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Things cubers want non-cubers to understand

Hello, non-cubers. We're cubers. Because cubing is a relatively minor hobby often associated with geek culture, there are many misconceptions about Rubik's Cube and cubing. Here are some things we want you to understand.

About cubing

Even if you never learn to solve a cube, we think you should know these things.

  • Cubers like cubing. For some it's just a hobby, while for others it's a part of their identity. An international association regulates official competitions and world records, and there are online communities in many languages. Please don't dismiss it as a geeky hobby for no-lifes.
  • Some of us care a lot about our cubes. Many competition-level speedcubers spend a lot of effort fine-tuning their cubes. Please don't grab them and throw them around.
  • Most everyone above the age of say 9 can learn to solve a Rubik's Cube. Simple methods are just step-by-step procedures; you just need to learn a few sequences of moves, recognize patterns, and follow rules.
  • There are ways to approach the Rubik's Cube at least partially mathematically, but most speedcubing methods involve no math. Some steps are more or less intuitive, but there is very little that speedcubers invent on the spot. Other steps are straight pattern recognition: this pattern means this sequence of moves.
  • Although many cubers have interests in math/science, neither helps much in cubing. Many world-class speedcubers are neither good at math nor Asian.

Fact check aka "We know when you're lying (or remembering it wrong)"

Knowing the facts can help you avoid making a fool of yourself!

  • We really hope you didn't actually peel off the stickers. It's impractical and it ruins the cube. It's not funny as a joke either because we hear it all the time.
  • No one can solve the Rubik's Cube regularly in 5 seconds. The record average is about 8 seconds. If your friend or some guy on the street/TV/YouTube solved the cube in 5 seconds, either he's cheating, you're exaggerating, or we know him well and it was an easy or lucky solve.
  • Although every configuration of the Rubik's Cube can be solved in at most 20 moves (counting a 180-degree turn as one move), a typical speedsolve can take 50+ moves. It typically takes an expert an hour or more to solve a given scramble in under 25 moves.
  • The chance of solving a well-scrambled Rubik's Cube by accident is considerably lower than winning a billion-dollar lottery. You never solved it by total chance after playing around with it for 3 days.
  • If you solve 5 sides, the last side is automatically solved. You never managed to solve 5 sides but couldn't get the last one.
  • A cube consists not of 54 independent stickers, but rather of 8 corner pieces (3 stickers each) and 12 edge pieces (2 stickers each) around a center axis with 6 fixed centers. We solve pieces rather than stickers, and no solution involves solving one side at a time. It's very unlikely that you solved 3 sides; this is constraining enough that most pieces are in fact solved, but if you really managed this, you should know that solving side-by-side is complete nonsense. If you tell us this, we'll assume you're lying or remembering it wrong.

Watching cubers solve

We're happy when you take any interest in our hobby! But it's even better if you avoid some misunderstandings.

  • If we're turning a cube without looking at it, there are several possibilities. If our eyes are open, we're probably
    • scrambling it (we do this half the time), or
    • actually solving it with our eyes open. A speedsolve using the most popular method takes only 7 looks. We look at the cube throughout for serious solves, but for casual solves, we might start a step and look away to do something else, only looking again before the next step.
    It's possible that
    • we're actually solving without looking ("blindfolded"). In this case, we must have spent some time memorizing the cube and probably have our eyes closed.
  • In a blindfolded solve, we first need to memorize the cube. There is nothing to touch to distinguish the colors.
  • Pieces of a normal Rubik's Cube can accidentally come out ("POP") during a speedsolve. Putting this back in is not cheating. If we put pieces back in incorrectly, we may end up in an unsolvable state and only realize this at the end of the solve. Taking out pieces to correct this is not cheating; in fact, for solvable configurations, solving as usual is often considerably faster than taking out pieces and putting them back in.

Scrambling for a cuber

If you ask, most cubers will let you scramble their cube. Don't just grab them, though, and keep these things in mind.

  • Don't try to (badly) imitate our turning speed and drop the cube. This can damage pieces and put the cube out of tune. As already written, we care about our cubes.
  • These are not good scrambles:
    • Doing four 90-degree turns in the same direction on the same side does nothing.
    • Only turning parallel sides doesn't do much.
    • Always turning a side together with the opposing side keeps the corners solved.
    To properly scramble a cube, at least change the side you are turning after each move.
  • It's okay to have adjacent stickers of the same color! This is true for most scrambles.
  • Looking at the cube while it is being scrambled (properly) does not help us solve it. If you grab our cube and hide it behind your back, we'll be worried that you'll drop it.
  • 25-30 random moves are enough to hand-scramble a cube properly. Scrambling longer does not make the puzzle any more difficult.
  • Official rules allow up to 15 seconds of inspection before a solve. We don't like it when you hide the cube, give it back, and start timing right away, especially without warning.

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