Disclaimer: This is intended as a bit of fun and not to denigrate anyone’s thought process, methodologies, solutions, etc. As the saying goes, “Until the TC is found, no one can say anyone else is right or wrong.”
Every solve is unique. Even searchers with the same WWWH might come up with different HOBs, have different thoughts on the Blaze, or disagree which clues can only be solved with BOTG. That said, if you’ve been involved in the Chase long enough, it’s possible to break the various thought processes into seven distinct categories. Some Searchers stay within one category, while others combine pieces and parts of multiple categories like a TTOTC Frankenstein, hoping their solve comes alive.
These Searchers generally stick to the poem and at times, eschew even the books as unnecessary (though some will supplement their poem-based solves with select “hints” from the books). The Poem Purist prefers to poor over Google Earth, seeking the perfect a-ha! combination of landmarks that they can match up to the poem.
Google Earth Rorschachers
While the Poem Purist looks for place names or distinct features on GE, the Google Earth Rorschacher looks for patterns in the land itself, not unlike someone identifying shapes in the clouds that pass by. The GE Rorschacher can be identified by the images that they put in their solves, which frequently have MS Paint outlines of what they “see” in the land.
If you see an arrowhead in the above picture and wonder how you might tie that to a potential solve, you may be a GE Rorschacher.
Maths! (Maths Factorial)
Devotees of the various math-based methods… TBH, I don’t really understand what they’re doing beyond assigning numbers to the letters in the poem and then manipulating those numbers in various ways and ending up with coordinates. If you see math in a solve, try for a few minutes to understand it, and then give up on it for being too complex, you’re reading a Maths! Searcher.
Different from the Maths! Searcher, the Code-Breaker looks for hidden messages in the poem, books, and ATF information. Often employing butterfly = flutterby as part of their reasoning, the Code-Breaker is a fan of anagrams, the most popular of which takes “From there it’s no place for the meek” to “Meeteetse Pitchfork Realm of Horn”, which… okay? The Code-Breaker also will frequently employ the grid method to the poem, lining all the poem lines up, then looking for words or phrases hidden in the resulting Seek and Find. This method is explained (well and interestingly, IMO) in the 2nd half of Cowlazars vlog #9 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnmNXX7iIaA.
Sherlocks and Historian Sherlocks
Sherlocks can generally be identified by some bit of internet minutiae that becomes the basis for their unique interpretation of a particular clue or clues. Whether this is an obscure definition of a word, a fact about the temperature water freezes or boils at for a given altitude, or some other bit of trivia, the Sherlock Searcher is willing to explore any and all rabbit holes in order to solve the poem. Historian Sherlocks are the same as regular Sherlocks, only they focus on historical events like town name changes, people that FF may have known or been interested in and where they might have traveled in history, etc.
Whereas the Poem Purist makes, at most, limited use of the books, ATF comments, etc., the Free Associationer allows these items to drive potential solves through connections they make between the two. For example, if FF says something about his coffee maker, the Free Associationer will seek out potential tie-ins with that statement (Mocha Point, Latte River, or similar).
Sometimes these are newer Searchers, but more often than not, it’s Searchers that are lazy or otherwise unwilling to read even the basics of the Search parameters. The Uninformed Searcher may claim their WWWH is a Dam or that they’ve solved it, only for their search area to be 5 miles from where they park with a 3,000 feet elevation gain.
Whichever Searcher type or types you are, there are things that can be learned from all of the types so I encourage you to read HoD with an open-mind. Think, plan, and when you put BOTG, be sure to do so safely. Good Luck!