We Get Mail

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Astute observers of Jeff Chen’s so-called blog on XWord Info will notice that, unlike real blogs, there is no provision for readers to comment publicly.

There are several reasons for this, starting with we hate moderating comments, especially when people get nasty or annoying. Believe it or not, that happens on the Internet. More importantly, the world doesn’t need Yet Another Place to comment on the day’s puzzle. Many such sites already exist. We link to several of them.

We still get feedback though, mostly through old-fashioned email. (Remember email?) We get so much, we might make answering questions a regular feature. Here’s a taste.

All the questions below are real.

Can I have your data?

Already covered. Really, we get this a lot.

You’ve highlighted the theme answers incorrectly.

We don’t highlight theme answers. We highlight NYT debut answers, which are sometimes thematic. We should make this clearer.

Why are Jeff’s reviews so easy on the puzzles?

Jeff loves crosswords, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he finds joy in most of them. He also has high standards, and he doesn’t shy away from pointing out what he considers to be flaws. (He and I don’t always agree.)

If you want harsher reviews, though, you’re in luck. They’re available elsewhere.

Why are Jeff’s reviews so hard on the puzzles?

Jeff hates crosswords, so it’s fun for him to rip them to shreds. Also, he’s super-jealous when someone comes up with a clever idea he wishes he’d thought of. Stay clear when that happens.

Where’s the page where you list themes, or count theme entries, or count theme letters?

We don’t make any attempt to count or even identify thematic entries for two excellent reasons: we’re lazy, and we don’t know how. Theme answers are sometimes obvious but often they’re not. Does an otherwise themeless grid that hides JOHN, PAUL, GEOGE, and RINGO in the corners have four theme answers or zero? Does Eland have 138 theme squares? Or maybe all of them are thematic. Or maybe none.

If I pay to download your wordlist, does that guarantee that Will Shortz will publish my crossword?

Absolutely! The XWord Info wordlist is magic. Will will probably be so amazed at your skill that he’ll immediately hand over his position as Editor to you and retire in shame.

Do you have a favorite constructor?

Yes.

Are NYT crosswords getting easier or am I getting smarter?

Practice helps.

Can you help me construct a crossword?

Jeff says yes to this question surprisingly often. You can also get help from Facebook. Getting your first puzzle published is dramatically easier if you have some help. Also if you have a great word list.

There’s a contact link on our home page.

I’m tired of rejections. Why doesn’t Will Shortz understand the genius of my puzzles?

He’s not that bright.

How do you get all those constructor photos?

We ask the constructors for one.

I found a bug in an old puzzle.

Thank you! We always appreciate bug reports in grids, write-ups, browser functionality, broken hyperlinks, etc. Puzzles before 1996 were digitized by hand, and errors lurk.

Your home page is a confusing sea of links.

It’s like menu items in Microsoft Office apps. Over time, more and more features get added and it’s impossible to remove old ones because somebody somewhere uses them. Someday we’ll get around to completely redesigning the look and feel of our website. And then people will complain about that.

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