4
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A Ninja

I speak through shadows,
in cryptic tongues,
and cryptic tongues only,
to anyone who wants to know —
but only if I have been told to say.

I think not myself;
offer no discretion of my own,
but never trust the word of one.

If I was old,
I would be far too clumsy, far too wrinkled,
to hide among others without sight.

But I am young so, if you wished,
I could hide in the smallest crevice
or a fold in the world, hidden from sight
among the unsavory sort.
It is that I am young that I am so much easier to find.

My greatest opponent is he who imposes nothing,
who requires nothing,
enforces nothing,
and is far more stealthy than me.

Than I, who weighs upon the world
only barely more than a shadow
as I roam.

I do know myself,
know more of myself than you do,
know more of the world than you do,
and it is not my style to ask questions.

But, I shall make one exception today:
What am I?


Clues:

It's not a ninja.

The first line is really hard to guess, though it is almost a literal truth. Don't get bogged down by it.

I fought my opponent once, or one of its major incarnations. It took a day off my life, but I — no, we — won.


Time for more clues. One per paragraph.

Cryptic tongues only, but only as of last year.

[N]

If I was old, I would probably be having problems with my spine.

You could wish it so, but you probably don't.

FIGHT THE MAN!

I can do what only old fat men with long beards were thought capable of.

I also know more about the Northern Plains Railroad than you.

This tells you what kind of riddle it is.


Ok, some more clues. Getting close.

This comment should get you started. Think big and comprehensive.

NN(YN)YYNY(Y?)N.

The answer has one obvious, canonical name that is nine letters long, seven unique.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I am also the 1000th riddle. $\endgroup$ – Veedrac Feb 19 '16 at 3:41
3
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I think it might be:

Wikipedia


I speak through shadows,
in cryptic tongues,
and cryptic tongues only,

Wikipedia is available only over HTTPS, since 2015.


to anyone who wants to know—
but only if I have been told to say.

Articles are added by voluntary contributors.


I think not myself;
offer no discretion of my own,
but never trust the word of one.

The content in Wikipedia comes from many different contributors. Each article can have any number of authors. The content is expected to be established knowledge, with citations. The hint [N] is a reference to the citation format.


If I was old,
I would be far too clumsy, far too wrinkled,
to hide among others without sight.

All the information contained in Wikipedia would fill a lot of books.


But I am young so, if you wished,
I could hide in the smallest crevice
or a fold in the world, hidden from sight
among the unsavory sort.
It is that I am young that I am so much easier to find.

Doesn't take up space, and is much easier to find information than searching through books in a library.


My greatest opponent is he who imposes nothing,
who requires nothing,
enforces nothing,
and is far more stealthy than me.

Haven't figured this out...but one of the hints ("I fought my opponent once, or one of its major incarnations. It took a day off my life, but I — no, we — won.") could refer to the SOPA protest blackout?


Than I, who weighs upon the world
only barely more than a shadow
as I roam.

Not sure how this fits either. Maybe a reference to Wikipedia's small server infrastructure compared to some internet companies?


I do know myself,
know more of myself than you do,
know more of the world than you do,
and it is not my style to ask questions.

Wikipedia knows more about everything than I do.


But, I shall make one exception today:
What am I?

Wikipedia! And it fits the final hint: The answer has one obvious, canonical name that is nine letters long, seven unique.


There are a few hints that I haven't been able to connect the dots on, but this seems to fit.

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  • $\begingroup$ Exactly right! Note that it's "as I roam". Your guess about the blackout is right, you just need to read the riddle slightly differently to how you are to connect the dots. $\endgroup$ – Veedrac Feb 25 '16 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ I'm curious if anyone will get what "I speak through shadows" means. Perhaps that's a riddle of its own ;). $\endgroup$ – Veedrac Feb 25 '16 at 8:17
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure you've understood the "but never trust the word of one" hint right. The paragraph clue is relevant. $\endgroup$ – Veedrac Feb 25 '16 at 8:19
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This answer is incorrect (my achievement)...confirmed by OP.

I think Ninja is

Visible Light

Explanation

I speak through shadows,
in cryptic tongues,
and cryptic tongues only,
to anyone who wants to know —
but only if I have been told to say.

Shadow confirms the light. Cryptic tongue means that we can talk in code language with the help of it using torch.

I think not myself;
offer no discretion of my own,
but never trust the word of one.

Yup... the frequency defines the energy of light. And it is the property of the object that produces the light, not a property of light itself.

If I was old,
I would be far too clumsy, far too wrinkled,
to hide among others without sight.

Redshift and Blue shift

But I am young so, if you wished,
I could hide in the smallest crevice
or a fold in the world, hidden from sight
among the unsavory sort.
It is that I am young that I am so much easier to find.

It says that even laser light (or any small thing) can produce light. And the whole world is covered with it.

