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Trouble getting a challenge cache approved


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I am currently having a problem getting a challenge cache approved and wanted to know what the public thinks...

 

First the basic premise of the cache is that a number of caches have to be found before the final can be completed. The idea is that after completion of the challenge post a note to the cache page and I would send the coordinates. I rated the cache a 5/2.5 and asked that a bookmark list be created for the caches found for the challenge so that completion could be verified, similar to GCRX6F.

 

Items the approver has problems with...

1. Cache wasn't at the posted coordinates - I find nothing in the guidelines for a challenge cache that says it has to be at the posted coordinates.

 

2. Emailing the final coordinates to the cacher upon completion of the challenge - The only thing about this in the guidelines says that this may not be allowed. The approver says this is only allowed for DeLorme, All Counties, and USGS quads challenges.

 

3. My difficulty/terrain rating - the approver says that these should be for finding my cache and not the challenge in general.

 

Reason I do not want to post the coordinates on the page is that I would like to put a reward in the cache for those who complete the challenge and I do not want cachers to just come an take that reward. I was told to just try and use the "honor system" for cachers and if someone finds the cache without completing the challenge to just delete the log.

 

I was also told the following by the review... "There is no point in bringing this to the other reviewers, as we have been given explicit, written instructions from Groundspeak on this issue. It's not something that's open to interpretation. I know it's frustrating being given 'unwritten' rules."

 

How are we as cachers to follow "rules" when (A) they are supposed to be guidelines and (:) we do not even know what they are.

 

Please give me your opinions.

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Based upon what I have heard from friend who have gotten challenge caches approved, it does appear the Groundspeak has given instructions to the reviewers on several guidelines related to challenge caches (and to caches in general). These instructions are not part of the published guidelines but rather are guidelines to reviewers on how to interpret the guidelines. I have often said that these memos and discussions with reviewers ought to be published some place to avoid problems like the OP is having because he believes the published guidelines can be interpreted differently. For those of use who are not privy to the memos and discussions between Groundspeak and the reviewers we can only glean these interpretation by hearing from others who have had to deal with the reviewer either in private conversations or when they come on the forums to complain.

 

None of the issues the review brought up in regards to the OP cache are new to me. So these interpretations have been in place for a while. But they are not published any place and while they may have been discussed in the forums before, it would be hard for a cacher to find this information.

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I know of a cacher over in Louisiana that placed a cache with a similar challenge where a person has to find certain caches before they can claim a find on the final cache. If i'm not mistaken, he had the same problem getting his cache listed on gc.com as well. Unfortunately, i believe he ended up having to list the final with correct coordinates as well. Of course he can delete logs of people who don't complete the challenge but there's not a whole lot he can do to keep people from just going out and finding the container.

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None of the issues the review brought up in regards to the OP cache are new to me. So these interpretations have been in place for a while. But they are not published any place and while they may have been discussed in the forums before, it would be hard for a cacher to find this information.

That is an interesting comment because the reviewer said that updates aren't made to teh "rules" very often because then people wouldn't pay attention to all the updates, but if these have beem around for a while then why aren't they "published" for all to see?

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The "no e-mailing for coordinates" language has been in the guidelines for years.

 

From that guideline text, it follows that a challenge cache needs to be at the posted coordinates, or otherwise findable without receiving information from the cache owner.

 

I am sorry if this came as a surprise to you. Fortunately, the issue is easily fixed, and without a return trip to the field.

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You can have the co-ordinates of the challenge final at a bogus location, but it needs to be a mystery cache. You give the real co-ordinates as a additional waypoint on the listing. The others, as Keystone has pointed out has been around for some time.

 

Jim

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I have made changes to the page so it is now at the posted coordinates so hopefully it will now get approved so that everyone can enjoy the challenge.

If you're worried about your special prize being the victim of theft by an over-zealous FTF hound, don't put it in the cache. Give it to the true FTF (the first person to complete the challenge) at an event, or over coffee, or at lunch.

