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Weekly Cache Notification Overhaul


Jeremy
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Well, after 4+ years running we decided to turn off the old code we were using for the Weekly Cache Notification emailer. It was unfortunately so old that the code behind it was bogging down the database and ultimately causing site brownouts. So, I'm back to square one.

 

We currently use the mailer for two things:

 

1. Notification of new caches in your area, and

2. Letting you know all sorts of things, from announcements about new features to ads from our sponsors.

 

It's still going to do both of these, but I'm looking for some other ideas.

 

For example, I'm already planning to separate out the events from the cache types since it makes sense to make them separate. Also, events like Mega-Event Caches will be shown if you are within 1,000 miles instead of the usual 100.

 

We're also planning to add a list of the most recent categories added to Waymarking.com - as we move forward with that web site we'll be adding some more features to integrate some of the info from that site with Geocaching.com.

 

And lastly, we'll be working on more announcements to keep you up to date on the new features and changes of the site. So let me know what else you'd like to know! And if you don't bother reading those emails, what would make you want to read them again?

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I don't think the 100 mile radius for events cuts it anymore. People regularly travel far longer than that to attend events. Only one of the last four events I've attended was within 100 miles of my home coordinates!

 

I would say to list all the events in a state, but that doesn't work well, either. From my home in Pittsburgh, I could attend events in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland, all within 150 miles, but a Philadelphia area event would be outside my normal event range.

 

Maybe a 200 mile radius for regular events? That would likely work around here. In Texas they'd call 200 miles "local." :laughing:

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Well, after 4+ years running we decided to turn off the old code we were using for the Weekly Cache Notification emailer. It was unfortunately so old that the code behind it was bogging down the database and ultimately causing site brownouts. So, I'm back to square one.

 

We currently use the mailer for two things:

 

1. Notification of new caches in your area, and

2. Letting you know all sorts of things, from announcements about new features to ads from our sponsors.

 

It's still going to do both of these, but I'm looking for some other ideas.

 

For example, I'm already planning to separate out the events from the cache types since it makes sense to make them separate. Also, events like Mega-Event Caches will be shown if you are within 1,000 miles instead of the usual 100.

 

We're also planning to add a list of the most recent categories added to Waymarking.com - as we move forward with that web site we'll be adding some more features to integrate some of the info from that site with Geocaching.com.

 

And lastly, we'll be working on more announcements to keep you up to date on the new features and changes of the site. So let me know what else you'd like to know! And if you don't bother reading those emails, what would make you want to read them again?

 

In addition to a subscribe/unsubscribe check box, it would be nice to see check boxes to choose which information we want in our e-mail, for example just events but no caches or mega-events, and only certain new Waymarking categories.

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I would also like to suggest adding a "Site Tip of the Week" paragraph to the weekly mailer. The concept should be broader than just news about new features. There are many existing features that are not well known. Examples include the do it yourself adoption page, the photo gallery feature for pocket queries so you can see which caches in your query have cool scenery, and the "Mark Bug Missing" option to take an MIA bug or coin off of a cache page.

 

These tips could be written by Groundspeak, by site volunteers, or by community members whose input could be received through a submissions mailbox. There are a lot of Groundspeak forum regulars who spend tons of time in their local forums trying to summarize the stuff they learn here about site features. Getting the word out this way would be more efficient.

 

The tips could be short blurbs within the e-mail, but if they are longer than a paragraph, they could be links to a webpage, forum post, etc.

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How about the ability to pick and choose what you get with the mailer? I couldn't care less about waymarks or events. Tips and tricks sound cool, especially if there was an archive of the past articles.

 

I agree with this post. It should be on our account settings what we want the mailer to send us. I also don't want the mailer to send Waypoint categorys because I could care less.....but I like the idea of seperating the events from the container type caches for better viewing of where events are taking place.

 

I use the mailer to compare the new caches with what my insta-notify sends me because once and a while when their is a bug in the system the insta-notify doesn't send me a new cache, and I will get the info for that cache from the mailer.

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I don't think the 100 mile radius for events cuts it anymore. People regularly travel far longer than that to attend events. Only one of the last four events I've attended was within 100 miles of my home coordinates!

 

I would say to list all the events in a state, but that doesn't work well, either. From my home in Pittsburgh, I could attend events in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland, all within 150 miles, but a Philadelphia area event would be outside my normal event range.

