Reader Survey 3 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Reader Survey 3

Which puzzles do you solve regularly?

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When Mr K first told me that he would like to run a survey I agreed, but told him that earlier polls had been been filled in by around 30 people so he was not to expect a huge response.  You can imagine my surprise, and pleasure, when that first survey hit 1,500 (which is about 20% of the estimated number of visitors to the site each day).  We have agreed that we will only do these surveys sparingly, so I hope you won’t mind giving us your views on this one.  BD

Mr K here.  A few months ago we ran quite well-received surveys that informed us about the demographics of the BD community and about readers’ experiences solving a particular back page puzzle.  Since then I’ve been accumulating suggestions for questions to go in a third survey.  Here is that survey. As before, we’d particularly like to get responses from the many visitors to the site who haven’t posted comments. 

Click the “Finish Survey” button at the bottom to submit your answers.   We’ll post an analysis of the data in a week or so.


65 comments on “Reader Survey 3

  1. Use this blog only in cases of utmost frustration of i can’t finish the darn thing! Love it though 😊

  2. It seems to me that the compiler of this questionnaire may be seeking to win some anti-Spoonersim support, hoping then to persuade the crossword editor to drop Spoonerisms. I hope I am wrong, but if I am right I hope the crossword editor will not bow to any vote by a self-selecting minority group of solvers, worthy though they all are and grateful as we all are for Big D’s sterling efforts.

      1. If you really want to know about eu negotiators, I recommend Yanis Varoufakis’ book “Adults in the room”. Fascinating, and eye-opening. Shocking in places as well. (But I’m not a politician! )

    1. I think I am right in believing that the compiler, having asked BD contributors to suggest the questions to which they would like to know the answers, will have looked at the results and simply constructed a compilation of those most frequently requested. Much as I respect you, Giovanni, I think it is somewhat unfair of you to suggest otherwise.
      As you will have noticed, there is space at the end of the questionnaire for extra comments and I for one have used it to expand upon my thoughts about Spoonerisms.
      I really do think that most of us appreciate that our feelings towards any particular clue type are subjective – one man’s meat etc.

      1. Hear hear and for the record I am not a great fan of Spoonerisms but it is another way for the setter to proceed. Why not.

      2. You’re right, Jane. I commented that I personally don’t like spoonerisms but some do, so keep them. I’m democratic if nothing else.

      3. Spoonerisms are playful manipulations of language, pretty much the essence of cryptic clues. Why not now and then? Overuse would vex me though.

    2. Hi, Giovanni. As you will see from BD’s comment, you are, as you hoped, wrong :) The reason for these surveys is to simply to find out more about the invisible majority of blog readers. We already know a lot about the minority who post comments.

      If I thought that a survey like this would have any influence on the crossword editor I would have included the question “Should Telegraph Cryptic setters be anonymous?”

      1. If there is any hope of influencing DT can we ask them to enable online puzzles for the iPad

        1. There are a few suggestions for getting the puzzles site to work on iPad in this thread and the comments that it links to. In particular, the Puffin web browser looks like a good solution on iOS.

          1. Puffin is the way forward as it has in-built support for Flash Player, which you have to have to use the DT website.
            The only drawback is that you have to be connected to the Internet. I have no idea why, but you can hotspot of a mobile phone to get round that.

    3. Well said Giovanni. Keep your hands off the Spooner clue – they’re OK by me (only occasionally, though).

  3. I am English, a Londoner even (bread and buttered), so all forms of English wordplay are fine by me. Spoonerisms, rhyming slang, backslang: bring them all on.


  4. Many thanks for all your great tips and for being such a great community, I always enjoy reading the comments,. Keep up the good work for all us newbies!

  5. I did not anticipate the strong reactions to the Spooner question that appear here and in the survey’s comment box. When BD suggested adding that question, I thought it would be an interesting data point because Spooner clues seem to be the most polarizing type of clue. At that time, since I hadn’t experienced many clues of that sort, I dug into the database to get a feeling for the highs and lows of Spooner clues. The lows are not great, but I have to say that this piece of brilliance from Nutmeg in Guardian 27344 would almost certainly be my favourite clue in any puzzle that contained it:

      Small bit of anatomy, such as Spooner’s Manx cat has? (7) TOENAIL

  6. Many thanks for the blog, it has taken me about 3years to get from struggling to get a few answers to managing to complete more than half the back-pagers. It still takes several visits during the day to get there. I fully appreciate your discouragement of finishing times and I think the expression read/write should be in the same basket. If a crossword is so easy, why not give it half a star, or even no stars.
    Do the difficulty ratings refer just to back-pagers or to crosswords overall. In other words : are there separate scales for back-pagers, toughies et al or are they all ranked on the one scale?

