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Thread: Hints - Do We Need Them?

  1. #1

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    Default Hints - Do We Need Them?

    I'm in the Midlands, and there appears to be a trend recently where caches are set without hints being provided. This seems to be just so that the CO can "make the cache more difficult".

    This does frustrate me at times. I know we all play the game in different ways, but personally I tend to use the hint pretty much all of the time.

    My main frustration is where you are given no indication as to the container, and no hint, only to arrive at GZ to find a wooded area covered in ivy, and as a consequence the place gets trashed. Surely this is not something that we should be doing as geocachers?

    In these instances, I tend to make a casual visual search then move on if I can't visibly see the cache, and make a note to that effect in my "DNF" log.

    It's also frustrating when a series of 10+ caches on a fairly long hike all have no hint, and you walk several miles and end up with a few DNF's and have to go back piecemeal to finish things off.

    I'm all for a cryptic hint, or no hint at all provided that the cache is a clever hide and the surrounding area won't get damaged.

    Or is it just me moaning?

  2. #2

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    Thumbs up They can be invaluable

    It depends on where the cache is hidden I suppose. There are some I would never have found with a hint, some where I needed help from the owner even with the hint, and some where you could 'see' the likely location from 50 yards!

    I'm all for encrypted hints being provided so that novices are not put off from the hobby, while the experts can ignore them.

    Chris
    (Matthew 7:7 Too)
    223 finds to date

  3. #3

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    We don't like what appears ,to us ,to be an increasing trend of
    " hint given upon request after logging a d.n.f."

    Being a bit stubborn it makes us even more determined to find without a hint
    ....and that from us who always use hints when they are given on cache details .:lol:
    We like Greens

  4. #4
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    To be honest I like simple clear clues.
    I've always thought that the idea of going caching was to see something new and interesting, not to find out that the person setting the cache is cleverer than you and can devise a more cunning clue.

    Set the cache and put a clear clue, helps all enjoy the cache and stops the area around GZ being totally trashed, I've seen some really bad examples of this happening.

    but then I've got a migraine so maybe I'm just being grumpy

  5. #5
    forestferret Guest

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    we went out today to look for a few caches one was a nano in a town center park where the owner even says in his page that his coords are 30 foot out !!! now when we got there there was a large bushy area a bridge a fenced area a memorial to george elliot 4 to 5 metal seating areas a total needle in a haystack !!!!!!!!!!!!
    the hint was NOT YET ! was no fun at all and wasted a good part of a loverly day for caching

    im all for hints me nd mrs ferret always have a good look around first then if after 30 odd mins we cant find we have a look at the hint

  6. #6

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    I always put hints on my own cache listings - I set the caches because I want people to find them!

    With urban micros and other very public caches I always read the hint before attempting the cache, in order to be as inconspicuous as possible when searching.

    With other caches, if I feel it's the right sort of area I'll search for up to half an hour before resorting to the hint, but if it's the sort of wooded area that Stokesy describes above then I'll read the hint before I start searching.

    Slightly OT, but with my only puzzle cache I invite people to check the co-ords with me before setting out.
    ​​Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Dylan Thomas)​


  7. #7

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    I tend to put clear concise clues to my caches with the exception of a series I had of 15 where I did not state the cache size (other than a generalisation for all caches - sizewise in the listing) or give any clues as they were obvious - at least I thought so.

    I was just at the point where I was going to add a clue or two to the more difficult ones when I was asked to remove them all as The Wildlife Trusts had decided to ban all caches on their proprty in Cambs - while they review Geocaching.
    Happy Caching

    Gazooks

    - Setting a good example for children takes all the fun out of middle age.

  8. #8

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    I don't usually read the hint unless I've had a good look and can't find it, but I will always read the hint if:

    • It's an urban cache, so as not to look too suspicious
    • It's in a 'fragile' area, so as not to cause any more disturbance than is strictly necessary (I've seen some GZs almost trashed by people trampling bluebells, breaking up tree stumps etc).
    • It's a micro in the woods - that's not really my idea of fun.

    So in answer to the OP, Yes we do need hints.

  9. #9

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    After a few incidents re FTF we only add hints after the FTF.
    "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning."