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I have made changes to the page so it is now at the posted coordinates so hopefully it will now get approved so that everyone can enjoy the challenge.

If you're worried about your special prize being the victim of theft by an over-zealous FTF hound, don't put it in the cache. Give it to the true FTF (the first person to complete the challenge) at an event, or over coffee, or at lunch.

I will have to do that... The changes have been made and the cache is published...

Texas Area Code Challenge (GC1PHTD)

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You can have the co-ordinates of the challenge final at a bogus location, but it needs to be a mystery cache. You give the real co-ordinates as a additional waypoint on the listing. The others, as Keystone has pointed out has been around for some time.

 

Jim

What jholly and Keystone said. Most challenges here in Washington State are handled just as jholly described: listed as a puzzle with bogus coords, and the true final coords provided as an Additional Waypoint. Honor system for folks not to find the final until they've completed the requirements (usually proven with a bookmark list), and challenge owner will delete any bogus finds (although, to my knowledge, that's never been an issue).

 

From the rate at which new challenge caches have been posted here, the listing requirements don't appear to be overly onerous. :)

 

The only part of the OP I found surprising was this:

 

3. My difficulty/terrain rating - the approver says that these should be for finding my cache and not the challenge in general.

 

For many WA challenge caches, the D/T reflect the overall difficulty of completing the challenge - e.g., the Well-Rounded Washington Cacher (Fizzy) Challenge is a 5/5 because you have to find caches with those ratings as part of the challenge. The challenge final itself is not a 5/5.

Edited by hydnsek
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The only part of the OP I found surprising was this:

 

3. My difficulty/terrain rating - the approver says that these should be for finding my cache and not the challenge in general.

 

For many WA challenge caches, the D/T reflect the overall difficulty of completing the challenge - e.g., the Well-Rounded Washington Cacher (Fizzy) Challenge is a 5/5 because you have to find caches with those ratings as part of the challenge. The challenge final itself is not a 5/5.

 

I have published two challenge caches...one under my own account and another under a team account and for both of them I made the D/T ratings reflect the overall challenge. Since the other caches are part of the challenge it only makes sense to include them in the D/T ratings.

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Are the caches needed for the challenge all yours? If so, one option would be to put one or two numbers of the challenge cache co-ords in the logbook of each of those caches, and let the geocachers work it out?

That would be a series bonus cache; not a challenge cache.

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I wonder if there would be a way to include some scripting in the cache page or in a linked page that could verify the challenge completion and spit out the coordinates.

 

I know of several puzzles cache pages that link to a "coordinates verification" page so you can punch in your puzzle solution and see if it is right before going into the field. There is also at least one site you can upload PQ's to that will kick back tables and lists of all the counties/states/terrain-difficulty combos/etc you have found.

 

Would Groundspeak allow for a puzzle/mystery challenge cache that had an automatied method of getting the final coordinates? That would eliminate the issue of waiting for a seldom on-line cache owner to get back to you with the real coordinates, which I think is at least one of the major reasons for the rule.

 

AK

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...Please give me your opinions.

 

I'm not aware of any reason a challenge cache can't have it's coords given out upon verification that the challenge has been met. I am aware that challenge caches that do give out the coords first are a special case of ALR's. ALR caches this site refuses to list. The challenge cache subset it will.

 

It sounds like you have found an ideal way to solve the ALR/Challege cache paradox and I applaud your simple solution. Quite frankly I wish all challenge caches were set up this way.

 

Oh, and your method is how the typical puzzle (the puzzle being the challenge) is set up and is fully allowed on this site.

 

I agree with the reviewer that the rating should be for the final cache itself and not the challgne. This site's reating system isn't designed (nor able) to rate the difficulty of a puzzle or challenge. Just a cache hunt.

