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Geocaching.com Guidelines Questions


tozainamboku

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It is black and white. Others are inserting the "gray area" and the "conspiracy" part.

 

Commercial links are not allowed on cache pages without permission from Groundspeak. That is the issue. It is in the guidelines. It has been for quite some time. That is the problem with the cache, which was the issue in the original post. Please take the time to read it again...

 

<snip..>

 

I am sorry, but I just don't see how I can be any clearer. Any side issues do not relate to the original post or the cache in question.

The OP cache linked to a page with commercial content. That is apparently enough now for the cache to have to get approval from Groundspeak to be published. The reviewer posted the proper contact in their note. The OP didn't not follow the instructions (at least not until it was too late) and instead tried to resolve the problem by asking other reviewers to take a look. (BTW this is proper procedure for other types of appeals, just not for commercial or agenda caches where only Groundspeak can grant exceptions). This is no longer a discussion about the OP cache or how the OP feels they were treated. If the admins want to split this off as a separate topic feel free.

 

I agree the guidelines regarding commercial content have been that way for awhile. However, I have the impression that Groundspeak has recently given the reviewers new guidance as to what is to be considered commercial - especially for events. In fact, it seems that Groundspeak regularly participates in the reviewers forum and often gives guidance. After this guidance is given the effect on geocachers is the same as if the guidelines were changed.

 

In the past reviewers allowed a link to the restaurant where the event was held. I know you couldn't put in a banner add with the logo for a chain but simple links were allowed - at least by some reviewers. Caches could be published with links to other sites with additional information. If the site required a fee or even to sign up for an account it could be denied for being commercial, but it was assumed that if you clicked on a link from a cache that it was reasonable if the site had some ads in the margins. Now an assumption is made that people are linking to sites with advertising as a way to drive business to this site. Links to sites with advertising are all of a sudden banned. Yet reviewers still approve some caches with links to sites with ads. Granted that site has one small unobtrusive ad for Amazon.com. But that begs the question - How many ads can the site you link to have before the reviewer has to refer you to Groundspeak to get the cache approved? Several people have posted here that the guidelines do allow a link to a non-commercial site with an event page and that page can have links to the restaurant or to other sites with ads. Where is this written in the guidelines? Only a lawyer could comprehend the difference between putting company logos and links on your own page and linking to a third party site that does the same.

Please, someone from Groundspeak, update the guidelines so we know what is allowed (i.e. can be approved by a reviewer without first getting permission from Groundspeak). While your at it, update the section on appeals to clarify that commericial caches and caches that solicit follow a different procedure. (I know it's there now but it can be made clearer.) Allow the reviewers the ability to answer the question - "What on my page is commercial or solicits?" perhaps I can change the page so the reviewer can approve it without having to involve Groundspeak HQ.

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...Allow the reviewers the ability to answer the question - "What on my page is commercial or solicits?"...

 

This guideline has been becoming increasingly restrictive. It's also in a state of flux. What I knew last year doesn't apply this year.

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How are we expected to know what is allowed if the guidelines change, but the changes are not published?

 

This is the issue I have with the way this is playing out.

 

The moderators seem to have guidelines to enforce that haven't been shared with the rest of us.

 

The "one mention of the restaurant" is one of the pseudo-guidelines batted around in the forums, but not included in the published guidelines.

 

The idea of "one degree of separation"--where you can link to a personal site with information about the event, including comercial links. You just can't have any commercial links on the event page.

 

It appears that "commercial" links include anyone who sells anything. So, if a geocaching groups sells t-shirts or geocoins on their web site, does that make it "commercial"?

 

If these are part of the decision making process for review of a cache, shouldn't they be included inthe guidelines?

 

I don't consider discussion in these forums to be "publishing". We check a box to indicate that we have read the guidelines when submitting a cache. I haven't checked a box for reading all applicable threads in the forums....

 

If those are the rules, that is okay with me. I am just stating that I think the rules, guidelines, and accompanying interpretations should be available to us.

 

Dave_W6DPS

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I know it doesn't answer the question, but typically the only event link I offer is to my local forum to discuss non-gc.com supported/allowed subjects. And that's usually to discuss going caching before and after.

 

I've never really needed the event cache page to offer anything more than where and when. I just take everything with me to the event so I don't have to deal with guidelines on a cache page.

 

That's all, please continue.

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The topic come up over and over because caches and events are being turned down do to commercial content. People who have had a event turned down and later see one like this will of course think that the system is unfair. In almost all case it is either a failure to read or understand the guideline.

[ ] Yes. I have read and understand the guidelines for listing a cache.

In spite of checking this box many people don't read the guidelines and more don't understand some of the more nuanced legalism.

 

If your cache was turned down for commercial content it was one of the following reasons

  1. Unlike DeLorme, you did not contact Groundspeak for a exception prior to trying to get your cache listed. If you did not get permission before posting, the reviewer will tell you to contact Groundspeak.
  2. You did contact Groundspeak for an exception but you were turned down because Groundspeak did not feel your event or cache provide enough of benefit to Geocaching to justify an exception. Groundpeak may tell you how you can change your listing so it is not commercial.
  3. You did not think your cache had commercial content but the reviewer did. Your reviewer will tell you to contact Groundspeak. (A nice reviewer may tell you what part of you listing he thinks is commercial so you can change this and avoid need to get an exception from Groundspeak).

