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Me & Bucky

Change Is In The Wind

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Don't know how many people have seen it, but Groundspeak began a new website early last week called Waymarking (www.Waymarking.com). This was purported to be the answer to certain problems with virtual and locationless caches. Currently, this website is in beta with only premium members able to get on the site. It will open up to regular members in a couple weeks.

 

Interesting discussions are taking place on the Waymarking forum boards that people here might want to look at. Go to the Waymarking forum and do a search under "benchmark" and you will find about 15 different topics where benchmarks were mentioned. Most just have to do with people wondering if the benchmark stat totals will be listed under their geocaching totals. In one, however, Jeremy has made it known that the plan is to either place benchmarks into the Waymarking website or into their own website. The following was from the topic, "Do You Want All Your Finds Listed In One Account".

 

QUOTE (Semper Questio @ Aug 19 2005, 06:04 AM)

 

And taking this to the next logical step, should not benchmarks be either moved to Waymarking or spun off into their own site as well? Just a thought since these also do not have containers and signable logs.

 

QUOTE (Jeremy @ Aug 19 2005, 09:28 AM)

Yes. They will be eventually.

 

It wasn't made clear whether benchmarks would be made part of the Waymarking site, or split off into a new website.

 

I can see a place in the Waymarking site for marks not currently listed in the NGS database, like cadastral marks, marks from outside of the United States (Trig Points, Canadian marks, etc.), State or County marks, or private marks. However, I hope the NGS marks won't be moved to the Waymarking site. The site on geocaching.com already works well.

 

I guess if a change is going to happen, and I had a choice, I would hope that benchmarks are given their own site with the capability of adding new marks in an attached section of the site. Keep the NGS marks as a central feature of the site and add other sections as needed.

 

Tennessee Geocacher, do you have any additional information about this upcoming change?

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Thanks for the alert on this.

 

A while back I half-jokingly suggested that benchmarking ought to be spun off from Groundspeak since there seemed to be little interest on the corporate level in our activity — as evidenced, for example, by the failure to update the database in four years or so.

 

So far I'm agnostic on this issue, but we should watch this carefully.

 

-ArtMan-

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Does this mean that for those that have been asking, they will finally get BM Pocket Queries?

If benchmarks get moved to the Waymarking site, then you should eventually be able to get to them using Pocket Queries.

 

From the FAQs at the top of the Waymarking Read Me First!:

 

Can I download GPX files for individual waymarks?

 

You will be able to. Unfortunately waymarks are so different to geocaching.com, however, that we will need to create a new xml design for these items so they contain the extra information (called waymark variables). We're still working on this design to accomodate the new site.

 

How about Pocket Queries?

 

We will have Pocket Queries for Waymarking as well, but it will be more advanced and will have fewer limits due to the semi-permanence of waymarks over geocaches.

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I am following the topic also, am not out of a job yet

 

Max Cacher

Geocaching.com Volunteer Cache Reviewer // Moderator

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I am watching too.

Thanks for the heads up.

 

I think like this and Jeremy said,the NGS part should stay here.

 

Other marks could find a new data base that we could work on and in.

An enumerated domain helper,which I have talked about since the very begining.

 

USGS ENUMERATED DOMAIN

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The more I browse the new site, I cannot see how they could move the 'benchmark hunting' over to it with the database, finds/notes/dnf/destroyed logs and the gallery intact without making it appear rather silly....it will be included amongst the 'McDonald's', 'Brew Pubs', 'Pubs and Inns', 'BBQ Joints' etc.

 

Granted, there are some good ones on the new site but, I think I like the way we have been doing things on this site....

 

I guess I just hate changes that are so drastic.....

 

Just the feelings of an 'old lady'.

 

Shirley~

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I definitely agree with the 'old lady'! (I might be older.)

 

I think the benchmark hunting area would be even more lost amongst that vast pile of categories than it is now - a minor sidekick of geocaching.

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I definitely agree with the 'old lady'!  (I might be older.)

 

I think the benchmark hunting area would be even more lost amongst that vast pile of categories than it is now - a minor sidekick of geocaching.

 

:laughing:

I am happy someone agrees with me - even if they might be 'older'.

 

Shirley!

 

PS: John says "I don't know how you can find anything on the new site, as cluttered & busy as the home page is".

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Okay. So I've become an addicted benchmarker, even if I don't meet some's standards. Find a benchmark. Make sure it's the right one. Log it, with pictures. I like the format here. If they move benchmarking to garbagedump.com, I probably will not log there. A bit tougher finding them at NGS, but that's where I'll go. Oh, well.

