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CacheDrone

Commercial Content, and how it applies to listings.

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Greetings all,

 

Recently several of the reviewers had the fortunate opportunity to speak with a handful of Groundspeak Lackeys as well as Bryan Roth, co-founder and lawyer for Groundspeak inc. Our goal was, based on the feedback from several participants in the forums, to garner feedback and opinions from Groundspeak on how to best serve the local community in regard to the "Commercial and Solicitation Guidelines. I am happy to announce that the discussion was quite successful and that the outcome of the meeting was a change on how we will review business issues going forward at this time. Overall the main point of the guideline in question is an attempt to prevent people feeling marketed to. We agree, and also all of us believe that as reviewers we certainly know the difference between information and an agenda to drive commerce or promote. A passing reference is just that and nothing more. However Groundspeak was quite clear that they would prefer people use additional waypoints to guide people to parking and trailheads as this benefits paperless caching.

 

Where we stand now is that the title of the cache listing must be free of any business name. We do understand that a tribute to a sports team or music band is not the same as the traditional business name, but we will still exercise the option to suggest alternatives when appropriate. Making personal endorsements still would raise a red flag but the appearance of an innocent mention should not delay publication. Our goal is to publish on first review after making a suggestion for updates, much like we have done for difficulty/terrain ratings, attributes or assistance additional waypoints for parking/trailheads. It only benefits people to include more viable information when possible but it should be directly related to the geocaching experience itself as an aid to location when other official options have also been provided.

 

The only matter left is that of FTF prizes and gift cards. Documenting the FTF prize is best done as a note posted to the cache page instead of being a part of the short/long description area. It would also be better to leave something non-proprietary thus giving the FTF the choice. Neither of these would be mandatory, just suggestions. Doing so significantly reduces the appearance of endorsing any specific business.

 

So in closing, making reference to the cache being hidden at a specific shopping mall or close to a certain business in most cases is fine. Tributes or even puzzles created to parts of the entertainment industry that only appear to be fun based and not marketing will no longer be delayed during review. As we know, all of us would rather be out enjoying caching and having a listing published on the first time through review. This is the target all of us would like to aim for.

 

:cool: CD

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That's good to hear. Any talk about event listings? Specifically the mentioning of menu items? Is that still considered commercial content?

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I guess being a PITA does help occasionally :ph34r:

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That's good to hear. Any talk about event listings? Specifically the mentioning of menu items? Is that still considered commercial content?

 

Can you be more clear on what you are asking?

 

I hope this isn't that "links to menus" thing again because that has not changed at all based on this excerpt from "commercial caches" that says It contains links to businesses

 

If you mean something else then please elaborate.

 

:cool: CD

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I hope this isn't that "links to menus" thing again because that has not changed at all based on this excerpt from "commercial caches" that says It contains links to businesses

I'm not talking about linking, just describing the type of food served there. For example "This place specializes in ribs and wings but there are some vegetarian dishes". How detailed can we get before crossing into the commercial content/advertising side of things?

 

I was just wondering if there was going to be some reviewer discretion in this area as well.

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I hope this isn't that "links to menus" thing again because that has not changed at all based on this excerpt from "commercial caches" that says It contains links to businesses

I'm not talking about linking, just describing the type of food served there. For example "This place specializes in ribs and wings but there are some vegetarian dishes". How detailed can we get before crossing into the commercial content/advertising side of things?

 

I was just wondering if there was going to be some reviewer discretion in this area as well.

 

Wordings like that sound informative, not promotional or being done to endorse the venue. That's kinda what we are suggesting is that people avoid marketing lingo and adjectives that draw conclusions.

 

In your example the restaurant has ribs and wings, not great ribs and cheap wings. They also offer vegetarian options, not a wide variety of tasty vegetarian meals that will satisfy your hunger. As one Groundspeak person said, if we feel marketed to then likely there is an agenda behind it.

 

:cool: CD

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I guess being a PITA does help occasionally :ph34r:

+1

I presume you're not referring to the freshly wrapped collection of meat and/or vegetables?

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I guess being a PITA does help occasionally :ph34r:

+1

I presume you're not referring to the freshly wrapped collection of meat and/or vegetables?

 

Yes, but it also demonstrates that even though on the surface we make every effort to stay as close to the guidelines as possible there are times when we are working behind the scenes to help usher in updates and changes to improve the game. Understandably there are things we cannot discuss in an open forum until we get clearance to do so, and this would be one of those times.

 

:cool: CD

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They also offer vegetarian options, not a wide variety of tasty vegetarian meals that will satisfy your hunger.

 

I think this one is covered under the "truth in advertising" laws. :lol: What??!!??

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Yes, but it also demonstrates that even though on the surface we make every effort to stay as close to the guidelines as possible there are times when we are working behind the scenes to help usher in updates and changes to improve the game. Understandably there are things we cannot discuss in an open forum until we get clearance to do so, and this would be one of those times.