Edited by Renegade Knight
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Got an idea for the op. Make the Final cache a Mystery cache with a solvable puzzle, But the puzzle is extremely hard, like a brute force password hack on a zip file. Depending on your choice of password you can decide how long it will take to solve on a standard computer, lets say 8 weeks of the computer running flat out. Then as a bonus for completing the challenge you email the successful challenger the password for the zip file. anyone then has a choice, brute for the zip file or complete the challenge.

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Got an idea for the op. Make the Final cache a Mystery cache with a solvable puzzle, But the puzzle is extremely hard, like a brute force password hack on a zip file. Depending on your choice of password you can decide how long it will take to solve on a standard computer, lets say 8 weeks of the computer running flat out. Then as a bonus for completing the challenge you email the successful challenger the password for the zip file. anyone then has a choice, brute for the zip file or complete the challenge.

 

I was thinking something along the same lines. A tough puzzle cache where there is an option for a cacher to complete a challenge in order to get the answer to the puzzle, a hint, or an easy method of decoding the puzzle. It seems this also solves the issue of having to post the final coords.

 

How could this not be allowed? If the puzzle is solvable and the cache is approvable on it's own, getting a hint or final coords by completing a task, ALR or Challenge type, should not be a factor IMO.

 

It seems a bit cheesy, it does not seem right to have to make workarounds for true challenge caches.

Edited by brdad
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It seems a bit cheesy, it does not seem right to have to make workarounds for true challenge caches.

 

I may be misunderstanding your post.

 

There's no reason at all to have to "make workarounds for true challenge caches".

 

I own two, they work fine. There's really no problem at all with having the actual cache coords posted.

Not one single person has logged a find who had not completed the challenge. If one did, that find can readily be deleted.

 

Very few people cheat. If you had obfuscated coords, you could still have cheaters, in that coords can readily be shared. I see nothing to be gained.

 

I suspect that if you tried to use the challenge cache masquerading as puzzle workaround, that your reviewer would see through it and suggest that you either submit a puzzle cache, or a challenge cache, not try to do both on one cache page.

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I suspect that if you tried to use the challenge cache masquerading as puzzle workaround, that your reviewer would see through it and suggest that you either submit a puzzle cache, or a challenge cache, not try to do both on one cache page.

Why? I don't see an issue with having multiple paths to the final.

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3. My difficulty/terrain rating - the approver says that these should be for finding my cache and not the challenge in general.

I kind of wish they'd retroactively make all challenges conform to this. Many challenges can be completed without trying to complete the challenge and simply from actively pursuing the hobby. Why should the difficulty of other caches be included in the cache.

 

Personally, I'd want to know how hard that cache is to complete. Doesn't matter if it's a challenge, bonus, puzzle, multi, or traditional.

 

BTW, from looking at the cache page, the rating would be moot for me as it would have gone directly on the ignore list. I don't cache in all areas of my much smaller state simply because I'm not interested. Why should I spend all of that money on gas simply to complete one cache which probably isn't all that interesting in itself? Just my opinion.

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3. My difficulty/terrain rating - the approver says that these should be for finding my cache and not the challenge in general.

I kind of wish they'd retroactively make all challenges conform to this. Many challenges can be completed without trying to complete the challenge and simply from actively pursuing the hobby. Why should the difficulty of other caches be included in the cache.

 

Personally, I'd want to know how hard that cache is to complete. Doesn't matter if it's a challenge, bonus, puzzle, multi, or traditional.

 

BTW, from looking at the cache page, the rating would be moot for me as it would have gone directly on the ignore list. I don't cache in all areas of my much smaller state simply because I'm not interested. Why should I spend all of that money on gas simply to complete one cache which probably isn't all that interesting in itself? Just my opinion.

Ouch. Although I kind of agree. Area codes?

Edited by 9Key
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I'm not aware of any reason a challenge cache can't have it's coords given out upon verification that the challenge has been met. I am aware that challenge caches that do give out the coords first are a special case of ALR's. ALR caches this site refuses to list. The challenge cache subset it will.

Re-read Post #5.

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It seems a bit cheesy, it does not seem right to have to make workarounds for true challenge caches.

