I'm a bit worried. I just got an email from [email protected]. It looked like this:

Dear Puzzling Users:

Hello - you don't know me, but I have been watching your site for months. I have looked at new puzzles, monitored the election, read new answers, read chat transcripts, and generally stalked your precious site. And I have finally decided to test your mad puzzling skills out for... a purpose. I have kidnapped your moderators. Yes, that was blunt - I have to be sure that I have your attention, for your mods' sakes. I have allowed them each to include a screenshot in this email, with a puzzle to their current locations.

Here is the mod known as 'Rubio's screenshot - he appears to greatly like his profile:

Qvq lbh ybbx ng gur frpgvba nobir?

Next we look at what the person going by 'GentlePurpleRain placed, hoping you to extract some information. It appears to be the site's usually empty review queues:

mold mold mold mold mold mold mold mold mold mold mold mold mold

Next we have the person with the alias Gareth McCaughan's screenshot choice. He has included a picture of the main chat for the Puzzling Stack Exchange site. The Sphinx's Lair - ah, I know the place well, from my stalking of it. Here is his slightly blurred out screenshot:


And now, the admirable Deusovi. Deusovi has chosen a screenshot of the front page. I am afraid that he has hidden his location too well - you may find this too difficult. Oh well - his loss.

<s><i><b> ebgguvegrra

Stellar. The pictures are included. Every picture has that mods location. GentlePurpleRain has even had a hint for his put in Rubio's puzzle.

After you have solved them, travel to the locations and contact me again. Not before.

Once again, goodbye, my Puzzling friends!

Ralph Albert Phil Hershy Young

That's a pseudonym, just in case you wanted to track me...

I think it might be a hoax, but Rubio hasn't show up for Spyfall, so I'm getting a bit worried. Where could they be?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Rubio's medals are bit different. Probably special medals for moderators :p $\endgroup$
    – manshu
    Jun 14, 2017 at 13:14
  • 14
    $\begingroup$ Good thing I didn't make it in the election. pfew. $\endgroup$
    – Marius
    Jun 14, 2017 at 13:19
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ I say we don't find them and start posting a bunch of low quality questions. $\endgroup$
    – Forklift
    Jun 14, 2017 at 13:23
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It was Rubio. Definitely $\endgroup$ Jun 14, 2017 at 13:30
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ otgonpxtebhaqnref - collection of all the letters in italics $\endgroup$ Jun 14, 2017 at 13:55

1 Answer 1


Rubio is in

Anchorage, Alaska. His rep accounts on different sites can be concatenated and split to get "1 14 003 8 15 18 1 6", which is ANCHORAF [sic] in A1Z26. His absurdly high number of views can be combined and split similarly to get "1 12 1 19 11 1", or ALASKA.

GentlePurpleRain is in

London. The text above their screenshot has italicized letters; combining and rot13ing them gives the phrase "background". Hidden in the lower left corner (colored to blend in with the background) is LONDON.

Gareth is in

Shanghai. We can see in the chat sidebar that someone named "Nero" sent the message "31.2304". We can also see lots of Es in Gareth's search bar. Taking the lengths of those Es gives "121.4737".

Those give a latitude and longitude - 31.2304 N, 121.4737 E. This is the center of Shanghai.

I am in

-- er, on, Easter Island. There are many letters bolded, italicized, and underlined. Taking those, then rot13ing them gives EASTERISLAND.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ...Now for the bonus, count the words ;) $\endgroup$
    – Mithical
    Jun 14, 2017 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ When you say underlined do you mean struck-through? $\endgroup$
    – boboquack
    Jun 15, 2017 at 1:28

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