 

Maybe a 200 mile radius for regular events? That would likely work around here. In Texas they'd call 200 miles "local." :laughing:

 

At the risk of turning the weekly notice into some sort of 'insta notice' type thing, maybe the notices could allow users to tailor them to their tastes. Like let them put in the number of miles from their coords they want to know what caches are new this week. Or maybe even allow it by type, etc... some people really like events, some never go to events, just increasing the mileage for events doesn't do anything for those in the latter group.

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Couldn't this just be an additional PQ that can be run once a week in a similar manner to the caches found tick box, but allowing the parameters available to standard PQs to filter the output. Then that solves the types, the distance and the output will be in GPS format and for it not to part of the 35 a week to be run.

 

Sue

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I don't think it being an additional PQ is good as only Premium members get/use them. I agree that a wider radius of Events would be better, however I think it would be good to be able to set the radius that your notification relates too.

If I got all events within 1000 miles I would find out about all sorts of events all over Europe of which I have little use!

Also, Most of the caches in the notification are further than I need.

Being able to set 2 distances (Event and Container Cache) would allow this notification to be more usable.

 

PS- I too have no use for Waypoint categories....!

 

PPS- It might be good to list the number of Finds on the new caches - For non-premium members it if usually your only chance for a FTF!

Edited by Bambography
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I am in agreement with much that has already been discussed.

 

I don't need any Waymarking information. Will turn that off if given the option.

 

100 miles is more than I need for Container Caches. I would probably cut that back to 20 or 25 miles if I could customize it.

 

I can't count the number of notifications I received before I ever got to the bottom of one to notice this message tacked on to the end. I can't be the only one that only scans the close ones at the top then just closes the email.

 

Your account name is 'Cardinal Red'. If you would like to be removed from this

list, please log into the web site and uncheck "Send me a weekly emailer

of new caches in my area" through the "My Account Details -> Edit Profile"

link on your "My Account" page.

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I'm also not remotely interested in Waymarking, I never go there and would consider announcements about it to be spam. The 1000 mile limit for mega-events seems spurious, I'm sure some geowoodstock attendees come from further away than that. I find the existing list of new caches useful.

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I generally scan right passed all the stuff at the top and go straight for the new caches... then I scan those until they get about 20 miles away and then delete it. You could have been offering all sorts of free stuff at the bottom and I'd never see it. :laughing: If anything new is added (like Waymarking categories) it should be at the bottom. The further I have to scan down to get to the new caches, the more likely I'll just uncheck the box and save y'all a few bits of bandwidth.

 

If the content was customizable, that'd be cool. But that just sounds like more work than I'm guesing you're gonna want to put into it. I'd vote for a basic overhaul to help with whatever is ailing it and then more development efforts to be spent on other improvements.

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100 miles is more than I need for Container Caches. I would probably cut that back to 20 or 25 miles if I could customize it.

 

I am in total agreement here.....I might be stepping on the toes of those who need MORE than 100 miles because of not having many caches in your area or being a number cruncher, but the weekly notifications that I have gotten I check caches that are withen 20 miles from my home coords. I live in a real cache dense area, and I get 15 or so caches that pop up in that distance frame everytime the mailer sends me something.

 

The option to choose how many miles from your home coords to search would be very helpful for me.

 

Now events on the other hand....I search the full 100 miles for those, so they should be seperate from the container caches and another option should be for how far to search for events (up to 100 miles....or whatever Groundspeak sees fit)

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I'll echo the comments about Waymarking. Separate activity, lets leave it that way. Although I've done some Waymarking, I wouldn't want it to intrude on geocaching information so I'd turn it off if given the chance. You'd be better off developing a separate mailing from Waymarking.com for those who are interested in that activity.

 

JD

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Customizing the email may take a while but it's a great idea. I expect I'll add all kinds of options as checkboxes so you can decide whether to get events, caches, waymark categories, etc.

 

The tip idea is good too. We'll be setting up the email so we can plan out announcements and have them run automatically instead of the more handcoded way we do it now.

 

I have already updated the distance of events to 200 miles. So I should show mega events regardless of location? I suppose since there aren't so many that would be ok.

 

I have noticed that the newest nearby caches can also get pretty long. My thought is to either show the 20 closest or the nearest under 100 miles, whatever is less.

