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Old 03-25-2020, 10:15 AM
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What are your Top 3 Knots to learn and why?


Hi. I bought a book on knot tying. There are way too many knots in it.

Unfortunately, I don't have the memory or the patience to learn and remember a lot of them.

So I would like to know your top 3 knots to learn and why you chose them. Bonus points if they are easy to learn, remember and to untie. Thanks!

Last edited by by-tor; 03-25-2020 at 10:16 AM.
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Old 03-25-2020, 10:29 AM
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For sailing, these are the ones I use most commonly:

Cleat hitch - feebie

Clove hitch - for tying to a piling (no cleat/bollard)

Bowline - tie a sheet(line) to a jib(sail)

Rolling hitch - tie a fender to a life line (with one or two half hitches)

Bonus: Stopper Knot - so lines don't slip out of a clutch/jammer.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:05 AM
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It depends what you want to use them for.

The best knot site on the internet is Animated Knots. It has clear step-by-step animations of hundreds of knots.


Some basic useful knots are:

Hitches (to tie a rope to an object):
Clove hitch, using end and using loops
Round Turn and Two Half Hitches
Loops:
Bowline
Alpine Butterfly Loop
Bends (to join ropes):
Sheet bend
Reef knot
Stopper knots (to prevent a rope untwisting, or pulling through a hole):
Figure 8 (Flemish) Knot
Stevedore knot

It gets easier the more you practice. Each knot you learn will be easier than the last. Have fun!
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:13 AM
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It depends what you want to use them for.

The best knot site on the internet is Animated Knots. It has clear step-by-step animations of hundreds of knots.
Love it. Thanks!
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:13 AM
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GreenWyvern: Your list is good, except for suggesting the Reef Knot as a bend. Here's what one expert famously said about that:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clifford Ashley
Employed as a binding knot, to reef and furl sails or to tie up parcels, [the reef knot] is invaluable. But employed as a bend [...], the reef knot is probably responsible for more deaths and injuries than have been caused by the failure of all other knots combined.
One of the reasons it's so useful as a binding knot (as when reefing a sail) is how easily it can be collapsed - by tugging on one lead.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:24 AM
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So I would like to know your top 3 knots to learn and why you chose them. Bonus points if they are easy to learn, remember and to untie. Thanks!
Are you going to be sailing, or just around the house, or...?

Try the Zeppelin bend for a generic bend (symmetrical therefore easy to learn, secure, and unties easily). (Alternative: Ashley bend)



Magnus/rolling hitch for clotheslines and adjustable loops

Definitely the constrictor knot!! (Opposite if untying easily, but sometimes a permanent binding is what you need)

ETA for a nice big stopper the Oysterman's stopper is useful

Last edited by DPRK; 03-25-2020 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Xema View Post
GreenWyvern: Your list is good, except for suggesting the Reef Knot as a bend. Here's what one expert famously said about that:
I agree. I was thinking of very basic knots to learn, but you wouldn't want to put a heavy load on it.

My favorite bend is the Zeppelin Bend, because it's easy to tie when you've got the hang of it, non-jamming, and very secure.

(Ninja'd!)

Last edited by GreenWyvern; 03-25-2020 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:31 AM
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Repeating the warning about the reef knot. It is absolutely not a bend! Heavy load or not. It is good for reefing and binding, securing your shoelaces, etc.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:40 AM
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Taut line hitch is handy. Boy Scouts learn it so they can pitch a tent properly; this is the knot that lets you adjust the overall length of a line/loop manually, and have that length remain unchanged when tension is applied. Not just good for tents - decades later, I use it for bracing plants/trees in the yard, and occasionally for various projects that call for having a loop of rope that can be adjusted to just the right length after it's been tied.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:52 AM
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Other good knots to know are:

Trucker's Hitch - for stretching a rope tightly between two fixed points

Siberian Hitch - quick release knot, can be tied with gloves on

Gnat Hitch - not well known, but small, easy to tie, secure, and non-jamming
  #11  
Old 03-25-2020, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
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For sailing, these are the ones I use most commonly:

Cleat hitch - feebie

Clove hitch - for tying to a piling (no cleat/bollard)

Bowline - tie a sheet(line) to a jib(sail)

Rolling hitch - tie a fender to a life line (with one or two half hitches)

Bonus: Stopper Knot - so lines don't slip out of a clutch/jammer.
This is a great list. It is missing the reefing knot, better known as a square not.