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Boy you people are closed-minded :mad:

 

I only see advantages by moving benchmarking over to the new site.

 

For one, I've lost count of how many benchmarks I've found in the wild, collected all the relevant info and pics, come home to find that particular benchmark is not listed in geocaching.com. On the new site, I could then add it to the appropriate category (I assume others beyond UK trigpoints will be added) and others could then visit it as well.

 

The new site will be able to handle many kinds of benchmarks, not just the NGS ones. Around here, many I find were set by the local water company. On the new site I'll be able to log these.

 

I fail to see any disadvantages.

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Lil Devil -

 

We're not all that closed-minded! :mad:

 

I agree that being able to add marks has been an irritating hindrance and that the Waymarking scenario is sure to fix that.

 

I fail to see any disadvantages.
Yeah me too, generally. But that doesn't mean there won't be any. You see, most of us like the benchmark area just fine as it is. Moving always involves worrying about how it will be after you move - it's natural, not just closed-minded. :mad:

 

One problem is that what some people will think are benchmarks really aren't benchmarks. There are millions of temporary survey marks and millions of other things that look like benchmarks. All of them could be added to the NGS benchmarks in the Waymarking scenario. I'm not a surveyor and don't work at the NGS, but imagine that you have a coin collection and you decide to have some other people help you with it and they add bottlecaps, oatmeal cookies, poker chips, washers, and pickle jar tops, then what was once a nice coin collection is now a pile of junk.

 

Of course, if the NGS benchmarks are kept as a separate Waymarking category, then I'm left with only finding advantages. :mad:

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I Began 6 months ago and raised the comment several times now that the Benchmark Hunting Community needs to come together, decide how it would most enjoy the future of the hobby, Then petition Jeremy and Geocaching for that outcome.

 

I was met with resistance and wait and see and oh let's just let Jeremy show us... You folks basically voted by remaining abstinent from these discussions and doing nothing. It went on a day or two, most never said a thing and the thread died with little or no follow up.

 

Now you are beginning to see an outcome which is not all that you had hoped.

 

I hope now the folks here will come together and discuss what they would like to have and in a UNIFIED way, petition Jeremy for that.

 

It is not enough to WATCH. You must become your own voice, and then speak with it.

 

I have said all along that the squeaky wheels get greased and that Jeremy watches the Geocaching website thread.

 

Won't you all now consider taking action and becoming an active part of your hobby's future? If not, you will have to settle for what you are given, and remember, Geocaching is growing into aspect of the game that are not centered around this aspect and that will eat up time and take resources, not to mention adding more squeaky wheels to the pool which will lobby against you for the creators time and control.

 

You now even have a little devil in here, a geocacher who has not been an active part of your hobby beyond 15 found Benchmarks in 4 years, nor a contributor of your forum telling you that they think they understand your hobby better than you do. The little devil thinks you are closed minded. But has the Little Devil been here amongst you all along? Do you think the little devil has Jeremy's ear? Do you think the Little devil has your interests in mind? What's in a name, Metaphorically speaking, anyway?

 

The only way Benchmark hunters can be a part of the outcome is if they attempt to become part of the process. I am afraid the wait and see approach is not going to get the job done. So I hope you folks come to your senses and decide what it is you would like to see happen, and then start showing Jeremy what you as a community would most like to see. If you don't, your worst fears could come true.

 

Take it to mind folks, before it is too late and not what you want. I would not wait too long. You may wind up paying for what you used to get for free...

 

Rob

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Some of us are posting in the waymark forums in the topic called

Benchmarks -- Which Site?

 

As for uniting, we don't have any clear evidence that the benchmark area being moved from geocaching to Waymarking will definitely degrade what exists now. As said, it could improve it in some ways if they don't go overboard.

 

Being too harsh on the concept of benchmarking becoming a Waymarking category now would be like burning bridges of communication before you can even see the other side clearly enough to say that it is bad.

 

It is best to try to be rather positive at this stage, I think, in order to be heard.

 

A primary issue is that in the Waymarking system, each Waymarking section is run by a manager. As I understand it, that manager calls the shots about what is required for a log in that section, what found items qualify, etc. The nearest analog to that here is that the NGS 2000 database is itself sort of like the aspect of the manager that decides which found items qualify. The NGS has been deciding what marks to include and what marks not to include. As to logging, we have used a community education system as best we can to guide logging Found, Not found, etc. In the Waymarking scenario, instead of the NGS deciding which marks are in and which are out, and the community guiding the quality of logs, a person will do both jobs. The question is --- who?

