WordPress, to provide this feature but unfortunately my knowledge of PHP is not up to the task.

  17. Derek Lazenby says:

    I haven’t checked other threads, sorry, but the General Crossword Discussion thread doesn’t seem to save our details in a cookie. Or maybe I mean it isn’t using the cookie that comes from using other threads.

  18. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks for your comment. This situation is an unfortunate side effect of introducing ‘comment paging’ for posts with many comments in order to speed up download time, for those not using broadband, by limiting the number of comments downloaded when accessing the post to a maximum of 50.

    I have only implemented ‘comment paging’ in the General Crossword Discussion and General Chat posts. Every other post should be just as it was previously.

    I will revisit this issue to see if there is a way of resolving it but I am not optimistic.

  19. Derek Lazenby says:

    No panic, if there’s a good reason then there is a good reason. Still, some of these things are better revisited later when ideas flow more easily.

  20. mhl says:

    This is another “wishlist” item: I think it might be helpful if threaded comments were enabled – this has been available since WordPress 2.7, and works pretty well, I think. (I’m not sure if this theme has useful CSS for threaded comments, but it should be easy to check on another instance by enabling Settings -> Discussion -> Enable Threaded Comments.)

    Just an idea – I don’t mean to add unnecessary maintenance work. :)

  21. Gaufrid says:

    Hi again mhl, you’ve been busy at the site today.

    I’ve looked at threaded comments but, with the theme that we are currently using, it doesn’t appear to offer much benefit. Then there is the question of what happens when an initial, or subsequent, comment is removed because it contravenes the discussion policy.

    I came to the conclusion that sequential comments are preferable, but am happy to be convinced otherwise.

  22. stiofain says:

    I would like to suggest that a link to the archived crossword on the newspapers site ( where available ) be included at the start of the posts.
    I sometimes miss them for a few days and as this is my first stop a link would be handy and simple to implement and easily backdated.

  23. mhl says:

    stiofain: I’ve got something in the works to make it easier for the bloggers to add such links for the Guardian puzzles, but don’t have time to finish it at the moment, I’m afraid. Soon, I hope.

  24. Gaufrid says:

    Hi stiofain
    Re comment #22. I’m not sure of the benefit of this suggestion.

    The archived Guardian puzzles are easily accessible via the search facility on the Guardian crossword page.

    There is no archive for the Indy puzzles so no link could be provided for these.

    The recent (last three weeks) FT puzzles are readily accessible from the FT crossword page. If a link to a specific puzzle were put in the relevant post, after three weeks it would become dead (I assume the FT have a clear-out when they update the index) and so someone clicking on the link in an old puzzle would be disappointed.

    You say that adding a link would be “simple to implement and easily backdated”. Unless mhl comes up with an automated method, adding links means more work for those creating posts who may be busy and short of time, and I cannot see how backdating could be implemented without a lot work (perhaps you have a suggestion for this?)

  25. stiofain says:

    ok fair enough Gaufrid
    I normally only do the guardian and wasnt aware that the others were so tight with their archives and fair point that it is more work for the already harried bloggers you have locked in the cellar.

    Thats exactly what i meant mhl though looking at the archive file names i can see it would be pretty difficult to automate.

  26. tvbite says:

    Just wanted to pop in and say how much I love the site. I’m a recent crossword convert who barely ever completes the Grauniad one and so this place is a Godsend. It makes me happy. Thanks.

  27. PaulK says:

    I stumbled across Fifteensquared when I Googled parts of a clue from a with which I was struggling. I have had so much fun on the site since then.

    I live in Virginia, USA, and get the Guardian Weekly. I usually have a go at the crossword while riding the Metro to & from work. I would often struggle with some clues for several days and still be mystified when I got the solution the following week. Now when I give up in despair it is wonderful to be able to go to the blog and have the clue explained. I am learning a lot and becoming a better solver. I also love reading the comment to see what other people thought about the clues.

    Thanks for a terrific site.

  28. martin wilkinson says:

    independent cryptic sept 7th 19 down

    Answer: Gladys

    word play: [BA]g Lady is homeless woman without first degree BA


  29. The Trafites says:

    Just a little tip for all the bloggers – if you have an avatar, sometimes the summary gets a bit screwed up along side it, and the format of the post goes a bit awry. You can try to enter empty lines to re-position the wording, but WordPress removes these ’empty lines’ when saving.

    Here is an example of what I mean:

    FT 13178

    Now, what you can do is pad the lines with periods, thus:

    and then use the visual editor to ‘colour’ the periods ‘white’ (same as page background colour) – this then preserves the padding and viewers cannot see the ‘.’ ‘s.

    To see this in action, watch out for our blog next Sunday of Everyman.


  30. Gaufrid says:

    The post to which you have linked displays perfectly on my 19″ monitor in both IE7 and Firefox, with and without the Favorites/Bookmarks list pinned.