I personally feel that the guidelines could be changed to clarify the procedures for getting an event approved. Apparent enough people miss the clear instructions to get permission from Groundspeak before posting that the guidelines themselves have to mention the backup of reviewers refering these caches to Groundspeak. But the referal process is unclear. I could look like these cache are automatically refered when in fact what happens is the reviews provide the contact address and instruct the cache owner to email Grounspeak directly. In the case where a cache or event is submitted that is not intentionally commericial in nature it is even more confusing. Clearly the guidelines are never going to spell out all the things that a reviewer may think are commercial in nature. They can't anticipate everything a cache owner might put on the cache page. And when the reviewer discuss these things in their forum with Groundspeak, there may be changes from time to time into how things are interpreted. Wouldn't it make more sense for a reviewer to work with the cacher to resolve the issue and correct the items on the event page so that it isn't commercial instead of sending out form letters to contact geocaching.com?

Link to post

It is black and white. Others are inserting the "gray area" and the "conspiracy" part.

 

Commercial links are not allowed on cache pages without permission from Groundspeak. That is the issue. It is in the guidelines. It has been for quite some time. That is the problem with the cache, which was the issue in the original post. Please take the time to read it again...

 

<snip..>

 

I am sorry, but I just don't see how I can be any clearer. Any side issues do not relate to the original post or the cache in question.

I think you are perfectly clear there, what is not perfectly clear is

 

What is the definitation of a commercial link?

 

I think it will be completely hilarious when a Cacher includes a link in their listing to the Groundspeak store, and the reviewer refers them to get permission.

 

There are MANY currently active listings that include elements that are getting new listings refused or refered to GS. This will clearly be confusing and seem unfair, or inconsistant to those trying to list Caches that are written just like the ones they see active all around them. Until there is some clarification added to the guidelines (or all examples of the violations have disappeared), this will continue to be a problem, and we will continue to see the issue brought up in these forums.

 

When a Cacher looks all around them and sees this, that and the other thing(which all used to be OK, but are now forbidden) yet the wording in the guidelines that we can see have not changed, how can anyone be expected to follow them. I have a Cache that links to the ferry service used to access the island, that was allowed without question. If a new Cache hider pasted my text into their Cache page, they would be told they need special permission, but the guidelines are the same. Of course they will not understand, and will seek answers from other players.

 

The whole "contact Groundspeak" message just sounds so daunting, many will try another way to find the answer. If there is to be an end to the "whines" in the forums, there will need to be a clarification of what is considdered "commercial", the same would apply to "agendas"

Edited by WRITE SHOP ROBERT
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Please define clearly what constitutes an agenda. Quoting the guidelines is not clear. Stating "It depends" is equally unclear. All I am asking for is a simple list of what is acceptable and what is not, since what has clearly been gone over and over by a number of people is that the guideline is very unclear.

 

I am asking this of the people who are in charge - rather than having moderators shutting down threads and reviewers answering with "it depends", I would like a clear definition.

 

This thread is not inappropriate, nor am I in any way intending to be disrespectful. I am simply asking for a clear answer which people can follow in determining what would be appropriate in a cache page, rather than having to deal with random interpretations which are inconsistent. Since another thread was closed on a specific interpretation of a specific cache, I am asking in general, so I am not reopening any other threads. As I said - simple question, simple answer (and more detailed than "it depends", because we don't know what it depends on. If you want to answer the question "What does it depend on?" clearly, I would be happy with that as well, and so would a number of others.)

 

Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this question.

I'm not wanting to get off the "commercial" topic, but since this thread is about clarifying the guidelines, this post is on topic as well.

Edited by WRITE SHOP ROBERT
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Bump

 

 

 

When a Cacher looks all around them and sees this, that and the other thing(which all used to be OK, but are now forbidden) yet the wording in the guidelines that we can see have not changed, how can anyone be expected to follow them. I have a Cache that links to the ferry service used to access the island, that was allowed without question. If a new Cache hider pasted my text into their Cache page, they would be told they need special permission, but the guidelines are the same. Of course they will not understand, and will seek answers from other players.

 

I'm still wondering how new players should be clear on what the guidelines currently allow or do not. What's allowed on many currently active Caches would not be allowed on a new Cache today, so how is a new player to know. For them to go hide a Cache, list it exactly as others they see nearby, and then be told "NO" is very confusing, and if it's too frustrating, will we take the risk of losing new players??(of course there are always planty of new players that GS doesn't really need to worry about that, but still, is that a good way to operate?)

 

For those who will accuse me of bumping the topic...as you can see, that's exactly what I did.

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OK, let me help you out...

 

I'm still wondering how new players should be clear on what the guidelines currently allow or do not.
People who list caches check a box that says they have read and agree with the current guidelines for listing a cache. The current guidelines specify exactly what should be done regarding commercial content in geocaches. If you check that box and have not read the guidelines, that is not Groundspeak's fault. Don't try to shift the fault to Groundspeak.

