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MissJenn

Guideline Changes & Clarifications

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At Groundspeak, we recognize that geocaching continues to grow and evolve. We look for opportunities to make site improvements and changes to benefit geocaching and the global geocaching community. Following a long reflection on certain Geocaching.com web site policies, we believe it is time to make a few changes.

 

During this policy review, we actively sought out and listened to the opinions of a great many geocaching community members. We held internal discussions and read more than a few related messages within the Groundspeak Discussion Forums and elsewhere. As a result of this review and in the best interest of the geocaching community and geocaching in general, we have changed or clarified the following Geocaching.com policies. We believe it provides additional flexibility.

 

1. We have expanded and clarified what we mean by commercial cache listings:

 

The old Cache Guidelines say:

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 for-profit locations that require an entrance fee, or 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.

The new Cache Guidelines will read as follows:

Commercial caches will not be published on geocaching.com without prior approval from Groundspeak. A commercial cache is a geocache listing or geocache which is perceived by Groundspeak, Groundspeak's employees, or the Volunteer Geocache Reviewers as having been submitted to geocaching.com with the principal or substantial intent of soliciting customers or generating commercial gain. The geocache is presumed to be commercial if the finder is required to go inside a business, interact with employees, and/or purchase a product or service, or if the cache listing has overtones of advertising, marketing, or promotion.

 

Additionally, links to businesses, commercial advertisers, charities, political or social agendas, or the inclusion of their associated logos are not permitted on cache descriptions without prior permission from Groundspeak.

Business names should not be in geocache titles. In cases where business names must be mentioned (in some events, for example, it may make sense to do so), this can be done in the description.

 

Entrance fees to nonprofit organizations like parks and other such locations are often given an exception.

 

Other exceptions can sometimes be granted when appropriate. Requests for permission should be sent to contact@geocaching.com .

 

Caches perceived to be posted for religious, political, charitable or social agendas are still not permitted. Geocaching is supposed to be a light, fun activity, not a platform for an agenda.

 

We believe that updating these guidelines will provide our Volunteer Geocache Reviewers the latitude and discretion to publish geocache listings containing references to surrounding businesses or other relevant information in instances where those references are not principally or substantially intended to generate commercial benefit for the establishment and in instances where it is appropriate for the geocache listing.

 

Our general intention is to prevent geocache listings from becoming billboards for advertisers. It is not our intention to make people "jump through hoops" to avoid mentioning the name of or making reference to a movie, TV show, piece of music, sports team or other item of popular culture which is relevant to the region, state or country where the cache is located.

 

 

2. We have clarified what we mean by commercial forum posts and/or posts that solicit:

 

The old Forum Guidelines say:

Commercial Postings/Solicitations are not allowed. Commercial content as a direct or indirect (either intentional or non-intentional) attempt to solicit customers through a forum post will be edited or deleted. Notwithstanding the above, Groundspeak reserves the right to include limited commercial content in this Forum, in its sole discretion.

The new Forum Guidelines will say:

Commerciality and Postings With a Larger Agenda: It is Groundspeak's desire to maintain forums for the purpose of promoting the activity of geocaching and GPS usage. As a result, we intend to limit forum discussions that promote a commercial, social, political or charitable agenda insofar as the agenda does not reasonably relate to the activity of geocaching and GPS usage. Therefore, threads or posts perceived to have been made with the intent of promoting any of the above agendas will not be permitted. Please note that our Volunteer Forum Moderators are authorized to exercise their discretion in providing some reasonable latitude for forum discussion postings relating to local events and issues in local discussion forums. Notwithstanding the above, Groundspeak reserves the right to include or permit the inclusion of limited commercial content in this forum, in its sole discretion.

We wish for the main Geocaching Topics forums to remain focused on geocaching. However we are willing to provide for more latitude in the regional and/or international forums for discussing topics that geocachers would find useful or interesting as a closer-knit community.

 

 

The global geocaching community reaches across many countries and cultures. It continues to grow. We recognize that, occasionally, cache reviewers and forum moderators will need to use their discretion to determine the best course of action. Groundspeak has entrusted these volunteers to do what is best for the global community, including regional communities, when appropriate. When issues arise, Groundspeak will continue to approach them with a desire to best support the geocaching community and the activity of geocaching.

