Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Less-than-helpful hints

I always look at the hints written by cache owners when they submit a new cache. For the most part, geocachers seem to understand the purpose of the hint. However, I do see an occasional less-than-useful hint. For example:
"This is one of my favorite parks."
"Be sure to bring along a piece of metal tied to a string at least 2 feet long."
"Your best approach is from the north."

If I see that a hint doesn't fulfill the intended purpose -- giving geocachers a last resort clue that they can decrypt at ground zero -- before I publish the cache, I think it's due primarily to inexperience. I send them a note with my recommendation for changing their hint and why. In most cases, they seem happy to oblige. They simply haven't thought things through and put themselves in the shoes of people who will be hunting for their cache.


Jason said...

Thanks for encouraging people to make their hints useful!

I wish more people would think and/or want to provide that last resort, ground zero hint for the desperate. But if they're not going to do that, it would be nice to allow the listing to accurately report that no hints are to be found.

welch said...

My favorite unhelpful hints are ones that give you parking info, or say something to the effect "if you're having trouble, email us for a hint".
If I'm reading the hint for cache, theres a good chance I've already left the car and have already picked a placed to park. Don't get wrong, I'm completely fine with people not providing parking info (or hints for that matter), but I think if they do provide it they should make it easy to use.

The other one, is even funnier. I'm glad their open to people emailing them and asking for a hint. But being told to email someone while standing out in the woods at or near what my gpsr says is the place is just not helpful. Even if I did have a blackberry and could email them from the woods, are they going to respond in the next 5 minutes before I leave?? :(

Western Iowa said...

I really wish the IowaAdmin would follow up on what he posts. Three caches were published in western Iowa today.

In the "Prospect"ing A Cache, the hint is "No hints at this time".

In the LHSF Smokey Bear cache, the hint is "Follow logging road", which wouldn't be so bad if the owner hadn't already said exactly that in the opening paragraph of the cache description (Parking located at N41 49.347' W095 54.868' on County Highway F20L. 1.3 mile hike. Lots of bushwacking if you don't follow the logging road.)

The kicker of the day though is at the Let It Be cache where the hint is "Use your GPS." Thank God someone gave me that hint or I'd NEVER be able to get that one!

All this is from today only. There've been many more just like this in the last few months. Don't get me wrong, I think the IowaAdmin does a great job for Iowa. Really, I do! But practice what you preach!

IowaAdmin said...

western iowa, I appreciate your comment. My response: First of all, it's the cache owner's responsibility to provide good hints; not mine. My previous blog about this was meant to educate more geocachers about what I consider to be a good hint. Secondly, it's been a busy past few days of reviewing and I have been exchanging emails back and forth on several other submitted geocaches that are requiring more of my attention than usual. I simply didn't have time to delve into the hint issue on these others. I'll try to follow up with those that you mentioned. Of course, as part of the geocaching community, you can also post a friendly comment to the geocache owner. Thanks.