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by gazooks View Post
    I tend to put clear concise clues to my caches with the exception of a series I had of 15 where I did not state the cache size (other than a generalisation for all caches - sizewise in the listing) or give any clues as they were obvious - at least I thought so.

    I was just at the point where I was going to add a clue or two to the more difficult ones when I was asked to remove them all as The Wildlife Trusts had decided to ban all caches on their proprty in Cambs - while they review Geocaching.
    That was a nice series, we managed to find each one we looked for easily without any need for hints. Shame they have had to be suspended.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by martybartfast View Post
    I don't usually read the hint unless I've had a good look and can't find it, but I will always read the hint if:
    • It's an urban cache, so as not to look too suspicious
    • It's in a 'fragile' area, so as not to cause any more disturbance than is strictly necessary (I've seen some GZs almost trashed by people trampling bluebells, breaking up tree stumps etc).
    • It's a micro in the woods - that's not really my idea of fun.

    So in answer to the OP, Yes we do need hints.
    Much the way I do it.
    I have a Geocaching problem...
    Work gets in the way!

    * Cache Walker -Caching by byway, not highway! CacheWalker.co.uk
    Walking and Caching in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire areas

  12. #12
    sssss Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by martybartfast View Post
    I don't usually read the hint unless I've had a good look and can't find it, but I will always read the hint if:

    • It's an urban cache, so as not to look too suspicious
    • It's in a 'fragile' area, so as not to cause any more disturbance than is strictly necessary (I've seen some GZs almost trashed by people trampling bluebells, breaking up tree stumps etc).
    • It's a micro in the woods - that's not really my idea of fun.

    So in answer to the OP, Yes we do need hints.
    much the same here. what I hate is after a long search, resorting to the hint only to find a cryptic one.

  13. #13

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    It really ticks me off when someone hides a micro in an uninspiring location but there's no hint, as if making it harder to find makes it a 'proper' cache...

    It really, really ticks me off if the hint isn't helpful or is one of those 'oh so clever' ones that only makes sense once you've found the blasted thing!

  14. #14

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    I agree with pretty much every word of Stokesey's post. If you want a clever hide to tease people with, then fair enough, make the cache a Mystery and the location hard to deduce. But once at the site the hint is there to prevent excessive searching, both from environmental and geocaching enjoyment points of view. There's nothing clever about leaving the hint out.

    Although some people enjoy spending an hour minutely searching a 100 square metre ivy patch, I suspect that they are a small minority. And despite some claims that it's impossible to spot the signs of searching, I very much notice when a poor hint had led to an area being turned over by cachers.

    IMHO, the main reason for most caches being well-hidden is to protect them from muggles (NOT to make the finding a challenge; although there are some which are designed to provide a fair challenge to spot). Forcing cachers to spend more time at the location only tends to draw attention to the hiding place.

  15. #15

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    I was thinking of a "No Hint No Hunt" campaign, but I'll probably just bumble along as normal!

  16. #16

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    A cryptic hint can be annoying but at least its something to work with... what really grates are the "its too easy" hints... if you didnt need/want a hint you wouldnt be looking at it and often not sure if its just gone (as we dont often PAF)
    Last edited by adsandco; 3rd July 2009 at 10:31 AM.

  17. #17
    keehotee Guest

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    Personally - if it's a puzzle cache, I've nothing against writing (or using) a cryptic hint to get to the cache.
    A lot of my caches haven't included hints - but this is reflected in the difficulty rating.
    At the end of the day, I'm not going to die if I can't find a cache - and if I really really didn't like caches without hints, well, there's always the ignore button..!!!! (although my iggy list is fast filling up with randomicros )

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by adsandco View Post
    ...often not sure if its just gone (as we dont often PAF)
    That's another good point.
    The hint should give enough information so that, if the cache is missing, you can be fairly sure that you've checked the correct spot. It's perhaps the most important purpose of a hint, as it stops you wasting time and allows you to notify the cache owner that a visit
    I like the unambiguous type ("three feet right of the plaque") rather than the annoying vague ones ("near a tree").

  19. #19

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    I have always felt that unless the cache is in a very open area and the co-ords are going to be very much spot on then a hint is required, cryptic or otherwise, in order to prevent the wasted time looking and as previously mentioned potentially damaging the area in the search.
    There are some caches that just wont be found unless some sort of hint is given - particularly puzzle caches, which with some, 90% of the hard work is done in working out the co-ords but to find when you get there it's a needle in a haystack and no hint - aarrghh
    Caches are there to be found after all !!