 

I may be misunderstanding your post.

 

There's no reason at all to have to "make workarounds for true challenge caches".

 

Ok, I should have said borderline challenge caches - challenges that don't quite fit the gc.com guidelines. For a simple example challenge caches with a geocaching related ALR, like logging your find in Rot13.

 

Regarding posting of the actual location - maybe it's just me, but I'd rather surprise the finder with the location rather than have everyone be able to look at Google Earth and see the exact position ahead of time. Not a big deal, but it is a preference.

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Regarding posting of the actual location - maybe it's just me, but I'd rather surprise the finder with the location rather than have everyone be able to look at Google Earth and see the exact position ahead of time. Not a big deal, but it is a preference.

 

I understand that preference. I have the opposite preference! so I'm happy with this website change.

 

I like challenge caches, I'm working on a bookmarked list to meet one that's in my area. I don't intend to ever hunt the cache, because I know where it is - the coords being on cache page - and it's not a location that interests me. Conversely, both of the challenge caches I own are in swamps. This appeals to a percentage of cachers, and absolutely does NOT appeal to another percentage. People can know upfront whether they're going to want to pursue this.

 

Early in my caching career I worked hard on a couple of puzzle caches. I was sadly disappointed in both actual cache locations (drug store parking lot, business complex landscaping). And I'm not much of a puzzle person anyway. I no longer fool with puzzle caches.

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Regarding posting of the actual location - maybe it's just me, but I'd rather surprise the finder with the location rather than have everyone be able to look at Google Earth and see the exact position ahead of time. Not a big deal, but it is a preference.

 

That's fine for a multi or puzzle cache. But the point of the challenge is to find the group of caches that satisfies the challenge. I don't understand the need to solve a puzzle to find a challenge cache, unless the challenge involves solving puzzles. I don't see anything wrong with knowing where the cache is hidden. In fact it can help build the anticipation. "Only three more counties/letters/rating combos/etc. to go and then I get to go HERE and find another special cache.

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Did anyone responding to this thread happen to notice that he got his challenge cache approved the next day? Texas Area Code Challenge

 

Yes, but the posted coords are accurate and there is no need to have them emailed after completing the challenge. The D/T ratings remain the same, but that is something that, I believe, the reviewer can only make suggestions about.

 

I wonder how people, including the cache owner, are going to verify that a particular cache was within one particular area code or another (I have not read the entire thread... perhaps this has already been answered). I'd think you'd need to somehow overlay the geocaching.com map (or Google map) with an aear code map.

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Regarding posting of the actual location - maybe it's just me, but I'd rather surprise the finder with the location rather than have everyone be able to look at Google Earth and see the exact position ahead of time. Not a big deal, but it is a preference.

 

That's fine for a multi or puzzle cache. But the point of the challenge is to find the group of caches that satisfies the challenge. I don't understand the need to solve a puzzle to find a challenge cache, unless the challenge involves solving puzzles. I don't see anything wrong with knowing where the cache is hidden. In fact it can help build the anticipation. "Only three more counties/letters/rating combos/etc. to go and then I get to go HERE and find another special cache.

 

At that point I might be just as happy to visit the cache anyway, log the logbook, and log the cache online as a note. Other than not getting the smiley, you can still visit the cache, enjoy the possibly great location, take and post pictures, trade items, pick up/drop off TBs, and most anything else associated with actually finding a cache. Having a bogus set of coords helps insure (but not guarantee) The finder has to complete the challenge to earn those privileges. Now I agree partially with a previous poster, if the final is behind a store behind the dumpster, who cares. But if it's in a little known swimming hole or an unknown vantage point for a great view, I think that should be earned.

 

I also think it is a good idea to have the posted coordinates in the general area of the actual cache, I'm not suggesting a cache hider should be allowed to post coords 50 miles away. If, for example, the cache was at a swamp, the coords could be somewhere in the center of the swamp, but away from the actual location. The finder would have a general idea what he was in for, but not know the exact location.