 

It is our intent to provide these revised guidelines as a framework within which we can all continue to grow and address new topics on a case-by-case basis. As we move forward, we will continue to rely on the global community to help us contribute to the positive evolution of geocaching.

 

Thank you for your ongoing feedback and consideration. It is greatly appreciated.

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Thanks for updating the guidelines, but i noticed you clarify the guidelines even in the post itself. It is similar to a 'signing statements' Bush loves to use. So, to interpret the guidelines, people need to read your post.

 

Everything you stated below your quote of the guidelines should be PART OF the guidelines.

 

For example, you stated (in plain english)... ".... Volunteer Geocache Reviewers ... " (will have) "... the latitude and discretion to publish geocache listings containing references to surrounding businesses or other relevant information in instances where those references are not principally or substantially intended to generate commercial benefit for the establishment and in instances where it is appropriate for the geocache listing. "

 

Now, you could consider that this is implied by the guidelines, where they say (in legalese) "with the principal or substantial intent of". However, your words are much plainer english. Geocaching guidelines don't need to be legalese. Say what you mean in them.

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Everything you stated below your quote of the guidelines should be PART OF the guidelines.

 

Historically, announcements made by Groundspeak lackeys have been carefully bookmarked by the community and wheeled out in support of people's discussions around the guidelines. At least in this case, you get the explanatory announcement at the same time as the guideline change, so they thinking of the former is probably pretty well in sync with the words of the latter. :D

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It's great to see some clarifications after all of the recent threads over the tightening of the "commercial" aspects.

 

These look like very reasonable guidelines for keeping blatant commercialism out of the cache pages, but allowing us to list basic information that seekers may find useful.

 

Thanks!

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Thanks for reacting to some community concerns. I think these newer guidelines are much more clear. However, I would agree that some of the discussion points in the OP should have been included in the guideline itself.

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Many thanks MissJenn for bringing the revised guidelines to our attention and clarifying their intent.

 

It makes a pleasant change :D

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Will these Guideline changes be included in the "Weekly Notification" for those people who receive those but never visit the Forums?

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Thanks for updating the guidelines, but i noticed you clarify the guidelines even in the post itself. It is similar to a 'signing statements' Bush loves to use. So, to interpret the guidelines, people need to read your post.

 

Everything you stated below your quote of the guidelines should be PART OF the guidelines.

 

For example, you stated (in plain english)... ".... Volunteer Geocache Reviewers ... " (will have) "... the latitude and discretion to publish geocache listings containing references to surrounding businesses or other relevant information in instances where those references are not principally or substantially intended to generate commercial benefit for the establishment and in instances where it is appropriate for the geocache listing. "

 

Now, you could consider that this is implied by the guidelines, where they say (in legalese) "with the principal or substantial intent of". However, your words are much plainer english. Geocaching guidelines don't need to be legalese. Say what you mean in them.

I can understand the desire to keep the guidelines simple. No one would read the guidelines if they contained all the rationale, clarifications, and example cases that get discussed in Groundspeak meetings, the reviewers forums, and this forum. I understand that some of the discussion in the reviewers forum is tied to specific caches and might have to be restricted to Groundspeak and the reviewers due to privacy issues. I would expect that Groundspeak would issue clarifications from time to time, as Miss Jenn did here. It would be nice to have this information consolidated in one place, but for now I'm sure that people who are interested can ask in the forums and someone will Markwell the appropriate posts.

 

I think the next area to work on is clarification of the appeals process. There is a good description now in the Guidelines but it refers to caches that have been archived (i.e. rejected) by the reviewer. However, there are sections, like the commercial guidelines, where the reviewer does not reject the cache outright but instead "punts" the cache by saying the cache needs to be approve directly by Groundspeak. The process here could be made simpler if the reviewer would be more specific about what needs Groundspeak approval and offering the cacher an option of either changing that part of the cache write up or emailing Groundspeak for approval.

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Thanks for updating the guidelines, but i noticed you clarify the guidelines even in the post itself. It is similar to a 'signing statements' Bush loves to use. So, to interpret the guidelines, people need to read your post.

 

Everything you stated below your quote of the guidelines should be PART OF the guidelines.

 

For example, you stated (in plain english)... ".... Volunteer Geocache Reviewers ... " (will have) "... the latitude and discretion to publish geocache listings containing references to surrounding businesses or other relevant information in instances where those references are not principally or substantially intended to generate commercial benefit for the establishment and in instances where it is appropriate for the geocache listing. "

 

Now, you could consider that this is implied by the guidelines, where they say (in legalese) "with the principal or substantial intent of". However, your words are much plainer english. Geocaching guidelines don't need to be legalese. Say what you mean in them.

