What common phrase is encoded in the QR code below?

A QR Code

Hint 1:

How many position markers does a QR code need?

Hint 2:

The only part of the QR code standard violated is the quiet zone.

Note: I realized that the original puzzle was only really solvable for me due to my search history in constructing the puzzle. Entering the same terms on a different profile made it far harder to find the desired pages. The image above has been updated. The first steps and final solution are the same.

Old Version:

A QR Code

Old Version Hint 3:

5 letters
True statement
8 digits

  • $\begingroup$ Rot13(V'ir bayl znantrq gb trg gur zrffntr sebz gur jubyr DE pbqr (ohg pbhyqa'g svther bhg gur ahzore ovg be jung gur pncvgnyf zrnag) naq gur guerr yrggref sebz gur zvqqyr DE pbqr fb sne. Gevrq gb phg hc gur DE naq chg vg gbtrgure va qvssrerag jnlf ohg qvqa'g tvir nalguvat inyvq ngz. ) $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2023 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil Lbh'ir svavfurq gur DE cbegvba, gur arkg fgrc vf fgrtnabtencul. V nyfb ernyvmrq guvf fubhyq cebonoyl unir gur "Xabjyrqtr" gnt, fb V'ir nqqrq gung. $\endgroup$
    – DqwertyC
    Nov 14, 2023 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ Whatever this "common phrase" is, it can't be very long... $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2023 at 19:18

2 Answers 2


The answer is


As the outer QR code clues 'Beet', and that is around the smaller QR code which clues 'The Bush'!

The larger QR code is actually

A valid QR code even with the extra QR code in the middle. After scanning it gives the following:

There once was a vegetable species
Whose name was split in two pieces
The first before gamma, yet still after alpha
While the last half is common in latin

The middle QR code is also a valid QR code and gives 'AUS Backwoods'

Now we have some text to sort through

The answer to the riddle is BETA VULGARIS; 'Beta' is between alpha and gamma, and 'vulgaris' is a latin adjective meaning common.

This is more commonly known as 'BEET'

The smaller QR code says 'AUS Backwoods', meaning 'Australian Backwoods', or more colloquially known as 'THE BUSH'

So we get our final answer by

Taking the QR codes as a rebus, with 'Beet' being around 'The Bush'!

  • $\begingroup$ Would be very interested in the answer and process for the original puzzle too if thats down to be shared! $\endgroup$ Nov 20, 2023 at 0:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've added an answer with the process for the original puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – DqwertyC
    Nov 20, 2023 at 17:08

As requested, here's the reasoning behind the original QR Code and clues. It is not nearly as clean of a solution as the updated puzzle, but here goes:

Reading the QR Code:

There are actually 2 QR Codes. Because the QR standard has so much error correction built in, I was able to place a smaller QR code in the middle of the larger one.
The outer QR code yields the following text:

thiS Part is not very tricKy, but I neeDed many characters.
There is nothing hidden within this line.
HOwever, this line does HIDE a SIngle NUMBER.

The inner QR code yields the following characters: IAH

Solving the puzzles:

The outer puzzle is honestly not great.
Looking at the capitals on the first line, we get the letters SPKID, which is an ID given by NASA to various small bodies (primarily asteroids) within the solar system. Counting capitals in the words on the last line, we get the number 20004026.
Plugging this into the Small-Body Database Lookup, we find an asteroid designated 4026 Beet. This is the part of the puzzle that was biased towards my search/browsing history.

The inner QR code is the airport code for the George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport.

Solving the Rebus:

This portion is the same as the accepted answer, though a lot less explicit than in the updated puzzle. The QR code for "beet" is around a QR code containing the word "bush", giving a tenuous "Beat around the bush."

This was very much a case of having a cool idea for a puzzle, then rushing in to publish it without stopping to make sure it was polished.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Ah interesting, I actually really like the idea of the asteroid name database, but I would never have got that from the outer puzzle so maybe just needed a better clue to get there. I had not counted the I or H as a capital as they were natural capitals and had interpreted it as 'SPKDO HIDES I NUMBER' and thought the letters 'SPKDO' were hiding the number we were looking for $\endgroup$ Nov 20, 2023 at 22:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.