While true, you can understand why it would at least be nice to know that the issue is being taken to a higher level, and it's not simply a "because I say so" decision, necessarily. That would alleviate a whole freaking lot of stress and controversy.

eta: heck, even "my hands are tied" would take some of the heat off the reviewers in difficult decisions, if indeed it goes beyond just your own decision.

Just sayin'.

Edited by thebruce0

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Yes, but it also demonstrates that even though on the surface we make every effort to stay as close to the guidelines as possible there are times when we are working behind the scenes to help usher in updates and changes to improve the game. Understandably there are things we cannot discuss in an open forum until we get clearance to do so, and this would be one of those times.

While true, you can understand why it would at least be nice to know that the issue is being taken to a higher level, and it's not simply a "because I say so" decision, necessarily. That would alleviate a whole freaking lot of stress and controversy.

eta: heck, even "my hands are tied" would take some of the heat off the reviewers in difficult decisions, if indeed it goes beyond just your own decision.

Just sayin'.

 

While I cannot speak for other reviewers, I am not the type to escalate, deflect or shift 'blame' to others. My view has been, as it still is, that when I point to a certain guideline and how I interpret what is written it is done so to show how the decision was reached. I do however offer the option for people to escalate on their own if they are not in agreement with my interpretations or what I am able to say yes to.

 

It was never intended to be displayed as "because I said so" or "my hands are tied" but merely "this is what I see, and how I am addressing it."

 

:cool: CD

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It was never intended to be displayed as "because I said so" or "my hands are tied" but merely "this is what I see, and how I am addressing it."

But there's a difference. That is effectively "because I said so", unless there's some clear rule to point to by which every reviewer consistently abides (rather than being a potentially inconsistent ruling depending on reviewer, region, and the time of day). In that case it's not so much seeing just a reviewer opinion as it is an understanding that there's clearly an element to that particular situation which needs to be addressed higher up, and in so doing, saying "my hands are tied" is not a passing of the buck or laying blame elsewhere, but it is more of a comfort to we players and members that you understand the concern and are seeking an official word, while still retaining your authority and finality of the decision. It also avoids duplicate efforts, since effectively it's the reviewer equivalent of an appeal - you tell us to take it to appeals, while at the same time behind the scenes you're discussing the merit of whatever the concern may be with other reviewers and/or GS. Not that duplicate effort is unproductive, but not knowing that certainly makes it feel like our concerns and/or complaints are unimportant, or insignificant.

 

There may indeed be cases where it is "because I said so" (as irksome as that sort of decision is), and there may be cases where "my hands are tied". But rather than taking the heat needlessly for everything the member may not like, the latter (which isn't blaming TPTB) is at least a little more understandable (as per this case of commercial content for example), and doesn't undermine your authority in the slightest.

 

I know in my own case, if I had known the reviewer(s) felt that proactively disabling an entire series of mine, which was previously published and active, due to noticing the existence of a business name only after reviewing a replacement of one of series' caches was a little extreme, but the issue of commercial content was being discussed higher up, then rather than it being from my perspective simply a heavy-handed tactic that made no sense at the time, I would likely have been much more cooperative.

 

Clarity and explanations for decisions go a LONG way. And it doesn't undermine your authority.

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Clarity and explanations for decisions go a LONG way. And it doesn't undermine your authority.

 

Clear explanations were provided. They just were not accepted by some people. Every effort was made to explain the decisions to those people that were either directly or indirectly impacted, to no avail in some cases.

 

However I will not entertain how things could have been handled differently, as that is a two way street. Perhaps my error was in continuing the discussion as long as I did and instead should have said "because I said so". I prefer to not close doors in such a fashion. But from my memory, there was no compromise from either position.

:anibad:

 

:cool: CD

 

edit: fix linkypoo

Edited by CacheDrone

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Clarity and explanations for decisions go a LONG way. And it doesn't undermine your authority.

 

Clear explanations were provided. They just were not accepted by some people. Every effort was made to explain the decisions to those people that were either directly or indirectly impacted, to no avail in some cases.

 

However I will not entertain how things could have been handled differently, as that is a two way street. Perhaps my error was in continuing the discussion as long as I did and instead should have said "because I said so". I prefer to not close doors in such a fashion. But from my memory, there was no compromise from either position.

:anibad:

 

:cool: CD

 

edit: fix linkypoo

 

I had forgotten about that bit. Very funny.

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It's not argument for the sake of argument. It's debate for the sake of sanity.