 

What's allowed on many currently active Caches would not be allowed on a new Cache today, so how is a new player to know. For them to go hide a Cache, list it exactly as others they see nearby, and then be told "NO" is very confusing,...
These same guidelines that they agree to say there is no precedent for placing a cache. Virtual caches are a perfect example. Using the argument you are presenting painfully illustrates a lack of understanding of the guidelines. People that would be confused can get clarity by reading the guidelines.

 

and if it's too frustrating, will we take the risk of losing new players??(of course there are always planty of new players that GS doesn't really need to worry about that, but still, is that a good way to operate?)

The "risk of losing new players" is seemingly very small because most either read the guidelines or are very understanding when something they overlooked is pointed out to them. You are being over-dramatic.

 

The lack of response in this topic should be telling to you. The fact that you had to bump the topic yourself and the lack of interest in the other semi-related DeLorme topic should show you that most people don't see this as an issue.

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The lack of response in this topic should be telling to you. The fact that you had to bump the topic yourself and the lack of interest in the other semi-related DeLorme topic should show you that most people don't see this as an issue.

Or that we're tired of not getting an answer and have given up on asking (or don't see the point in asking, as we've seen others not getting a clear response).

 

The commercial guidelines have been around for a long time - yes, I've read them many times. But the interpretation of those words has changed in the last few months. The only reason I know that is from reading the forums. It has been stated many, many times that only a small percentage of cachers read the forums. So how do you suppose someone feels when they do something the same way as before, but now get told it's wrong? Confused? You bet!

 

Without a clear definition of what is commercial explained to the users of this site (and I mean more than the forum users) you are creating problems for those same users.

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As you may well know, in the past I have been given much grief for (allegedly) dodging a question. The question here still remains unanswered...

 

What is the definitation of "Commercial", and "Agenda"?

 

Since you are clearly incapable of giving any answer on this matter other than to tell people to read the guidelines (which do not define the words) then you do not have any valid input on the topic. I've already heard everything you have to say on the matter, which is to "Read the guidelines". Let me be clear, I understand the guidelines. It appears to me that some do not, and several have asked for definitations on those words.

 

Why doesn't GS just come out and say:

 

"We will not provide any further defination of "Commercial" and "Agenda" but will leave those to be defined by us on a Cache by Cache basis, with no requirement for consistancy"

 

Need I remind you that I am not the one who brought up the question?

 

<snip>I agree the guidelines regarding commercial content have been that way for awhile. However, I have the impression that Groundspeak has recently given the reviewers new guidance as to what is to be considered commercial - especially for events. In fact, it seems that Groundspeak regularly participates in the reviewers forum and often gives guidance. After this guidance is given the effect on geocachers is the same as if the guidelines were changed.

 

<snip>Please, someone from Groundspeak, update the guidelines so we know what is allowed (i.e. can be approved by a reviewer without first getting permission from Groundspeak). While your at it, update the section on appeals to clarify that commericial caches and caches that solicit follow a different procedure. (I know it's there now but it can be made clearer.) Allow the reviewers the ability to answer the question - "What on my page is commercial or solicits?" perhaps I can change the page so the reviewer can approve it without having to involve Groundspeak HQ.

Link to post

OK, let me help you out...

 

I'm still wondering how new players should be clear on what the guidelines currently allow or do not.
People who list caches check a box that says they have read and agree with the current guidelines for listing a cache. The current guidelines specify exactly what should be done regarding commercial content in geocaches. If you check that box and have not read the guidelines, that is not Groundspeak's fault. Don't try to shift the fault to Groundspeak.

 

What's allowed on many currently active Caches would not be allowed on a new Cache today, so how is a new player to know. For them to go hide a Cache, list it exactly as others they see nearby, and then be told "NO" is very confusing,...
These same guidelines that they agree to say there is no precedent for placing a cache. Virtual caches are a perfect example. Using the argument you are presenting painfully illustrates a lack of understanding of the guidelines. People that would be confused can get clarity by reading the guidelines.

 

and if it's too frustrating, will we take the risk of losing new players??(of course there are always planty of new players that GS doesn't really need to worry about that, but still, is that a good way to operate?)

The "risk of losing new players" is seemingly very small because most either read the guidelines or are very understanding when something they overlooked is pointed out to them. You are being over-dramatic.

 

The lack of response in this topic should be telling to you. The fact that you had to bump the topic yourself and the lack of interest in the other semi-related DeLorme topic should show you that most people don't see this as an issue.

 

Rather than having an insulting and rude reply from a moderator, can we please get an actual answer from Groundspeak? Thanks. In fact, if there will be no answer forthcoming from Groundspeak, can Groundspeak please speak up and say thet they will not answer the question? If an answer is being considered can we please be informed of that? I don't believe it's a difficult question to answer.

 

Here it is again, in case there's any misunderstanding of the question...

 

What is the defination of "Commercial", "Commercial Links", and "Commercial Content"?

What is the difination af "Agenda"

Link to post

Rather than having an insulting and rude reply from a moderator,

 

I see nothing insulting or rude in what the puppy typed.

 

What is the defination of "Commercial", "Commercial Links", and "Commercial Content"?

