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Multi-cache using pay phone and/or SMS


tekkguy
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I have put together the back end for a cache (or series of caches?) that would be immersive in nature.

 

I thought about doing this via Wherigo, but decided that was fairly pointless.

 

This cache could be completed 1 of 2 ways. The basic premise is this:

 

(Option 1 - Payphones with which I have no affiliation) The cacher receives a telephone number and a set of coordinates via the cache page. The coordinates take the cacher to a pay phone, where they call the number provided. The setup I have created allows a recording to be played when a specific caller-ID is received. The cacher would be pulled into a cache with a story line. The cacher would be the central character. Instructions would be given on how to proceed to the next part of the story. Several stages would require using different payphones at different locations to receive further instructions.

 

(Option 2, for those who don't want to use Payphones) The cacher receives a telephone number and a set of coordinates via the cache page. The coordinates take the cacher to a pay phone, where they must locate a micro cache which contains a password. They send an SMS with their cell phone to the provided phone number, where they are entered into the story line and receive instructions. Several text messages would be sent throughout the adventure, each requiring the finding of a micro near a payphone to get the SMS password.

 

Whether you choose option 1 or option 2, the stages are the same. The same cache could then be played two different ways.

 

Because of the way I have set it up, it's actually almost interactive, since you become part of a storyline and must complete some task to receive the next set of instructions.

 

I have all of it working - the per-caller-id recordings and the SMS responses when passwords are provided. Now I just need to make sure that the cache would meet guidelines. I'm guessing the payphone option would be borderline, but the SMS would seem to be ok. I could drop the payphone option, but I feel like listening to a mysterious voice over the phone would be much more immersive than a text message.

 

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tl;dr? - I want to set up a cache where the user has the option of using payphones to complete or sending text messages and want to know if it would violate any guidelines I'm not aware of.

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Requiring a purchase (paying for the phone call) would be against the rules.

Another issue is permanence. Caches are expected to have a lifetime of at least a year or so. Public pay phones are disappearing quickly!

 

How about if you have various phone numbers hidden in different locations. Each number will have a message for the caller that tells them part of the story and where to find the next cache/number. Most people have access to phone service that does not charge per call (unless they have gone over their monthly calling minute allowance, but then what's up with their priorities if geocaching business does not come first?)

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Well, the best part of this idea is that I only have to have one phone number ... not only that, but this one phone number could be used for multiple caches if I did a SET of stories that all were connected.

 

I figured the pay phone part might cause some trouble, which is why I added SMS to make the payphones optional. Cache permanence isn't an issue either, because if the phone goes away or the phone number changes, then the cache just needs maintenance (which I could do from home, since the stages are recordings and text messages). There are also a series of caches in my area that ARE payphones, so our local reviewer doesn't seem to have issues with that.

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I think it sounds like a cool idea and by adding the second option you made the payphone optional. If the reviewer doesnt like it you can always appeal it to Groundspeak. I have done one similar where you had to send a message (cant remember if its email or text) and you would instantly get a reply email with coords to the second stage. It was fun.

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Requiring a purchase (paying for the phone call) would be against the rules.

Another issue is permanence. Caches are expected to have a lifetime of at least a year or so. Public pay phones are disappearing quickly!

 

How about if you have various phone numbers hidden in different locations. Each number will have a message for the caller that tells them part of the story and where to find the next cache/number. Most people have access to phone service that does not charge per call (unless they have gone over their monthly calling minute allowance, but then what's up with their priorities if geocaching business does not come first?)

 

You think many people have 'phone contracts? Really? I personally use pay-as-you-go, because I speak for about 40-50 minutes a year on the 'phone, and the lowest minutes contract I've seen is about 75 a month. I would say PAYG is far more popular.

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This sounds like an awesome idea for a multi.

I find it hard to believe there would be too many people that would get in a huff over paying for a couple of phone calls for a well executed and adventurous cache (some of the forum regulars are not a very good sample population of the average geocacher and will nit-pick anything). There are many caches in places that require an entrance fee that are published here. I personally don't see how a few quarters to finish a cache is that much different.