Not to derail this to my own case, but "because I said so", like I said, is not a reason that promotes reviewer respect (not that reviewers are explicitly aiming to be respected more than employing authority), especially if behind the scenes efforts are being made to determine a proper course of action for similar situations in the future. All that drama could have been avoided had I known if the issue of 'commercial content' in cache listings was being discussed elsewhere, instead of being simply a seemingly whimsical "reviewer opinion" and heavy-handed tactics. There was no compromise. I removed commercial references, as forced, from my listings in question, because I had no other route except archiving my caches. I thought that the "because I said so" reasoning was ridiculous. If the new cache being published was independent, it may have been less of an issue. But a proactive, retroactive response was taken against the already-published, active series it belonged to, by a different reviewer than I was dealing with. That had me PO'd and concerned about this apparently "new rule".

 

To return to the topic at hand, my point is that the way reviewers come off does not have to seem unfair and subjective, if they in any way understand the concern and are seeking counsel yet are still enforcing their decision because that's how they are interpreting the guidelines. If it's clear to everyone that a legitimate concern regarding guidelines could erupt needlessly, and the reviewer makes an effort to deal with it higher up, letting the member know this simply makes the process much more more bearable for all parties, even if still disagreeable.

 

The fact that the issue of "commercial content" had to be discussed 'on high' shows that this was a clearly contentious issue. I'm glad that the guideline has been clarified, for the sake of future efforts.

 

it also demonstrates that even though on the surface we make every effort to stay as close to the guidelines as possible there are times when we are working behind the scenes to help usher in updates and changes to improve the game.

And I'd certainly prefer to be far more appreciative than critical of the actions taken by reviewers - for the sake of the community, and improving the game ;)

 

ETA: Also, that Monty Python skit is a classic.

Edited by thebruce0

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When I said this

Clear explanations were provided. They just were not accepted by some people. Every effort was made to explain the decisions to those people that were either directly or indirectly impacted, to no avail in some cases.

 

It was to address this

All that drama could have been avoided had I known if the issue of 'commercial content' in cache listings was being discussed elsewhere, instead of being simply a seemingly whimsical "reviewer opinion" and heavy-handed tactics. There was no compromise. I removed commercial references, as forced, from my listings in question, because I had no other route except archiving my caches. I thought that the "because I said so" reasoning was ridiculous.

 

You see, I view what you said there to imply that there was no discussion and no providing of links to existing articles from the guidelines and knowledgebooks. There was. It was not accepted. It was then justified by reviewer interpretation. That too was not accepted. The option to escalate to appeals was given. The same "but it's not" statements were raised again. The position from a guideline application was repeated ad naseum. The knowledgebook article on line 7 says in black and white "No business name or product". That isn't a debatable point any more than death is inevitable. But still, people wanted to banter it over their perceived view of what the impact was and how it doesn't really promote. It doesn't matter. I disagree with death being inevitable, because I am still alive. Sure.

 

So I sincerely doubt the drama could have been avoided unless the people that wished to debate the semantics were instead to accept the decision and contact appeals@ as suggested. Instead what we all got into was Cause and Effect

 

:cool: CD

Edited by CacheDrone

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...Here it is, in short:

If I had known that the issue was being taken higher (not just being parroted quotes that I repeatedly stated didn't satisfy the questions I was asking, that is to say, the bothersome perceived "because I said so" explanation), yes, drama would have been lessened - not eradicated, but sufficient to warrant more patience, both with the process, and the reviewer. Here, this and previous threads show that the 'commercial content' issue was greater than just that instance. And it wasn't simply due to a "business name in the listing" - as I said, my beef was worsened by the unexpected, proactive, retroactive action taken on the series of previously-published caches the new one belonged to, by a different reviewer than was dealing with the new cache. All of that together caused an enormous upheaval of dissatisfaction and annoyance with the process, which was only worsened by answers that indirectly, at best, addressed the situation.

So once again, were it made known that the decision was recognizably controversial and/or problematic and being taken up with TPTB, the drama would have been far less, with no loss of authority on the reviewer level. Guaranteed.

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So once again, were it made known that the decision was recognizably controversial and/or problematic and being taken up with TPTB, the drama would have been far less, with no loss of authority on the reviewer level. Guaranteed.

 

Gotta agree here. In a completely different thread and in a completely different issue, I once asked a UK reviewer why people weren't allowed to mention munzees on cache pages, since it's not a competing geocache listing service. His reply was that this is what Groundspeak had told them, and if I wanted to know why, I need to ask them. I liked that, and it eliminated any drama there could have been.

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Here it is even shorter

 

Clear explanations were provided. They just were not accepted by some people.

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Everybody now - ring around the rosey!

Getting off this ride before it blows up again... :ph34r:

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I saw the word compromise. The reviewers have the power and enforce the rules. That would be like asking a judge to compromise on the stop sign you ran. They can if they wish, but they don't have to, nor explain why not. As for explaining what might be going on in the background is not always a good thing. It may instill false hopes or inflame an already touchy situation unnecessarily. If it was meant for all to know about it, then it would be held in a public forum.

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