 

I also added a table of contents so you know what the email contains, like:

 

In this email:

 

1. Upcoming Events (8 total)

2. Recently Published Geocaches (78 total)

 

We're sticking with text for now so we can get the new email bot online. However we do plan to do html based emails in the future.

 

Also, keep in mind this is not meant to be a replacement for Pocket Queries. If you really want GPX files of caches you can do that already through a Pocket Query.

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The usefulness of the notification is not nearly as useful as it was before we had instanotify. Now I know all new caches within a reasonable distance from my home, so I rarely look at the weekly notifications.

 

I'd be more interested in news (new features, site improvements, any related activities that might be going on, ...)

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The usefulness of the notification is not nearly as useful as it was before we had instanotify. Now I know all new caches within a reasonable distance from my home, so I rarely look at the weekly notifications.

 

I'd be more interested in news (new features, site improvements, any related activities that might be going on, ...)

 

I completely agree here. I barely even glance at the the weekly notification anymore, since I've already received the insta-notifications for any caches in the area I care about. I probably would like to see more of a "newsletter" format with news, or the aforementioned tips, which could include using bookmarks, watchlists, pocket queries, the Google Earth KML...etc.

 

Perhaps along with the tips, you could put in some stuff that comes up in the forums periodically (or more often than periodically). Or use it to reinforce such things as good trade habits. Or maybe even advertise the forums, which I don't think a lot of people even know exist or don't use. My parents geocache, and I'm sure they don't even know what a "forum" means, let alone that there is one here...perhaps they would quit calling me with every little question they have and bother some of you instead :laughing:

Edited by ThePropers
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I also just glance at the weekly notice.

For me the tips and news would be useful.

I would also like the option of seeing events farther from home.

Not sure 200 miles would be enough. 500 would be more the range for us.

Any mega event should go to all users as many travel from all over the world for these things.

It's not like there are that many of them.

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I would also like to suggest adding a "Site Tip of the Week" paragraph to the weekly mailer. "snip"

 

The tips could be short blurbs within the e-mail, but if they are longer than a paragraph, they could be links to a webpage, forum post, etc.

I personally like this idea, many folks avoid the forums or get lost/confused when moving around the site, they can get frustrated and give up. I still can remember my first time jumping in - it was like trying to swim with 50 pound weight around me.

 

Some folks wont look at the email but they cant complain about not getting any feedback when they are spoonfed the information.

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I think it would be great to include recent find posts from local caches (say within 10 miles of your home coords?). I like reading them, but it is rather time consuming to go through all of the caches near my house to read them... If I got them in an email, then I could keep up with the happenings in my area. I know that I could "watch" the listing... but I generally only do that for caches I'm needing to keep up with (like the ones with my TBs in them).

 

Another thought to maybe make the GC thing more of a community for people who don't hang out in the forums :blink: would be to have a geocacher spotlight. Provide pictures of them, what they do in the real world, why they hunt, what type of machine that they use, who they hunt with.... I'm sure there are a bunch of ideas I'm not coming up with right now.

 

Another take on the idea would to spotlight those who reach significant goals... 500 finds, 500 dnfs, completed a big multi-cache series... whatever. Those people could be nominated by other cachers.

 

Also, maybe some relavant info. Like "what does poison ivy look like?", or "so you ran out of batteries and are lost in the woods... how to find your way to your car".

 

Just my few random thoughts!

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Any mega event should go to all users as many travel from all over the world for these things.

It's not like there are that many of them.

 

The only thing about that idea is that if a mega were to pop up on the other end of the country that someone knows right away that they can't go to, then it is going to be a little annoying seeing the same listing for that mega for weeks on end. After all, megas can be listed up to 6 months in advance and that is 24 weekly emailers plus 1 more emailer as the event is still considered in the new status for a week after the event date.

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Customizing the email may take a while but it's a great idea. I expect I'll add all kinds of options as checkboxes so you can decide whether to get events, caches, waymark categories, etc.

 

The tip idea is good too. We'll be setting up the email so we can plan out announcements and have them run automatically instead of the more handcoded way we do it now.

 

I have already updated the distance of events to 200 miles. So I should show mega events regardless of location? I suppose since there aren't so many that would be ok.

 

I have noticed that the newest nearby caches can also get pretty long. My thought is to either show the 20 closest or the nearest under 100 miles, whatever is less.