 

The future quality of the benchmark area depends a lot on who that is, it seems to me.

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The future quality of the benchmark area depends a lot on who that is, it seems to me.

What if it's no one? Groundspeak could create the category and set it on auto-approve. Then just let it be.

 

Of course the first person to log a benchmark would then "own" that particular waymark, and could conceivably control the "visits" to that benchmark. But again I think these would be best on auto-pilot.

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The future quality of the benchmark area depends a lot on who that is, it seems to me.

What if it's no one? Groundspeak could create the category and set it on auto-approve. Then just let it be.

 

Of course the first person to log a benchmark would then "own" that particular waymark, and could conceivably control the "visits" to that benchmark. But again I think these would be best on auto-pilot.

 

This sounds like a perscription for a jumbled mass of benchmarks.

 

Going from an organized sport to what? Just some disorganized list of points?

 

John

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Lil Devil, I respectfully disagree with you.

 

Geocaching has an "official" list of geocaches that people log. Noone posts logs for random tupperware containers that are their own caches but are not "Geocaching" geocaches. There are other lists of these, but they're letter-boxes, and they're also organized.

 

Similarly, I would like to keep an area that is just NGS benchmarks, because NGS approved those benchmarks and that is what surveyors around the country rely on. Recovering NGS benchmarks (however skilled or unskilled my approach) is what I think is my contribution to the field. Professionals may not (and probably do not) access the Geocaching list, but...those are the marks they look for. If there is a separate forum where people can log for other benchmarks they recover, e.g. the zillions of benchmarks that aren't organized in a central location, and thus get personal gratification, fine. Zhanna links to these, and has a good site. But, the NGS marks should be left distinct on Geocaching.

 

I think of Geocaching as a hobby and sport. I think of benchmarking as a hobby with professional applications and benefits. It is *extremely* nice that Geocaching provides this easily accessible and photo archiveable copy of the NGS database that facilitates benchmarking, and that we have this Groundspeak forum to discuss the hobby. I would rather not have it radically changed like the possible change.

 

evenfall, I've emailed Jeremy the above thoughts. I hope he appreciates them.

Edited by BuckBrooke

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What I'd like to seen in benchmarking on geocaching.com?

For the most part, I like it the way it is! Yearly updates from NGS datasheets would be nice. :mad: Other than that, Benchmarking at Geocaching.com is great!

Geocaching seems to be taking a 'throw out the baby with the bathwater' approach to many things. I realize that there are many problems with Locationless and Virtual caches. Maintenance being the major problem. They were acceptable for quite a while, but now have beome the unwanted stepchildren. I've done some pathetic Virtuals. And I contend that I could probably log a picture of my toe on five or ten different locationless caches. Some Locationless caches are very well maintained!

It's depressing to think that Geocaching has lumped us in the same category!

The answer to pathetic virtuals is to archive them. The same is true of unmaintained Locationlesses.

Some of my favorite caches have been Virtual Lake of the Couds Hut. My post is from August 17, 2004. And Locationless: (Mason~Dixon Line). My post here is from July 14, 2005.

And this is one of my favorite benchmarking pictures: KU093

The way to fix problems is not to make them disappear. Or put them on a different web site.

There are many aspects to 'using billion dollar government satellites to find Tupperware containers in the woods'. And, frankly, I like all of them! I'm very sorry to see that geocaching's answer is to put the stepchildren out for adoption.

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I think emailing Jeremy with your input as Buck has is a great course of action, It is proactive and involving yourself in the process. It gives Jeremy input, which should be pretty valuable to him if you have done a great deal of Benchmark hunting and are aware of the many nuances.

 

I agree also with John, "Going from an organized sport to what?" would be the least desirable option, when we have been saying as a community in different ways that we would benefit from some clearer more refined organization as it is.

 

Less organization would result in something that would have little good come from it. Even a Poker Game has agreed upon, up-front rules. Going without them would simply mean anarchy. That, in my opinion wouldn't be worth the bother.

 

Rob

Edited by evenfall

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BTW, what's that little device on top of the cap worn by the cartoon character on the Waymarking site? Maybe I need to get my mind out of the gutter, but it sure looks to me like ...

 

No, never mind. It couldn't possibly be....

 

;-)

-ArtMan-

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I am concerned about moving the benchmark section to Waymarking --mostly because (as others have pointed out) the people who actually DO benchmark hunting haven't really looked at Waymarking yet to try to understand how the move will affect what we do.

 

First, I understand --completely-- that waymark "benchmarks" would be intended for the GPS hobbiest. We are talking about the casual mark finder, not dedicated hunters. Even so, I have some real concerns about this action.

