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Incorrect Logging When A Reference Mark Is Seen

Black Dog Trackers

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There are many cases (hundreds?) of reference marks incorrectly being logged as triangulation stations, traverse stations, benchmarks, etc. on the GC site. This is not the best situation for the overall credibility of GC PID reports.


In the GC benchmark FAQ pge, the section called "What are reference marks and azimuth marks for and how do I log them?" explains that finding a reference mark or azimuth mark doesn't count as a find of a primary station. This paragraph has probably prevented hundreds of instances of this kind of incorrect logging but doesn't seem to be enough.


I'm wondering if changing the actual logging page from this:

Post a new log


In reference to:  HILLTOP (NGS Benchmark)


Type of log:  - Select One

Date Logged:

X Add a waypoint to the log   



to this (I made the changes blue):

Post a new log


In reference to:  HILLTOP (Marker type: triangulation station)


Note: If you found a disk with an arrow (>----|---->) in the center of it, and the word "REFERENCE" or "AZIMUTH" on its edge, it does not count as a find for HILLTOP unless the Marker Type: line in the description for HILLTOP says either "reference mark disk" or "azimuth mark disk".


Type of log:  - Select One

Date Logged:

X Add a waypoint to the log  (enter waypoint coordinates only for "location is SCALED" marks)



would help significantly enough to make this change?

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Not to be too negative here, but which do you think is more likely: (a) that inexperienced benchmarkers will carefully read your excellent suggested text, or (:D that the folks who run this site would actually make a change?


Although I support efforts to idiot-proof the site, I'm afraid that with participants (who are all over the experience and knowledge curve) will never be 100% up to the high standards we (you and I and many others) would like to see here.


Maybe we can lure Deb Brown over from NGS to moonlight here, vetting log entries in her spare time!


Also, we have to again recall that Benchmarking, which seems to have been something of an afterthought at Geocaching.com, has never gotten enough resources from Jeremy & Co., and as a result there is probably always going to be a long wishlist of enhancements on our side which will likely never be fulfilled.


When I stumble on an obvious newbie error like this, I sometimes shoot of a nice, constructive e-mail -- and yes, guys, I can write those too -- to the person who filed an incorrect log, pointing out the error. Most of the time I have gotten no reply, and no correction. I think for most casual benchmarkers it's just a game, not to be taken seriously enough to warrant bothering with a correction (and loss of a claimed 'find').



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Hundreds? Certainly hundreds. Maybe more than a thousand.


I vote "yes" for your proposed change. I think that the last such change (are you sure you want to log this as DESTROYED?) was a step in the righ direction, and your proposed change would be another such step.


I think that the total number of benchmarks recovered (currently at 63,915 on the "find a benchmark page") is probably overstated by about five percent. But intersection stations are a larger problem than the "RM for the Station" problem. While we all make mistakes now and then (if ArtMan tells you about mine, I'll tell you about his!), I am amazed that dozens of people will continue to find an intersection station after it has been classified as DESTROYED by the NGS (and that fact is posted on the Geocaching datasheet).


But I am at a loss as to what to do about people who persist in finding airway beacons that, clearly, are not there. I've thought of some suggested wording on the logging page, but it wouldn't make it past the Jeremy sanitization routine to this post.



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Community moderation is probably the key. This would take massive changes at gc.com though. Ideally, when we find a station where a RM is reported as the mark we should be able to "flag" the mark as "needs approval" for any new log entries. Well respected members of the community would then moderate new logs to that mark to insure additional mistakes were made. They can also educate the people posting wrong information.


Add a meta moderation system; the ability to mark a log entry on a scale of 1-5 (1 == not enough information, 5 == great description and pictures) to determine who the best loggers are and tap them to do the moderation steps. Spread it out over everyone, not just a select few, and the additional workload in minimal.


There are a lot of tech news sites using this model (eg, www.slashdot.org, www.groklaw.net). It works well, and can work for something like this....but it requires a complete rethink.

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bicknell -


Yes, I have mused several times about such an approach, but didn't know as much as you do about it. I'm afraid of it though, and think that it just wouldn't fit in with the general philosophy of this site, which is to have fun with the hunting challenge in an environment of peers. I think the vast majority of benchmark finding activity here is done by people who basically want to do a good job of it. Even those who are mainly geocachers who happen upon a benchmark and log it along with their geocaching activities realize that benchmarks basically amount to puzzle-caches that need to be figured out properly. We can't be blaming them for not reading the benchmark FAQ if benchmark-hunting isn't their main hobby. I was hoping to insert a short educational statement in an easy way that would present itself at logging time.