    I used to use the ‘periods’ trick, see some of my posts from 12 months ago, but now find it easier to split the text with a blank line (as indicated in the post to which you have linked) if the text is not long enough to extend beyond my avatar.

  31. The trafites says:

    Strange, as I find when I do ‘blank lines’ WordPress removes them unless it is only one (i.e. paragraph break).


    GNU/Linux Slamd64 (Slackware 64 bit port) running kernel 2.6.31
    Firefox 3.5.2
    I use window manager (no desktop environment) Fluxbox
    19″ FST screen also.

    Here is a screen shot of what I see.

    See the ‘Across’ and first entry ‘9’ is somehow wrapped up to the avatar ‘space’. From blogging, if I put newlines/blank lines here, WP removes them to a singleton?


  32. Gaufrid says:


    Here is what I see:

    Somewhat different (apologies for the poor quality but the layout is correct).

  33. The trafites says:


    I see what the issue is – your screen fonts are a larger size – if I increase mine, then it sure enough renders to what you see.

    Try decreasing your screen fonts (I think you can with IE somewhere), and you will see then what I see (try ‘Ctrl + -‘ to reduce, or ‘Ctrl + +’ to increase size [that is keyboard +/-, not keypad])

    Oh, well, one of these things I suppose that is hard to get right.


  34. Geoff Dennis says:

    Has anyone here tried today’s (21st November) Inquisitor in the Indy magazine? These are normally quite hard enough thank you but today’s has some of the down clues missing! And not intentionally I think. It seems like a typsetting error. Does anyone know if these crosswords are online anywhere where the complete set of clues might be found. I doubt it somehow as I have searched before. Any help anyone please?

  35. nmsindy says:

    There is a omission. Mike Laws (Inquisitor editor) has posted about it on Derek Harrison’s Crossword Centre Message Board on

  36. Max says:

    Discovered this site over xmas helping my son with a recent Grauniad cryptic. He’s a recent convert to cryptics but I’ve been doing the Guardian & Observer crosswords for years. It has been entertaining reading the posts & filling in blanks from recent puzzles.

  37. James Soper says:

    Hi Guys

    I’ve been lurking on this site for a while now and I’d just like to say thanks for all the hard work. My girlfriend and I are pretty rubbish at crosswords but we are trying to get better. Without your site we would have given up a long time ago.


  38. Agentzero says:


    Is there any way for the main Chat Room page to show the dates of the most recent comments to the General Discussion and General Chat threads?

    Currently the only way to tell whether anything new has been said is to open the thread and scroll to the end (or notice whether the “number of comments” is larger than the last time one looked).

    Such a change might stimulate discussion in these threads, which has been interesting in the past but a bit moribund of late.

    Thanks in advance.

  39. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Agentzero

    As with most things, virtually anything is possible given enough resources and expertise. It should be possible to add the date of the latest comment next to the ‘xxx comments >>’ for each post but this would mean editing the theme template files that the site uses. My virtually non-existent knowledge of PHP programming would require a very steep learning curve if I were to try and do this and I would run the risk of interfering with the functionality of other aspects of the post display.

    I can easily change the order that comments are displayed so that the latest one appears at the top of the list, thus avoiding the need to scroll down, but this would have to apply to the whole site and for comments in puzzle related posts I am not sure that this is desirable.

    I think the easiest solution is for you (and anyone else in a similar situation) to subscribe to the RSS feed. This can be done globally, so that you receive notification of every comment made on the site, or for individual posts. If you subscribe to the RSS feed for each of the posts you mention you will not need to check to see if anything has been added, you will be automatically notified when a comment is posted.

  40. Derek Lazenby says:

    Quite, that’s exactly what I do. And if you want a free and simple RSS reader then I can tell you that the one I use is the imaginatively named RSSReader. Search for something like RSSReader Download and you should soon find it.

  41. Derek Lazenby says:

    It occured to me to look at the Help/About menu option. It’s at Simples, as the meerkat says.

  42. Jim Kennedy says:

    I just wanted to compliment this site and its crossword bloggers on the quality of the posts here. I have only recently (the last couple of months – after not being near them since college 20 years ago!) started getting back into cryptic crosswords and this site is without a doubt the best way to step up levels in crossword clue solving. I’ve now finished two Araucaria prize crosswords in a row with no help from here, and a couple of weekday ones in a row, I would have never got this far without ye :) !

  43. FumbleFingers says:

    I’ve no idea who if anyone ever reads these posts, but even if I’m just howling at the moon, I have to say fifteensquared is the bee’s knees, the cat’s whiskers, and the dog’s b*****s all rolled into one! Which may be an unlikely animal, but it’s a good ‘un.

    So if you ARE reading this (you know who you are!) – GREAT JOB!

  44. Gaufrid says:

    Hi FumbleFingers
    Yes, these comments are read, if only by me. Thanks for the positive response, it is much appreciated.

  45. FumbleFingers says:

    Well thank you for that, Gaufrid – it really is nice to feel welcome.

