We are looking for a 3-word phenomenon.

enter image description here

Hint 1:

The title contains a hidden hint.

Hint 2:

An operation needs to be applied to the countries comprising a flag.

Hint 3:

The operation that Hint 2 refers to can be found with Hint 1.

Hint 4:

Apply this operation on letters instead of numbers.

Other (independently solvable) puzzles of this type: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10.

  • $\begingroup$ I might be making a pattern out of nothing, but for the flags so far identified, rot13(gjb pbhagevrf ner frira yrggref ybat naq gur bgure vf rvtug) - is this relevant? $\endgroup$ – Stiv May 20 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ I noticed that, too, but haven't been able to do anything with it. It doesn't seem like a coincidence, though. $\endgroup$ – Lanny Strack May 20 at 12:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Stiv Gur pbhagevrf jrer vaqrrq cvpxrq onfrq ba gur cebcregl lbh zragvbarq, va beqre gb or noyr gb pbafgehpg gur vagraqrq fbyhgvba. Ubjrire, sbe gur uvagrq bcrengvba gb or cresbezrq, gurl qba'g arprffnevyl arrq gb unir guvf cebcregl. $\endgroup$ – sarsaparilla May 20 at 12:53

I think that the answer is:

Puzzling Stack Exchange

How I got it:

First of all, it is necessary to identify all the countries in the images. (Thanks to the previous posters for identifying many of these.) The countries (and parts used) are:

1. Grenada (overall design), Ukraine (background colors), Dominica (center image)
2. Morocco (green star), Tunisia (white circle, with moon and star [star replaced by Morocco's]), Portugal (background colors and arrangement thereof)
3. Moldova (center image), Bahrain (left band with triangular edge), Bulgaria (background colors, rotated 90 degrees)
4. Albania (center symbol), Lebanon (center symbol [with color altered to match Albania's]), Maldives (background colors and arrangement thereof)
5. Hungary (background colors and arrangement thereof), Barbados (center symbol, and also flag colors incorporated), Pakistan (left band, and center moon and star [with star replaced by Barbados' symbol])
6. Belarus (red part of left band), Georgia (red crosses), Tanzania (full flag used as background)
7. Namibia (sun and red/white diagonal stripe), Estonia (full flag as upper left background), Cameroon (full flag as lower right background)
8. Comoros (full green triangle, with crescent and stars), Belgium (background colors), Paraguay (center symbol)

The key is to now add each of the three countries found in each composite flag. This was hinted at in the puzzle's title: a different design.

The way to add is to align all the words to the right, and treat the letters like numbers, being sure to carry the remainder over each time 26 is exceeded. For example, with the countries of group 5, start by adding the 'y', 's', and 'n' at the ends of the names. This produces 'f' with a carry of 2. (This is clear if you convert to numbers: 25 + 19 + 14 = 58 = 26 + 26 + 6.) Doing this for all 8 groups produces:


Assembling these into a grid:


you can spot the words 'exchange' and 'puzzling' along the diagonals. 'stack' can also be found. This leads to the answer, "puzzling stack exchange".

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    $\begingroup$ By the way, rot13/ V trarengrq RECTPFHT naq DKQNGPAO sebz gur svefg gjb syntf, erfcrpgviryl, whfg nsgre gur svefg uvag jnf tvira, ohg qvqa'g pubbfr gb gnxr gur gvzr gb pbagvahr guvf nccebnpu sbe gur bgure 6 syntf hagvy rnpu fhpprffvir uvag xrcg ersreevat gb gur fnzr guvat! $\endgroup$ – Lanny Strack May 24 at 9:43
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    $\begingroup$ @oAlt - I also had my doubts, and settled on that country by a process of elimination: nothing else fit any better. Only the orientation gave me doubt, though; the colors seem fine to me. $\endgroup$ – Lanny Strack May 24 at 11:05
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    $\begingroup$ Well done Lanny. I felt that either Bahrain or Bulgaria had to be 90° rotated to form a nice looking flag, In this case I chose the latter... $\endgroup$ – sarsaparilla May 24 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ @LannyStrack V jebgr n fznyy cebtenz gb rknzvar gur bcgvbaf. Gur svany chmmyr ybbxf gur jnl vg qbrf orpnhfr gung vf jung'f cbffvoyr jvgu guerr-pbhagel pbzovangvbaf. Zl vavgvny gubhtug jnf gb hfr gjb pbhagvrf cre synt, ohg guvf fbba nccrnerq hasrnfvoyr. $\endgroup$ – sarsaparilla May 24 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ Lrf, V fgnegrq jvgu n yvfg bs 7- naq 8-yrggre pbhagvrf. Va uvaqfvtug, V pbhyq unir hfrq fubegre-anzrq pbhagvrf nf jryy, bs pbhefr. $\endgroup$ – sarsaparilla May 24 at 14:49

Partial answer - identifying the flags

Each flag seems to be

a combination of three national flags, usually bits of two put on top of a third one.


Patterns from the flag of Grenada, and the central design from the flag of Dominica, on top of the flag of Ukraine.


The star from the flag of Morocco, and the crescent moon from [Algeria or Tunisia? many countries have the crescent moon], on top of the flag of Portugal.


The zigzag from the flag of Bahrain, and the coat of arms from the flag of Moldova, on top of the stripes from the flag of [??? something green red]


The eagle from the flag of Albania, and the tree from the flag of Lebanon, on top of the flag of the Maldives.


This one is a puzzle. I couldn't find either a blue moon or a yellow trident in that shape on any national flag (an old flag of the Islamic Republic of East Turkestan had a blue moon, but that's hardly a recognised independent country, and the flag of Barbados has a trident but not a yellow one). The background (red, white, green) might be Hungary.


The frieze from the flag of Belarus, and the crosses from the flag of Georgia, on top of the flag of Tanzania.


The sun and diagonal from the flag of Namibia, the blue/black/white of Estonia, and the stripes and star of the flag of Cameroon.


The central design from the flag of Paraguay, and the moon and stars from the flag of Comoros, on the stripes of Belgium.

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  • $\begingroup$ For the second one, I'm thinking it includes Tunisia. After some time looking at the other flags with stars and crescents, it seems to me that the Tunisian flag is the best fit. The star is "consumed" by the crescent most in its flag, not unlike the ones in the second flag. $\endgroup$ – oAlt May 11 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ For the fifth one, the trident is originally black in the flag of Barbados, and the white space and the crescent (originally white as well) seem similar to that of Pakistan's. (The trident may be where the star of the Pakistani flag originally was.) $\endgroup$ – oAlt May 11 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ @oAlt The Islamic Republic of East Turkestan is the only flag I've found with a blue crescent moon on it, but that's hardly a recognised independent country ... $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor May 11 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ Finally, for the first flag, the middle symbol looks different; after all, it belongs to Dominica. For the seventh flag, Cameroon bears the same exact design: green, red, and yellow with a middle yellow star. I am now convinced that each flag is composed of three others, but I am not sure what would then be left in the third flag. (EDIT: Maybe we are only supposed to go after common, current flags? After all, again, the trident of Barbados is in the wrong color... but as to that, why?) $\endgroup$ – oAlt May 11 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ @oAlt Duh, I should've got Cameroon. Thanks for the help - I've edited, but Barbados and Pakistan still don't convince me. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor May 11 at 15:34

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