What is the difination af "Agenda"

 

I just don't understand why a cache or event write up can't be about the cache or event, and that's it. Any outside links or info about non event or cache related items are going to risk being commercial.

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Why doesn't GS just come out and say:

 

"We will not provide any further defination of "Commercial" and "Agenda" but will leave those to be defined by us on a Cache by Cache basis, with no requirement for consistancy"

It says that! They have demonstrated that they might allow some commercial content. The guidelines say:

Some exceptions can be made. In these situations, permission can be given by Groundspeak. However, permission should be asked first before posting. If you are in doubt, ask first. If you do not have advance permission, your reviewer will refer you to Groundspeak.

Isn't that what it says (without the smarmy "with no requirement for consistency" part)?

 

Here it is again, in case there's any misunderstanding of the question...

 

What is the defination of "Commercial", "Commercial Links", and "Commercial Content"?

What is the difination af "Agenda"

They cannot give a definition flat out because this is a new game still. They evaluate each case on a case by case basis and determine what they want to do. Doesn't it make sense to do this?

Edited by mtn-man
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OK, let me help you out...

 

I'm still wondering how new players should be clear on what the guidelines currently allow or do not.
People who list caches check a box that says they have read and agree with the current guidelines for listing a cache. The current guidelines specify exactly what should be done regarding commercial content in geocaches. If you check that box and have not read the guidelines, that is not Groundspeak's fault. Don't try to shift the fault to Groundspeak.

The check box actually says

Yes. I have read and understand the guidelines for listing a cache.

Since you refuse to explain where the line in the sand is draw on commercial, I'm not sure I can ever submit a cache again. I understand that the guidelines would be about 100 pages long if you were to list everything that might be considered commercial. Because all the exceptions are not called out, there is some reviewer leeway in calling out what is commercial. So one reviewer may allow a link to the restaurant on the event page while another may say this commercial. It is impossible to predict what requires pre-approval from Grounspeak and what doesn't.

 

My real issue is not consistency between reviewers or even that everything be called out. My issue is that Groundspeak recognize this situation and clarifies the appeals process. Right now when a reviewer turns down a cache for commercial content, they can simple put in the reviewer note

I have reviewed your geocache submission. I am asking you to email appeals@geocaching.com in reference to the commercial content on the listing. Please reference the URL or at least the GC# of the page.

copy of relevant guideline ....

Most cachers would not bother appealing to Groundspeak since they are not DeLorme and figure that their appeal would be turned down. Instead they would prefer to work with the reviewers to make what ever modifications are necessary to get their cache approve. It seems that for the commercial guideline, at least some reviewers would prefer that you go directly to Groundspeak to get a ruling. This indicates to me that the reviewers themselves don't understand the guidelines. Being unsure about what is allowed, they prefer only tell the cacher that their something on the page that might be considered commercial and you need to get Groundspeak to tell you if this is really the case.

 

The lack of response in this topic should be telling to you. The fact that you had to bump the topic yourself and the lack of interest in the other semi-related DeLorme topic should show you that most people don't see this as an issue.

It's not an issue since most caches don't run into the commercial or agenda guideline. The issue comes up mostly on events. Event owners have traditionally included links on their event page to provide information to help cachers make plans for attending the event. While providing prominent display of links to the commercial venue where the event was being held or to thank sponsors of the event were always against the guidelines, some reviewers would allow these links if they were simple text and not a significant part of the event write up. Some reviewers had "rules-of-thumb" such as you could have one or two links on the page but not more. Sometime recently, it seems that new guidance was given to the reviewers to view any link as commercial. There was no update to guidelines to indicate this change in their interpretation. Many who regularly host events were caught off guard by this change. Most were able to work with their reviewers to modify their pages to comply with the new interpretation. However some who had never had a problem with their event before were confused by the new interpretation. The reviewer was not clear on why the cache needed Groundspeak approval all of a sudden and may not have been as helpful as they could be in communicating how the event page could be changed to get it approved.

 

Mtn-man, if you truly feel that there is no need to clarify either the commercial guidelines or the description of the appeals process in the guidelines, could you at least tell us how to provide information to potential event attendees (e.g. restaurant menus, campground reservations, etc.) without running up against the guideline?

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Since you refuse to explain where the line in the sand is draw on commercial,

<edited the rest out, since your next paragraph states that this part is a non-issue>

Let me be clear. It is not an issue of me refusing to explain the "line in the sand". I am not allowed to explain this nor am I or any other reviewer qualified to do so. It is not my job or my place to do so. There is a clear reason behind this. We are volunteers and are given instructions on what we can and cannot make decisions on. This is one of the things we cannot decide for ourselves. There are people who are paid to make these decisions. They work for Groundspeak directly and work for them full time. You are told to email them for these decisions, not to ask the reviewers since it is not our job to answer these questions.

 

I can tell you that there is no "line in the sand". That is why they call them guidelines (which has been stated many, many times.) We are in new territory with geocaching in general. The changes in the guidelines over the years show that things are still in flux, which would explain no "line in the sand".

