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When is a hint a good hint?


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I figured I'd start a new thread for this as to not hijack the 'caching peeve' thread.

 

Hints were mentioned more then once, with quite some varied views on them.

 

A while back only 1 of our caches had a hint, and that was 'kunta kinte', I then thought about things and promptly switched to simple hints. I'd hate to be on the receiving end without knowing what it was and no way to resolve it.

 

In short, I want people to find the box, not get pee'd off in the field by not finding it due to a crap hint on my account.

 

To me a hint is there to help you find the cache, nothing else. That means to me cryptic hints pretty much suck. The hide can be sneaky/clever, but not the hint. The problem imo being not everyone has access to Google in the field, or has the same cultural background as the CO does. Rendering a magic roundabout clue pretty much ineffective to me as a foreigner for example.

 

tl;dr clues are supposed to help you find stuff, nothing else

 

thoughts?

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I figured I'd start a new thread for this as to not hijack the 'caching peeve' thread.

 

Hints were mentioned more then once, with quite some varied views on them.

 

A while back only 1 of our caches had a hint, and that was 'kunta kinte', I then thought about things and promptly switched to simple hints. I'd hate to be on the receiving end without knowing what it was and no way to resolve it.

 

In short, I want people to find the box, not get pee'd off in the field by not finding it due to a crap hint on my account.

 

To me a hint is there to help you find the cache, nothing else. That means to me cryptic hints pretty much suck. The hide can be sneaky/clever, but not the hint. The problem imo being not everyone has access to Google in the field, or has the same cultural background as the CO does. Rendering a magic roundabout clue pretty much ineffective to me as a foreigner for example.

 

tl;dr clues are supposed to help you find stuff, nothing else

 

thoughts?

 

When it helps you find the cache, NOT when it tells you what GZ is like (my GPS is pretty good at getting me there), or tells you you don't need - in the CO's opinon - a hint.

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I agree with you. The hint should be specific enough that, when you've searched for a while, you can be sure that there's no point in wasting any more time because the cache has clearly disappeared.

 

It should also take into account the limitations of GPS; so if the box is in a wooded quarry, the hint should really pin down the search area quite tightly once you're within fifty paces. If you're in open fields and there's only one likely hiding spot within the general area indicated it might be enough to say "in a tree stump", just to confirm that it must be where you're already looking.

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I've been thinking about this. <_<

 

In the days BPC (Before Paperless Caching) I could read encrypted "Tree", "Ivy", "Roots", "Magnetic" etc

Decrypting by hand, I often took a stab at the word after the first couple of letters were decrypted, and often 'guessed' at the whole hint after the first few words.

If not successful, further decrypting was required!

 

This meant a long hint could be given, with the hint getting easier as the decrypting went on.

 

I rarely use the hint, but prefer a vague type of a hint such as 'High' or 'Low' if the cache is in a tree.

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When is a hint a good hint?

when it works and you can find the cache .Some like them simple, some like them cryptic. If you have been looking for 30 minutes and then look at the clue and go "Ahh I know where it will be now " and walk over and put your hand on the cache .

One of mine has a cryptic clue - some get it ,some don't.

The strangest hint I've seen on caches I've found todate has been the one here http://coord.info/GC1DT8M it was only after I found the cache that I realised what the setter meant.

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Have you really found the cache if someone's told you where it is?! :unsure:

Yes! GPS tells you where it is (or should do).

 

The basic principle is that (traditional) caches should be found immediately just by going to the indicated location. Clearly, containers have to be hidden from view otherwise muggles would make off with them; but the idea is not to make actually grabbing the box a challenge.

 

Obviously, there are certain caches designed to be very challenging to find once at the location. With these, it's excusable if the hint is cryptic or obscure; but there should be some indication that the find is intended to be difficult.

 

But in the other 99% of cases, it's better for everyone's state of mind and better for the environment if the hint is pretty much a giveaway. Bear in mind that it could be weeks before a missing cache is checked by the owner, and if the hint is useless then people will persist in lifting every stone and log in the area, rooting around in every bit of hedge, and perhaps even removing parts of walls in a vain attempt to locate the box. Not good.

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Obviously, there are certain caches designed to be very challenging to find once at the location. With these, it's excusable if the hint is cryptic or obscure; but there should be some indication that the find is intended to be difficult.

 

But in the other 99% of cases, it's better for everyone's state of mind and better for the environment if the hint is pretty much a giveaway. Bear in mind that it could be weeks before a missing cache is checked by the owner, and if the hint is useless then people will persist in lifting every stone and log in the area, rooting around in every bit of hedge, and perhaps even removing parts of walls in a vain attempt to locate the box. Not good.