I can understand the desire to keep the guidelines simple. No one would read the guidelines if they contained all the rationale, clarifications, and example cases that get discussed in Groundspeak meetings, the reviewers forums, and this forum. I understand that some of the discussion in the reviewers forum is tied to specific caches and might have to be restricted to Groundspeak and the reviewers due to privacy issues. I would expect that Groundspeak would issue clarifications from time to time, as Miss Jenn did here. It would be nice to have this information consolidated in one place, but for now I'm sure that people who are interested can ask in the forums and someone will Markwell the appropriate posts.

 

I disagree, I would rather have everything in the guidelines. Why can't they do like a wiki where links are provided with clarifications to certain areas. That way the "main" guidelines are simple but those who want a more detailed explanation can go to the links. I think it would be a win-win situation that way.

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Will these Guideline changes be included in the "Weekly Notification" for those people who receive those but never visit the Forums?

That is a really good idea!

 

Just a line and a link would do if putting all the text in was considered to be too much.

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Will these Guideline changes be included in the "Weekly Notification" for those people who receive those but never visit the Forums?

I would bet that it will be.

I know some of (or least one of) the reviewers are posting them to different caching groups websites. All in all, I would say TPTB are doing a great job getting this disseminated.

Edited by Totem Clan

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Now all we need is our clergy back in place in the Green and Pleasant Land. Tx Jenn - sensibly phrased.

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Thank you miss jenn it is good to see that Groundspeak have been able to adjust the guidelines so that commen sense can prevail. Thanks for all the hard work ;)

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Well done for finally realising who owns the place. Us geocachers.

Edited by olmeca

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Well done for finally realising who owns the place. Us geocachers.

;)

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Well done for finally realising who owns the place. Us geocachers.

 

I don't see Premium member next to your name. How exactly are you helping pay the bills?

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Back to the topic...

 

MissJenn, it would be very nice if the guidelines were written in plain English. I'm just a dum ol' Navy Sarjent, and don't unnerstan lawyur-talk.

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..

I don't see Premium member next to your name. How exactly are you helping pay the bills?

 

He clicks the adds for fun :blink:

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we have changed or clarified the following Geocaching.com policies. We believe it provides additional flexibility.

 

I appreciate the work you've put into this, but I have to say the RESULT so far is anything but "more flexible." So I'm thinking that after testing it out a bit, you're now saying that you're giving further thought to some pretty harsh decisions such as disallowing a link to a menu at a restaurant where an event was being held, or disallowing a link to an outsourced camping permit website for a state park where an event is being held. You're saying a volunteer reviewer might now have some descretion in allowing this type of thing, right? Also, I like it when a cache says something like "Yadayada House down the street from the cache has the most authentic sushi in Mingo, Kansas." Again, does a reviewer have the "flexibility" to determine that this is not really a solicitation but a helpful note to hungry cachers from NY or LA?

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we have changed or clarified the following Geocaching.com policies. We believe it provides additional flexibility.

 

I appreciate the work you've put into this, but I have to say the RESULT so far is anything but "more flexible." So I'm thinking that after testing it out a bit, you're now saying that you're giving further thought to some pretty harsh decisions such as disallowing a link to a menu at a restaurant where an event was being held, or disallowing a link to an outsourced camping permit website for a state park where an event is being held. You're saying a volunteer reviewer might now have some descretion in allowing this type of thing, right? Also, I like it when a cache says something like "Yadayada House down the street from the cache has the most authentic sushi in Mingo, Kansas." Again, does a reviewer have the "flexibility" to determine that this is not really a solicitation but a helpful note to hungry cachers from NY or LA?

 

Along the lines of this thought. I was interested in putting a cache at the base of a tree near a well known shopping area near where I live. I said something along the lines of "a neat area to shop or see a movie". I wasn't advertising any store in that center -- lots of people go there. (Well, there is only one movie theater, but I do go see movies there.) I didn't think it was too commercial. But the first refusal was because of commercialism. When I removed the sentence about shopping, the description seemed to be fine. So then I visit St. Thomas island for a vacation, and there is a cache in a store. That's not a problem for me; it was a fun cache find - a Mom and Pop place -- and on a rather remote island -- I think it should be there as a caching site.