 

IF (and that is still a big IF) the NGS database is used to locate marks, whether it is put into the Waymarking system in advance or people are allowed to peruse the database and load in waymarks, I forsee problems. The biggest one is that I am not sure that most 'waymarkers' will take the time to learn some of the most basic terminology. For example, I think that the average user will look through the database for coords that are close to where they are and plug them in and then go there and look for some mark. Will that mean that "SCALED" vertical control marks will be underreported in the Waymarking system because the hobbiest won't (usually) find them where the coords are? Or will it mean that all kinds of quirky objects will be reported just because they happen to be located at the stated coords?

 

I understand that officials might not be concerned about this hobbyist approach--No one in any official capacity would dream of using these casual reports for accurate indicators of locations of marks.

 

I presume it is safe to say that the NGS portion of the benchmarking section of geocaching.com will not be moved to Waymarking. Does that mean that the schism between careful hobbyist benchmark hunter and the dedicated NGS benchmark reporters will increase? That might actually help prevent careless reporting by casual benchmarkers. On the other hand, that also means that the more casual hunters will be mixed in with every other kind of waymarker in a rapidly growing category (potentially) full of incorrectly listed benchmarks of every description.

 

I think having benchmarks on Waymarking will increase the number of people who look for benchmarks that are near other interesting locations. That could be a good thing, as more eyes can be helpful. One would guess that the waymarks would have sections (as someone suggested) for various marks (BLM, NGS, etc) but even then, if I have forty-seven people ahead of me who have logged that they found "XXXXXX" benchmark in the NGS section and I go to look for it and find that it is most likely not there, destroyed, covered, missing, or located 300 yards from the listed coords anyway, will a professional be as willing to wade through all those logs to look at my information and offer advice?

 

Some of us (and I am putting myself in this category) actually like to do as good a job as we can accurately reporting finds. What result will come of our leaving the 47 other found waymarks there? Will that discredit the slightly more serious hunters and tarnish our image?

 

What other potential issues are there that we have not even considered? If this move is inevitable--what changes can we suggest that will ease the transistion?

Some off-the-cuff ideas:

Does the entire category need some defining criteria (such as must include a photo of X and a photo of Y as well as coords in Z datum?).

Does each sub-category need to be maintained by someone somewhat experienced in hunting for that particular type of mark?

Could some sub-categories be "purely fun" (private benchmarks, for example) while others need be semi-serious? And could both attitudes co-exist in Waymarking?

 

Will the NGS forum stay somewhere else entirely?

Will ALL benchmark forums remain somewhere else entirely?

Should all benchmark hunting be entirely separate feom all Waymarking?

 

I have a lot of questions. Does anyone else feel the way I do, or do I just take these marks too seriously?

 

I can hardly wait to hear more from all of you about this!

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I think that it's not necessarily the case that, if the benchmark area is moved to the waypoint area, loggers in it will be less: capable, smart, knowledgeable, careful, or whatever.

 

I presume it is safe to say that the NGS portion of the benchmarking section of geocaching.com will not be moved to Waymarking.
I don't think that's safe to assume. (I have no 'inside' information, though, other than what I read in the Waymarking forum topic about benchmarks.) In fact I think it might not be so good to have non-NGS marks in one web area and the NGS marks in another.

 

However, it should be verboten to put NGS-like PIDs on non-NGS-database stuff that people find. It would probably be best to not even allow that field to be filled at all.

 

 

(Edited to remove some idiotic misteaks.)

Edited by Black Dog Trackers

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Moving benchmarking to Waymarking won't change the character of you guys who hunt them and give good information to the NGS. However I do think it would make your job harder, or is that your hobby less fun?

 

It will make it easier to add benchmarks to seek but there won't be any meaningful control on what's added. I think it will be the beginning of the light post benchmark.

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... but there won't be any meaningful control on what's added.

Doesn't that depend on how well defined the category posting requirements are, and how well the category manager does his job when approving new benchmarks?

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I just read a post over in the Waymarking area where Jeremy said today that for now, benchmarking will remain where it is.

 

Yeah, but did you ask him if we get an update to the current database? :huh:

 

I couldn't help myself, I just had to ask. I'm not being too evil am I? :o

 

John

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I couldn't help myself, I just had to ask. I'm not being too evil am I? wink.gif

:unsure: Yeah, well, just don't be askin' about those benchmark pocket queries 'cause you know what'll happen. :anitongue:

Edited by Black Dog Trackers

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I have read the FAQ's till I am dizzy. Let me see if I understand the Waymarking site:

 

Now people can have a competition to see who has been to the most McDonalds?