 

I agree with this. If I am using a hint, I prefer it to be pretty specific. I agree if the hide is intended to be particularly difficult then that's different (often these have no hints at all, and I'm OK with that).

 

Ideally, I would like to see 2 levels of hint; the first being less specific (e.g. "down low")... and if I still can't find it then a "spoiler hint" (e.g. in roots of the largest tree). But the guidelines don't call for that, so that rarely happens.

 

A clear and specific hint is also useful when you find a container out in the open (muggled by friendly muggles who put it in the open so the person who "lost it" might find it!), as you know where to put it back!

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The worst kind of hint is one that tells you nothing. Like when you decode something that says 'This is too easy for a hint'.

These are my pet hate and I wish people wouldn't do it as it does nothing to add to the game. If you don't want to give a constructive hint just leave it blank!!

 

Another annoying one is when you have to use the hint to find the cache. We found one of these last weekend where the hint was - 30 feet West of GZ on left side of field path. Look for a tree with Y shaped trunks, goto the large ivy covered tree behind, sitting in between the trunks

Without the hint you would never have had a hope in hells chance of finding this cache. Why not just give us the correct coords to start with?? :unsure:

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We found one of these last weekend where the hint was - 30 feet West of GZ on left side of field path. Look for a tree with Y shaped trunks, goto the large ivy covered tree behind, sitting in between the trunks

 

I recognised that hint straightway! :unsure:

Despite the hint, I seem to recall the co-ords were pretty good on that one! ;)

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The clue is in the label: "hint". In most circumstances (not specific to geocaching), if I ask someone for a hint, I don't want a "giveaway", else I'd have asked for that. So in geocaching, I want something that, in the context of GZ, will narrow my options rather than describe to me exactly where it is. Furthermore, in the context of the cache type, I'd expect a low difficulty Traditional to have a straightforward hint; but I'd expect a more challenging cache to perhaps give me a less straightforward hint. Personally, I quite like cryptic/wordplay clues, but I would not expect them to be too hard, and certainly, for most people, not to involve googling; to me, that would imply looking at the hint at home, before even setting out, which is a no-no! (I don't have mobile internet access and don't assume it of others either.) I like the "kunta kinte" clue because I remember watching the TV series, but it's a while ago now and I don't think it's so well known nowadays.

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...I like the "kunta kinte" clue because I remember watching the TV series, but it's a while ago now and I don't think it's so well known nowadays.

So...I get to GZ and spent a few minute searching to no avail, and look up the hint. It says "kunta kinte" and I have absolutely no idea what that means. I spend a few minutes working out if it's an anagram but fail to make any sense of it.

 

Back to the search. Half an hour later I've uprooted most of the rocks hereabouts, riffled through all the leaves, checked all the holes in the wall, poked about in mouldy tree trunks and so on. Giving up, I wander twenty yards down the path and find the cache, uncovered and seemingly chucked in a ditch. Looking at the GPS, it's not far from the indicated location, so it could be in the correct spot. Or is it? I decide to replace it in the same spot, but cover it with sticks and leaves.

 

Now I've wasted the best part of an hour, got frustrated and annoyed, trampled a lot of vegetation, and could finish up hiding the cache where no-one will find it again. With a good hint it could have been a five minute search to ascertain that the cache isn't in place, followed by finding the cache and putting it back where it belongs. I agree that a hint (in most cases) is meant to narrow the search, but it should narrow it to the exact location, e.g. "inside a hollow log" (when there's only one log nearby!).

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I agree that a hint (in most cases) is meant to narrow the search, but it should narrow it to the exact location, e.g. "inside a hollow log" (when there's only one log nearby!).

 

Precise locations are nice. I hate the clues that say things like "ivy covered tree" when the coordinates take you to a forested area where very single tree within 100 yards is covered in ivy. That said I did enjoy one on top of Cox Tor in Dartmoor where the clue was "it's under a rock".

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...I like the "kunta kinte" clue because I remember watching the TV series, but it's a while ago now and I don't think it's so well known nowadays.

So...I get to GZ and spent a few minute searching to no avail, and look up the hint. It says "kunta kinte" and I have absolutely no idea what that means. I spend a few minutes working out if it's an anagram but fail to make any sense of it.

 

Back to the search. Half an hour later I've uprooted most of the rocks hereabouts, riffled through all the leaves, checked all the holes in the wall, poked about in mouldy tree trunks and so on. Giving up, I wander twenty yards down the path and find the cache, uncovered and seemingly chucked in a ditch. Looking at the GPS, it's not far from the indicated location, so it could be in the correct spot. Or is it? I decide to replace it in the same spot, but cover it with sticks and leaves.

