Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Q. I’m looking for people interested in Scrabble™. Is this the place? What about Anagrams? Cryptograms? I like riddles; am I still welcome?

A. You’re certainly welcome to participate, but our pastime focus isn’t quite on those exact things. There is an American Cryptogram Association, and another association for Scrabble. Or, perhaps you should just see our list of other organizations?

We have people that compose a lot of puzzle type, play a lot of games and in general have a lot of fun at what ever they do. We have jugglers, writers, editors, composers, musicians, mathematicians, software developers, professors, and students, among others. We have members still in high school and members who have retired after long careers.

Q. How do I join the NPL?

A. Start on the home page; details are in the section about Membership.

Q. How do I change my nom or contact information?

A. Contact the treasurer (treasurer@ this domain) for all changes in your membership. If you want to change the email address that your forwarding address goes to, contact the postmaster.

Q. Where can I turn for help if my question isn’t answered here in the FAQs?

A. Be sure to check out The Guide to the ENIGMA, too. It is an excellent resource on all the ins-and-outs of most things.

We host twice weekly chats on Slack (see the Chat page for more info. Chat announcements are posted on NPL-FOLK.

The best resource for answering NPL questions are NPLers themselves. Don’t know any? That’s all right; just join the NPL-FOLK mailing list (email the postmaster to join). You can post your question there and have an answer back, often in a matter of minutes. Most NPL’ers – hell, all NPL’ers – are more than happy to help out; we remember what it’s like to be newbies confronted with our first completely enigmatic flats.

Web Site Questions

Q. How do I log into the site?

A. Some areas of our web sites are for members only. Your login is always your nom (or your name, if you haven’t yet chosen a nom). When you change your nom, your login changes and your password stays the same. If you have a nom that can’t be typed, you will use a test-based version of your nom to sign in. If you don’t know your password, you try resetting it. If it looks like you don’t have an account, contact the treasurer.

Q. I can’t sign in. What do I do?

A. If your membership has lapsed, your login will be disabled until you renew. If you have forgotten your password, you can reset your password using your nom or email address. We do not know your current password and cannot tell it to you.

Q. Who do I contact if I have suggestions for or problems with the web site.

A. Please send an email to webmaster@ this domain.

Q. Do you use cookies?

A. Of course we do. You can’t login to any site on the internet without cookies. Fortunately, pretty much anything you’ve ever heard about cookies being bad is wrong. Cookies are never dangerous but they may have privacy implications. The NPL’s web sites do not use any of the so-called “tracking cookies” which have privacy issues. If you do not check the Remember Me checkbox when you sign in, any login cookies will not be retained after your session is over.

Email Questions

Q. What is a Puzzlers’ forwarding address?

A. The NPL provides forwarding addresses for members. This is not a mailbox, but any mail sent to it will be forwarded to you at your preferred email address. Generally, the address is to but some people have kept addresses for previous noms after they’ve changed their nom. Changes to your preferred email address should be sent to the postmaster.

Q. What mailing lists does the NPL have?

A. The NPL has two mailing lists:

NPL-ANNOUNCE is an official, low-volume administrator only email list. Announcements about The ENIGMA, conventions, the web site, and other League business are sent to this address. Almost all members are on NPL-ANNOUNCE.

NPL-FOLK is a members-only, mostly unrestricted list for discussion of puzzles and puzzle-related topics. Postings need not be about only NPL puzzles, but they should be on topic and of interest to members. Most members are on NPL-FOLK.

To subscribe to NPL-FOLK, contact the postmaster at postmaster@ followed by our domain name.

Q. Another member just emailed me to tell me there is trouble with my NPL mailbox. Who do I talk to? What do I say?

A. The person to talk to is the postmaster. He can handle queries and complaints about anything to do with e-mail. But don’t pester him for website problems or passwords cause he can’t do anything but forward that to the webmaster.

What do you say? Well, the best way to do things is simply to forward any bounced or problem emails to the postmaster. If you can, turn on any option to “Show [all] headers.” This is the Blah blah blah button in Eudora, for example, or a checkbox in webmail apps mail accounts such as Squirrel, Hotmail, Netscape.COM or Yahoo! Why you ask? Email headers hold a wonderful trasure of history saying what mail server they arrived at and when. This allows the postmaster to know if and when your message crossed the puzzlers’ email server. And if it bounced, gives a very good idea when the trouble happened.

