-3
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5444 ---> lcxxfy
1906 ---> pstbqjilj
1582 ---> tcxvbpixrpejooat
1431 ---> dohhsfb
888 ---> uvqta
605 ---> noacomputers
618 ---> ylibz
425 ---> nspdd
381 ---> mbohvbhf
200 ---> bqnrrvnqcr
113 ---> ???

Everything needed to solve this cipher is on Puzzling Stack Exchange...


What goes in place of the "???" and why?

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    $\begingroup$ If what the answer's third spoiler block says is the case, then this puzzle will lose a lot of information once enough time passes to mess up those numbers, which is... not ideal. We want puzzles to be solvable long after posting, as our goal is to create an archive of high-quality puzzles $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Aug 9, 2021 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ @bobble: another way to express it is the number of questions in each tag through the end of 2020. That is a permanent piece of information. $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2021 at 23:33
  • $\begingroup$ @RossMillikan how about questions being deleted? Or undeleted? $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Aug 9, 2021 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ @bobble: Good point. We just have to have the moderators block those actions on old questions. $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2021 at 23:36
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    $\begingroup$ @RossMillikan why would they block the deletion of old questions? Just so that this single puzzle will be valid later? What about legitimate moderation/curation actions? $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Aug 9, 2021 at 23:47

1 Answer 1

2
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In short, I believe the final answer is:

; this is derived from the fact that there have been 98 total questions asked for this tag, and out of those 14 have been asked this year. If we add 14 to 98 we get 112 which is the number for the final line.


The cipher is:

A Caesar cipher, and it's different for each line.

If you decrypt each line, you'll get:

Popular tags from Puzzling SE where the dashes are replaced with the letter a. Take the first line for example:

lcxxfy - rot6 -

The numbers correspond to:

The total number of questions asked for a given tag, minus the number of questions asked for the year respectively. Take the first line for example again:

has 5813 questions asked and 369 of them were asked this year. If we subtract 369 from 5813 we get 5444.

Utilizing the aforementioned techniques, we can arrive at the following conclusion for the known list:

; translated from lcxxfy with ROT6. 5813 - 369 = 5444
; translated from pstbqjilj with ROT21. 2189 - 283 = 1906
; translated from tcxvbpixrpejooat with ROT11. 1790 - 208 = 1582
; translated from dohhsfb with ROT12. 1583 - 152 = 1431
; translated from uvqta with ROT24. 973 - 85 = 888
; unencrypted. 689 - 84 = 605
; translated from ylibz with ROT19. 652 - 34 = 618
; translated from nspdd with ROT15. 515 - 90 = 425
; translated from mbohvbhf with ROT25. 408 - 27 = 381
; translated from bqnrrvnqcr with ROT1. 227 - 27 = 200

Unfortunately, the aforementioned ruleset breaks down when attempting to find the final answer. The only options available near the last line in the sequence are:

; this is off by 1: 163 - 50 = 113
; this is also off by 1: 130 - 17 = 113

However, there is one exact match, but it uses addition instead of subtraction:
; 98 + 14 = 112

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    $\begingroup$ Typo it was supposed to be 113. you are correct. well done. you just have to figure out the rot on the name though. $\endgroup$
    – Ankit
    Aug 10, 2021 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Ankit, can I get a hint on that relationship? If not that’s fine. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2021 at 1:48
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    $\begingroup$ its similiar to how you got the other number... $\endgroup$
    – Ankit
    Aug 10, 2021 at 1:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Ankit I’ve looked at asked this week/month, character counts, vote counts, watcher counts, edit counts, synonym counts, unanswered question counts, number of tags between tags, arbitrary relationships with data and descriptions, and more. Can I get a hint on how to find one side of the data set needed for calculating the rot value? For example, given a + b = c; where can I find a? Not what is a, just where to find it lol starting to go a bit bonkers here. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2021 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ I will tell you that it involves something very close up in that list and something used already in your answer in a similar method as your answer. $\endgroup$
    – Ankit
    Aug 10, 2021 at 2:09

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