 

Would it be a possible solution to allow phone call cost repayment via something like Paypal to satisfy those few who feel that everything must be free? Once their logs are verified they could be sent the reimbursement for the phone calls required to complete the cache.

I would hope (and expect) about 99.9% of the people that would do this cache would not ask for repayment of the paltry call cost.

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Requiring a purchase (paying for the phone call) would be against the rules.

Another issue is permanence. Caches are expected to have a lifetime of at least a year or so. Public pay phones are disappearing quickly!

 

How about if you have various phone numbers hidden in different locations. Each number will have a message for the caller that tells them part of the story and where to find the next cache/number. Most people have access to phone service that does not charge per call (unless they have gone over their monthly calling minute allowance, but then what's up with their priorities if geocaching business does not come first?)

 

You think many people have 'phone contracts? Really? I personally use pay-as-you-go, because I speak for about 40-50 minutes a year on the 'phone, and the lowest minutes contract I've seen is about 75 a month. I would say PAYG is far more popular.

 

I won't argue about what is commonplace in the United Kingdon, but in the USA PAYG is not as common. It is more common with those that are less in tune with technology or the economically disadvantaged. Most people that I know do not have a PAYG plan. Cell phone usage and texting are commonplace here. Many people are upgrading to 'smart phones' (iPhone, et.al) and have internet access from their phone. Personally, I use the net access on my phone much more than I do for talking or texting but I am certainly a statistical outlier.

 

To the OP, I like the idea. I would certainly drop a text message to get the next set of coords. The payphone is probably not going to be approved due to the "pay" aspect. Texting has become so commonplace now that it would be less of an issue.

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This sounds somewhat similar to one of my favorite event/multicaches: Mission Impossible: Flight to Cachistan. Incredibly clever and well-crafted puzzle/multi that had you doing all sorts of things, from calling a number to get a coded message, to finding a computer and retrieving intel, to....well, a bunch of fun stuff. Mystery vials, laser pointers, dossiers.... Don't know if it would be approved today, but in 2004 it was da bomb. :P

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Sounds fun. But is there any reason that you couldn't give a phone number and assign each phone an optional number to choose from (Oh man I must be tired because I'm drawing a blank. LOL) so that people who want to call and not spend money can use their cell phone? I for one don't even have texting enabled on my phone and I know others who don't either. But if I could call from my cell and say enter a random number you chose that gives me the correct recording for that location that would be better.

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Sounds fun. But is there any reason that you couldn't give a phone number and assign each phone an optional number to choose from (Oh man I must be tired because I'm drawing a blank. LOL) so that people who want to call and not spend money can use their cell phone? I for one don't even have texting enabled on my phone and I know others who don't either. But if I could call from my cell and say enter a random number you chose that gives me the correct recording for that location that would be better.

 

Or maybe people who can't or don't text message could skip this cache just like the people who can't or don't scuba dive skip the caches that involve diving?

 

Possible solution other then Paypal....

I don't know the hardware you are using to do the caller ID etc, so I don't know if this would be possible with your set-up. Is there a way to set-up your system to auto-dial the 1st phone booth like say once an hour? Then if phone is answered it dials the next phone booth say 10 minutes (or however long is reasonable to get to the next location) later. If 2nd or later phones are not answered the system restarts back on phone 1. Possibly set it up to only ring each phone 2 times so it will not get too many muggles answering and the cacher has to be at the phone waiting.

 

Personally I have no problem paying the 50 cents at each phone though lol

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There used to be one around here that was similar. The number you called was a toll-free number, which eliminated the "requiring a purchase" issue. IIRC, you had to call the toll-free number from the specific pay phone and enter some other information. If everything matched, a recorded voice gave you the coordinates for the final.