    I will try to curb my tendencies to contentiousness and off-topic-ism (which neologism I claim copyright on, though I truly admire your diligence in giving it few places to hide here!)

  46. Stella Heath says:

    I’m not sure if this is the right place for this suggestion, which I also made last week in the general blog, but here goes:

    Given that the Guardian Quiptic puzzles are often on a par, regarding difficulty, with Rufus, for example, and that one of their purposes is to encourage newcomers to the world of cryptics, I think it would be interesting to cover them in a weekly blog

  47. Al says:

    Thanks so much for fifteensquared: it’s great to have a place to come for an explanation of that one last clue that you can’t quite get!

    Any chance you might start including Tim Moorey’s crossword from The Week? I find this a really good crossword for my level, but occasionally there are clues I just don’t understand.

  48. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Al
    Welcome to 15². I am not familiar with the puzzle in The Week. Is it available on-line and if so can you provide a link?

  49. Davy says:

    To Gaufrid,

    Re today’s Araucaria

    I was very annoyed to find that Andrew has not only given away the theme but has also referred to two clues which are theme-related. This is not acceptable. The whole point of the front page is that the puzzle answers are concealed and cannot accidentally be seen. I always look at this page to see whether the blogger’s perception of the puzzle is easy or tricky.

  50. Eileen says:

    Hi Davy

    I didn’t notice today, because I didn’t log on to the site until I’d done the puzzle.

    On Tuesday, however, before I started the Puck, I did visit 15² to see when the last Puck had been [it seemed very recent and we don’t usually see him too often] and accidentally saw Uncle Yap’s preamble, which, too, gave away the theme.

    As you say, this is annoying!

  51. eldee says:

    Does anyone know why I can’t find the blog for Gdn.25105 by Chifonie?

  52. eldee says:

    Re 51. Found it now.

  53. Richard says:

    I much enjoy looking at fifteensquared, as I try to do all the crosswords featured on the site and sometimes need to find out how a clue works, but, as I don’t always have time to do them on the day they feature in the newspapers, I do wish Uncle Yap and others would curtail their enthusiasm a little in order to stop introducing spoilers in their headings and preambles. It really does significantly diminish the pleasure I can derive from a particular crossword if the game has been given away like this!

  54. eldee says:

    How can one add to discussion of a bygone puzzle with realistic expectation that it will be seen and perhaps responded to? The Guardian Cryptic appears in The Canberra Times about a fortnight late (today’s, for example, is 25141) and I don’t go to the blog till I have finished it.

    No-one (unless I missed it) questioned Eileen’s comment (at 10) which read:
    “Re 1dn: I don’t think this is a very good clue. To make proper sense, it ought to read ‘if to follows’, i.e. if ‘to’ follows ‘hove’ it means ‘stopped’.”

    Araucaria’s clue was “If to follow, stopped in Sussex”. Is that an erroneous, rather than merely unfashionable, use of of the subjunctive mood?

  55. Gaufrid says:

    If you add a comment to a post that is more than a few days old it will be seen by myself, the author of the post, who will receive a copy of the comment by email, and by everyone who subscribes to the RSS feed.

  56. Cheryl O'Neill says:

    Hi folks, I’m an Aussie in Queensland, Australia. We get the Guardian Crossword via our “Courier Mail” which I have delivered every morning for the main purpose of doing this crossword. Sometimes I solve the crossword over breakfast; sometimes it isn’t finished until I return from work; and sometimes I have to visit this site for assistance with solving or to find out WHY a particular answer is correct.

    Unfortunately, the “Courier Mail” is months behind in publishing the crosswords, and also it is pot luck whether difficult ones are published on weekdays or Saturdays (when there would be more time to research when necessary).

    I just wanted you all to know that your solving and comments are appreciated on this side of the world. Keep up the good work.

  57. cryptomaniac says:

    I came across this site while searching for clues to solve the Guardian prize crossword 25,167. Got enough clues from the comments to solve the crossword easily.

    I’m from India and travelling on work to the UK. The Guardian crosswords are a real treat for me and it’s a special thrill to try and solve them “live”. I’ll definitely be back to this site!

    One thing, though. I couldn’t find the link to register on the site for comments – hope this is the right place.


  58. nmsindy says:

    Happy to be corrected if I’m wrong, cryptomaniac, but as far as I know, anyone can post comments, there is no registration process.

    What is not permitted (again happy to be corrected) is any reference to prize puzzles before the closing date for entries has passed.

  59. cryptomaniac says:

    Hi nmsindy

    Thanks for the info. I understand about the prize puzzles, but I did find enough hints (and several answers to clues I had already solved) in the comments, and I don’t see what can be done to prevent people from giving away the game, other than some very strict policing.


  60. cryptomaniac says:


    Apologies. The clues / answers I had mentioned were in another crossword website, not

  61. nmsindy says:

    Noted, thanks, cryptomaniac.