    Once again many thanks to all the bloggers for a fantastic site. I may have to limit my comments to when the cricket and the rugby aren’t on.

    1. Welcome to the blog, AussieCris, and thanks for sharing your story.

      Difficulty ratings are intended to be a rough guide, and they are definitely more art than science. All bloggers have their own recipe for assigning difficulty ratings. Some go by their solving time, while others, such as me, try to assign a subjective rating on a scale where 3* is average. The back-page and toughie scales are definitely separate. It’s been said that they differ by about 2*, so that a 2* toughie is very roughly equivalent to a 4* back-pager.

      Your dislike of read & write was shared by several commenters on the second survey. It has largely fallen out of favour here since then.

      1. I don’t have a problem with R&W as it’s a statement of fact, but I do object to those ‘Bertie Big Bol***ks’ who use the blog to moan that the crossword is too easy. I am very tempted to reply “well **** off and do the Guardian crossword then”.

          1. Agree, but isn’t the point that someone very new to this game would get a great kick out of completing, unaided, perhaps for the first time, and further fuel the flame of this black art??
            If the crossword is too easy, and I fully appreciate that to anyone of Toughie standard, Monday would have been an exercise in how fast, there are sterner challenges elsewhere.

  7. I’m not keen on clues which depend on dropping letters. A bit like “take away the number you first thought of” sort of thing. I like run-throughs especially as the DT printers seem make sure the word is hidden over at least 2 lines.

  8. I was sad to see Giovanni’s comment which felt like a dig at some of his loyalest supporters (did you see Mr Manley got an hon mention in yesterday’s DT). We gather together to discuss the day’s offering, help those who need help and mull over the clues. No one can like every genre of clue and it is certainly not our intention to influence the compilers in any way, we appreciate the different styles and doing battle with them from day to day.

  9. Just to add my two pennies worth to the Spoonerism debate:
    I think that Spoonerisms are a perfectly valid form of wordplay. By their very nature they have an element of humour, which I feel is the essence of a good clue. After all, the point of a crossword is primarily to entertain, and a good Spoonerism raises more of a smile than many a well-crafted, but dry standard clue.
    A personal favourite from my own archives:

    What Spooner’s horse does to a bunch of flowers (7)

    1. Really need the ‘like’ button back to show proper appreciation of quality comments like this!

      1. The problem with the like button was that it slowed down the load time of every page. The same went for the star gradings and the display of emojis.

        1. The original comment I was responding to seems to have been removed. Was it thought offensive? I hope not, I just thought it was funny wordplay but I guess that’s the problem with humour…

        1. Glad someone else couldn’t see it – I thought I was the only one – so thanks for the extra clue. Yes, very good! 👍

  10. I like Spoonerisms, but they can be very difficult to solve. Having said that, I wouldn’t want to see them overdone.

  11. I am not too keen on Spoonerisms, but would not like them to be removed.
    Homophones, however, are another matter entirely.
    Regional speech variations mean that for many solvers, they simply do not work.

    I would not suggest their removal, but perhaps a little more consideration for those of us who do not hail from the Home Counties.

  12. Your help is really appreciated. When I retired 12 years ago I didn’t understand cryptic crosswords. Now, thanks largely to your site I am fairly competent and loving the pastime.

  13. I use this site to explain some of the clues to which I have only got the answers by filling in missing letters.
    On a different subject, it seems insane that I can get the electronic crosswords on my desktop but not on my tablet: I take my tablet on holiday but I never take my desktop!

    1. To use the Telegraph Puzzles Site on a tablet, try the Puffin browser on iOS or the Dolphin browser on Android (it worked on my phone when I tried it some time ago)

    2. As above I have done the cryptic and easy crossword for 3 years and accessed this website without anything else on my iPad. It must be something in your settings

  14. This is a great site – its been really helpful as I try to learn the lore of cryptic puzzles. Many thanks to Big Dave and the rest of the team – I feel like I almost know you..after several years of looking at hints and then enjoying the comments.

  15. Been following the blog for several years, it’s brilliant, thank you, have just done the survey. I am one of those who don’t contribute, not because I don’t want to but because I don’t usually get round to finishing the cryptic till later in the day, by which time you have all said what has to be said! By the way, I have always liked the newspaper version, never quite the same doing it on line…must be my age!

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