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There used to be one around here that was similar. The number you called was a toll-free number, which eliminated the "requiring a purchase" issue. IIRC, you had to call the toll-free number from the specific pay phone and enter some other information. If everything matched, a recorded voice gave you the coordinates for the final.

only thing to consider is not all payphones allow you to make toll free calls(without paying) and if they don't that would fall under the commercial guideline.

as far as the SMS thing goes, not everyone has an unlimited txt plan and pays for every incoming/outgoing message. if theres several stages, this could get expensive[and be considered commercial].

I for one would just put it on ignore if sms was the only option because i don't like how every wireless company double dips by charging the person to send AND the other person to receive.

Edited by power69
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Or maybe people who can't or don't text message could skip this cache just like the people who can't or don't scuba dive skip the caches that involve diving?

 

Possible solution other then Paypal....

I don't know the hardware you are using to do the caller ID etc, so I don't know if this would be possible with your set-up. Is there a way to set-up your system to auto-dial the 1st phone booth like say once an hour? Then if phone is answered it dials the next phone booth say 10 minutes (or however long is reasonable to get to the next location) later. If 2nd or later phones are not answered the system restarts back on phone 1. Possibly set it up to only ring each phone 2 times so it will not get too many muggles answering and the cacher has to be at the phone waiting.

 

Personally I have no problem paying the 50 cents at each phone though lol

 

 

Bad day? I shared my thoughts and offered an opinion. It sounds like a cache a lot of people )myself included would enjoy. Given that to op stated that doing a voice message was their prefrence, I was offering my thoughts on a way it might be done if the pay phone idea wasn't approved.

 

 

Actually even if I could text to me it would be better to hear the voice. Which is why I don't have texting enabled on my phone. If that was my only option and I wanted to do it badly enough I could find a way, but I would more likely skip it. Thankfully I wouldn't have to skip a scuba one if I was so inclined. But I can't see where 1 has anything to do with the other.

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Thankfully I wouldn't have to skip a scuba one if I was so inclined. But I can't see where 1 has anything to do with the other.

 

Because it shows the example of the double standard when it comes to listing caches.

Needing to pay hundreds of dollars for training and equipment needed to log a scuba cache or having a boat of some kind for other water caches is all fine and dandy but possibly needing to spend maybe $2 for a few pay phone calls (or cell phone calls they are not 'free' either )and all sorts of issues arise.

People generally suggest ignoring the caches you do not want to make the investment in to log (be it time, training, equipment or whatever). I am applying that same logic to this potential cache idea. If you are unwilling to pay for a payphone call or unwilling to use a text messaging service to get to the next stage of a multi-cache then simply don't do the cache.

Asking the cache owner to allow cell phone usage because it is cheaper or easier for you would be the same as asking the scuba cache be moved into the shallow water so I can just snorkel for it since that's easier and cheaper for me. The CO stated that the incoming phone calls to the voice recording are filtered by caller ID. So calls from phone booth 'A' get one message while calls from phone booth 'B' get a completely different message based on the phone number of each phone booth. How would using a cell phone fit into that?

 

Some caches require rock climbing training, that isn't free

Some caches require paying entry fees to get to the cache location, that isn't free

Earthcaches have all sorts of additional logging requirements which demand extra equipment other then a gps and a pen which isn't free

But all those caches are non-commercial even though someone somewhere is making money on the non-free parts of them

This cache requires a few phone calls which also are not free, but this somehow violates the rules and makes it a commercial cache?

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cx1: People who spend 100's of dollars on scuba gear and training do it to scuba dive, not to find scuba caches. In other words, they would've spent the money even if scuba caches did not exist.

With the payphone idea, a person would have to pay specifically for finding the cache, making it against the guidelines. If it can be worked with a cellphone instead, then it would be more like the scuba example, because you would already have your phone for other uses.

There is an exception, which is park fees and the like; however, these fees are used to benefit the community, not a specific business (i.e. telephone company)

For others reading this thinking that you pay for gas and a GPSr to find a cache, those are general costs of the game, not costs for finding a specific cache. Also you can choose a wide variety of gas stations and GPSr brands to buy, you are not forced to pay one specific company.