 

My real issue is not consistency between reviewers or even that everything be called out. My issue is that Groundspeak recognize this situation and clarifies the appeals process. Right now when a reviewer turns down a cache for commercial content, they can simple put in the reviewer note
I have reviewed your geocache submission. I am asking you to email appeals@geocaching.com in reference to the commercial content on the listing. Please reference the URL or at least the GC# of the page.

copy of relevant guideline ....

Most cachers would not bother appealing to Groundspeak since they are not DeLorme and figure that their appeal would be turned down.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Feel free to suggest a better reviewer note. It might be adopted, seriously.

 

Instead they would prefer to work with the reviewers to make what ever modifications are necessary to get their cache approve. It seems that for the commercial guideline, at least some reviewers would prefer that you go directly to Groundspeak to get a ruling. This indicates to me that the reviewers themselves don't understand the guidelines. Being unsure about what is allowed, they prefer only tell the cacher that their something on the page that might be considered commercial and you need to get Groundspeak to tell you if this is really the case.
No, the reviewers understand the guidelines. They say to contact Groundspeak. I've explained above why this is and exactly why we are "unsure about what is allowed". It isn't our job to be sure about what is allowed. There are people paid to make this decision.

 

Mtn-man, <edited out, explained above>, could you at least tell us how to provide information to potential event attendees (e.g. restaurant menus, campground reservations, etc.) without running up against the guideline?

Again, this would be determined on a case by case basis. It would not be determined by me or any other reviewer. You need to summarize what you want to do, including the links you want on the cache page, and then email Groundspeak using the contact address.

 

(Edited out my double negative in "This is not one of the things we cannot decide for ourselves." for clarification.)

Edited by mtn-man
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Let me be clear. It is not an issue of me refusing to explain the "line in the sand". I am not allowed to explain this nor am I or any other reviewer qualified to do so. It is not my job or my place to do so. There is a clear reason behind this. We are volunteers and are given instructions on what we can and cannot make decisions on. This is not one of the things we cannot decide for ourselves. There are people who are paid to make these decisions. They work for Groundspeak directly and work for them full time. You are told to email them for these decisions, not to ask the reviewers since it is not our job to answer these questions.

 

I can tell you that there is no "line in the sand".

So there are instructions from Groundspeak that let the volunteer reviewers know when they have to refer the hider to the people at Groundspeak so Groundspeak can make the final approve, or not approve decision. What is the trigger that causes this referral?
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Mtn-man, <edited out, explained above>, could you at least tell us how to provide information to potential event attendees (e.g. restaurant menus, campground reservations, etc.) without running up against the guideline?

Again, this would be determined on a case by case basis. It would not be determined by me or any other reviewer. You need to summarize what you want to do, including the links you want on the cache page, and then email Groundspeak using the contact address.

Does this mean that every event held at a restaurant or other commercial venue needs to be submitted Groundspeak for pre-approval? :drama:

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So there are instructions from Groundspeak that let the volunteer reviewers know when they have to refer the hider to the people at Groundspeak so Groundspeak can make the final approve, or not approve decision. What is the trigger that causes this referral?

The name of or a link to a company.

 

Does this mean that every event held at a restaurant or other commercial venue needs to be submitted Groundspeak for pre-approval? :drama:

We work by coordinates. They get you to within 30 feet (or 10 meters) a spot usually. In a parking lot, I would venture to say it would even be closer. You don't have to name the restaurant. The coordinates should take you to the front door, just like the coordinates take you to any geocache. If you want to have the name of the restaurant on the cache page, you need to get permission.

 

Taking this a step further (being proactive), if the place is in a strip area with two restaurants next to each other, you say "We will be having a pizza party!". You don't have to say "We will be eating at Greg's Pizza Restaurant!".

Edited by mtn-man
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Why doesn't GS just come out and say:

 

"We will not provide any further defination of "Commercial" and "Agenda" but will leave those to be defined by us on a Cache by Cache basis, with no requirement for consistancy"

It says that! They have demonstrated that they might allow some commercial content. The guidelines say:

Some exceptions can be made. In these situations, permission can be given by Groundspeak. However, permission should be asked first before posting. If you are in doubt, ask first. If you do not have advance permission, your reviewer will refer you to Groundspeak.

Isn't that what it says (without the smarmy "with no requirement for consistency" part)?

 

Here it is again, in case there's any misunderstanding of the question...

 

What is the defination of "Commercial", "Commercial Links", and "Commercial Content"?

What is the difination af "Agenda"

They cannot give a definition flat out because this is a new game still. They evaluate each case on a case by case basis and determine what they want to do. Doesn't it make sense to do this?

 

Since you refuse to explain where the line in the sand is draw on commercial,

<edited the rest out, since your next paragraph states that this part is a non-issue>

Let me be clear. It is not an issue of me refusing to explain the "line in the sand". I am not allowed to explain this nor am I or any other reviewer qualified to do so. It is not my job or my place to do so. There is a clear reason behind this. We are volunteers and are given instructions on what we can and cannot make decisions on. This is not one of the things we cannot decide for ourselves. There are people who are paid to make these decisions. They work for Groundspeak directly and work for them full time. You are told to email them for these decisions, not to ask the reviewers since it is not our job to answer these questions.