 

I also added a table of contents so you know what the email contains, like:

 

In this email:

 

1. Upcoming Events (8 total)

2. Recently Published Geocaches (78 total)

 

We're sticking with text for now so we can get the new email bot online. However we do plan to do html based emails in the future.

 

Also, keep in mind this is not meant to be a replacement for Pocket Queries. If you really want GPX files of caches you can do that already through a Pocket Query.

 

Events within 200 miles and Mega events regardless of distance are a good idea, as is the 20 closest caches under 100 miles.

I'm not really that interested in Waymarking, so check boxes to enable/disable parts of the message would be cool, and I echo the request for a list of caches (within 50 miles or 100 miles or so) that have been archived.

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The usefulness of the notification is not nearly as useful as it was before we had instanotify. Now I know all new caches within a reasonable distance from my home, so I rarely look at the weekly notifications.

 

I'd be more interested in news (new features, site improvements, any related activities that might be going on, ...)

 

This is what I was going to suggest as well.

 

Once I set up instant notify, I stopped reading the weekly mailer. I will scan the first few lines, and then skip the caches since I already had them.

 

A new features listing would be nice.

 

I also would like to see all Mega Events listed.

 

As Lep said, "Tip of the Week" would be nice.

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The usefulness of the notification is not nearly as useful as it was before we had instanotify. Now I know all new caches within a reasonable distance from my home, so I rarely look at the weekly notifications.

 

I'd be more interested in news (new features, site improvements, any related activities that might be going on, ...)

 

Some of us are not premium members and therefore do not get instant notification of new caches. Therefore, to us the weekly notifications are appreciated.

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The new mailer is about 3 times as fast as the old one and definitely easier on the eyes. It'll take about a day to process them all - so depending on where you are in the queue you will get it sooner or later.

 

Some changes:

 

1. I have a Table of Contents at the top which allows us to have more than one message. Also it keeps you from having to scroll up and down the list to see what's in there.

2. Mega Events, Events and Caches are now in separate sections.

3. Mega events are worldwide, Events are within 200 miles, and regular caches are within 100 miles.

4. Events are sorted by date (soonest first), and the caches are sorted by distance in ascending order.

5. Only cache info is in the current email

 

Once you guys get the email I'd welcome any comments.

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Please add any changes that are done to the PQ system. This way if we miss it in the daily PQ's due to some of us automatically downloading them with third party software, we're not caught unaware of the changes after the fact. I read the notices in the weeklies. I don't read the PQ's.

 

Also, just a minor hijaack of the OP... are you guys scanning the e-mail for viruses before sending them with Symantec? I've got a flame ready to go to my ISP for blocking the message because it couldn't be scanned and want to be sure I slap the right nose... I mean inform the right department. :tired:

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Also, just a minor hijaack of the OP... are you guys scanning the e-mail for viruses before sending them with Symantec? I've got a flame ready to go to my ISP for blocking the message because it couldn't be scanned and want to be sure I slap the right nose... I mean inform the right department. :tired:

 

It's just a text message. I can't see how a virus could be included in the emailer.

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Hmmm... Looks like someone has stolen a lot of linefeeds or carriage returns: :tired:

 

This is an automated message from Groundspeak LoBot Mailer

 

In this email (from 10/26/2006 to 11/2/2006) ----------------------------- 1. Email Bot Maintenance 2. Instanotify Service Out of Beta! 3. Upcoming Events (29 total) 4. Recently Published Geocaches (96 total) Email Bot Maintenance ----------------------------- The gears on our old email bot finally seized up last week so ... you. This can give you a (un)fair advantage over other "first to find" hounds.

 

This week we decided it has been working well for long enough to remove the "beta" tag. Additionally we raised the limit on the number of notifications from 20 to 40, and added the log types "found" and "not found." Depending on the popularity of geocaching in your area we would recommend keeping your number of notifications low. http://www.geocaching.com/notify Upcoming Events (29 total) ----------------------------- 1. (GCYY4C) Halloween Penta-Turnier-Franken 2006 (Event Cache) Location: Germany Date: 11/4/2006 Posted by: BobBaumeister ... This email is being sent to username "PHerison". If you would like to be removed from this list, please log into the web site and uncheck "Send me a weekly emailer of new caches in my area" through the "My Account Details -> Edit Profile" link on your "My Account" page. http://www.geocaching.com/my

 

This is how my Eudora (6.1.2.0) displays the email! :blink:

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