Thursday, August 16, 2007

Honestly, it's just a clue

The letterboxing "honesty" poll results are in: We fudge a bit more than keep on the straight and narrow.

Only six boxers dared to answer the question "How often have you "cheated" (by your definition(on a letterbox) clue. Two said never, one said once and three said five times.

It's worth discussion what constitutes "cheating" and whether it is a function of the way clues are written or the goals of the boxer. By some measures, I cheat on almost every box -- I very seldom pace off the distance and find I usually can find the box by just looking for landmarks (or a flash of Rubbermaid blue). I also never decode a cipher -- I either let Cecile do that, just figure it out from other parts of the clue or find another box.

My other main shortcut is to look at a map and determine the shortcut that the placer probably took. I only do this if the hike to the box looks unappealing, as the walk into the unfamiliar is the best part of letterboxing to me.

So what do you think? Is it fair game to take shortcuts?

The next poll, by the way, is about how frequently you letterbox.


ahistory said...

Well, the poll closed before I realized I hadn't voted, but here are my thought. There obviously is a wide range to what could be considered "cheating." But since we must police ourselves, it is easy to justify shortcuts without saying it's cheating. I figure if you can determine the path from the clue and want to take a shortcut to one of my boxes, so be it. In fact a few of my boxes do not list starting locations so you can take virtually any path you want. Now there is something to be said about following a clue. Afterall, we aren't geocachers and often times the journey to the box is what the planter wanted to share. I generally try to stay true to these clues so I don't miss out on the subtleties of the hunt.
So to answer the question, I am not sure if I cheat or not, I guess only the planter can be the real judge. I often crack keyword ciphers without even looking up the keyword because I like the challenge of the cipher, but I have found that (as in the case with many of Lnd-Crzr's cipher that play off children's books) I miss out on a good story, so I have begun to go back and read the book after the hunt. But once again I realize that I had missed a subtle Aha moment.
The only rule of thumb I try not to do is contact the placer to get any more hints when stumped. Although I have done this on a very rare occasion, I do consider this to be the only form of cheating that I purposely try to avoid.

Lnd-Crzr said...

Often times a planter lays out clues a certain way and expects that each person who finds the box wil get a certain experience. As AHistory mentioned, my Favorite Book series are intended to introduce boxers to some wonderful children's books that my son and I like to share. I consider the book as part of the hunt. But, if folks choose to skip the books and have the skills/time to break the ciphers without them, so be it, though I do think part of the experience is lost.

Have I ever 'cheated', I'm sure of it. I've tagged along with someone else who's done the research, or decoded the cipher or even accecpted unsolicited hints. Does this happen often? Nope. Is it cheating? I think that's up to each individual. Do I love the 'Ah-HA!' moment when things fall into place after a healthy dose of greymatter? You betcha!

The only thing I consider 'unsavory' ('cheating' seems so harsh) is when someone gives away secrets about someone elses boxes. I feel I am free to do what I want with my own boxes, but to spoil another's suprises would be highly unnacceptable.

I think something should also be said regarding clues. It's easy to create clues which are impossible to figure out. The art (one aspect at least) is creating a clue which will challenege folks, but not prove impossible or unecessarily difficult.

And regarding help, I'd say it is always accecptable to ask for help but don't always expect an answer. That is left up to the planter. Almost any of my boxes I'm willing to help out on as long as those asking have tried. Then of course there are a few that I feel giving help would detract from the...mystery (?), from the...oh, you know what I mean.


AJMonkeyMan said...

I agree with lnd crzr's outlook on this poll. Those who chose to take short cuts and skip parts of the clues have that choice. those who chose to follow the clues to which the planter posted have that choice as well. that is one of the wonderful or not so wonderful (your opinion) part of letterboxing.

As to the opinion on "cheating" it is the planters opinion on whether it was cheating but the letterboxers definition on "cheating".