 

I can tell you that there is no "line in the sand". That is why they call them guidelines (which has been stated many, many times.) We are in new territory with geocaching in general. The changes in the guidelines over the years show that things are still in flux, which would explain no "line in the sand".

 

My real issue is not consistency between reviewers or even that everything be called out. My issue is that Groundspeak recognize this situation and clarifies the appeals process. Right now when a reviewer turns down a cache for commercial content, they can simple put in the reviewer note
I have reviewed your geocache submission. I am asking you to email appeals@geocaching.com in reference to the commercial content on the listing. Please reference the URL or at least the GC# of the page.

copy of relevant guideline ....

Most cachers would not bother appealing to Groundspeak since they are not DeLorme and figure that their appeal would be turned down.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Feel free to suggest a better reviewer note. It might be adopted, seriously.

 

Instead they would prefer to work with the reviewers to make what ever modifications are necessary to get their cache approve. It seems that for the commercial guideline, at least some reviewers would prefer that you go directly to Groundspeak to get a ruling. This indicates to me that the reviewers themselves don't understand the guidelines. Being unsure about what is allowed, they prefer only tell the cacher that their something on the page that might be considered commercial and you need to get Groundspeak to tell you if this is really the case.
No, the reviewers understand the guidelines. They say to contact Groundspeak. I've explained above why this is and exactly why we are "unsure about what is allowed". It isn't our job to be sure about what is allowed. There are people paid to make this decision.

 

Mtn-man, <edited out, explained above>, could you at least tell us how to provide information to potential event attendees (e.g. restaurant menus, campground reservations, etc.) without running up against the guideline?

Again, this would be determined on a case by case basis. It would not be determined by me or any other reviewer. You need to summarize what you want to do, including the links you want on the cache page, and then email Groundspeak using the contact address.

 

So there are instructions from Groundspeak that let the volunteer reviewers know when they have to refer the hider to the people at Groundspeak so Groundspeak can make the final approve, or not approve decision. What is the trigger that causes this referral?

The name of or a link to a company.

 

Does this mean that every event held at a restaurant or other commercial venue needs to be submitted Groundspeak for pre-approval? :drama:

We work by coordinates. They get you to within 30 feet (or 10 meters) a spot usually. In a parking lot, I would venture to say it would even be closer. You don't have to name the restaurant. The coordinates should take you to the front door, just like the coordinates take you to any geocache. If you want to have the name of the restaurant on the cache page, you need to get permission.

 

Taking this a step further (being proactive), if the place is in a strip area with two restaurants next to each other, you say "We will be having a pizza party!". You don't have to say "We will be eating at Greg's Pizza Restaurant!".

 

Thank you, there are some actual answers in these posts. If you have given these answers before and I missed them, I apologize.

Edited by WRITE SHOP ROBERT
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I'd like to thank mtn-man as well for his recent posts that are now beginning to answer the questions I and others had. I think I have a clearer view of the commercial guidelines now. I'm see that there may be some confusion between a commercial cache (one where you have to pay admission to a for profit business or may be put in a situation where you feel pressured to buy something) and a cache which is using the cache page as advertising for a business. It may be that the later falls under the caches that solicit guidelines, I'm not sure. Anyhow, I'm taking up mtn-man's sugestion, and propose the following changes to the guidelines:

 

Deletions are shown red with stikethrough

Additions are shown blue

 

Commercial Caches

 

Commercial caches attempt to use the Geocaching.com web site cache reporting tool directly or indirectly (intentionally or non-intentionally) to solicit customers through a Geocaching.com listing. These are NOT permitted. Examples include caches placed in for-profit locations that require an entrance fee, or at locations that sell products or services. If the finder is required to go inside the business, interact with employees, and/or purchase a product or service, then the cache is presumed to be commercial.

 

In addition, the cache page may not be used to provide advertising on behalf of any business or individual. A link to a commercial website or even the mention of the name of a business may be construed to be commercial content.

 

Some exceptions can be made. In these situations, permission can be given by Groundspeak.Commercial caches must get permission from Groundspeak in order to be published. However, permission should be asked first before posting. If you are in doubt, ask first. If you do not have advance permission, your reviewer will refer you to Groundspeak. and your reviewer feels that your cache is commercial they will notify you via a reviewer note or email and if possible indicate the sections of the cache page that are commercial. If the page has substantial commercial content they might simple state the entire page is commercial. If there are specific problems, you can make changes and ask the reviewer to look at your page again. If you do not want to change the page or are unable to agree on the changes with the reviewer, you can appeal by emailing appeals@geocaching.com. Include a link to the cache page or at a minimum the GC number of the cache. Groundspeak will review the cache and determine if the content is commercial and whether or not to grant an exception if it is.

 

Caches that Solicit

 

Solicitations are off-limits. Cache pages may not be used for solicitations. For example, caches perceived to be posted for religious, political, charitable or social agendas are not permitted. Geocaching is supposed to be a light, fun activity, not a platform for an agenda. If your reviewer feels that your cache page is soliciting or promoting an agenda, they will notify you via a reviewer note or email. They may chose to indicate the portions of your cache page that are in violation of the guideline. You may be able to work with you reviewer to fix the cache page so that it can be published. Groundspeak may make exceptions for some agendas, for example, promoting of C.I.T.O. (Cache In, Trash Out). You may wish to contact Groundspeak via the contact@geocaching.com address to request permission to post a cache that promotes an agenda.

