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Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 3:04 pm
by ianwilliams
For a long time the ACC has operated a policy of discouraging our setters from using words in our puzzles and quizzes that are not referenced in Chambers or Macquarie (with occasional forays into Collins, Oxford and the SOED). Proper words and names should be in those references or be in everyday or popular use. This policy has led us to discourage the use of words that are only (or most readily) obtained from the internet. This was fine when few members even had email, but is it relevant as we approach the third decade of the 21st century and when the very efficient search engines now available make verification of the spelling and the meaning of words very simple? In recent correspondence with some setters, they have suggested that so many people are connected to the internet that the policy might have served its purpose and thus be redundant. We want to be responsive to the needs of our members so would welcome your views on this important issue. E-mail Ian ( if you wish or respond with a post below.


Posted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 10:50 am
by enigma
I absolutely agree the restrictive policy has served its purpose and should be discarded. In addition to those already mentioned, a very good,
interesting reference is Webster's New International Dictionary - preferably 2nd edition. I think it can be accessed online?


Posted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:00 am
by ianwilliams
An email from David Stickley (The Stickler), posted with his permission:

There are lots of issues here. First, if you decided to go beyond the traditional references, then how do you define what's acceptable? Would everything on the internet be fair game in all puzzles? If not, how to you restrict it? Second, despite what most people think, most crossword solvers (who fall into the older age groups) are not internet savvy. Sure, they have devices and email addresses, but on the whole don't "live" on the internet as younger generations do. Third, so many new inclusions to our vocabulary are temporary or regional, but exist forever on the net. How will you manage that? Fourth, solving has changed from being the pleasurable activity of unravelling a wordplay and determining the answer to using online solving apps to match a pattern of letters. This means only the definition is really used. Internet-only words will encourage this kind of solving technique (because people won't know the words) which I think is impacting all aspects of solving and setting.

It's certainly a tricky topic as even the dictionaries move to the net. While younger solvers may be prepared to pay annual subscriptions to multiple references to stay constantly up to date, the majority of crossword solvers aren't. I had one person solving my Stickler Weekly who complained that a definition I used didn't appear in their 1992 Concise Oxford! It's not an isolated incident either.

I would stick to standard references with a commitment to switch to particular editions after they have been released for a set time. The new editions of the ACC references include "new" words, terms and meanings over time, and usually only once they have been fully accepted into the language which is what you are looking for.


Posted: Tue Jul 24, 2018 12:02 pm
by zinzan
I use the internet regularly to verify/find but usually after I've had a good crack at solving.
But there's a certain comfort that comes from knowing that answers are found in a particular reference as well.

My expectation would be that if the setter goes 'off-reference', being proper nouns or fresh neologisms, then it's the responsibility of the setter to make a fair and clear clue. Using an obscure secondary indication to clue a borderline proper noun is where clues become unsatisfactory.

So IMO, it's all okay but the setters have to step up their game.