The Bowline is the best knot in my opinion, I would prioritize it. A knot as strong as the rope itself and yet easy to undo.
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Old 03-25-2020, 12:23 PM
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The Bowline is the best knot in my opinion, I would prioritize it. A knot as strong as the rope itself and yet easy to undo.
Absolutely. Couple of half hitches to make it even more secure and it's unbeatable under load.
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Old 03-25-2020, 02:45 PM
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DPRK I am definitely not sailing. I just want to learn (a few) basic, useful knots. I learned the reef knot today and I really like it!
  #14  
Old 03-25-2020, 03:14 PM
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The bowline (for a fixed loop at the end of a line) and the bowline on a bight (fixed loop in the middle of a line) are musts. It's used in rescues, climbing, or anyplace else that you need a nonslip knot.

A simple square knot is also essential; simple, but if you do it wrong you've got what's called a 'granny' knot, which will slip or come undone.

Someone mentioned the sheet bend, which is great for joining two similar or dissimilar diameter ropes together. Again, nonslip if done right.

Ever tie stuff to the top of your car, then play hell keeping it from getting loose? Trucker's hitch is the way to finish it off.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:15 PM
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I'll go with

1) Sheet Bend, for tying two lines together--it's much safer than a square/reef knot
2) Figure 8 Follow Through Loop, a super easy way to tie a loop in a line that is climber-safe.
3) Trucker's Hitch, a necessity for snugging things down on the roof rack at IKEA

Last edited by minor7flat5; 03-25-2020 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:18 PM
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It's a good knot for reefing/binding, just don't use it as a bend

I am chiming back in to say that if you are closing up a bag, you can also use a slipped constrictor knot, that way you can get it open by pulling on the slipped end, without having to cut the knot.

Last edited by DPRK; 03-25-2020 at 03:21 PM.
  #17  
Old 03-25-2020, 03:21 PM
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In stagehanding, the clove hitch and the bowline are indispensable.

I'm also fond of the trucker's hitch.
  #18  
Old 03-25-2020, 03:31 PM
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and the bowline on a bight (fixed loop in the middle of a line) are musts
I often also use an Alpine butterfly loop (this one) for that purpose; depends what you need (the bowline-on-a-bight in fact produces two loops).
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:38 PM
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Excellent video of a better way to tie a Trucker's Hitch... and a great way to tie a Bowline:

How to Tie Truckers Hitch Survival Knots — Tarp Shelter
  #20  
Old 03-25-2020, 03:42 PM
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Taut line hitch is handy. Boy Scouts learn it so they can pitch a tent properly; this is the knot that lets you adjust the overall length of a line/loop manually, and have that length remain unchanged when tension is applied. Not just good for tents - decades later, I use it for bracing plants/trees in the yard, and occasionally for various projects that call for having a loop of rope that can be adjusted to just the right length after it's been tied.
This is my favorite knot that most people don't know. I've used it any number of times for cinching down loads on top of my truck.

My first job out of college was as a field engineer for a steel construction company, mostly in the oil and gas industry. I was on one big job where we would have to lay out piping runs and their concrete supports; a taut piece of string is your friend here. So, one day when I was out with one other young engineer I tied one end of the string to a convenient bolt on a piece of equipment, and then 60 feet away or whatever it was I stuck a welding rod in the ground and tied a tautline hitch. Instant straight line. The guy I was working with acted like he'd just seen a miracle and made me teach him the knot right then and there.
  #21  
Old 03-25-2020, 04:04 PM
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For fly fishing:
Clinch knot, attaching your fly to the tippet
Double surgeon's knot, attaching tippet to leader
Nail knot, attaching backing to fly line.
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Old 03-25-2020, 04:05 PM
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This is my favorite knot that most people don't know. I've used it any number of times for cinching down loads on top of my truck.
NB there are many possible variations. I have successfully used this one and this one but you may need to experiment.
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Old 03-25-2020, 04:11 PM
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NB there are many possible variations. I have successfully used this one and this one but you may need to experiment.
Another possibility is the Farrimond Friction Hitch.
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Old 03-25-2020, 04:28 PM
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Two most important knots:

