Puzzle of the Month 2016 Rules
Each puzzle has a base value of 200 points for the first five days after it is released. Starting at 6 PM PT, five days later, the base value will drop to 150 points, and a complete series of hints for the puzzle will be released, one every 10 minutes. Any solves after the hints are released have a base value of 150 regardless of the number of hints viewed, if any; we won't keep track of who views which hints.
Moreover, the first 50 solvers of each puzzle will get bonus points: +50 points for the first to solve, +49 for the second, and so forth, all the way down to +1 for the 50th. These bonuses still apply even if fewer than 50 people solve the puzzle before hints are released. For example, if the 30th solve comes in after the hints are released, it's worth 150 base + 21 bonus = 171 points.
The leaderboard for the year will be based on total points, with the single lowest score for each solver (which may include 0 for a month with no submission) dropped. This is to prevent an emergency or unavoidable commitment from scuttling your chances at glory. The leaderboard will only actually reflect this drop after 12 puzzles have been solved with a positive score (as opposed to about halfway through the year, which was the case in 2015).
At the end of the year, all solvers will be entered into a drawing for prizes in which the likelihood of winning is directly proportional to the total number of points earned. (The lowest score is NOT dropped for this purpose.) This means that even if you solve just one puzzle, you'll have a chance at a prize (though you are of course more likely to receive one if you solve more puzzles). We will determine the exact prizes and the number of winners toward the end of each period.
The Puzzle of the Month is meant to be an individual contest. We understand that some of you like to solve as a team, and we don't want to discourage that. However, if you do so, please create a single account to solve with. Teams will still be eligible for the drawing, but a team that wins a prize in the drawing will only win a single copy of that prize, not one for each team member. Also, since points are based on whether hints have been released, we ask that you do not give your own hints to other solvers.