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I am a staircase, covered in paint.

Each step taken gives knowledge, new and quaint.

I used to be more of a ramp type shape,

But progress was slow, like rewinding a tape.

My new inside is famously difficult to place,

At least if you look only at my face.

I contain the world and all of its gain,

And delineate most of its struggle and pain.

Something I can understand, being myself bound.

So, stranger, who am I? Can my name be found?

Be observant, omniscient, keen,

And I will show what has already been seen.


The final answer should include some explanation for each part of the riddle. Thanks!

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  • $\begingroup$ @JamesDouglas without an explanation given, I would prefer to neither confirm nor deny potential final answers. $\endgroup$ – Brandon_J Mar 23 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough. I can't really be bothered to write an answer yet, but maybe later. $\endgroup$ – James Douglas Mar 23 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ Could the downvoter elaborate on the reason for downvoting? $\endgroup$ – Brandon_J Mar 24 at 2:03
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You are a

book

I am a staircase, covered in paint.

Books look like staircases when they’re opened to near the middle, and they’re “painted” with ink and pictures.

Each step taken gives knowledge, new and quaint.

Books can provide knowledge on a wide range of topics.

I used to be more of a ramp type shape,
But progress was slow, like rewinding a tape.

In the distant past, books were written on scrolls of paper e.g. papyrus that had to be rolled out like a tape, which geometrically speaking would form a ramp. In contrast, books today are written on distinct pages, and flipping the pages one by one is like “building” a staircase. (Credit to Jens in the comments for making the connection!)

The second line could also mean that reading a book requires time and effort because usually you’d have to read each page sequentially, just like how you have to rewind a tape frame by frame.

My new inside is famously difficult to place,
At least if you look only at my face.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover!”

I contain the world and all of its gain,
And delineate most of its struggle and pain.

Books are a written record of humanity, both at its best (“gain”) and its not so best (“struggle and pain”).

Something I can understand, being myself bound.

Most books are definitely bound at their spines.

So, stranger, who am I? Can my name be found?
Be observant, omniscient, keen,

Taking the first letters of the previous line gives BOOK.

And I will show what has already been seen.

Autobiographies, personal accounts, etc. show others what another person has seen/been through.

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  • $\begingroup$ Definitely on the right track! $\endgroup$ – Brandon_J Mar 23 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ What did books look like before books existed? $\endgroup$ – Brandon_J Mar 23 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ Not quite. The ramp is kind of metaphorical, though - book is to stairs as _________ is to ramp $\endgroup$ – Brandon_J Mar 23 at 23:05
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps the ramp refers to a scroll? $\endgroup$ – Jens Mar 23 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Jens that’s a good explanation! I’ve added it into my answer $\endgroup$ – PiIsNot3 Mar 24 at 7:09
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I believe the answer is

A library.

I am a staircase, covered in paint.

A big library has many stairs, showcasing many books.

Each step taken gives knowledge, new and quaint.

Each step in the library shows you more, as you learn more about old thing and new things.

I used to be more of a ramp type shape, But progress was slow, like rewinding a tape.

It takes time to read books.

My new inside is famously difficult to place, At least if you look only at my face.

It is hard to navigate a big library, if you don't know it well.

I contain the world and all of its gain, And delineate most of its struggle and pain.

A library contains just about everything the world knows, including war (pain).

Something I can understand, being myself bound.

Book's spines are sometimes bound with string.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer! Some of the given clues don't quite fit this answer. $\endgroup$ – Brandon_J Mar 23 at 18:50
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I don’t think this is the intended answer, but it fits quite well:

the MARKET

I am a staircase, covered in paint.

The stock market is frequently represented as candlestick charts with look like green and red stairs

Each step taken gives knowledge, new and quaint.

Each new market move reflects an immense amount of information absorbed.

I used to be more of a ramp type shape,

Because of exponential growth, longer term charts look like a ramp

But progress was slow, like rewinding a tape.

Slower in the past because of exponential growth and tape is a very common market term for the list of prices

My new inside is famously difficult to place,

Modern markets are electronic and located in different areas around the globe, their placement and one’s computer’s position relative to them is of great importance to modern trading

At least if you look only at my face.

This one I can’t place

I contain the world and all of its gain,

The Market represents the global economy and literally all of its gain.

And delineate most of its struggle and pain.

You can look back and see market crashes and times of economic crisis and difficulty

Something I can understand, being myself bound.

Bound by the physical limits of labor and production, supply and demand.

So, stranger, who am I? Can my name be found? Be observant, omniscient, keen, And I will show what has already been seen.

Feels like this clue means that the name is hidden cleverly in the puzzle, but I haven’t found that

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