 

A couple of my mystery caches have the posted coords at the parking location. I don't see why that's inappropriate for a challenge cache.

 

It seems the biggest reason emailing of coords is not allowed is because of the unreliability of some cachers to validate the challenge and forward the coordinates to the finder in a timely manner, is that correct?

Edited by brdad
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A couple of my mystery caches have the posted coords at the parking location. I don't see why that's inappropriate for a challenge cache.

Because the revelation of the actual coordinates is built into mystery caches. Solve the mystery, and you have the final coordinates. No verification or emailing required.

 

Imagine someone attempting to complete the All County challenge in Texas, and the coordinates are not revealed until verification, but are known to within 2 miles. They plan it so that their final county is in the same area as the challenge cache. They're 600 miles from home, find the last need cache to complete the challenge, and email the owner, who just happens to be on a cruise ship for the next 3 weeks with no internet access. Oops!

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Imagine someone attempting to complete the All County challenge in Texas, and the coordinates are not revealed until verification, but are known to within 2 miles. They plan it so that their final county is in the same area as the challenge cache. They're 600 miles from home, find the last need cache to complete the challenge, and email the owner, who just happens to be on a cruise ship for the next 3 weeks with no internet access. Oops!

 

We face that possibility on all caches. You could meet the requirements for the challenge and go to find the cache and have it be missing. And yes, most challenges are more extensive than a typical cache, but I have been forced to DNF several caches many miles from home I would love to have logged had they been there.

 

I'd suggest if anyone were doing one of those challenges a long ways from home contact the cache owner ahead of time to verify they will be available. I have done that when I am planning a trip and I see disabled caches that I would really want t find - I email the owner asking the actual status of the cache and whether it will be fixed before I go. Sometimes I get a reply, sometimes I even get a phone number. Occasionaly I get no response, so I skip that cache for the trip.

Edited by brdad
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I have made changes to the page so it is now at the posted coordinates so hopefully it will now get approved so that everyone can enjoy the challenge.

If you're worried about your special prize being the victim of theft by an over-zealous FTF hound, don't put it in the cache. Give it to the true FTF (the first person to complete the challenge) at an event, or over coffee, or at lunch.

I will have to do that... The changes have been made and the cache is published...

Texas Area Code Challenge (GC1PHTD)

 

Thanks!

You have just given me the inspiration for my next challenge cache.

Not sure if it's been done before, but apparently not yet in Arizona.

Caching with Mr. ZIP!

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It seems the biggest reason emailing of coords is not allowed is because of the unreliability of some cachers to validate the challenge and forward the coordinates to the finder in a timely manner, is that correct?

 

The "no email" language dates from the Nov '05 guidelines revision. Kinda got missed by many, because the big change in that revision was the end of Virtual caches. Anyway, I'd certainly guess, as you have, that the "email me" option went away because of too many unresponsive owners. There's a lot of cacher turnover.

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Imagine someone attempting to complete the All County challenge in Texas, and the coordinates are not revealed until verification, but are known to within 2 miles. They plan it so that their final county is in the same area as the challenge cache. They're 600 miles from home, find the last need cache to complete the challenge, and email the owner, who just happens to be on a cruise ship for the next 3 weeks with no internet access. Oops!

 

We face that possibility on all caches. You could meet the requirements for the challenge and go to find the cache and have it be missing. And yes, most challenges are more extensive than a typical cache, but I have been forced to DNF several caches many miles from home I would love to have logged had they been there.

 

I'd suggest if anyone were doing one of those challenges a long ways from home contact the cache owner ahead of time to verify they will be available. I have done that when I am planning a trip and I see disabled caches that I would really want t find - I email the owner asking the actual status of the cache and whether it will be fixed before I go. Sometimes I get a reply, sometimes I even get a phone number. Occasionaly I get no response, so I skip that cache for the trip.