 

Now I've wasted the best part of an hour, got frustrated and annoyed, trampled a lot of vegetation, and could finish up hiding the cache where no-one will find it again. With a good hint it could have been a five minute search to ascertain that the cache isn't in place, followed by finding the cache and putting it back where it belongs. I agree that a hint (in most cases) is meant to narrow the search, but it should narrow it to the exact location, e.g. "inside a hollow log" (when there's only one log nearby!).

 

I'm sorry to read you had such a tough time finding that cache, but at least you persevered :unsure: But, for me at least, the section labelled "hint" is not a proxy for "in the event of the cache being muggled or otherwise moved from its intended area, please replace it precisely according to these instructions". I guess if I'd been with you on that arduous hunt, I'd have replaced it in a safe, cache-typical location (possibly in a hollow log that I'd come across during my labours). Then when I got home, I'd have googled "kunta kinte". Do'h, I should have picked the distinctive tree roots instead, so I send an email to the CO telling him exactly how I'd replaced it, and also note something relevant in my log in case the CO doesn't fix things up for a while. Not my best day's caching, certainly, but hiding containers in the wild has its hazards I guess.

 

On balance, as CO, I probably wouldn't have left a hint like that, which is more general knowledge/google territory than wordplay; and I certainly wouldn't choose it on a low difficulty cache.

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The knowledge base article on hints Additional Hints actually agrees with both the points made by abanazar and Happy Humphrey.

An effective hint should narrow the search area. The examples below will likely help with the search:

 

* "low" (ybj)

* "reach up" (ernpu hc)

* "not in wall" (abg va jnyy)

* "rock" (ebpx) or "tree" (gerr) might be useful, but not if the area is full of rocks or trees.

 

Finding a balance between too specific and not enough information will likely take some thought or cunning. Some hints are fun, little riddles. ("The roof of my house is soft and green; I wonder when it started to lean?")

 

A spoiler hint may be appropriate in an area where you want to protect the surroundings or definitely shorten the search.

 

So it is left to the CO - it is OK to give spoiler hints if you want. Or you can give a hint which narrows down the area but does not give it away (which does seem to be more the original intention)

 

Personally, for me as a finder - I like spoiler hints for most caches. The exception is, if the cache is designed to be "cunning" (unique container that blends in etc); then I prefer a "narrow down" hint. But if it is a standard box in the woods; I much prefer "roots of the large tree" than "tree", or "low" or "kunta kinte" Because I get the most fun out of the journey (as well as any puzzles or physical challenges on the way). Once I get to GZ, I just want to find the box. If I want a finding challenge, I'll do it without the hint. If I'm looking at the hint, I want help, and I'd like that help to be as specific/helpful as the CO will give me.

 

Because of that, the hints on my caches tend to be more of the spoiler variety.

 

Actually, with hints like "kunta kinte" - I love them if I know right away what they mean! Then I think "what a clever hint".... but I get frustrated if I don't "get it". Like one where the hint was "overdrawn", and GZ was showing near a bank.... but in fact the hint meant the phone box ("in the red").

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I found a nano a while back where the hint was something like "Only stop here if your name is Desire".

 

After finding the cache I realised it was a streetcar parking spot and then realised what the hint meant. I got a chuckle out of the hint even though it didn't help me find the cache at all. Someone a little quicker off the mark than I was might have got more use out of it.

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... Like one where the hint was "overdrawn", and GZ was showing near a bank.... but in fact the hint meant the phone box ("in the red").

... Furthermore, GZ contained some notice boards that had been "over-drawn" (i.e. grafitti) so I thought it was inside/behind them! However, once the clue was amended to "overdrawn (2,3,3)" it became obvious to me. (I think that might have been the first time I contacted redsox_mark, as we were consecutive DNFers on that one :unsure: )

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The first cach I placed I actually put an "easy" hint and a "hard" hint which was more cryptic.

 

Click Here To See

 

I planned to do it with all my caches (and may amend them to do so) as I figured some people like easy hints and others hard.

 

However if you're like me sometimes, depending on how you're caching, you like both types.

 

If I'm doing a cache and dash then an obvious giveaway hint is fab.

However if i'm on a leaisurely walk, part of the fun is making sense of a strange hint!

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Like one where the hint was "overdrawn", and GZ was showing near a bank.... but in fact the hint meant the phone box ("in the red").

 

I remember doing that cache and enjoying the cryptic nature of the hint, it's great when the penny drops!