 

Tekkguy: It is possible to get a voicemail account which will play different messages depending on a password entered. You could also program a computer with a viocemodem to do the same thing on a home phone. How about the person goes to the payphone, then somehow derive the password from there, say use the last 4 digits of the payphone's number. Then someone can call on their cellphone (pretending it is actually the payphone, if the phone is part of the story) and still get the mystery voice, and you wouldn't risk the magnetic caches disappearing.

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Tekkguy: It is possible to get a voicemail account which will play different messages depending on a password entered. You could also program a computer with a viocemodem to do the same thing on a home phone. How about the person goes to the payphone, then somehow derive the password from there, say use the last 4 digits of the payphone's number. Then someone can call on their cellphone (pretending it is actually the payphone, if the phone is part of the story) and still get the mystery voice, and you wouldn't risk the magnetic caches disappearing.

 

I actually considered using the phone number of the payphone as the SMS password - meaning there's no need for a container in the first place. (It also MIGHT allow me, since those then become virtual stages, to use some of the phones associated with the payphone series I mentioned earlier).

 

For the others who suggested that Paypal be used to reimburse cachers, or a toll free number be used - there is a big difference in someone paying a buck or two for a cache, and me, a cache owner, possibly paying several dollars fo each person who goes after my cache. That's not really a feasible scenario.

 

I'll address some of the other points:

 

Autodialer - not sure on the legality of this one. As far as I know, autodialers can only be used for specific purposes, and I don't think Geocaching fits. It would be possible, however - there is already some hardware set up and some software modification has been done to get everything working correctly.

 

Prompt for passwords over the phone for recordings - This is a thought, and something I might look into. There's at least one cache near me by 9key that uses a voice prompt system. But it doesn't fit the same style of story that I'm looking for here.

 

I think what I'll do is put the cache together and submit it. It'll take me a few days, so more feedback can roll in in the meantime. I may hit a snag with the payphone part, but if I list the SMS option as the primary way to complete the cache, and the payphones as an optional extra (you could even mix the two - do one payphone, then an SMS, etc), then I might be ok.

 

We'll see. The cache will get published, even if it's only listed on my own website :P

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Requiring a purchase (paying for the phone call) would be against the rules.

Another issue is permanence. Caches are expected to have a lifetime of at least a year or so. Public pay phones are disappearing quickly!

 

How about if you have various phone numbers hidden in different locations. Each number will have a message for the caller that tells them part of the story and where to find the next cache/number. Most people have access to phone service that does not charge per call (unless they have gone over their monthly calling minute allowance, but then what's up with their priorities if geocaching business does not come first?)

 

You think many people have 'phone contracts? Really? I personally use pay-as-you-go, because I speak for about 40-50 minutes a year on the 'phone, and the lowest minutes contract I've seen is about 75 a month. I would say PAYG is far more popular.

 

I won't argue about what is commonplace in the United Kingdon, but in the USA PAYG is not as common. It is more common with those that are less in tune with technology or the economically disadvantaged. Most people that I know do not have a PAYG plan. Cell phone usage and texting are commonplace here. Many people are upgrading to 'smart phones' (iPhone, et.al) and have internet access from their phone. Personally, I use the net access on my phone much more than I do for talking or texting but I am certainly a statistical outlier.

 

To the OP, I like the idea. I would certainly drop a text message to get the next set of coords. The payphone is probably not going to be approved due to the "pay" aspect. Texting has become so commonplace now that it would be less of an issue.

 

I have a few thoughts regarding this idea.

 

First, I like the fact that the CO has tried to create an innovative cache and if it were published it likely be fairly popular and get many good reviews.

 

Second, since I'm not a reviewer for the area where the cache would be located I can't offer an opinion on whether it *would* be published. That's really up to the reviewer and his/her interpretation of the guidelines.