Q. I subscribe to NPL-FOLK. Why do I sometimes get a message hours, days, even a week after I’ve seen replies to the same message?

A. The mail server is generally pretty good about accepting traffic, but often YOUR email servers can being surprisingly poky and cantankerous about accepting it. If your mail server doesn’t accept a message to you when the NPL mail server first tries to deliver it [which is generally within a minute or two of receipt of a message], it goes into a “try again” queue and will incur delays that can be measureed in hours [or worse].

This is a normal behavior for an email server. If you think about it, the more often YOUR mail server refuses a message, the more likely it will also refuse the next time, so with each refusal, the interval before the next attempt increases. How do we know its your server, and not ours? Obviously, the NPL server has seen the email and sent it to everyone else, so it must be a server between the Puzzlers’ mailserver and your client. As the postmaster has said, talk to your Internet Service Provider.

Puzzle Questions

Q. What is a Base? Why do I want one?

A. A base is basically the solution to a puzzle before the puzzle has been created. For example, suppose you notice that EDITOR and DIETER are a consonantcy. You just found a base and you can create a puzzle around it. Most authors will try to see if they can expand a base to include additional, interesting words before creating a puzzle. Bases almost always take the simplest form. For example, the base EDITING and DIETING would be reduced to EDIT and DIET to remove the common -ING. Some base forms have limitations — for example, a 3-letter transposal just isn’t very interesting.

See also our page on Word Lists.

Q. What are the three common English words that end in -gry?

A. Sigh. There are only two common English words that end in -gry. The words are angry and hungry. In the NPL, there is a third word, igry.

There are also some archaic words that end in -gry, but none are in current usage, let alone common usage: anhungry, aggry, magry, gaugry, mawgry, and puggry.

ENIGMA Questions

Q. How do I print off a booklet copy for a downloaded ENIGMA?

A. Print it double-sided with short-edge binding, then fold in the middle and staple. If you’re doing this regularly for current issues, it is more economical (and probably with a better carbon footprint) to simply subscribe to the print edition.

If the spine isn’t centered in the middle of the page, make sure to turn off scaling (the Fit to Paper or Scale to Paper Size option) in Acrobat or Preview when you print.

Q. When is the deadline for sending in solutions?

A. If you want your solution statistics tracked, send in your solutions after the first day of the month and before 11:59 p.m. of the last day of the month which follows the month of publication. For example, for the June issue, send your solutions after July 1st but before 11:59 PM on July 31st.

Q. Who decides if my solution is correct?

A. The current solutions editor is the judge of solutions. Sometimes alternate valid solutions are discovered, so you can appeal if you think the printed solution is incorrect.

Q. What do the numbers, asterisks, and stuff mean at the start of a puzzle.

A. Puzzle types are listed first (e.g., ACROSTICAL ENIGMA), followed by the enumeration and tagging. A full explanation is found before the first flat in each issue in the Penetralia box.

Q. What do the letters in ENIGMA numbering signify?

A. The type of puzzle determines the way it is numbered and where it is placed in The ENIGMA. In any issue, puzzle types that are numbered but not lettered are: “Flats” (the most numerous puzzle type in any issue,) “Anagrams”, and “Ambigrams.” When a flat is unusual for some reason, it is designate with the letters “KU” and does not count towards a “Flat Complete” when you submit answers – although they are great fun to solve as a rule. “Forms” (“Pyramid,” “Hourglass,” and the like) carry an “F” designation, straightforward “Crypts” carry a “C”, and “Extras” (Anaquotes, Anaquip, and Cryptic Crosswords, for example) are marked with an “X”.

The four groups (Flats, Forms, Crypts, and Extras) are sections in the solutions lists that the solution editor tots up to announce how many of each type of puzzle a solver solved. You can be noted in the solvers as having a “Complete complete” meaning you solved every puzzle in the edition; and as a “Flat Complete” solver if you solve all of the flats (except KUs, which are not counted) in an edition.

Q. It’s the 10th of the month and my ENIGMA hasn’t arrived in the mail yet.

A. Unfortunately, there are no extra copies printed, so if your mailed copy doesn’t come, all you can do is print off a copy from the web site. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to happen very often.

Is it possible your membership expired? The label of each ENIGMA envelope has your expiration date. If the date is red, it means this is your last issue before you renew your membership.