Edited by tozainamboku
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... Most cachers would not bother appealing to Groundspeak since they are not DeLorme and figure that their appeal would be turned down. Instead they would prefer to work with the reviewers to make what ever modifications are necessary to get their cache approve.

 

That is perhaps the best assessment yet of the problem.

 

"Instead they would prefer to work with the reviewers..." rather than follow the established procedure.

 

Groundspeak provides a clear procedure for seeking approval for commercial and agenda caches.

 

When the Reviewer notifies a cache owner that a listing should be considered by Groundspeak, do that.

 

By 'not bothering' to follow the existing procedure the cacher denies GS the opportunity to work with them.

 

If the cacher doesn't follow the guidelines and the Reviewer's request to take it to GS and thereby robs GS of the opportunity to rule on the matter they probably won't find much 'change the guidelines!' support here in the forums!

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... Most cachers would not bother appealing to Groundspeak since they are not DeLorme and figure that their appeal would be turned down. Instead they would prefer to work with the reviewers to make what ever modifications are necessary to get their cache approve.

 

That is perhaps the best assessment yet of the problem.

 

"Instead they would prefer to work with the reviewers..." rather than follow the established procedure.

 

Groundspeak provides a clear procedure for seeking approval for commercial and agenda caches.

 

When the Reviewer notifies a cache owner that a listing should be considered by Groundspeak, do that.

 

By 'not bothering' to follow the existing procedure the cacher denies GS the opportunity to work with them.

 

If the cacher doesn't follow the guidelines and the Reviewer's request to take it to GS and thereby robs GS of the opportunity to rule on the matter they probably won't find much 'change the guidelines!' support here in the forums!

If I am intentionally including commercial content on my page, I can understand that I need to get permission from Groundspeak first. On the other hand, if I am posting an event and have added a link to the restaurant or the campground reservation system as a courtesy to cachers that may want to attend, I might not expect this to be considered commercial. I would prefer the reviewer to say

The link to xyz.com on your event page is considered commercial content. I cannot approve your cache unless you remove this link. If you wish to keep the link you can appeal by sending email to appeals@geocaching.com

In every other case the reviewer are allowed to tell you what changes you need get the cache approved. They can say

Your caches is within 528 ft of an existing cache. Either move your cache to another location or provide me with more information so I can determine if an exception can be granted

My reading of the commercial guideline is that reviewer can not grant exceptions. Only Groundspeak can give approval for a commercial cache. This does not mean that reviewer cannot help cachers make changes to their cache page to get a cache approved. Clearly, many times all that is needed is to remove a link or not mention the business by name.

 

Suppose I submit a cache in the parking log of Wal*Mart. I call the cache Wal*Mart #1. In the reviewer note I indicate that I got permission from the store manager. Should the reviewer send me email that says

Your cache is commercial. You need to contact Geocaching.com for permission
or one that says
Your cache is commercial because it contains the name of the business in the title. Use a name that does not advertise this business like Big Box #1. If you wish to keep the current name you must get permission from Groundspeak.
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Suppose I submit a cache in the parking log of Wal*Mart. I call the cache Wal*Mart #1. In the reviewer note I indicate that I got permission from the store manager. Should the reviewer send me email that says

Your cache is commercial. You need to contact Geocaching.com for permission
or one that says
Your cache is commercial because it contains the name of the business in the title. Use a name that does not advertise this business like Big Box #1. If you wish to keep the current name you must get permission from Groundspeak.

 

Or even as simple as :

Your cache may be considered commercial under the guidelines because it contains the name of (or link to) a business. As a reviewer, I'm not allowed to make that judgment call, so if you wish to keep the current name you'll need to contact Groundspeak via appeals@geocaching.com.

 

Since reviewers can't decide IF it's commercial content, they can't really tell you how to specifically "fix" your cache (because there may not be a problem), but they could certainly tell you which parts to remove so that it isn't flagged as needing a GS review.

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Looks like the blantant commercial cache thread is winding down so I would like to explore an issue that that thread raised.

 

The OP had an event at a campground. He included a link to a commercial site that the state park used for campground reservations. The reviewer would not publish this without Groundspeak approval. When asked, Groundspeak denied the request. I haven't actually checked the OPs event page but my guess is that you did not have to make reservations at the campground to attend the event. The link was provided with the expectation that many people attending the event would want to stay in the campground. Some people might only be interested in attending if the could get reservations in the campground. There are probably several ways to provide this information short of putting a clickable link on the page, but as the guidelines stand, I'm not sure what would be allowed. Had Groundspeak said 'You can't have a clickable link but you you can say "If you like to stay in the campground you can make reservations on the Reserve America web site"' the problem would be solved. But it is not clear that even this would be allowed.