I try to make the hint amusing. One of my hints was "Look for a pair of trunks", now that wasn't cryptic as I'm sure the cache finders would realise what I meant as it wasn't near a swimming pool!

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There's a popular cache in London where the hint translates as

 

"Mikolaj Kopernik, Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski, Karol Wojtyla and Lech Walesa all in a row will take you there - on a little shelf."

 

I think it's rather clever but I can imagine that if you needed it, spent ages translating it... and then found it didn't mean a thing to you then you'd be pretty frustrated!

 

MrsB

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Ah yes- That was a fun one MrsB. :unsure:

 

It's easy to add several clues to a cache page. In brackets is pre-decrypted so it's easy to explain what each is. The other question is, how hard is this cache supposed to be? If the point of it is the location and/or views, a simple, clear clue would be in order. If it's a cunning hide then a total give-away might remove half the fun of finding it.

 

My pet hate is 'no clue required', which since I've looked at the clue, and then DNF'd the cache, seems like rubbing it in!

 

A bad clue is one which leads to lots of DNFs on what's listed as an easy cache. A good clue might be that last little nudge which makes the penny eventually drop or a full-on description of where and how the cache is hidden. Only the hurry I'm in would make one better (or worse) than the other.

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But it should still be a hint, not a dead give-a-way. Have you really found the cache if someone's told you where it is?! ;)

 

Have you found it if you PAF. I think PAF should be a log type like FOUND and DNF.

It's NOT a proper find. <_<

 

With respect, I think that's rather daft. Should there also be a log type for finding a cache with someone else if they actually spotted it? Or perhaps differing grades of "found" depending on how much help the PAF was?

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There's a popular cache in London where the hint translates as

 

"Mikolaj Kopernik, Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski, Karol Wojtyla and Lech Walesa all in a row will take you there - on a little shelf."

 

I think it's rather clever but I can imagine that if you needed it, spent ages translating it... and then found it didn't mean a thing to you then you'd be pretty frustrated!

 

MrsB

 

That one made me so glad I decrypt the hints into their own file so i don't have to go through them... by the time I'd got to the end of Mikolaj I'd have assumed I'd done something stupid...

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I'm with Mark and Lynn on this one - I like the difficulty idea.

 

What I do try and do and I think some advice should be given on this is consider (as someone else pointed out) BPC - before paperless caching.

 

I often come across hints which I'm lucky, we have a Colorado, but some people have GPSers that don't do paperless or choose not to use that side of things.

 

"Low in ivy" is perfectly valid.

 

"When you get to Ground Zero, you will see a lovely house towards the green valley. Look up at the chimney and it will remind you of a place in Egypt. When you have that place in mind, think of the person that should be buried there. Then think of your Uncle Jimmy and think what he might have thought of the current governments power sharing. When you've done all this, then the cache is somewhere between the devil and the deep blue sea." is probably not a valid clue (I've actually seen worse!)

 

Consider that some people might actually enjoy decrypting hints.

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There's a cache near me that has "The container is located fairly high up in one of the trees. Climbing is not necessary" in the cache description.

 

After 20 minutes looking I decided to use the hint - "Above Flood Level" - it didn't help, and given that the information is already in the description isn't what I'd call a hint anyway!!

 

To me, a hint should be fairly specific and with the aim of giving an extra helping hand - narrow it down to a specific tree or post, or point you to within a foot or so...

 

Cryptic doesn't appeal hugely to me - not being a member of Mensa I don't tend to get them if they're too off the wall.

Chalky

Edited by Chalky723
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Recent hints I've hated are ones which refer you to a picture on the internet of the location to get an idea of where to look. I may have the cache info on my phone but not often internet access and those I just quit while I was behind and went away frustrated. No doubt I'll succumb to doing them at some point but the thought of having to look stuff up at home for normal caches not puzzles to work out where to look got me very frustrated

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If I hide a cache in an urban area where stealth is required then I make the hint a very descriptive one but when the cache is away from prying eyes and a multitude of people then I like to be a little cryptic. Never use 'in the ivy' but often refer to Kate when in a nice area that has little moss and have used the Stones hint a couple of times.

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Was out caching today and came across a typically poor example. Difficulty rating is 2* and I found the spot quite easily, as a feature at GZ was the obvious inspiration for the name of the cache. However, I was struggling to find the cache, a micro, so after about 20 minutes I resorted to the hint. To be greeted with a cryptic clue that meant absolutely nothing to me just left me feeling frustrated. The fact that it was a damp day and I had been ferreting through wet undergrowth and an ivy covered tree didn't help at all, so just gave it up as another DNF.

