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When Category Owners Go Awol


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I hope there'll be a procedure in place for the quick transfer of categories to new owners when their owners go AWOL.

 

What sort of time limit should there be for category owners to approve waymarks? How many waymarks should be in the approve queue before Waymarking.com is notified of a potential problem?

 

Just looking ahead. I've experienced no category owner problems yet.

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I'd give them a week or so and then send the category owner an e-mail. Or would you rather that hundreds of category owners be subject to the same abuse thrown at volunteer cache reviewers?

 

If you're happy about losing the bureaucratic structure of volunteer cache reviewers and their designated backups and supervisors, then you ought to be willing to accept "average person" standards for Joe Waymarker. And average people go on vacation for a week without adopting out their waymark categories.

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We'll be working on the concept of groups that maintain waymark categories. The lead waymark manager will be able to upgrade managing groups to help review and publish them. It's definitely an issue we have anticipated and have plans to address.

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We'll be working on the concept of groups that maintain waymark categories. The lead waymark manager will be able to upgrade managing groups to help review and publish them. It's definitely an issue we have anticipated and have plans to address.

So if I need help managing my WOW!!! category, I could ask the volunteer geocaching approvers to help? :D

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We'll be working on the concept of groups that maintain waymark categories. The lead waymark manager will be able to upgrade managing groups to help review and publish them. It's definitely an issue we have anticipated and have plans to address.

Great. Just wanted to give the issue some exposure. And it seems you have a solution well in hand.

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How about when the waymark owner goes AWOL and the waymark changes? Do we just depend on the logs to see that the waymark needed to be archived a year ago? This problem has bothered me on GC as long as I've been here. Except for a couple of caches I've always had to drive at least 10 miles one way to do a cache. You get there and you find a problem with the cache (missing parts of a multi, container with 2 inches of water inside, log book was full 3 months before) and the owner is gone. Today, around here, it is even worse. Hurricane Ivan cleaned house and very few owners are around to replace/archive their cache. I see one difficulty 1 that was last found July 3, 2003. Several DNFs in the past 2 years but it sure seems a waste of electrons to still have this. But it won't get archived until someone verifies that the container no longer exists because "we don't want geolitter".

 

So can't we have a rule that says all waymarks expire (or automatically go up for adoption in a pinned thread) after a fixed time unless the owner responds? The same would apply for catagories except the time limit would be much shorter.

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So can't we have a rule that says all waymarks expire (or automatically go up for adoption in a pinned thread) after a fixed time unless the owner responds? The same would apply for catagories except the time limit would be much shorter.

That would be silly. What if the category is volcanoes, or gravestones, or rocks that look like animals. It's unlikely that they went away as a result of Hurricane Ivan.

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So can't we have a rule that says all waymarks expire (or automatically go up for adoption in a pinned thread) after a fixed time unless the owner responds? The same would apply for catagories except the time limit would be much shorter.

That would be silly. What if the category is volcanoes, or gravestones, or rocks that look like animals. It's unlikely that they went away as a result of Hurricane Ivan.

Individual volcanoes can change. Some gravestones can be removed or, more likely, become off limits because of increased traffic. Rocks that look like animals can find themselves in an area that also becomes off limits. A McDonald's might burn down and a hungry family finds themselves at a vacant lot because the owner wasn't around any more to archive the waymark. The point isn't whether or not the waymark changes but what do we do when the owner no longer cares what is happening and what people are doing because of their original ownership. Waymark owners need to stay involved to protect the public. In one of my examples we now have people trudging into a snake infested swamp for nothing. Ok, reading the logs would solve the problem after a few people posted their problems (such as the several logs on one where a guard was calling the police to have "trespassers" arrested). But why not go one step farther and require owners to care about their waymarks? And if it is important for waymark owners to care, it is even more important for category owners to care.

 

We also have the logging problem. Last month we had a 6 year old kid log 1100 caches in a week. All with the same "Did this one a while ago." posted on the current date. Any attentive owner would delete it but many of those logs are still there as posted. (Turns out the kid might actually have done all those since after deleting the log on mine, Mom put it back with an older date and, checking the paper log, sure enough, she had been there on that day.) Anyone who wants to scam the system can now look up that kids finds and any that have the right date range indicating the log was not deleted can feel free to log the cache with a good probability the owner isn't going to check. If a waymark has no active owner, don't the logs end up being more of a post whatever you want forum? Wouldn't requiring the owner to refresh the waymark occasionally be a first step in keeping the logs honest? And if it is important to maintain the integrity of waymark logs, isn't even more important to maintain the category integrity?

 

Finally, automatically generating an adoption message for orphan waymarks (and caches) seems a simple process and a good way to increase quality. Categories are an extension of the same problem. ESPECIALLY the categories that are set up to not require any verification before listing.

