Saturday, January 31, 2009

Useless Hints


Every Geocache listing has the ability to display a hint. This hint is encrypted, so that the cacher doesn't have their hunt spoiled. You can simply click on the "decrypt" button on the cache page to decrypt it, or use the simple decrypting key:
Decryption Key
A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M
-------------------------
N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z
(letter above equals below,
and vice versa)
The guidelines for hiding a cache even state (or used to) that you should keep hints short and simple, since many cachers use the key to decrypt them in the field, and they don't want to get bogged down with decrypting a long, verbose hint-- "It's sort of near the long, tall, skinny, thinly barked tree, but closer to the short, squat, leafy bush." A better hint would be, "Between tree and bush."

There has been a trend here in Okinawa lately that involves using utterly useless hints. I can't understand why a cache owner would do this. Some examples of hints that have been used are, "None," "None until FTF," "Too easy," and, my personal favorite, "Keep looking." There's no reason to use the hint field to place that sort of message in the cache listing. Just place it in the description!

One useful feature is that in the encrypted hint, text that is between brackets, "[like this]," is not encrypted. I've seen owners write "too easy" that way. I have no problem with that whatsoever, since it doesn't waste anyone's time. Maybe I'm just being too picky, but giving a hint should be exactly that, a real hint. What do you think?

4 comments:

P.J. said...

I've memorized "abar" as a hint (which means none). It always makes no sense to me why to waste someone's time if the hint is useless. Some people have too much time on their hands.

Me. Myself and Jonna said...

My favorite hint consisted of "this is not a hint".
Why? For the love of all things that make me want to hurt a person.. why?!

Chris said...

I hate those useless hints too. The smart alek ones like "keep looking", "no hint", etc. are so annoying. Makes me not want to find the cache at all.

Craig Oakford said...

Yep, one of my pet peeves. I use Cachemate, which automatically decrypts hints. I usually don't look at the hint until I try to find the cache without it. After I can find it, I'll check the hint. Too often, I'll find "Too easy" and "None needed" or even "Put the cache back where you found it." None is helpful at all. Why bother.