 

I do appreciate the modification to the guidelines for clarification. I'd hope my next "near a mall" type of cache description won't get turned down because it happens to be near a place that sells stuff.

 

Hal

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Are the new guidelines retroactive? I ask because one of my caches has a link on the cache page to information about the tract of land it is on, which is a non-profit organization that does accept donations. It's just a brief mention of the land management agency and what their mission is, with a link to their web site. Should this link be removed? It's not a big deal, just wondering if I should take it off of there.

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i didn't read anything in there about TV shows. so am i able to place my Survivor Themed caches now? Or how about Torchwood and Doctor Who? Guiding Light? Amazing Race? Biking (somehow commericial)? Criminal Minds? Youtube?

 

Guess this means i should archive my Blue Light Special cache

 

or my Coming Attractions cache

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A few more words on events:

 

Event cache pages may state that donations are requested to recover legitimate costs for a geocaching event. A mandatory entrance fee can be charged but only to recover the legitimate costs of this event.

 

Event cache owners may require people to register officially at a separate registration page.

 

A simple list of sponsors (no logos or URLs) can be included on an event cache page.

 

Cache owners may mention event-related geocoins trackable at geocaching.com. Other coins, T-shirts, hats, or anything else should not be advertised on the page.

 

An option for event caches would be to include a link to a specific non-commercial, off-geocaching.com event landing page. Many larger events now do this. On that page, as long as the purpose is really to provide event info as opposed to a venue for advertising, links, logos and URLs could be included. Suggested text: See [our other event cache page] for more information on lodging, food and event-related merchandise for sale. OR If the event does not have an associated web page: See the event organizers for information on event-related merchandise for sale.

 

If we become aware of any inappropriate edits after a cache page is published, we can take corrective action.

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A few more words on events:

 

An option for event caches would be to include a link to a specific non-commercial, off-geocaching.com event landing page. Many larger events now do this. On that page, as long as the purpose is really to provide event info as opposed to a venue for advertising, links, logos and URLs could be included. Suggested text: See [our other event cache page] for more information on lodging, food and event-related merchandise for sale. OR If the event does not have an associated web page: See the event organizers for information on event-related merchandise for sale.

 

If we become aware of any inappropriate edits after a cache page is published, we can take corrective action.

OK, I seehow that works! :D Since all the linking stuff is magic to me, I didn't understand how it could work until I looked at an event I'm going to, where everything you need to know about everything is on off-GC.com links. Thanks for clarifying!

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The new Cache Guidelines will read as follows:

Commercial caches will not be published on geocaching.com without prior approval from Groundspeak. A commercial cache is a geocache listing or geocache which is perceived by Groundspeak, Groundspeak's employees, or the Volunteer Geocache Reviewers as having been submitted to geocaching.com with the principal or substantial intent of soliciting customers or generating commercial gain. The geocache is presumed to be commercial if the finder is required to go inside a business, interact with employees, and/or purchase a product or service, or if the cache listing has overtones of advertising, marketing, or promotion.

 

Additionally, links to businesses, commercial advertisers, charities, political or social agendas, or the inclusion of their associated logos are not permitted on cache descriptions without prior permission from Groundspeak.

Caches perceived to be posted for religious, political, charitable or social agendas are still not permitted. Geocaching is supposed to be a light, fun activity, not a platform for an agenda.

Do these guidelines also apply to a link to the similar cache description at another caching platform like navicache.com or opencaching.de?

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Historically Geocaching.com has not allowed members to use their listings here for the purpose of promoting competing listing services.

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Historically Geocaching.com has not allowed members to use their listings here for the purpose of promoting competing listing services.

Keystone is correct.

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Historically Geocaching.com has not allowed members to use their listings here for the purpose of promoting competing listing services.

Keystone is correct.

Oh, I don't meant to list it here!

 

I had made a link in my geocaching.com-listing to the similar description of my cache at another listing-platform, but the reviewer told me to remove the link because of the guideline concerning commercials. I don't mentioned this as a commercial promotion, because there is a standardized reverse-link to the geocaching.com-listing!

 

In my opinion there should be a two-way "promotion" of the platforms...

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I am sorry if we are being unclear. The link is not allowed. Your reviewer was right when he asked you to remove it.

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