Some COTS applications use hints more liberally than they probably should. Especially since the vendor's software has to support varying data volumes across the tables and several optimizer upgrades. If we had the ability to set an initialization and session HINT marker (default is +) then we could easily turn off hints across a database or session and substitute our own. The acceptable values for non-default HINT markers would be limited to two certain special characters. Something like ++, &&, **, $$, ##. Using a double special character for the non-default indicator would eliminate any misunderstanding by the optimizer of the intent.