    Tim - ddm
    Tim - ddm

  20. #20

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    Yes, we do need hints! And plenty of 'em! Isn't that why hints are encrypted, so that those cachers who do want the thrill of the clueless hunt can do exactly that?

    I hate hints that are just smartarse comments - "a hint would make it too easy!" and the like.

    I'm into geocaching for the walks, the interesting cache locations, finding out local history etc, and following the progress of trackables around the world. I don't like spending ages lifting every stone/ivy leaf in sight - where's the skill in that anyway? It's just luck whether the cache is under the first or 100th stone/leaf.

  21. #21

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    Always put helpful hints on our cache pages, like others I don't want the area trashed by the minority who seem to think it is ok plus we like our caches to be found. Like others we will try and find the cache without but if after 20 mins or so we have no joy we peek at the hint, after reading old logs first.
    Once again if the area is very urban and muggle busy always pre read the hint so as to be as 'unseen' as possible.
    Have looked for some caches that have a million and one possible hiding places and no hint. Ok so I just enjoyed the walk but won't bother looking for anymore of that cache setter's caches.

  22. #22

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    While there are some caches where the challenge is in the finding (and should be appropriately marked, and in opinion should be a clever hide rather than just a very small thing hidden in a very big area), I think the point of the exercise is finding the caches, (as well having a good walk, visiting interesting places, and learning local history.)
    As I'm hopeless at micros - especially urban micros - I very much appreciate an unambiguous hint.
    For my own caches I'd rather anyone who takes the time to do them finds the cache than gives up in frustration. I have been known to put cryptic hints in the clear in the cache description (on a rural multi with micros for the stages) but then put proper instructions for finding them in the encrypted hints.

  23. #23

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    Talking

    I'm definitely undecided over hints

    When a novice at caching, clues proved useful. Once I'd got a few hundred finds behind me, I went through a phase of caching paperless and clueless, with just the coordinates of the cache preloaded into my GPSr. I was delighted to find 100 without a single DNF. However, that's when the plague of micros really got started and frankly, for micros, clues can be essential, for all the reasons given here by others.

    However, when caching with other cachers, it can ruin the hunt if one or more members of the group reads out the clue before arriving at GZ, or reads it but keeps it secret and finds the cache every time. Due to the fact that this has happened with so many cachers on so many occasions, I am convinced that most cachers use the clue most of the time, and usually before they even start looking for the cache.

    Consequently, if the cache is not a micro, I generally prefer not to provide a clue, or make it suitably vague, so that a proper search is required.

    When providing a clue, I like to vary the style of the clue to suit the cache. It varies from a highly cryptic clue to unencrypted text (inside square brackets).

    The other day one of my puzzle caches which is a seven stage offset puzzle was found as a cacher's 50th find using the cryptic clue alone - bypassing the rest of the cache and the puzzle completely. However, the same clue proved unhelpful to cachers who had solved the puzzle and completed all the stages, but have equivalent local knowledge and have found about 5000 caches to date.

    It leaves me just as undecided as ever! :lol:

  24. #24
    sTeamTraen Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by sssss View Post
    much the same here. what I hate is after a long search, resorting to the hint only to find a cryptic one.
    Or worse, decoding it to find "This cache is so easy that you don't need a hint".

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandvika View Post
    However, when caching with other cachers, it can ruin the hunt if one or more members of the group reads out the clue before arriving at GZ, or reads it but keeps it secret and finds the cache every time. Due to the fact that this has happened with so many cachers on so many occasions, I am convinced that most cachers use the clue most of the time, and usually before they even start looking for the cache.

    Consequently, if the cache is not a micro, I generally prefer not to provide a clue, or make it suitably vague, so that a proper search is required.
    It's good that someone has provided a contrasting opinion. But I don't really get it. What's a "proper" search? I take that to mean that you won't find it unless you're either lucky or you spend quite a long time in a methodical search pattern. It's a matter of opinion whether that's desirable or not.

