The following is a encoded first line from a Wikipedia page. Your task is to decipher it. Enjoy!

239#27#682 372#52#41#599#995 354 856 227#886#244#82#94 252#681 672#61#32#239#246#673-376-599#46#597 (672&387) 250#46#1-242#39#34 244#673 676#81#386#248#211 91 235#350#58#381#262 ___#32#48#376#1-684

Bonus: Fill in the blank with a 3-digit number!

Hint/ Clarification:


I left out a tag since it would be a big hint for the cipher


Formatting matters


The sentence have not ended because it is too long... but this is already a legitimate sentence (i.e. grammatical)


I am sure that you all know what this wiki page is describing

Another cipher of mine, enjoy!

Cipher 001: Strange Memos


The decoded text reads:

"Stack Exchange is a network of question-and-answer (Q&A) websites on topics in diverse fields ..."   It is taken from the Wikipedia page on Stack Exchange.

Cracking the code:

General observations: The code has a lot of two- and three-digit numbers. The only single-digit number is 1. These numbers are formatted: Many are bold; fewer are plain and two (376 and 46) are in italics.

There are spaces, hash marks and some punctuation. I think it is safe to assume that the hash marks concatenate letters, which are represented by the numbers, and that all other symbols represent themselves.

The code is best reverse-engineered from the plain text. We don't have it, but the fourth hint suggests that the Wiki page isn't a huge surprise. One of the obvious candidates is the Wiki on Stack Exchange and it looks good: The combo (672&387) is very likely the "(Q&A)" from the page and the block with two hyphens before that could be "question-and-answer".

Now align the chunks to the words in the text:

                                          239 (27) 682   Stack
                                 (372) (52) 41 599 995   Exchange
                                                   354   is
                                                 (856)   a
                               227 886 (244) (82) (94)   network
                                           (252) (681)   of
(672) (61) (32) 239 246 (673) - <376> - 599 <46> (597)   question-and-answer
                                       ((672) & (387))   (Q&A)
                                (250) (46) 1-242 39 34   websites
                                           (244) (673)   on
                            676 (81) (386) (248) (211)   topics
                                                    91   in
                              (235) (350) 58 381 (262)   diverse
                         ___ (32) (48) (376) (1)-(684)   fields
Here, numbers in parentheses are bold, numbers in angular brackets are in italics. It is onvious that there isn't a one-to one correspondence of numbers to letters.

Looking at the short words, we can see that a bold number seems to encode a single letter and a plain number two letters. The italic number 376 between the hyphens could encode "and".

There are few repeated numbers in the code. The bold 244, 672 and 673 could encode the letters o, q and n. The plain 239 and 599 seem to encode the letter pairs "st" and "an".

Let's assign the rest of the letters. That kinda works, but there are problems with additional hyphens. Anyway, we have: swe = 46; ch = 41; it = 39; es = 34. That rings a bell*: These are telephone prefixes for countries: +46 is Sweden, +41 is Switzerland and so on. That also explains the extra hyphens, which always occur after a 1: These are four-digit codes of th North American region that all begin with a 1.

So the code is: A number in italics encodes the three-letter ISO code of the country whose prefix the number is. A plain number encodes the two-letter ISO code of that country and a bold number encodes the second letter of the two-letter code. (The second letter code allows to encode rare letters like X and Q.)

* New-year's resolution: Lay off the puns.

And the bonus?

The blank must encode FI, which is the two-letter code for Finland, whose calling code is +358. So the blank must be a plain "358".

  • $\begingroup$ well done, sorry my bad for bonus, edited! $\endgroup$ – Omega Krypton Dec 31 '18 at 17:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Let's pretend that didn't happen. :) 233 # 27 # 977 # 595 / 227 # 263 / 967 # 54! $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Dec 31 '18 at 17:36

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