Reef knot (so that you know the difference between a reef not and a granny knot)
Clove hitch (for knotting a string/rope to something) (Once you've got this, you've got the basis of the tautline hitch)

Third knot depends on what you do: fishing will want a fishing knot. I did rock climbing, so it was the "figure eight" knot. For a lot of hands-on guys, as mentioned above it's the truckie's hitch If you're a surgeon, it used to be the (one handed) "surgeons knot"

Since I'm a figure-eight guy, I don't use the Bowline. My other personal favorite is the Marline Spike Hitch. When you understand the simple knots like the Reef Knot, The Clove Hitch, and the Marlin Spike Hitch, most of the others (taut line, truckies, Bow, Clinch, and so on) just becomes variations
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Old 03-25-2020, 04:29 PM
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In stagehanding, the clove hitch and the bowline are indispensable.
I learned both in boot camp and then again in electrician school. When you're hoisting a cross-arm to the top of a poll, the guy on the ground throws a half-hitch around one end of the arm, and ties a clove hitch on the other end. This keeps the arm level while hoisting it up, and allows the guy at the top to maneuver it into position and then easily disengage both knots without struggling. The bowline was used for pole-top rescue, to lower an unconscious person to the ground; if you get it wrong, you cut off the person's breathing.
  #26  
Old 03-25-2020, 05:09 PM
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Unfortunately, I don't have the memory or the patience to learn and remember a lot of them.
You really should try this app. It plays a "video" of the knot being made, which you can slow down or speed up, and allows you to rotate the knot 360° to view at various angles. Should be much easier for you to visualize than drawings in a book.
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Old 03-25-2020, 07:45 PM
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I'm not counting square knots or half-hitches, but you definitely need to learn those simple concepts.

After that, my Top 3 are:
Bowline
Prusik
Truckers Hitch
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Old 03-25-2020, 08:15 PM
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For fly fishing:
Clinch knot, attaching your fly to the tippet
Double surgeon's knot, attaching tippet to leader
Nail knot, attaching backing to fly line.
Ninja'd. Happy fishing my friend!
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:35 AM
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Excellent video of a better way to tie a Trucker's Hitch... and a great way to tie a Bowline:

How to Tie Truckers Hitch Survival Knots — Tarp Shelter
Last night I had a dream wherein I was trying unsuccessfully to tie this knot.
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:44 AM
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While I'm an Eagle Scout and all that stuff, I can't say that I've ever tied very many knots in real life outside of fishing. When I have, it's almost always been double half-hitches and the like- attaching a line to something. Generally if I have to attach lines to each other, it's the good old square knot.

Fishing-wise, I'm a fan of the Palomar knot where I can use it- it's easy to tie and extremely strong as well. If you do it right, you can tie a leader on with it, and leave a long tag-end with a sinker attached to it, for a simple bottom-fishing rig. If I can't use the Palomar, I usually default to the improved clinch knot to attach terminal tackle. Occasionally I'll dig up the Rapala knot if I want a terminal loop also.
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:55 AM
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I've made good use of knots for sailing and for setting up or jury-rigging stuff. Hell, my lawn tractor got through last year thanks to some careful knot tying of the mower deck into the right place. In setting up 10'x20' canopies and tarps for festivals, a large variety of knots came into play. Especially a monkey fist and then lots of bowlines.
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Old 03-26-2020, 12:55 PM
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If you do actually start reading the book and learning about the knots, you will naturally start finding uses for them. In addition to many of the excellent knots already mentioned, looking around here I see the buntline hitch, Turk's head, overhand bend, harness bend, girth hitch, espalier knot, diamond knot, wall knot, Matthew Walker, bottle sling, wall knot, pile hitch, anchor bend, marlinespike hitch, lashing, fisherman's bend, figure-8, double and triple overhand knots; and, no, I don't live on a yacht.

Natural selection ensures you will end up practicing and memorizing the most useful (to you) knots by dint of using them frequently.
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Old 03-26-2020, 02:24 PM
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As an Eagle Scout and Sea Scout in the 60's, I used to know a couple of dozen knots.
Since then, these four have proven to be essential for everyday life (including a LOT of camping): Square Knot, Bowline, Clove Hitch, Half Hitch.
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Old 03-26-2020, 03:17 PM
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I sell xmas trees with the cub scouts every winter, my go to knots are the figure 8 loop and the half hitch.

