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Puzzle Cache Hints

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I have just posted my first puzzle cache about 2 weeks ago and there has yet to be a find. Only one person has emailed indicating he is working on it. I know the question of when or if to issue hints is entirely the cache owner's decision but as a newbie puzzle maker, I have a few questions for the group:


1. At what point in time would you, if you were attempting a puzzle, want a publiclly declared hint?

2. Is it fair to give a private hint to a person who personally asks for one before there is a first find, even if you think the clue is still very vague?

3. As a puzzler, would you like to see a series of hints in the encrypted hints that would, progressively, reveal more information that you could decode as needed (for instance first clue a rather vague hint, next clue a little more specific...)

4. What is a reasonable length of time to go without a first find before making the puzzle easier?

5. Any other suggestions along these lines?

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I looked at the sourrounding area, and it appears that you don't have too many caches (possibly geocachers) around. Or, it could just be that you have a perfect amount and my area (92071) is way over crowded. A lot of difficult puzzles around here are found within 10 days of approval, but we have quite a few people trying to find them (I'm not usually one of them).

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There's a couple of them around here that have been around forever and unfound.


I am not very good at solving them and thus I do not get too involved with them... if I can't figure it out in a short time i move on.


I suspect there are others like me. Thus my questions. I do want it to be found, but I still want it to be a challenge.


I have three other puzzles in mind and, pending finding places to hide them, I will take these comments into account in designing the cache pages.


I think making a puzzle unsolvable would be pretty easy, but then again, there are a lot of very clever cachers out there. I want mine to be found, but not without effort.

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I have one that was discussed in a forum "is my cache too hard?". Most people wanted it to stay without a hint. To date only one cacher has been successful without my help. Keep it hard but make the level of difficulty high. My cache is (gcqw5r) check it out.

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1) I only change the hints if I've been too smart for my britches, or if I make a major mistake. I had one that was easily enough found, but no one understood my hint, or even the name of the cache. Oh, well. So I changed the hint to what everyone thought it meant.

2) Before a first find? Nope. After that I'll give clues to anyone who asks.

3) Nope. I decrypt the hints before I go looking. I don't know any way to encrypt various hints differently, that will still allow people to decrypt them at the site.

4) With the puzzle cachers areound here? Unless there's an error, it'll be found very quickly. Got one of the best puzzle cache finders living just down the road! Of course, I don't hide any puzzle caches that are that difficult. Okay, I have an obscure one with eight finds since last May. Three cachers found it without solving it. One asked for, and received hints. The other four are from a ways off, and took a special trip to hunt for my caches. :unsure:

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There's always the same two problems with hints for puzzle caches:

1) Some cachers consider the hint to be just part of the description, so a really helpful hint takes away the intended challenge.

2) Not all puzzle-solvers are equal! The hint that ruins the fun for the "almost solved it myself" cacher is still way over the head of the "I'd ignore it but I want the travel bug in it" type.


I'm working on an email system that allows you to send to a "help" email address with something specified in the subject line (Like: "GCxxxx hint 1") which will autoreply with a series of hints.

It means that the cache-setter knows that you've received the hint, so you may as well log it that way, and it lets you have multiple hints until the last one just spells it out to you!


Not good for 'on the fly' puzzles, since not everyone has mobile email access (Luddites! :unsure: ) and you might well be out of range at a typical non-urban cache anyway. For 'solve before you go' puzzles, though, I think it'll work.

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the auto email thing sounds cool. I imagine it would be a lot like programming though- the cache owner would have to anticipate seekers' keywords, or perhaps it could be implemented with a drop-down or something that would give progressive clues based on the seeker's selection ... rough hint, medium hint, spoiler, give-away... something to that effect. perhaps it could be keyed to an individual's email address so that each inquirer could only get hints in order... perhaps with a minimum time between levels.


OBTW Pacholik of Orange CO CA just got first to solve honors on my cache. FTF still awaits for someone in the area. I guess it wasn't TOO difficult after all.

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