Saturday, August 10, 2013

How to leave awesome comments *or* the post where I do some comment shaming

So, I've been letterboxing for over three years now, and about four summers.  Somehow in Ontario along the way I got spoiled: the core community of letterboxers here are frequent and generous commentators on their letterbox finds online.  In support of this opinion, I provide you with evidence here and here.

But some folks don't comment.  Or comment with just, "thanks". This is baffling to me.  Particularly in the boxes I've found/planted in the US: really hard work going into some of these boxes (the carve, the book, the hide, the clue) and nothing.  That's just the local culture.

There's no rule, of course, saying you need to leave comments.  Nope. So, Bumble, stop yer whinin' and be thankful for what ya got.  There's no rule against me farting on your breakfast either; it's just good manners that I don't. My view is that it's just good manners to leave comments for planters and future finders.

But you know what, I'm going to go even further: you should be leaving good comments.  Not just "thanks". Of course "thanks" - that seems to be a holdover from our geocaching cousins who regularly leave "tftc". Shudder.

So, here's my helpful gift for you if - like me - sometimes you're at a loss for what type of comment to leave. I present you with an acronym.  Everyone loves an acronym.  Mine is CHAT.  Cuz remember, you always want to chat with the planter...

C stands for clue.  All you need to write is one sentence about the clue.  Basically you can just try to answer one of these questions about the clue: Did you like it? Was it accurate? Was it straightforward? Was it new or interesting? Were you able to follow it properly? Was any research involved?  Anything new that you learned?  Did you have to figure it out before hand or on the trail?  Are there any errors or problems with the clue that should be noted? Just one quick word about your thoughts on the clue that was given (or not given, as it were).

The next letter is H.  This stands for hide.  Again, just a sentence will do. The important part of this one relates to letting the planter know additionally if there is a problem with the box (ie. missing, in bad shape). Try and just answer one of these questions: How was the hide? Was it interesting? Was it well hidden? Was it tricky? Was it a cool or novel hide? What did you think of the hide? Were there any problems with the hide?  How was the box? What was its condition? Is everything still secure/dry? Did you like the hide?

The next is A.  This stands for art.  No matter how artistic the planter is or isn't, there is still some pride that goes into putting together the carve and logbook.  Keeping in mind that there is a wide spectrum of abilities, all you have to do is try and make a comment or two.  For example: How was the logbook? Was it handmade? Did it match a theme? Was it full? How was the carving? Was it large or small? Did you like the theme/style? Was it intricate? Just your quick thought on the book and carve.

And finally, T, which stands for trail. This means the trail, the indoor location, or basically the locale of the hide - as you know boxes can be placed just about anywhere.  Answer the question of: Did you enjoy the trail? Was it a good location? Was the weather good/bad? Did you see any wildlife? Get eaten by bugs? Were there muggles?    Was it a new place you would have never been to but for the box? Was it in a cool indoor location? Was there anything special about the locale?

There you have it.  Easy-peasy.  Just remember to CHAT with the planter and mention the Clue, Hide, Art, and Trail. Give a good comment and your karma will thank you - and in a world where there is a dearth of comments, you will certainly endear yourself to the planter (which may be useful if you come upon a clue of theirs you just can't solve...).

As always, happy trails!


  1. Great instructional post Bumble. I like the CHAT acronym. Thanks so much for your wonderful post on my Eagle Has Landed letterbox. I'm so glad you enjoyed the Eagle. It's such a great reward and very motivational to receive your online comments. Plus it's wonderful advertising for my letterbox. :)

    When I started in 2002 the founders/old-timers of LBNA were sure that online comments were a threat to their letterbox hides.

    The results of that cultural thinking was a no-feedback system - no notes in the logbook, no communication by email.

    When AQ introduced online comments most of Ontario letterboxers took to it with open arms. I hope we never lose that aspect of letterboxing. If we did, I am certain that there would be far fewer letterboxes to find.

    1. Hmm.. Really interesting stuff in those links! Actually strongly agree with the idea of the "secrecy" of the boxes. I don't mind hunting boxes with no comments around them. However, for me that agreement is tempered by the Ontario problem that we have too few letterboxers and secrecy about the boxes to that extent will only discourage newer boxers from doing the search...

      I understand what those other letterboxers are saying (and an interesting look back at the who's-who!). But how are the *online* discussions about boxes any different from the theoretical *in person* discussions about boxes?

      TL;DR: I'm glad we have a mostly commenting culture here. I'm just sad when I go hunting boxes in other areas where there are *no* comments on a spectacular hide with many, many finders.

  2. The Clues you have given to leaving helpful comments are eloquently and politely written. You have acknowledged geography and culture, but aren't trying to Hide how you feel on the subject. Your post is very Artfully put together, with lovely graphics and a soothing background. And the Trail that led me here, my subscription through Atlas Quest, ensured that I did not miss out.

    I agree with you 100%. The interaction with other boxers is so much of what makes this hobby great.


    1. I see what ya did there.

      For a second, I thought you were pulling something sneaky in my comments... ;)

  3. Thanks for the post!

    HAH! Can you imagine.... I like to leave something, but I end up being more compelled to do it when my breath is taken away. I think I could be more consistent. I know I always like getting feedback that my stamps are well carved.... or missing... I could do without those messages. I think being connected to a letterboxing community does a lot, where once I may have returned a box its hiding spot, wherever I found it. I now find myself double checking seals and gathering more items from the immediate area to cover the box with. I also check in on boxes that I know are nearby wherever I am travelling. I don't usually write messages to the owners unless there is a problem but I like the idea of a buddy system where we check in on boxes we know are near us. I often wonder if we organized more of a culture system like that if less boxes would get waterlogged or go missing. Sort of a Letterboxing Neighbourhood Watch!

    1. First a letterboxing mafia, now a neighbourhood watch? Jeez.

  4. I am a fan of comments, both giving and receiving them. When stuck on finding a box, I tend to go to them to see if I am missing a really basic part of the clue, after reading the clue again (and again, and again). They can come in super handy especially when I'm not wearing my Captain Obvious hat.

    I know I won't get comments on my log books, I haven't tried to make my own yet - that is so far beyond my craftiness level!


  5. When I first started, I hated putting the logbooks together. I really enjoy them now... But don't worry - it's the entries in those logs - however they are designed - that are most important!