I tie the figure 8 on one end, wrap it around the tree and roof rack, then bring the twine through the loop and pull tight. Secure with a half hitch. Easy to tie when your hands are cold, lets you tighten it and stays tight.
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Old 03-26-2020, 03:37 PM
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I sell xmas trees with the cub scouts every winter, my go to knots are the figure 8 loop and the half hitch.

I tie the figure 8 on one end, wrap it around the tree and roof rack, then bring the twine through the loop and pull tight. Secure with a half hitch. Easy to tie when your hands are cold, lets you tighten it and stays tight.
That is exactly a type of espalier knot as described in the book. Goes to show that one is not trying to memorize arbitrary obscure knots and get to dozens of knots that way, rather become familiar with a few basic concepts.
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Old 03-26-2020, 03:53 PM
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Midshipman's hitch, Alpine, bowline, figure 8 retrace, clove hitch

I use the alpine as the top of the truckers hitch. The midshipman's great for tightening when slack, but not slipping under load.
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Old 03-26-2020, 07:44 PM
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Four in hand
Half Windsor
Windsor

Because one matches the width of the tie and the knot to the width of one’s lapels
  #38  
Old 03-26-2020, 07:55 PM
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I learned both in boot camp and then again in electrician school. When you're hoisting a cross-arm to the top of a poll, the guy on the ground throws a half-hitch around one end of the arm, and ties a clove hitch on the other end. This keeps the arm level while hoisting it up, and allows the guy at the top to maneuver it into position and then easily disengage both knots without struggling.
That's how we hoist pipe up to the grid: a clove hitch around one end and then use the length of rope to tie a half-hitch on the other end. This lets the pipe ascend vertically in line with the rope.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 03-26-2020 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:35 PM
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Are you and Chefguy talking about an arrangement like #2151 or #2162 [Ashley's numbering] where the object is hoisted perpendicular to the ground, or something along the lines of #2170, #2181 where the object remains parallel to the ground? Because what Chefguy described sounds a lot like 2151, but he says the spar is supposed to remain level. I have hung up a spar (for a cat gym) the way he suggests, except with two clove hitches, for easy adjustability, before lashing it in place.
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Old 03-27-2020, 12:41 AM
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Love it. Thanks!
They also have an app, which I highly recommend.
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  #41  
Old 03-27-2020, 01:01 AM
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Are you and Chefguy talking about an arrangement like #2151 or #2162 [Ashley's numbering] where the object is hoisted perpendicular to the ground, or something along the lines of #2170, #2181 where the object remains parallel to the ground? Because what Chefguy described sounds a lot like 2151, but he says the spar is supposed to remain level. I have hung up a spar (for a cat gym) the way he suggests, except with two clove hitches, for easy adjustability, before lashing it in place.
I have no idea what the numbers refer to but I'm describing a method where the pipe would be lifted perpendicular to the ground.
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Old 03-27-2020, 02:14 AM
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I meant the illustration numbers from this book; sorry I was not clear. E.g., #2151 is an illustration of a crowbar being lifted perpendicular to the ground by means of a rolling hitch around the bottom and a single hitch on the top. (Just what you said except using a rolling hitch instead of a clove hitch.)
  #43  
Old 03-27-2020, 05:33 AM
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Other good knots to know are:

Trucker's Hitch - for stretching a rope tightly between two fixed points

Siberian Hitch - quick release knot, can be tied with gloves on

Gnat Hitch - not well known, but small, easy to tie, secure, and non-jamming
The Trucker's Hitch is EXTREMLY handy. And very, very easy to use.
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Old 03-27-2020, 11:41 AM
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The Trucker's Hitch is EXTREMLY handy. And very, very easy to use.
This is all my opinion but, the truckers hitch is great if the ropes are fixed but if you have one long rope going around something the whole rope can slip as you reef down on it. The solution many people find is to put another loop in the bottom rope and pass the line back through it. If you always haul the same sized loads, you never untie the loops and just reuse the rope.

If you want to improve on that and a make a more versatile rope for hauling different sized loads you can replace the directional figure 8 loops that a traditional truckers hitch has with multiple loops (4-6) that aren't directional (like a alpine butterfly). You can make a few pre-made ropes for the trailer and always have a loop that is close and can be pulled in either direction.

I hope that makes sense, knots are visual/tactile and hard for me to write about.
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