CacheCrazy.Com: What's in a HINT?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What's in a HINT?

By BigAl

Did you ever really think about what goes into the hint you give your cache? I sure hope so. Hints are really important and can keep a Geocacher sane. 

Grab a cup of coffee, or tea, sit back and give me a hint.

Have you ever been out looking for a cache and you couldn’t find it so you decide to decode the hint? The hint is “ab uvag arrqrq.”  You pull out your trusty decoding paper and begin deciphering the code. 

As soon as you get the first several letters decoded you know what it is and you start getting upset. “Why did they have to put anything at all if it is not going to help.” If I can’t find it and I go to the hint then there is a reason for it. I CAN’T FIND IT!!!  If I could find it I wouldn’t have been looking at the hint.

Hints, if given, should be just that; A hint. It should be something that is going to give you a little help without you having to call the CO and ask him for assistance. (That’s PAF- Phone-A-Friend.) More on that later.
Here’s another one:  “uvag vf va gur anzr.” (Hint is in the name.) Sometimes this is very helpful, and sometimes it is not.  The cache name might be “Xxx Xxxxx Xxxxxxx (x’ s are to keep the real name hidden) Micro Cache.” So the hint could lead you to believe you are looking for a “micro” size container. This could be very helpful, especially if you have looked before and not used the hint. But what if it is not helpful as in the name of “Don’t be Stumped” and the cache is actually in a rock wall. Come on folks use your heads. That name would be great if you hid it in a stump, but a rock pile?

                         This should be "Don't be stumped"

                       "Don't be stumped" doesn't work here

Here's another one I found recently. The title of this one is "The Thin Blue Line." Here is the hint: "Look Kids, Big Bend, WV 26136. Parliment!-- Clark W. Griswold. What in the world is this? Who is this? I was with my wife on this one and we had no clue as to what this meant. What kind of a hint was this?

I am going to share with you some ideas I have about choosing your hints wisely. Now maybe you say “I already choose my hints wisely,” well that is great.  But it never hurts to have a refresher course on anything. So here goes.

When choosing your hint look at the sourroundings around the cache area especially at ground zero. If you’re hiding it in a stump then the above hint would be fine. Let’s say you choose to hide your cache in a stone wall then you could use the hint “General S.W. Jackson.” (Stone Wall Jackson.) An easy hint. Maybe you decide to hide the cache in a pile of logs. Your hint could be “How much wood could a Wood Chuck chuck if a Wood Chuck could chuck wood?”, or maybe it would be “evidence of a chainsaw.” Make the hint have something to do with where it is hidden, or at least something that makes you think about where it could be hidden.

Let’s say you hide the cache in an oak tree. This is a good one and could have several opportunities for a hint. Such as “Where have all the leaves come from” or “Acorn producer”  or “Squirrels love this food producer.” Part of having a hint should make the cacher think a little bit. You want them to engage their minds. That’s what helps prevent Alzheimer's. LOL. You want them to think, but you don’t neccessarily want to hand them the cache on a golden platter.

Now I know some of you are saying “the hints need to be a little harder.” Well that is fine too. Make them a little harder then. A recent one I saw was spelled backwards. That was a little harder, but I did figure it out. Maybe you want them to figure out a problem that will give them a little clue. Let’s say you hide the cache in a cemetery. Your hint might be “Mr. Miller walks on them” meaing his feet. Which would lead me to think about where his feet are. So I would look around the wall or bushes nearest his feet. (Never hide a cache in or on a grave stone out of respect for the deceased.)  Whatever you do just don’t try and aggrevate the cacher, unless that is what you’re trying to do.  And I hope that is not the case.

If your “hint” has nothing to do with the cache, container, or general area then maybe it should not be the hint. Read your hint several times and think about it. Will someone else be able to figure it out? Does it make sense? If not don’t use it. If it takes an Engineer with a degree to figure it out then you might want to reconsider it. The last thing anyone wants is to be out there hiking around the woods for a couple of miles and then not be able to figure out the hint. That is just poor cachemanship. (That’s a word now if you did not know it. LOL.)

I want to briefly touch on PAF (Phone-A-Friend.) Actually this should be called Text-A-Friend. It means to text the CO and ask for a little help for some of those really difficult caches. You know the type. You’re at ground zero, but just can’t find it. You have already figured out the hint, which was a good one, but you’re just not finding it. Then you text the CO. Hopefully he’s got his phone with him and he has the opportunity to respond back to you. I have never used this function of Geocaching before. Mainly because I don’t have an Iphone or whatever those phones are called.  I think it’s a great idea if the CO gets your message in time. Otherwise you might be out there for a while.

I was out caching for a FTF once and came upon another cacher who had been there for a while with no luck. She had texted the CO several times, but had not received an answer back from him. She eventually left. I kept looking. Then a few minutes later when I was about to leave I found the cache. It had fallen out of its spot. As I was getting ready to sign the log another cacher approached. He asked if I had found it and I said yes I had and I got the FTF. He then told me he was the CO and since he had gotten the messages he decided to come take a look and make sure it was there. We then talked about the hide and then I left. I felt bad for those who were there ahead of me and had used the text-a-friend because he had not been able to get back to them right away. Sometimes the TAF helps and sometimes it doesn’t.

I hope this helps you to think about your hints and if you need to go back to the cache page and change a few of them then go ahead and do it. It won’t hurt a bit.


Dodger said...

Clark Griswald, the All-American Dad! LOL - very funny hint. I wonder if knowing the context would help...

It's from the movie European Vacation. I believe the actual quote is "Hey look kids, there's Big Ben, and there's Parliament." They're caught in a vicious cycle where they can't make a turn. They keep passing the same thing over and over and over and the quote keeps getting repeated over and over and over.

(For the record, I'm partial to Christmas Vacation myself!)

Thanks for the article, BA!


Well, let me start by saying what a genuine pleasure it was to finally meet you in person while out caching about an hour ago. Sorry I wasn't dressed for the party! Isn't the FEW Dam awesome?
You had me looking at every single one of my hints on my cache pages today and you know what? A few of them where modified! Makes total sense. Thank you for helping me see a part of the game I really just brushed over.
And how many of you out there decode the hint "manually"? Way to go BigAl! Great post from a great guy!

Dodger, another great guy! Where the hell do you come up with these trivial bits of knowledge, I love it, and know exactly what your saying (which in itself is crazy).

DctrSpott, and yet another great guy (and available ladies), it was great to see you again as well. Oh, and our geodog mascot Boltzmann too!

I have to tell you readers, it's an honor to be affiliated with these fine men and dog! They are really die hard outdoors guys, so what your getting here at CacheCrazy.Com is the real deal!


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