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I always seem to struggle with those left for nano's. I'm after one at the moment that is 'It's raining Again' ??? GZ takes you to a pedestrian crossing light, but about 10m away is a shelter. So either the hint is too cryptic OR the co-ords are way off. Not sure which annoys most.

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I like a hint that points me the right direction, but doesn't give it away completely. When I offer a hint, this it reflected, as in for one of my simpler hides. The hint "I used to be taller". The hide, a soda bottle tube in a broken off tree along a fence line.

 

Oh i must remember to use that instead of Tree stump or broken off tree!

:unsure:

i just don't get the need for all this 'Clever talk'!

The GPS leads me there, the 'hint' is to make sure I don't rip the place apart looking for it. (not that i would) :blink:

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Sorry to bump an old thread, but I hate cryptic hints.

If I wanted to solve cryptic clues I'd do a cryptic crossword and I don't!

I realise many people like the puzzle solving aspect of geocaching, but I prefer the navigating and exploring aspect.

I agree with the "caches are meant to be found" argument, and think hints should be fairly clear if not total spoilers.

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Sorry to bump an old thread, but I hate cryptic hints.

If I wanted to solve cryptic clues I'd do a cryptic crossword and I don't!

I realise many people like the puzzle solving aspect of geocaching, but I prefer the navigating and exploring aspect.

I agree with the "caches are meant to be found" argument, and think hints should be fairly clear if not total spoilers.

 

Some 'cryptic' hints are so cryptic that they only make sense after the cache has been found and are of absolutely no help in actually locating it, which to my mind is the intention of an encrypted hint. For example... "A bit like the advert, but don't Tap it to Unwrap it - Locate it, Rotate it (but please don't overtighten it afterwards!)" is the hint for LQ:Worcestershire. All very poetic but it gives absolutely no help in locating the cache and means nothing until the cache has already been found.

But having said that, the clue is in what's on the cache page..... "Additional Hints". I believe it should be a HINT (or HINTS)... not concise instructions on how to find the cache.

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I did once get an incoming PAF call... I may have had lots of fun lengthening the search even more, but I'm not sure the friend on the other end had as much of a laugh.

 

Next time his name came up on my phone it was for a cache/beer day... never again did he call for "help"

 

I like hints that significantly reduce the time at GZ if it's a high muggle density area so I can be swift and concentrate on not being seen rather than searching and drawing attention. Other than that I only read hints after I've found the cache, not before... I have logged DNF and returned on another day (or two) before resorting to the log.

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I think, reading this and the comments in the spawning thread, that "You can't please all of the people all of the time".

 

I tried being funny in my hints and got told "Stupid hint", tried being clever, "Hint no help". The only ones I don't get complaints are where I do spell it out (and sometimes with poor gps signal you really have to). But - clearly people expect different things, but the harshest complaints come from those who DNF and feel they've wasted their time, rather than those who Find, but didn't get the challenge they wanted from it. So you dumb it down, I guess.

 

As a finder, I often look at the hint on the approach anyway. I do like it spelled out as depending on my mood, geocaching is an excuse for a walk and I don't want to spend 30 minutes at each GZ peering around when I could be getting mileage. (And if it's muggleville, I will carry on if it's not immediately obvious. )

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I've only seen one hint that got under my skin. It was a multi that maybe should have been a puzzle. You had to answer quiz questions that you found in each stage of the cache. It was a while ago, but from memory the cache page said that the questions were general knowledge.

 

I got to one that I considered specialist knowlege. It was about a popular children's book, but it wasn't the sort of fact that would have been disseminated on TV or newspaper, nor was it one you could work out. You would need to have read the book to know the answer, and I hadn't. So I looked at the clue.

 

"It's easy".

 

I'm afraid I gave the cache owner a bit of a hard time in the log.

 

Rgds, Andy

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Sometimes I can't find the cache, so I read the hint.

 

Sometimes the hint doesn't help much, so I read the last 20 logs, sometimes that helps.

 

But sometimes one of the logs says "found after a PAF", and that tells me that it's possible to find the cache with some help from a phone call, and sometimes that gives me a lot of help in finding the cache. And I find that quite satisfying.

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WHEN IS A HINT A GOOD HINT

 

To answer the question directly this is my opinion.

 

The hint should be just that... a clue, a hint, a steer. It should not give away exactly where the cache is.

 

I have said on the forums before that providing a hint can be an art form in itself. I love something a little bit different and if its cryptic or needs a bit of additional research then this should say so in the cache listing.

 

Some of the best hints are those that make you stop and think for a few moments, look at your surroundings and... 'Ding'

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