 

Now people can have a competition to see who finds the most Rest Stops along the Highways?

 

Now people can have a competition to see who finds the most Oak trees located on the south-east corner of a four way intersection?

 

And people call us Benchmark hunters odd !

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hum i can see a problem

 

is there any way to limit where the stickers can be placed??

i meen i'd hate to have a sticker put over somthing cool or on a road sign

 

and do not put the corrds on the site just have users go and hunt them out

more of a hide and go seek insted of knowing where it might be at

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I can see this sticker as becoming a bain to Geocaching... I am sure Geocaching will "get it" as soon as Municipalities begin sending them the bills or worse for advocating for and enabling the defacement of road signs, buildings. Spendy bills too! Some Municipalities and other Civil authorities are already at issue with Geocaching as it is...

 

Not a great idea.

 

Rob

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It's one thing to slap a sticker onto a Tupperware container, it's another thing to slap a sticker onto a historic monument (or a MacDonalds -- some Waymarking categories defy comprehension).

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Team Neos,

 

The way I understand the purpose of this sticker is that people who want to participate in Waymarking, Buy these stickers and then they put these stickers on the items out in the environment that they want people to find on their hunts. The sticker is placed to show that the item it is stuck on is indeed a Waymarking Game piece. This is a difference from a sticker which is meant to put on your car or a cache. These are meant to be stuck on the item to be the item to be found in a Waymarking hunt. Over time, people can see how this could become cumulative. Some will get removed, Waymarkers upon realizing this, will replace them over and over... Bad PR. Some people out there will not enjoy this.

 

As a for instance, there is a company called 1-800 Got Junk?. They once climbed a telephone pole in front of my house and nailed their sign where every time I looked out my living room window, it was prominent in the dead middle of my view. I called and had it removed. Six months later they had put it up again. Yes I was way less than pleased the second time. They put these high enough so as a pole climb is necessary.

 

It is easy to see how we will see these stuck to all kinds of infrastructure. You know, Bus stops and Street signs, Light poles and private property of various forms. My own feeling is, I would rather not see these stickers everywhere, eventually. I know I will see them and I have a strong sense that city managers and other forms of civil leadership will not enjoy seeing them plastered over things either. They will consider it defacement, and graffiti, and it will be something they will spend money to clean up.

 

It isn't good PR, no matter how well any game is organized. Some people will take it too far.

 

There are a lot of things that could be done to develop the Benchmark Hunt, even things that could help generate revenue. But Benchmark Hunting takes the Back Burner. I hope folks here see this for what is means. A Busier Geocaching will have even less time to work on the Bench Mark Game which it doesn't work on already. It seems a shame when this game leaves no trace of itself in the environment that is not already there, unless an unconscientious hunter leaves a mess. No Abandon Cache to become Trash...

 

My .02,

 

Rob

Edited by evenfall

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The sticker is placed to show that the item it is stuck on is indeed a Waymarking Game piece. This is a difference from a sticker which is meant to put on your car or a cache. These are meant to be stuck on the item to be the item to be found in a Waymarking hunt.

 

Well said! My vote is that the Waymarking sticker is a bad idea.

 

-Paul-

 

Why don't you just write "Kilroy was here" with a Magic Marker and save the $1.50?

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I'm not a preimum member, so I can't see Waymarking.com yet, but it seems to me if you stick a big red and white sticker on something it'll take the fun out of finding it. Besides, I think charles up there is right, they want you buying those stickers at what, $1-2 a whack, that can add up.

 

I got a benchmark near my house that I assume I'll be able to log after Waymarking comes. (it's not in DB) Are they going to require you put a sticker on it?

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I'm not a premium member either, so all I know about Waymarking is what I've read here. But if the concept involves slapping a red-and-white sticker on objects that are part of the natural or built environment, I believe there is already a term for it.

 

It's called littering.

 

And unless I'm missing something, isn't there more than a little irony in that this activity is being promoted by folks who also promote a more responsible activity, namely "Cache In, Trash Out"

 

-ArtMan-

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I'm not a premium member either, so all I know about Waymarking is what I've read here. But if the concept involves slapping a red-and-white sticker on objects that are part of the natural or built environment, I believe there is already a term for it.

 

It's called littering.

 

And unless I'm missing something, isn't there more than a little irony in that this activity is being promoted by folks who also promote a more responsible activity, namely "Cache In, Trash Out"

 

-ArtMan-

Thank you Art. I couldn't have said it better.

 

- Mitch -

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