 

In deciding whether or not I am going to attend an event I would like to have the ability to access more information than the time, date, and coordinates of the event. If its at a restaurant I'd want to know what restaurant it is at, what kind of food is available, and approximately what will it cost. If it's a get together at a park, I'd like to know what its going to cost me to park, what activities are planed, is it potluck. A camp out event and I'd want to know campground fees, where to make reservations, number of people allowed per campsite, etc. The commercial rules make it unclear how this information can be provide by the event organinizer. I've seen some people say that I can have a personal web page that contains this information and link to that, but so far no confirmation from Groundspeak as to whether this is true.

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I'm not clear what the problem is. I took a look at what I believe is the event page in question. There is link to the state forest in question. On the park page are directions on how to reserve a campsite and the rules and regulations for visiting and camping. I see no need for a link to a commercial site from the event. Surely anyone who is trying to decide whether or not to attend will want to check out the location before deciding to reserve a campsite and if they know enough about the location to know they want to attend they probably know how to make a reservation. It isn't as if campgrounds deliberately tried to conceal the procedure for making a reservation.

Team Taran

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I guess they didn't clarify the guidelines regarding commercial links quick enough. :D

2 Admins in the UK just quit for this very reason. :huh:

Dang.... I'm just gonna be sure I don't have any links on my event pages....if I ever hold an event.

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I guess they didn't clarify the guidelines regarding commercial links quick enough. ;)

2 Admins in the UK just quit for this very reason. :)

Dang.... I'm just gonna be sure I don't have any links on my event pages....if I ever hold an event.

I think you are confused. The issue was regarding forum guidelines...

 

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=191723

 

And as stated by one of the resigning reviewers themselves, "No one thing has made me decide this, rather a gradual change in how things needed to be done."

 

http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=191795

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And as stated by one of the resigning reviewers themselves, "No one thing has made me decide this, rather a gradual change in how things needed to be done."

As one of the two people being quoted I would like to point out that one of the gradual changes mentioned was indeed the tightening up of the "commercial" guideline. This meant that I couldn't publish some caches which I felt were innocuous because of mentions of certain businesses which had historically been part and parcel of geocaching in the UK but which are no longer allowed.

 

Forum guidelines were also an issue but not the only thing.

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Ah, thanks for the clarification. When ventura_kids said...

Admins in the UK just quit for this very reason.
... the only issue stated in the forums so far was regarding the moderating in the forums, so I did not see how they could emphatically state that this was the "very" reason you had resigned.
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They cannot give a definition flat out because this is a new game still. They evaluate each case on a case by case basis and determine what they want to do. Doesn't it make sense to do this?

 

A "new game"??? I have been playing for over five years. These changes were made much more recently.

 

We can't define "commercial", but we know it when we see it?

 

I don't like that non-answer.

 

Especially with all the unwritten psuedo-guidelines that are allowed to propagate.

 

"You can only list the restaurant once, but you can't link to their webpage."

 

"You have to link to a non-commercial site that may have links to commercial sites."\

 

Why not give an idea of what the actual guideline is?

 

I'm not saying it should be a hard and fast definition--that would be more like a rule.

 

But to have the double-secret guidelines only known to reviewers (and the rest of us have to guess at) coupled with changes that don't get published in the guidelines, since they are changes to unwritten guidelines, make it difficult to know what is going on.

 

I still think a little more effort at writing down the currently unwritten part of the guidelines would help.

 

Dave_W6DPS

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A "new game"???

Absolutely, in a big picture sense. Eight years is nothing when you consider games we play.

 

I will try an analogy.

 

Ice hockey has been played for what I would consider "years". It's origins go back 500 years back to Europe (I didn't know that even until just now). Organized ice hockey started around 1885 in North America according to the NHL site. How it is played constantly changes. Instant replay is a good example of a rule in hockey that is to me "new" and that has been changing as they find what works and what doesn't work. At this point, to me, they have it down to an art in the NHL and it works about as perfect as it can be done.

 

For American football in the NFL, they have been massaging instant replay rules to see what works best and keeps the game moving along. That give two good examples of games that have rules that continue to change over time.

 

Now, I know you are going to say "but they have written rules". You are right. They have an off season though, when they can discuss their rules and then enforce them in the next season. We don't have an off season, so the discussion goes on behind the scenes as the game constantly goes on. I guess you are right that it isn't fair not to have them spelled out better and I have asked if it would be possible to speed up the process of getting that out. No promises as to when, but hopefully something will be seen soon enough. The nice thing is that over time the guidelines have been relaxed a bit more and more for the most part in recent years, so at least the change is the direction most probably want to see.

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I guess you are right that it isn't fair not to have them spelled out better and I have asked if it would be possible to speed up the process of getting that out.

 

So let me get this right - They aren't unwritten, just not spelled out?

 

Thanks for the clarification! ;)

 

Deane

AKA: DeRock & the Psychic Cacher - Grattan MI

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Yeah, I figured someone would twist my words.

 

What I said was that the discussions of the guidelines are an ongoing thing. I said that I would ask that the ongoing discussions going on at this time be finalized and published. I also said that there was no time line as to when that would happen. It might happen tomorrow, it might happen next year. The current guidelines are published and should be followed. When people write Groundspeak for permission as is spelled out in the guidelines, they might get it. If you don't write Groundspeak when you are asked to do so by the reviewer, you have no one to blame but yourself if you delay so long that your event cache listing time period passes and your event does not get listed.

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