There are always difficulties that can keep someone from completing a cache. But by disallowing "email for coordinates", one point of failure is removed, with no real downside. Sounds like a good thing to me. Geocaching has always worked on the honor system. No reason this should be any different.

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I have placed two challenge caches. Both are at the published coordinates. I have had absolutely no problems with bogus finds. One person posted an incorrect find, but it was clearly an accident. One of the caches is in an interesting location, and a few cachers have visited it just to see the location. (I remember there's been one case mentioned in the forums about a challenge cache with a persistent finder who hadn't done the series. But of course this can happen on any cache.)

 

Making the final a difficult puzzle is likely to reduce interest (unless the challenge involves finding other difficult puzzles). A lot of the cachers who will be interested in the challenge won't be interested in difficult puzzles. You'll lose a good bit of the potential interest. (With one of my challenges, I did take advantage of the Unknown category to list coords slightly different from the cache. But in this case the shift actually makes it easier to find, because the coords make it clear how to reach the cache, which might otherwise lead to unnecessary wandering about in heavy brush.)

 

As for the D/T, I haven't heard that guideline before either. Both of mine are rated based on the maximum D/T to be encountered during the challenge (in my judgement, since a few of the prerequisites are misrated). However, my challenges are compilation challenges -- that is, you have to find a specific set of caches, not pick your own list based on criteria. Also, I explained the rating in the description, and in that explanation gave the D/T of the final. CoyoteRed makes a good argument for doing it the other way around -- listing the challenge with the D/T of the final and explaining the D/T of the complete challenge in the description. His argument applies particularly to "pick your own set" challenges, but I'd be happy to change mine if this were made a guideline. A published guideline that is ...

 

Edward

Edited by paleolith
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There are always difficulties that can keep someone from completing a cache. But by disallowing "email for coordinates", one point of failure is removed, with no real downside. Sounds like a good thing to me. Geocaching has always worked on the honor system. No reason this should be any different.

 

So, we rely on the honor system for cache finders to log caches but don't trust the hiders to return email?

 

And why hasn't this restriction carried over to earthcaches? It seems earthcache owners are allowed to force email verification as well as additional logging requirements. Are they better or more trustworthy, have they proved more than I or anyone else has that they intend to stick with the game and return emails?

 

Perhaps another way to remove a point of failure is to only allow people who have cached over a year or two to hide caches, or at least caches requiring email verification or the like.

 

It's not really a big deal, and I hate to carry on. But there seems to be so many discrepancies to this particular subject. And if a cacher doesn't want to search out an email verification cache, they don't have to. I say let hiders hide with or without, have them make it clear in the description, and let the finders choose if they want to do it or not. Everyone wins.

Edited by brdad
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So, we rely on the honor system for cache finders to log caches but don't trust the hiders to return email?

 

I rather agree with you on this, in general, I'm happy with the level of honor in the game, and ready to rely upon it.

I suspect, this is just a guess, that if all cachers were to agree that if they didn't get an owner response that they would NOT: 1) contact a reviewer 2) contact geocaching.com 3) start long angsty forum threads, or 4) otherwise create work and problems for others, that maybe "email me" could work.

 

And why hasn't this restriction carried over to earthcaches?

 

Earthcaches, the coords are right on the cache page, the email part is for verification - which is allowed for boxless caches.

The "sign the log = log the find" restriction is for physical caches.

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And if a cacher doesn't want to search out an email verification cache, they don't have to.

Ah, yes. The bogus "we can throw out all the rules, since people can choose to not do caches" idea. The geocaching equivalent of Godwin's Law.

 

Allow me to now officially codify Prime's Second Rule: The longer a discussion of a guideline rule continues, the greater the probability that someone will posit that the guideline needn't exist, since people can choose not to hunt such caches."

 

The reason this is bogus is because it could be applied to any guideline. And once you apply the "people can choose not to hunt such caches" idea to any guideline, there's no reason it can't be applied to all guidelines. And the vast majority of geocachers want some structure to the sport.

 

(Prime's First Rule? Here.)

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