It would probably be a bit more positive to add another statement encouraging the reference mark finder to select Post-a-Note or Not-Found and go ahead and upload their picture, but it's a tradeoff between adding that positive note explicitly versus making the stuff to read very very short.


Getting back to your idea, perhaps it could work with a few people who want to monitor the benchmark gallery, somehow check recent benchmark logs, communicate openly in a topic here in the forum, and use email to manage taking turns emailing (as a peer) people who should change their log type and re-visit the PID site again to finish it off. If a strict stance that the group's purpose is education, not policing, I think it would be better received in this environment.

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There are some negatives to the idea of moving.

1. We don't have any place else to go right now for less than NGS quality logging.

2. geocaching.com will still be there collecting good logs. That means a lot of potentially useful data there still needs to be examined by anyone looking for the complete story, as well as NGS and any other site.

3. geocaching.com will still be there collecting bad logs and won't have the helpful people educating others by emailing or posting corrective notes.


If there any positive side to moving, I missed it. I prefer to continue with the GC site as is or with some additional education/correction effort.

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  Well respected members of the community would then moderate new logs to that mark to insure  additional mistakes were made.

Just couldn't resist on this one. I know what you think you said, but it reads a bit differently! ;):o:(


As a side note to logging the wrong "Disk" - What happens when the new benchmark hunter goes to a benchmark page and finds a log and pictures of a "DISK" not in the GC database? There has been mention several times of how someone logs a benchmark that is not in the database by going to the nearest 'listed' benchmark and logging it there. If the newbie doesn't read the forums will he have any idea what is going on with it? If we log a benchmark on the wrong site what does that say to the "Just for fun" benchmark hunters?



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Maybe the answer is a divorce from Geocaching.com?

I don't know that a "divorce" is the right thing, but it probably all comes back to money. Running a service takes money. Colo, bandwidth, time to code things up, answering questions, dealing with problems. geocaching.com with it's subscription based services has found a funding model. If we really want improvements we have to figure out how to pay for them. It could be as simple as getting geocaching.com to realize benchmarking is bringing in enough subscriptions to justify devoting more resources to it. It may require a new source of funding for benchmarking. It may require a full divorce, and a separate model all together.


When you think about a divorce, the question you're really asking is, if the service were stood up on its own, and designed to meet the needs of the benchmarking community how many people would sign up, and how much would they pay? If it's 10 people who will pay $10 a year, then our $100 isn't going to go very far. If it's 200 people who will pay $50 a year, the $10,000 might cover the costs of colo and leave enough for someone to work on it as a hobby. If it's 500 people at $100 a year the 50k a year would pay for the colo and make a decent income as a project for someone.


How many people are benchmarking? How much are they willing to pay? What "value add" can the site offer to make the money worth it when you can get the NGS data sheets for free? The forum is a value add. Pictures are a value add. Methods of streamlining the work flow are a value add. Are they enough? Do we have creative ideas to generate more value, or people, or both?


Anyone have a rich uncle who likes to donate money? :)

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This thread sounds like having fun is out of the question here.


I'm sorry, but don't expect me to monitor others and if you choose to monitor me, definitely don't expect me to change any logs when you haven't been to the site of the benchmark to verify or prove false my log.


Who wants to volunteer for the position of Captain of the benchmark police?


We always thought that the purpose of the benchmark side of Geocaching was to have another use for your GPSr and then to have a place (these forums) to share the thrill of the great finds. Now we (the benchmark hunter forum users) are going to be critiquing everybody's logs? Why?


My suggestion is if this site is too easy on its participants (read, letting them have fun with as few restrictions as possible.), then maybe a trial seperation is in order. We will accept you back when you decide you want to have fun again.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this forum for the fun side of Benchmarking and the NGS side for the "serious" hunters?





editted for grammer

Edited by 2oldfarts (the rockhounders)
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I can't stay out of this one. I was guilty of a few mistakes with Tri Stations when I first started. There is no one in this area to correct me but I learned from this forum. As of this date, I have corrected all my original errors except one. (I will get to it soon, I promise!)