    Why not just let the cacher decide whether to go for a quick find (using a good, specific hint), or to avoid the hint and face a long search? If someone looks up the hint before even getting to the area, isn't that just the way they like to cache?

    Saying that, I'd have no complaint about your cache having no hint, as long as you explain that you've designed it expecting the search to take a long time and requiring a methodical approach. If that isn't made clear, I'm afraid it would be the last one of yours that I'd do as I don't consider unplanned lengthy methodical searches particularly enjoyable. If it IS made clear, then I would probably ignore it unless I lived in the area and could visit with a team (rather than the usual solo effort). But I wouldn't resent it if you'd warned me.

  26. #26
    keehotee Guest

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    I did a cache this afternoon.
    Parked up.
    Walked along a little path about a 100m from the church (it was a church micro), and fortunately for me, there was the cache a'lying on the path.
    Signed the log, but how to replace it? Hmm. Methinks I'll have a peek at the hint to see if it'll give me any guidance to where it ought to be.
    The hint - " Just a short walk from the Church on a very short footpath"

    Great - but I already knew that. My GPS brought me here.

    Please - IF you're going to leave a hint, don't just put in additional info !!!!

  27. #27

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    Tim, I know exactly what you mean...

    The worst hint I've ever decoded was like this:

    I walked a mile through a plantation from the recommended parking place to somewhere in the region of ground zero. I then searched amongst the trees (with a p*ss poor signal) for about half an hour and then reluctantly decrypted the hint. That took a while, as I was doing it manually and it was two substantial paragraphs long...

    When I'd finally decrypted it, it told me how to get to ground zero, which of course is where I was. It gave no info at all about where the cache was hidden... Great...

    Being an obstinate b*gg*r, I persevered and found the cache anyway, but I'll never forget the pointlessness of that hint!
    ​​Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Dylan Thomas)​


  28. #28

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    I've probably put this one in a post before but the most frustrating hint I've ever seen was

    AB AR AR RQ RQ

  29. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by keehotee View Post
    I did a cache this afternoon.
    Parked up.
    Walked along a little path about a 100m from the church (it was a church micro), and fortunately for me, there was the cache a'lying on the path.
    Signed the log, but how to replace it? Hmm. Methinks I'll have a peek at the hint to see if it'll give me any guidance to where it ought to be.
    The hint - " Just a short walk from the Church on a very short footpath"

    Great - but I already knew that. My GPS brought me here.

    Please - IF you're going to leave a hint, don't just put in additional info !!!!
    I agree with this!

    Or leave a blank space under the 'Hint' -I'd rather know there wasn't a hint than spend time decrypting a hint of 'None Needed' or similar.
    I have a Geocaching problem...
    Work gets in the way!

    * Cache Walker -Caching by byway, not highway! CacheWalker.co.uk
    Walking and Caching in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire areas

  30. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D (wwh) View Post
    Tim, I know exactly what you mean...

    . That took a while, as I was doing it manually and it was two substantial paragraphs long...

    When I'd finally decrypted it, it told me how to get to ground zero, which of course is where I was. It gave no info at all about where the cache was hidden... Great...
    I hate long clues - whats the point of war and peace. The listing creation page even states 'Please keep your hints short, so decoding it on the trail is easier' - some people just dont take note.
    Happy Caching

    Gazooks

    - Setting a good example for children takes all the fun out of middle age.

  31. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandvika View Post

    The other day one of my puzzle caches which is a seven stage offset puzzle was found as a cacher's 50th find using the cryptic clue alone - bypassing the rest of the cache and the puzzle completely. However, the same clue proved unhelpful to cachers who had solved the puzzle and completed all the stages, but have equivalent local knowledge and have found about 5000 caches to date.
    I did a similar thing several months ago while tackling a 3 stage multi - got to the second stage and it was clear that the micro was missing. The stages were leading down an obvious path and so we looked at the clue for the final and as we walked down the path we looked out for something that matched the clue and found the final.
    Happy Caching

    Gazooks

    - Setting a good example for children takes all the fun out of middle age.

  32. #32

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    From a Reviewers point of view, as we see the unencrypted hint on the cache page, the worst hints are those the CO has posted to the submission page already encrypted [and yes it does happen]. On the other hand they are helpful for spotting issues such as Containers in Dry Stone Walls .