 

Next, there is an opportunity here to discuss how a cache like this *could* fit into the guidelines though it might require a change in the guidelines. Personally, as someone else mentioned I see this as a case where it could be up to individual geocachers whether they want to seek the cache or not. It's not really any different than a cache which requires climbing a tree or entering an environment which some might seem unsafe. One of the issues that some have with caches which require physical efforts beyond a short stroll out of the vehicle to the cache location is that sometimes we're not informed that those physical barriers exist until we get to the locations. I doubt that most people would balk at looking for a cache which required a nominal fee to get to the location (i.e. entrance fees to parks) as long as they knew upfront that there was an associated monetary cost to completing the task of finding the cache. There already is a "dollar sign" attribute for "access or parking fee" required. Couldn't it be used for any cache which required a small fee to complete?

 

Finally, in regards to cell phone payment methods. Yes, in the U.S. PAYG plans are not as common as service provider contracts. I don't know how common they are in other places in the world but in many places in Africa, where cell phones are quite common, pre-paid minutes are the rule. In fact, in some countries pre-paid minutes have become a form of currency. In Kenya, for example, one can pay a cab fare by transferring some of your minutes to the driver via a SMS message. SMS in many countries is a fractions of the cost of what we pay in the U.S. and it's use is very commonplace (when I was in Tanzania a couple of weeks ago I used SMS quite a bit to keep in contact with home, including getting updates about Cornell's progress in the NCAA tournament). It's important to keep in mind that geocaching is an international game and just because a certain way of "doing business" may be common in the U.S. guidelines shouldn't be written such that it accommodates the U.S. way of "doing business" without regard for the way the rest of the world works.

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Here's a multi that uses a payphone. VOCAL

Having to pay to use a pay phone would not make it commercial. There are plenty of caches that require a fee to be paid before a person can access them. Do a search around Eglin AFB. Those on the grounds require a permit fee to access the area. Same with state parks in a lot of states that require a day use fee.

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I have found a cache like this in the past. I live in Florida and the cache had you call a pay phone in Michigan. The phone booth had a geocaching sticker in it with the Florida cache's correct coordinates on it. The trick was getting someone on the other end of the phone. I called hundreds of times and eventually was able to get someone to answer. The cache was called "Phone A Friend? in Michigan" GC1C4BC if you are interested. Good luck.

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sounds like fun but what if say instead of using a pay phone let them call from the cell, or their house? (posting question on Groundspeak as well)

 

the reason being is where i'm at i think theirs only 2-3 payphones left

 

You'd be surprised how many payphones are left if you start looking around for them.

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There used to be one around here that was similar. The number you called was a toll-free number, which eliminated the "requiring a purchase" issue. IIRC, you had to call the toll-free number from the specific pay phone and enter some other information. If everything matched, a recorded voice gave you the coordinates for the final.

 

This was exactly my idea - getting a toll-free number. I think you'd probably have to pay for that on your end, but the cacher wouldn't have to.

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sounds like fun but what if say instead of using a pay phone let them call from the cell, or their house? (posting question on Groundspeak as well)

 

the reason being is where i'm at i think theirs only 2-3 payphones left

 

You'd be surprised how many payphones are left if you start looking around for them.

 

There are never any when I'm looking for them. When I don't need one, there are thousands. :D

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I have put together the back end for a cache (or series of caches?) that would be immersive in nature.

 

I thought about doing this via Wherigo, but decided that was fairly pointless.

 

This cache could be completed 1 of 2 ways. The basic premise is this:

 

(Option 1 - Payphones with which I have no affiliation) The cacher receives a telephone number and a set of coordinates via the cache page. The coordinates take the cacher to a pay phone, where they call the number provided. The setup I have created allows a recording to be played when a specific caller-ID is received. The cacher would be pulled into a cache with a story line. The cacher would be the central character. Instructions would be given on how to proceed to the next part of the story. Several stages would require using different payphones at different locations to receive further instructions.