My greatest opponent is he who imposes nothing,
who requires nothing,
enforces nothing,
and is far more stealthy than me.

Dark. Stealthy might mean the dark matter.

Than I, who weighs upon the world
only barely more than a shadow
as I roam.

The pressure applied by light might make you think that light has weight (a lil' bit more than a shadow, almost negligible pressure and weight). Here is something to convince you.

I do know myself,
know more of myself than you do,
know more of the world than you do,

Yup.. we can only see the observable universe and light has seen more than that...

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting ideas, but the links are more direct (and numerous) than what you've given. $\endgroup$ – Veedrac Feb 19 '16 at 4:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Veedrac you can upvote any answer you like...but be sure that they show some research (as our moderator says)...and for comments you can mention some flaws in an answer...pass some light jokes (i do it a lot)... $\endgroup$ – manshu Feb 19 '16 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, [spoiler] does have weight. Here's a Q&A answer about it. $\endgroup$ – Veedrac Feb 19 '16 at 4:20
  • $\begingroup$ I kind'a like your interpretation of the first stanza more than my own, though. What moves through shadows, if not that? Also love the interpretation of wrinkles, the allusion to its inevitable diffusion (due to entropy), the reference to a certain thing for the "It is that I am young" line, and for the stealth of the opponent we have Shadow of the Ninja mixed with Mark of the Ninja. $\endgroup$ – Veedrac Feb 19 '16 at 4:37
  • $\begingroup$ Eye c what you're saying, but it's not the light answer. $\endgroup$ – Veedrac Feb 19 '16 at 12:14
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This may not be a perfect match to everything, but my errant guess could lead someone down the right path.

With that said, I think you are

an e-book, possibly with narration.

I speak through shadows,
in cryptic tongues,
and cryptic tongues only,
to anyone who wants to know —
but only if I have been told to say.

E-books are read on lit screens, so their text shines through the darkness and illuminates the reader. The e-books that come with narration capabilities will only narrate if you want it to.

I think not myself;
offer no discretion of my own,
but never trust the word of one.

No book, electronic or otherwise, thinks for itself; the book simply reports the thoughts, opinions, or ideas of the writer, at the time it was written. The book, even if it is electronic, cannot choose to omit what may be false or harmful information, and that is why it is useful to read things from many sources.

If I was old,
I would be far too clumsy, far too wrinkled,
to hide among others without sight.

"Old" books are made of paper and binding, which wrinkles with time. Some people find that carrying around physical books is clumsy nowadays, especially with hardcovers. The hint regarding the spine touches on the fact that old books will have weak spines, whether the glue has simply worn out, or the spine has been weakened from the book being opened so much. Physical books can be seen on a shelf, e-books cannot.

But I am young so, if you wished,
I could hide in the smallest crevice
or a fold in the world, hidden from sight
among the unsavory sort.
It is that I am young that I am so much easier to find.

E-books, being electronic, are able to be stored on electronic devices, where they don't occupy any physical space. They could be stored in hidden directories that contain other questionable content. But because they are in an electronic system, looking for them is much easier, as they can never be misplaced and you won't have to hunt through a library for them. A simple search will return the item.

My greatest opponent is he who imposes nothing,
who requires nothing,
enforces nothing,
and is far more stealthy than me.

Radio and probably more specifically, podcasts, are other forms of electronic media. However, both radio and podcasts are free, not requiring payment or a specific device to utilize them. Radio waves are everywhere, and many radio shows are podcasted, so they in turn, are also everywhere, though we cannot see them.

Than I, who weighs upon the world
only barely more than a shadow
as I roam.

Again, e-books are electronic, so have no physical weight, but their influence blankets the world more and more as they are instantly transferable.

I do know myself,
know more of myself than you do,
know more of the world than you do,
and it is not my style to ask questions.

An e-book will be proficient in its own content, more than a person would be able to recognize. Most books look to give answers and information, but this is a question.

But, I shall make one exception today:
What am I?

Again, an e-book.

Admittedly, this only works really well with a few of the stanzas, but getting this thought out here may allow room for another possibility to crawl into my head.

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  • $\begingroup$ A lot closer. Just think much, much bigger. Some of your sections are spot on. $\endgroup$ – Veedrac Feb 20 '16 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ A clue for the first line, since it's hard: this requires technical knowledge of something you've mentioned. $\endgroup$ – Veedrac Feb 20 '16 at 21:45
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The answer is already there but I cant comment so I think paragraph 6

My greatest opponent is he who imposes nothing,
who requires nothing,
enforces nothing,
and is far more stealthy than me.

is referring to:

unimportant people or people "off the grid" that don't have a Wikipedia page, they need nothing written about them and are more stealthy because they aren't on Wikipedia

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  • $\begingroup$ Read (\$answer)'s mission statement. Does that change your opinion about what (\$answer)'s greatest opponent would be? $\endgroup$ – Veedrac May 19 '17 at 11:43

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