    But I've lost count of the No of totally useless hints I've seen. They must No in the thousand over the 3+ years I've been a Reviewer .

    But from a personal point of view, the very best hints are those which despite the hint being encrypted. Are extremely cryptic or are a anagram . I feel sorry for the poor cacher in the field decrypting them only to find that they've got a major puzzle to solve to make sense of the hint . Or the owner puts " it will be obvious once you have found the cache" :socool:

    Sometimes all it takes is a hint to brighten up a bad reviewing day :socool:

    Deci
    My post is my personal opinion and as such you do not have my permission to quote me outside of these forums!

    Dave
    Brenin Tegeingl
    Formerly known as Mancunian Pyrocacher on GC

  33. #33
    Moonraker Team Guest

    Default No Hints- Frustration rules

    Most Geocachers seem to be of the same mind, however the the cache is set up be it a straight off-set, a puzzle cache, near us we have a guy who regularly sets up cipher caches which really make head stratching a national sport however having got to the final location surely we want to be able to find the cache.
    I love being able to congratulate cache owner for an interesting hunt
    I try not to use the hint at first but then when forced to and it says 'No hint required, or when we've had a few DNF's ' Argggg, I go geo-camping so I might only be in that area once, in fact only if new caches appear over time am I likely to ever return.
    My view is Good hints provide HAPPY CACHERS !!!

  34. #34

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    I agree with Moonraker. Although I might have fallen down on this once or twice, I try to make the hint as specific as possible if I think that the cacher has already had to go to a lot of trouble to get to the cache location.

    It's simply annoying if you've successfully found your way around a difficult puzzle or multi, only to be stumped because the cache owner thought it fun to make the final hide unduly awkward due to lack of a hint. It's not clever or creative to make a hint useless. For a good cache (as a rule of thumb), all the work should go into making the puzzle or trail interesting or challenging, and then if the cache seeker succeeds in following the trail to the cache site they should be rewarded with a nice straightforward find.

    Obviously, this doesn't apply if the cache hider has given a warning that the final hide is part of the challenge. If that's made clear, the seeker will be expecting to have to spend some time on this part of the hunt and shouldn't be irritated if it's not easy to grab the cache. But the hint should still be helpful, even if only as a starting point.

  35. #35

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    The above post sums it up for me too. ta muchly.
    I'm just going outside, and may be some time!

    www.jacobitecaching.co.uk

  36. #36

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    Default hints do we need them

    As a relatively new geocacher..... YES!!

    I've managed to get 65 caches since starting in may, but if they don't have hints it makes it quiet hard and some almost impossible.

    I like cryptic clues, ones which I have to think about a little.

    On a walking route with say 8 or 9 caches you need to seriously up your serching time if there is no hint with it.

    For those that don't want a hint, that's why they're encrypted isn't it??

    Haveing now placed a few myself, maybe I made the hints a little too easy.... but I suppose i will learn from those mistakes.

  37. #37

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    After taking the trouble to get to a cache location, I don't want to go away empty-handed. That's what the hint is for. It should be pretty specific and really help pin down the hiding location. I've always said that I prefer the first 90% of caching time to the final 10%!
    Seek and ye shall find (whatever was in the list in my sig on the GC forum)

  38. #38

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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by mizmazmoz View Post
    On a walking route with say 8 or 9 caches you need to seriously up your serching time if there is no hint with it.

    For those that don't want a hint, that's why they're encrypted isn't it??
    Totally agree
    There have been a couple of long walks that i have done involving over 50 caches where usual walking time would have to be doubled with the caches to be found - however if you include searching time this would add on a considerable amount of time if there were no hints - I will confess to knowing what the hints are as I approach the caches on long walks like that. hmy:
    There was a series in Sussex which involved 19 caches (not a walking series though ) and once all 19 found a bonus was there for the finding too. None of the 19 had hints which did make for quite a challenging hunt and when all 19 were found the bonus ended up being a 5 hour mission too and again no hints - this was the challenge of that particular series but I would still advocate - if you want your cache found give us a clue
    Tim - ddm

  39. #39
    SidAndBob Guest

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    Most cachers don't want a hint, they want to be told exactly where the cache is.
    I believe a hint should be exactly that; just a hint. I feel it is more important to have good co-ordinates.

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