 

(Option 2, for those who don't want to use Payphones) The cacher receives a telephone number and a set of coordinates via the cache page. The coordinates take the cacher to a pay phone, where they must locate a micro cache which contains a password. They send an SMS with their cell phone to the provided phone number, where they are entered into the story line and receive instructions. Several text messages would be sent throughout the adventure, each requiring the finding of a micro near a payphone to get the SMS password.

 

Whether you choose option 1 or option 2, the stages are the same. The same cache could then be played two different ways.

 

Because of the way I have set it up, it's actually almost interactive, since you become part of a storyline and must complete some task to receive the next set of instructions.

 

I have all of it working - the per-caller-id recordings and the SMS responses when passwords are provided. Now I just need to make sure that the cache would meet guidelines. I'm guessing the payphone option would be borderline, but the SMS would seem to be ok. I could drop the payphone option, but I feel like listening to a mysterious voice over the phone would be much more immersive than a text message.

 

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tl;dr? - I want to set up a cache where the user has the option of using payphones to complete or sending text messages and want to know if it would violate any guidelines I'm not aware of.

 

Sounds like a great idea to me! I would think that most people pick and choose the caches that they search for, as it has been made painfully clear in these forums that those that despise micros (not me) don't go after them. In my (amateur) opinion, if someone reads the cache page and does or doesn't want to move forward, that's their decision to make.

 

I also feel this way about locationless caches, but that's a topic for another thread...

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I have found a cache like this in the past. I live in Florida and the cache had you call a pay phone in Michigan. The phone booth had a geocaching sticker in it with the Florida cache's correct coordinates on it. The trick was getting someone on the other end of the phone. I called hundreds of times and eventually was able to get someone to answer. The cache was called "Phone A Friend? in Michigan" GC1C4BC if you are interested. Good luck.

herein lies the problem. nowadays payphones don't allow incoming calls. so finding one that does is pretty hard.

cool idea though.

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a software based setup is also thinkable for a cache involving phone calls. get a phone number from some VoIP provider (i'm sure there's free ones that allow incoming calls) and use a server with asterisk runnning or something similar to answer and handle the incoming calls. takes some skill (and obviously a server) to set up it, but it's possible :D

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I have put together the back end for a cache (or series of caches?) that would be immersive in nature.

 

I thought about doing this via Wherigo, but decided that was fairly pointless.

 

This cache could be completed 1 of 2 ways. The basic premise is this:

 

(Option 1 - Payphones with which I have no affiliation) The cacher receives a telephone number and a set of coordinates via the cache page. The coordinates take the cacher to a pay phone, where they call the number provided. The setup I have created allows a recording to be played when a specific caller-ID is received. The cacher would be pulled into a cache with a story line. The cacher would be the central character. Instructions would be given on how to proceed to the next part of the story. Several stages would require using different payphones at different locations to receive further instructions.

 

(Option 2, for those who don't want to use Payphones) The cacher receives a telephone number and a set of coordinates via the cache page. The coordinates take the cacher to a pay phone, where they must locate a micro cache which contains a password. They send an SMS with their cell phone to the provided phone number, where they are entered into the story line and receive instructions. Several text messages would be sent throughout the adventure, each requiring the finding of a micro near a payphone to get the SMS password.

 

Whether you choose option 1 or option 2, the stages are the same. The same cache could then be played two different ways.

 

Because of the way I have set it up, it's actually almost interactive, since you become part of a storyline and must complete some task to receive the next set of instructions.

 

I have all of it working - the per-caller-id recordings and the SMS responses when passwords are provided. Now I just need to make sure that the cache would meet guidelines. I'm guessing the payphone option would be borderline, but the SMS would seem to be ok. I could drop the payphone option, but I feel like listening to a mysterious voice over the phone would be much more immersive than a text message.

 

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tl;dr? - I want to set up a cache where the user has the option of using payphones to complete or sending text messages and want to know if it would violate any guidelines I'm not aware of.

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