Pirates have a standing or ranking in their puzzle performance relative to all of the other players in the ocean, and in their home archipelago. This standing or ranking is shown on the ultimate list, as well as on the pirate's individual info page. In addition to performance ranking, there is a list of pirates with the most experience in a puzzle, which is stored in a separate list.
Since the Ringers wanted to keep numeric scores out of the game, this is expressed on the standings in the form of a descriptive word. From lowest to highest, they are:
How puzzle standings work
Puzzle standings are calculated as an average over the most recent "x" puzzles or fights, where "x" is a number that the Ringers do not release to the public. Also, standings that have gone dormant are removed from the equation until that pirate puzzles again. This means that a person's standing can change in directions that sometimes seem illogical. For example, it is possible for people who lose to highly-ranked opponents (relative to their own standing) to go up in standing, or for people to win against a low-ranked opponent and have their standing go down. Standing is measured against the other active players in the ocean when a puzzling session completes, so any recent changes will be reported at that time.
As performance progresses up the chain to higher standing levels, the percentile decreases asymptotically. This has the effect that a large number of players on the ocean are ranked Able, while only the top 1% are Ultimate. If there is a large enough tie at the upper levels, then no players at all will be ranked Ultimate, and so forth down the chain.
In player vs. player puzzles it is possible to manipulate a pirates ratings by deliberately having one player lose to another. With enough fixed matches, one can artificially change one's rating to be anything from Able to Ultimate. One should keep this in mind when gambling - an Able rated player who is willing to bet 10,000 PoE on a match could be an Ultimate-level player who has deliberately lowered his or her rating, or an experienced player who has started an alternative character. Do note that it is forbidden to artificially raise or lower standings in this way, and that it may result in the offending pirate having their experience and standing in that puzzle reset, or even a permanent ban.
When performing a duty puzzle on a boat, it is entirely possible for a player with a lower standing to achieve a higher level of performance than a pirate with a higher standing. I.E., a Master gunner may get an incredible that is higher than a Legendary gunner. The reason for this is that a pirate's standing is not taken into account when incredibles are scored. There are several levels of incredible within each standing making it possible for a lower rated pirate to achieve a higher performance level on a duty puzzle. In order to receive an Ultimate trophy in a puzzle, pirates must achieve an Ocean-Wide Standing.
The following trophies are related to puzzle standing:
- As of release 2005-06-29, all NPP puzzle challenges became unrated except for those against the NPPs in inns or outside on the island. "Challenge" missions are also unrated.
- The sea battle standing was retired with release 2006-03-30 when the calculation of might rings was changed to rely upon duty puzzle and fighting ratings.
- With release 2007-01-25, duty puzzle standings became immune from falling during blockades. However, this change was reverted in release 2007-10-16.
- Technical post regarding standing distribution from Lizthegrey - 
- Commonly discussed ideas about Account-wide standings from Game Design
- Ultimate Tracker - http://www.glowie.com/~onyx/ult_info/
- Lizthegrey's official declaration that fighting oneself and throwing matches is cheating from her post 'Do Not Cheat' and the subsequent player forum discussion
- Spanish article: Prestigio