I am in this for the fun. If I make mistakes, so be it. We have all seen where serious NGS surveyors have made mistakes that we amatures have corrected. I am sure that serious surveyors will find errors that we have made also! Why would we want to disband the only organization that has ever come along and given us a forum to banter around?


I have learned more about surveying here in the last year then I would ever learn anywhere else. And all of YOU are the reason! And it didn't even hurt me to have fun doing it.

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I'm puzzled by the idea that getting the right disk (or whatever) can't be fun.


It seems to me that if you choose your hobby (sport, activity, pasttime, whatever), there are usually rules one abides by. Three of a kind beats two pair. Four balls gets you a walk. It wouldn't be much fun if your team got a first down on eight yards, and we needed ten.


Most of us aren't too competitive here, but the playing field should be level, if you'll forgive another sport metaphor. I think it's a lot more fun (and satisfying) to get the right disk or radio tower or church spire -- and I sometimes do a bit of research to be sure -- than to just say yeah, whatever, it looks like a disk, so I'll claim it as a find.


If I didn't enjoy this so da*n (expurgated to avoid use of offensive term "dadgum" in post) much, I wouldn't be here in these forums so often and dodging traffic on entirely too many weekend mornings.


One nice thing about the current arrangement of having both caches and benchmarks here on Geocaching.com is that there's something for every GPSer. True, there is less ambiguity about finding a cache; if you find it, you've found it. But benchmarks offer an opportunity to learn more about the infrastructure we see all the time but never really look at. And many searches are steeped in history, whether through the recovery of a decades-old disk or reading the descriptions of dim woods roads, long-gone ice cream parlors and general stores, or farmhouses that once stood at the site of a modern subdivision full of McMansions.


Bicknell is exactly right about the practicalities. They are sufficiently onerous that this will probably never go anywhere. But it is interesting to speculate what features a standalone site called something like BenchmarkUniverse.net might include.


- Live links to up-to-date NGS datasheets, perhaps with elements displayed in a more user-friendly way


- Better mapping and search functions


- Inclusion of non-NGS marks or (or in addition) allowing users to create their own benchmark page for found stations (disks at least)


- Better downloadable data, whether something like Pocket Queries or perhaps PDA-ready pages


- Maybe international marks


What's on your wishlist?



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Finding the correct disk/benchmark/intersection station is fun and the older the better. The point I was trying to make is quite simple. How long do you think a newbie will enjoy have every log scrutinized and then receiving an e-mail/PM about what was not up to someone else's standard?


Most folks who get serious about benchmarking will go back and double check their own logs. Those who only find a few benchmarks that are near caches really don't care what others think about their logs. They found a disk and that makes them happy. If someone notifies them that they are wrong about what they found, chances are pretty good they will not respond to the critique and a possible future benchmarker will be pushed aside.


For a sports analogy try basketball - The newbie is playing high-school level and you're in the pros. Let them progress up the line through college basketball before insisting on using pro-ball rules.



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For a sports analogy try basketball - The newbie is playing high-school level and you're in the pros. Let them progress up the line through college basketball before insisting on using pro-ball rules.



I knew I shouldn't have started with the sports analogies. I see your point and mostly agree; I just think some occasional coaching for that enthusiastic but unformed high school kid wouldn't hurt. But of course, an overbearing coach will do more harm than good, and the kid has to want to improve.


At least I think so. Alas, I'm no coach.



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Well this thread has taken a wild ride so far. Starting with an idea of a passive education tidbit on the login page to questioning the value of the GC site itself, to saying that the concept of any of us using email to communicate a bit of knowledge to each other occasionally is somehow against people having fun. Wow.


Bill93 -

If there any positive side to moving, I missed it. I prefer to continue with the GC site as is or with some additional education/correction effort.

I definitely agree.


McMurdo1 - I see no problem with what you did. I've done a similar thing when the NGS-described disk is gone and there was a non-NGS county disk there instead. So I posted a note as you did and uploaded a picture of the non-NGS disk so that someone else would see that the disk wasn't the right disk.


bicknell - you point out that a lot of $ and a lot of work is required to set up and maintain a site like this. True. There are benchmark hunters who are paying nothing to this site and it's generous to them and can be because of the geocacher's support. Could a new site do that? I doubt it. What a benchmark-only site definitely could not provide is a way to get new benchmark hunters as the geocaching side does!


I definitely don't recommend starting a new site.


