Argh...I can't get this bug of puzzling off my head! It's really weird, and so annoying, you know...I can't help thinking about puzzles all the time. It's like... when I see a word, I think of anagrams...when I see tiled floors, I think of sudoku on them...when I see a door, I look for loose bricks or business cards...

What's worse, this bug is heavily affecting my brain. For example, today I found that I had written the following on my notebook: enter image description here

Text version:

This information technology simply never obeys the leaders. Nasal fluid begins a big ugly Indian mountain. A stupid person is the manager of codes. A locker is secure in heavy halogen. You are Eastern river in England.

Length: 2433423

Now I don't remember what it means, except that I've a feeling that the punctuations might be irrelevant. Maybe you people can help me out?

Sorry if the backstory sounds annoying or unnecessary; it originates in a chat post.

I don't claim any of the images to be my own.

  • $\begingroup$ Is this a sort of riddle? Or more of a cipher / wordplay / that sort of thing? $\endgroup$ – Avik Mohan Sep 1 '16 at 5:49
  • $\begingroup$ Not riddle or cipher, it's mainly wordplay. Look at the tags. $\endgroup$ – Ankoganit Sep 1 '16 at 5:49
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    $\begingroup$ I loved this puzzle. Confusing at first, then you slowly start to piece things together until you have enough to realize the gimmick. Once I had ## #### ___ ___ #### ## ___, I could easily fill in the rest. Simple but very well-made, and a lot of thought was put into it - I'd love to see more puzzles with this much effort! (Not necessarily even with the same trick, but I did enjoy it of course.) $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Sep 1 '16 at 6:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Deusovi and Ankoganit: Well made and done! Do you think including the obvious but missing tag would be too much of a giveaway? And I'm not sure this is really steganography. Just trying to tidy up! $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Sep 1 '16 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Dan: I've removed the steganography tag. Not sure if adding that one in would make it too obvious - I'll leave it up to Ankoganit. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Sep 1 '16 at 16:43

This information technology

IT (ddef)

simply never obeys the leaders. Nasal fluid

SNOT ("leaders" of "simply never obeys the")

begins a big ugly Indian mountain.

ABU (beginnings of "a big ugly")

A stupid person is the manager of codes.

GIT (ddef)

A locker is secure

SAFE (ddef: locker, secure)

in heavy halogen

AT (ddef: astatine, in)

You are Eastern river in England.

URE (homophone)
OP Edit: the intended explanation was : U(You)+R(Are)+E(Eastern)=URE.

So the answer is


or, more descriptively,


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    $\begingroup$ (And I absolutely agree with the answer.) $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Sep 1 '16 at 6:58
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    $\begingroup$ I think adding the Length: 2 4 3 3 4 2 3 (note the spaces I added, I think you know what it is) in the answer should be good in order to have the full scope of the answer :). $\endgroup$ – Miquel Coll Sep 1 '16 at 7:29
  • $\begingroup$ I took the liberty to edit one of the explanations to reflect my original intention. :-) $\endgroup$ – Ankoganit Sep 1 '16 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ I don't quite understand what you mean by ddef, or how the numbers play in $\endgroup$ – Avik Mohan Sep 1 '16 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Avik: These are all cryptic style clues. "ddef" stands for "double definition", and the numbers are the lengths of each answer. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Sep 1 '16 at 17:20

Wrap-up: The Making Of Help! I am infected with the puzzling bug!

This is not a solution to the puzzle, but provides notes from its poser. This type of answer has been approved by the community.

Caution: This post may contain spoilers.


The tag have always been one of my favourites here on puzzling, and I've always thought it would be cool to have a few cryptic clues whose answers spell out a message or sentence. One of the most important aspects of cryptic clues is that they tend to have a misleading surface meaning. This gave me the idea of obfuscating the clues by clever positioning of punctuation, so that the beginnings and ends of the clues are not easily deducible from the apparent structure of the sentences. I had not yet decided upon the target sentence to be "encrypted", so as to say. I tried some random quotes and proverbs without much success. One issue that always bothered me was that I had to include the definition for every word, and it was fairly easy for a solver to pick up only those definitions and deduce the hidden message.

Around this time, rand al'thor wrote in a friendly chat : "Congratulations, you've been infected with the puzzling bug!". I was about to type in the response "It's not a bug, it's a feature" when it occurred to me that the word 'safe' is hidden among the letters. Then it struck me that I could break up the target string into a different set of words than those in the actual message. As it turned out, the sentence at hand was an excellent specimen for this to work.

Steps of the creation

The first thing I began with was the proper spacing out. I wanted to ensure that no word in the original message was intact. Apparently, the only way to obfuscate 'It's' was to take out the 'It' part and fuse the 's' with the second word. So it began as "It snot". Nice enough.

Having already decided upon 'safe', the only viable option was 'Abu git safe at Ure'. I would be happier if 'ature' were a proper clueable word, but apparently it isn't.

Now, I had to make the clues themselves. I tried to avoid anagrams (so that those having chatted with me about anagrams some time before don't have an unfair advantage), and ended up having mostly double definitions and acrostics. Many of the words were too short to clue in some other way. All this while, I tried to blend the clues together to form multiple sentences so that it was not obvious where clues really start or end.

I was afraid this would turn out to be too obscure, so I included the word-lengths to gently nudge the solver towards crossword-styled clues.

For a backstory, I chose the first one that came to my mind. I added a 'snapshot of my notebook' for making the story more realistic.


I used mostly Google and Dictionary.com. I had to google for words I wasn't sure they existed (Abu and Ure), and for synonyms of otherwise known words. (As a side note, Google kept thinking I live at Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India for quite a few days because of my search history).

Also, I used Adobe Photoshop for creating the image of the notebook that accompanies my puzzle.


This puzzle reinforced my belief that clever twists in classic puzzles can produce rather interesting results. Also, this confirmed my trust in the superior problem-solving ability of PSE users.

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    $\begingroup$ Simply beautiful! $\endgroup$ – Timme Nov 23 '16 at 13:44

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