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A couple months ago, I posted this, to test a new cipher encryption idea, but it was poorly constructed and did not work. After that puzzle fail, I redesigned it to work better, making it much cleaner, and the result is found here. Yet, I wasn't satisfied, and so have created my latest masterpiece!

This puzzle is similar, or at least the mechanism is, but this is also more complex, with more layers and twists than the others. You won't be alone, you'll have plenty of hints to help, but, I'm warning you that everything here has two meanings. Already from the tags, if you look, you can see that this puzzle uses , which hides clues in plain sight. Keep your eyes open, and hopefully you'll be able to find the message, or just blindly guess, and see what's there.

You have probably noticed, at least I hope that you've noticed, something off here, that there's no block quote after all this text. I mean,,. Shouldn't there be something, some differentiation between the puzzle and its own description, somewhere to start looking so you're not completely lost, something to get you started instead of total enigma? And there is, if you look, but, look very closely.

So, while you have neared the end, I've talked about the puzzle, but apparently not given to you. Maybe that's a clue, a hint as to where your search will go, or maybe not, just a red herring to confuse you. Alas, perhaps the puzzle is already here, just not clearly labeled. Whatever the case is, you have to go, read more carefully and solve this, I hope.

The puzzle is complete, or at least it is very nearly complete now, down to the last paragraph, the last few sentences. Look to the past, see how those puzzles worked, and this puzzle should be quite solvable, though your destination will be different to solve this. Reread these paragraphs closely, find what seems off, out of place, or sounds odd and completely unnatural. Once you've done that, you can start to solve this puzzle,, best wishes and good luck!


Hint 1:

To clarify, all the text in the original post (that is, text above the horizontal line) is part of the puzzle, and there is data hidden in that text. In addition to the steganographically encoded data, the plain text gives some hints as to what to do once that is found.

Hint 2:

There's something odd about the sentence structure here, not quite any run-ons or splices, but some extra clauses seem to be forced, or redundant.

Hint 3:

This is most similar to the sci-pher, but with some slight modifications.

Hint 4:

Most of the puzzle text is talking about the puzzle itself, and it even points out that it's talking about itself, and now this hint is talking about how the puzzle is talking about itself, and now the hint is talking about itself, and talking about how it's talking about itself... When will it end?!?!

Hint 5:

To find the answer, you'll need to look at some early posts on both this site and another, very closely related site. Phenomist is off to a very good start in finding those posts, and hint 3 is a strong hint as to what to do with those posts.

Hint 6 (final):

Using the post numbers Phenomist found, you can apply almost exactly the same process as the sci-pher to posts on Puzzling SE's meta site, with a modification to allow almost all posts to translate to a valid letter. This is the last hint, and should be enough to solve things, while leaving enough of the puzzle left to not spoil everything. From here, you're on your own.

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  • $\begingroup$ I guess the extra commas are part of the puzzle. $\endgroup$ – Takeshi Feb 15 '18 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Takeshi Yes, they are, along with any other apparent grammar mistakes. $\endgroup$ – DqwertyC Feb 15 '18 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ 'very closely related site' is still way too vague, considering you have to check so many posts $\endgroup$ – user45835 Mar 8 '18 at 5:20
  • $\begingroup$ @SolutusImmensus It's a site more closely related to Puzzling SE than any other SE site. Some might even say it doesn't count as its own unique site. Also, a decent chunk of the puzzle and the hints are talking about the puzzle. I think that should be enough to guess which site to go to. $\endgroup$ – DqwertyC Mar 8 '18 at 7:14
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Note that this is very partial progress.

I notice that the number of words between commas is always between 0 and 9. This suggests converting into numbers with those as digits.
We get:
4379 4646 137
4668 4719 4386 4944 4739 200 4999 3313
1656 4937 164 4462 4954 4579 4436 4705

Something interesting that I noticed was that a lot of these numbers are 4 digits long and start with 4.

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    $\begingroup$ Definitely on the right track! $\endgroup$ – DqwertyC Feb 18 '18 at 4:15
  • $\begingroup$ I've edited one of your numbers because it was off by one - your method for determining the answer was correct, you just miscounted one of the segments. Should be good to go now! $\endgroup$ – DqwertyC Mar 5 '18 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ doesn't seem to be anything in Ascii or Unicode: ᄛ ሦ ‰ ሼ ቯ ᄢ ፐ ኃ È ᎇ ೱ ٸ ፉ ¤ ᅮ ፚ ᇣ ᅔ ቡ $\endgroup$ – Rupert Morrish Mar 5 '18 at 22:30
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    $\begingroup$ based on the hints, you probably have to find posts with those numbers and do something with them, i'm not sure what. modular arithmetic is probably also involved, again based on the hints. $\endgroup$ – Quintec Mar 6 '18 at 1:51
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Well, @phenomist and @feelinferrety have solved the most of it, and the OP @DqwertyC has almost given all ouit, but since this has been here untouched for nearly one and a half years, I believe it's time that I give the final blow. This is probably the full solution.

Step 1:

Word count between each comma

Result:

4379 4646 137 4668 4719 4386 4944 4739 200 4999 3313 1656 4937 164 4462 4954 4579 4436 4705

Step 2:

Go to Puzzling Meta posts with the above as post IDs

Step 3:

As stated in the OP's previous question, look for the post time. Check the minute value.

Step 4:

Well, for multiple instances the OP hinted mod, meaning that the values, if exceeding 26, should be converted through mod 26.

Step 5:

Digits -> A1Z26

Message:

NOW LESS META IM THE KEY

Solution:

Now, less meta. I'm the key.

This is most probably the end. Let's put this to rest!

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  • $\begingroup$ This is definitely the right track, but I think there's one more layer. I seem to have lost my original reference document for this puzzle sometime in the past year, so it will take me a bit to reverse engineer the rest. You're very close to the end though! $\endgroup$ – DqwertyC Aug 15 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ Just found the rest of my notes for this. You're very close! The message you got isn't the solution, but rather another instruction (from me). $\endgroup$ – DqwertyC Aug 15 at 16:50
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REFERENCE POST ONLY

Using the findings of @phenomist and taking the results over to the site that we could figure out/were told to use...

4379A
4646A
137A
4668A
4719A
4386A
4944A
4739A
200
4999A
3313
1656
4937
164A
4462A
4954A
4579
4436
4705


NOTE:

A indicates that the post number in question is actually an answer. The original post numbers corresponding with those are as follows:

4379 -> 4378
4646 -> 4621
137 -> 136
4668 -> 4661
4719 -> 4718
4386 -> 4377
4944 -> 4943
4739 -> 4720
4999 -> 4997
164 -> 163
4462 -> 4458
4954 -> 4952

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