We don't know the benchmarking vs. geocaching numbers, but a look at the forums, in my opinion, shows that the benchmark side is getting its fair share of support here at GC.com. We'd like a bit more (wishlists), but when examined closely, that bit is actually very little in terms of how much more value-added wishlist items would provide compared to what GC.com already provides us.


Spoo - yep, the existence of the forums here is definitely part of the education system here and many people like yourself have explicitly said so. It's another aspect that requires money as bicknell points out and we really do need the geocacher side to help support its existence, I think.


ArtMan - I agree that getting the right disk is what's actually fun, not just driving around finding just anything. I think that speculation on site improvements is good, but using the context of a 'possible divorce' is a bit too rejecting in tone, I think.


2oldfarts (the rockhounders) - I think it can be said that knowledge is power, even in having fun. All of us benchmark hunters know that's definitely true with benchmark hunting. I daresay that every hobby gets more fun the more you know about it. There are many ways in life to get knowledge. I have gotten a lot of knowledge from unsolicited advice and cousel from other people including here in the benchmarking hobby. This hobby and in particular this GC site provides various means for sharing knowledge about benchmarks and how to find them and have more fun doing it. One mode of this sharing is the FAQ. Another is the forums. To say that the concept of one of us benchmark hunters emailing another to provide yet another avenue of sharing knowlege should be viewed as wrong is, I think, absurd. From what I've read here and have experienced first-hand, people are fine with this email mode. I sent such an email just the other day in the manner of sharing knowledge and we had a nice email conversation about scenery and travel too. I think I provided new avenues for having fun with benchmark hunting through email and in the same email conversation a new geographical location of having fun was provided to me. How many times have I done such emails? Two. Too few; I feel suboptimal as a provider of more fun. :)


Policing logs is not the concept. Being more dilligent with the benchmark gallery and such to be able to provide more knowledge and hence more fun to more people is the concept.

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We had a seasoned (20yrs experience) Professional Surveyor and the Chief of Party who got a Ref Mark and the Tri station mixed up. The remaining RM had a witness post, the station mark did not due to it being in a clear vision area. He had to set up early in the AM before daylight and assumed the witness post was at the station. Having never been there ( the guy who was suposed to go got sick), he saw the witnes post and set up. When they were processing the GPS data they found a huge blunder of about 100 ft at the one site. So confident he was right, he never looked at the disk.


He would not admit to setting on the wrong point and spent a lot of time with the processing to prove he was not the one who screwed up. No one would ever let him live that down. If one of his techs would have made that mistake he would have reprimanded them, he ruled with an iron fist.

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Appointing anyone or group of people here into scrutinizers of benchmark logs is not a good way to win friends and influence people.


It would go over like a lead balloon in a hail storm. I can hear them saying "who died and left you boss?"


There are already a bunch of straight geocachers who feel the Benchmark hunters take themselves too seriously. I will grant you that doing it well is a bit serious, but a good many of those people appear to dislike following any rule that they cannot bend to favor themselves as they go. They simply do not care what the rules are and if you get in their way, they will simply run you over in the crosswalk. Does that make it a wash?


Even if you could consider it a moderate Idea, which it isn't. It is still a bad deal.


The Rockhounders are pretty moderate Hunters who just want to have fun. John is speaking up about this as he sees it as a threat to his fun, and I can't say I blame him. If this idea seems offensive to them, I would take note. I feel their way of looking at this really does represent the way a lot of casual players want to play. Their more casual approach to fun was one of the reasons I advocated the NGS forum.


I feel the Rockhounders and people who enjoy just the game as they do, should be able to have their fun without pressure or extraneous rules put upon them as they enjoy their fun. If you want to be heavy into NGS recovery, that is great, but it is also a personal choice that not everyone shares. Please let the game player stay on the light side of things and play their game.


The NGS Forum is nearby and the rules are more stringent for their style of recovery. That is the best place to to be serious about NGS recovery. Why? Because NGS is the rule maker there. Wanna Play? Take it or leave it.



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I like to keep a positive attitude about people and in my admittedly very small experience of emailing people it has turned out fine.


Sure there are some people who will not like getting an email contact about logging a reference mark, but there are others who welcome more information / stuff to learn. Will the next person I email (if any) be type A or type B? I don't know, but I'm not going to just assume that they're all going to be one type.


I'm not wild about doing these emails, and have only done 2, and my original post here was proposing a 100% passive idea, not involving any emails.


