Passive vs. Active perception/insight checks

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As a dungeon master, personally, at what point do you use one vs. the other? 
Just for clarity's sake, I'm talking about Passive vs. Active.  Not Perception vs. Insight.

Thanks! 
Not sure if it works the same in 4th Edition, but I run a 3.5e game. When I use a Passive check, it's something occurring, like a reaction to an explosion. An Active check is if the player character is looking for a creature, like a drow that has gone invisible. They can make an Active Perception check to figure out where they are.

That's my understanding of it. Does that answer your question? 
Sort of.  Is the active check something you ask the player to make?  Or is it always something the player requests themselves?

I always took passive checks as something that was always occurring, so the player could still discover traps (for example) without having to request a roll to check for them. 
Generally, I've found an Active check something that the player asks to make, like they're searching for something, like trying to find that invisible drow wizard. A passive check is generally a reaction to something that has already occurred, like a dragon flying overhead and casting a shadow.

Generally, searching for traps would be an active check, because the player has to initiate it, it's not started as a reaction to something occurring to the character.
Passive is essentially meaning that the player is "taking 10".

So as they are causally strolling through the wilderness/dungeon they automatically see anyhing that falls under their passive.

for example, let's say an orc has a +6 stealth, so let's say the dm just decides the orc got a 16 on his stealth check. The orc intends to hide behind a rock and ambush the party.
Let's say the highest passive perception is an 17 (14 wisdom+ training, this is pretty reasonable at level 1) and the lowest is a 10 (untrained dump stat).
As you describe the party wandering through the woods, you can tell the first player, tha as they approach the rock he sees/hears something. The orc jumps out, and said player also gets to act in the suprise round (since he was aware something was behind the rock).

Later on that day, teh same party is in a dungeon, and there is a floor trap with a DC15 to find. You get to tell the same player that he notices that a few of the floor tiles look irregular. Maybe they are elevated or something. You don't actually have to tell him it's a trap, but he should get some kind of clue to what's going on. The party may not be able to even check that spot, or even disarm it (based on party makeup), but at least the player(s) that trained perception will get to see it pay off sometimes.

Similarly, if the trap were particualrly well hidden (say a dc 20), and it is above the passive of all the players in the group, well then they probably won't find it even if they actively search. These are ok sometimes, but use them sparingly (it gets lame pretty quickly when the pc's feel the need to search every room/hall, typically fail, and typically spring the trap in the process)...
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
Passive is essentially meaning that the player is "taking 10".

So as they are causally strolling through the wilderness/dungeon they automatically see anyhing that falls under their passive.

for example, let's say an orc has a +6 stealth, so let's say the dm just decides the orc got a 16 on his stealth check. The orc intends to hide behind a rock and ambush the party.
Let's say the highest passive perception is an 17 (14 wisdom+ training, this is pretty reasonable at level 1) and the lowest is a 10 (untrained dump stat).
As you describe the party wandering through the woods, you can tell the first player, tha as they approach the rock he sees/hears something. The orc jumps out, and said player also gets to act in the suprise round (since he was aware something was behind the rock).

Later on that day, teh same party is in a dungeon, and there is a floor trap with a DC15 to find. You get to tell the same player that he notices that a few of the floor tiles look irregular. Maybe they are elevated or something. You don't actually have to tell him it's a trap, but he should get some kind of clue to what's going on. The party may not be able to even check that spot, or even disarm it (based on party makeup), but at least the player(s) that trained perception will get to see it pay off sometimes.

Similarly, if the trap were particualrly well hidden (say a dc 20), and it is above the passive of all the players in the group, well then they probably won't find it even if they actively search. These are ok sometimes, but use them sparingly (it gets lame pretty quickly when the pc's feel the need to search every room/hall, typically fail, and typically spring the trap in the process)...

This.
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