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Don't get me wrong. I agree that there should be a mechanism in place to deal with AWOL owners. I just don't think it should be automatic. It should be based on human interaction somewhat similar to the "needs archived" logs over on that other site. Maybe a "needs adopted" log or some such. Then a human would review those reports and take appropriate action.

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Don't get me wrong. I agree that there should be a mechanism in place to deal with AWOL owners. I just don't think it should be automatic. It should be based on human interaction somewhat similar to the "needs archived" logs over on that other site. Maybe a "needs adopted" log or some such. Then a human would review those reports and take appropriate action.

I might go along with leaving it that way on the GC side even though it doesn't seem to get done very often. Once the cache is logged, most don't come back. "Not my problem." "Don't want to get involved." "Get a life! Read old logs?" No one is going to see a "Needs Adopting" note on a cache they did a year ago. It would have to be flagged on the cache search page like a jeep.

 

But I expect hundreds of thousands of waymarks at the rate they are going. Even if they were reported that's a lot of manpower for reviews.

 

So what is wrong with automating the process? You get an automatic renewal notice when your membership is about to expire. It would be the same for waymarks and categories that you own. Respond with a click on the email and you get another 3 months or year or whatever. You're still around and active. Don't respond and you get another email. Then another. Finally a notice that if you don't respond your "property" will be put up for adoption.

 

Once an entry goes into the adoption queue it then has a limited life there. When that expires, THEN, a human is notified (or is reviewing the listing) that the property is abandoned and should be disposed of because no one wants it. If the human decides it really does need to be saved even though no one cares, then maybe that human can give it a life extension on the adoption list.

 

Even if a property is on the adoption list, it is still active (unless that would attract false reports... hmmmm...). I'm not saying we automatically kill your baby when it gets 1 year old. I'm just saying if your baby is left on the church steps we don't just keep walking past it every Sunday morning until it grows up and hurts someone. And we let a machine do the grunt work of sifting through tens of thousands of babies to check where their parent is. Computer calls out your name - you yell "YO!" - computer moves on.

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Computer calls out your name - you yell "YO!" - computer moves on.

Simply renewing your membership, or even logging onto the site, should effectively be a "YO!"

 

If you haven't renewed, or logged on in a few months, then maybe I can agree with something automated happening.

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Computer calls out your name - you yell "YO!" - computer moves on.

Simply renewing your membership, or even logging onto the site, should effectively be a "YO!"

 

If you haven't renewed, or logged on in a few months, then maybe I can agree with something automated happening.

Seems reasonable. Unfortunately people aren't always reasonable. I was all ready to agree with you but then I just had to look up one of the lost caches. Last find July 3, 2003. 13 DNFs and notes asking for the owner to fix the problems such as the coordinates were 40 feet out in the water. The last note from the owner was in May of 2004 saying the cache had been replaced and coordinates updated. Still no has found it. Searchers have only complained of snakes and alligators and cactus.

 

So when was the last time the owner logged onto the site? Thursday, June 09, 2005. About 6 weeks. Wouldn't trigger your "few months" yet.

 

So I kept digging. Looking at forum messages it seems the owner may now be in Iraq. Ok, extenuating circumstances. But is this a good reason for people to still see a cache that may or may not be there? If it weren't rated a difficulty 5 I would have no doubt it is gone but as a 5??? I don't know so I'm certainly not going to post a Should Be Archived. Yet others are wandering out there unprepared (according to their logs) for a cache that by all rights shouldn't be there any more.

 

So here is my next proposal iteration.

1. Computerize asking owners to periodically verify interest. Any response ends questioning until the next period. (If this guy isn't getting his email then should he be responsible for a cache?)

2. On no response to several attempts, automatically make it unavailable (the system allows you to log unavailable caches) and place it in a public adoption list.

3. If someone qualified (using current criteria for qualified) wants to adopt, give it to them with the stipulation that if the original owner ever wants it back they get it back. First come/first served on who adopts if there are multiple requests.

4. Manually look at the adoption list for any that have been there 3 months. Do the research as I did and either archive or bump back to the top of the adoption list. The cache maintains it's "temporarily unavailable" status as long as it is on the adoption list.

 

The only issue I have left is that publicly stating adoption status is an open invitation to mischief at the cache if it does still exist. But I think that is a lesser of evils for a cache that the owner isn't caring for. If you are going to Iraq maybe you should grab your container and disable the cache. At least post a note on the cache page that says not to go out there because it isn't there until you get back even though it may be.

 

Edit: Oh yes, this is Waymarking, isn't it. Well all of my comments should apply just as well to waymark guides and category managers.

Edited by FtMgAl
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