Now, over to the opposite side of things - here's an amusing read! :P

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One thing that would be friendly, where possible, is to move the log entry. That is, when the RM's have their own PID's, if some people could move the entry from the mark to the RM, with a polite note to the person that would be good. Keeps it accurate, educates the people, and they still get the warm fuzzy of a find.

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You Make a good point. Tact and diplomacy need to rule the day. Fortunately for the Caching side, the Cache owner can be the heavy and approve the find or NOT, Shame on them when they don't, but some people cannot handle the thought of confrontation, so they avoid this.


Benchmark Hunting has an owner too, but they can't really play. So we photograph. Of course we also know who is for real or not by the way they treat the narrative part of the recovery. The hope is that the Hunter themselves will take ownership of the quality they put into the Find.


Regardless of the notes, we as hunters who strive for accuracy write, as I said earlier, we can still be run over in the crosswalk by those who simply refuse to care or take things seriously, as evidenced by the Log for the Seattle Space Needle: http://www.geocaching.com/mark/details.aspx?PID=SY4314


Please note that some rather prolific Cachers do not care what the purists think. You will also note that some prolific Cachers who are not known to us as benchmark hunters did a great job. I can tell you that it would be a waste of your time to even try to persuade them otherwise. It is better to just let it be. Short of muttering or reciting the serenity prayer, some peoples attitudes towards playing according to Hoyle will never change.


If you really want to play with full on technical accuracy, where it matters and make a difference, then, feel free. It is just as much a choice on your part to do so as is the choice some people make to simply not care. In the end, what will influence anyone to change their personal style is a good question. If you figure it out, your negotiating skills will be worth a lot of money to someone.


Good Luck,



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Actually, this to-email-or-not-to-email question is not new. Here are a couple of older versions that are worth reading:


People Logging A Reset As The Mark, Worth saying anything to them? is here.


Invalid "finds" being logged is here. This one has an interesting note by Jeremy in it.


I like seventhings' idea from the first topic above - only email the ones that appear to be those that would give a hoot about the integrity of a Found.

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We’ve been having a fine time tracking down NGS markers listed for Nantucket Island. We’re here for a few weeks that will be ending in about ten days, and we’ve been turning up close to one a day. Recently, though, we came upon something that reminded us not to be too quick to log marks.


The island is well supplied with marks that are not disks (or drill holes in old stones). There are two or three lighthouses, a couple of church spires, half a dozen radio towers of various kinds, a couple of water tanks, an antique windmill. Some of these have disks associated with them or located near them, but whether they do or not, they are themselves marks. Those still standing are easy to find and to see, and therefore to photograph. There could be a temptation to snap, log, and upload, unless you’ve opted out on spires, tanks, and the like, as mentioned in the "People Logging A Reset As The Mark, Worth saying anything to them?" thread. We check them out, because some of them are fun to look at, and because we’ve found the sites of one or two that have been dismantled.


The Nantucket Water Tower, LW4208, stands on a hill west of town above a well-traveled road. The datasheet says STATION IS THE CENTER OF A ROUND CYLINDRICAL STANDPIPE, 80 FT. HIGH. TANK WAS BUILT IN 1908 AND REPLACED AN OLD FOURLEGGED TANK WHICH WAS TORN DOWN.


And there it is. Except . . . . kind of sleek for 1908, don’t you think? And maybe less than 80 feet high? Let’s call the water company.


So now we know that the present tank was erected late in 1995. A possible bonus is that we may yet be allowed to look for LW4209, a disk and its reference marks located inside the security fence around the tank. More on that, and an authoritative “destroyed” log on the tank, later. Meanwhile, thanks to those who encourage circumspection.



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Thanks! And we're back, having today been allowed onto the grounds of LW4208, the Wannacomet Water Company tower. LW4209, the disk that was 48.06 ft S14 E of the old water tank, is now about 115 ft S of the new tank, in good shape. We didn't look hard for the reference marks; deer tick season is here now, and walking into brush is out for the season.


The man from the water company was very informative, so we knew what we were taking pictures of. There's a hummock between the disk and the new tower, and that's where the old tower stood. The old tower was 30 ft in diameter and 80 ft high. The new one is 50 ft in diameter and 105 ft high, so its proportions fooled us the first time we looked at it.


Our time here is winding down, and the next phase of our year will have us in a motor home rambling about the country. We go online a little less often in that mode, but we're hoping to find some good marks out there.

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