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Help with Puzzle Caches


tozainamboku
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What is the reason that Groundspeak feels the need for a clause in the the Terms of Use forbidding the use of the forums to give help with puzzles or other difficult caches without the cache owners permission?

 

I've been told that some cache owners feel they have put a lot of of work into a puzzle or a clever hide and that a spoiler or even a hint on a public website somehow negates all that work. But does it really? Just how does the discussion of a puzzle really harm the cache owners? Most cache owners willingly accept that a group of individuals might get together to work on a puzzle or that difficult puzzles are sometimes discussed at geocaching events. I suppose that owners want to treat a discussion on a public website as different because someone might see something they want to avoid. Or, I've been told, some believe it makes it too easy for someone who is looking for help to find it. (As if phoning a friend or emailing someone who already solved the puzzle is difficult <_<).

 

One the other hand, I know some cachers find puzzles frustrating. I know that not every cache is for for everyone. Certainly one option if you are not able to solve a puzzle is to ignore that cache. But for whatever reason, people want to try these puzzles and if they get stuck they look for help wherever they can find it. Sometimes the owners don't seem to want to be helpful, or perhaps a cacher is just uncomfortable asking the cache owner. For newbies, asking for hints in the forums is the simplest and most obvious approach. Often they will get an answer leading them to another website with generic tutorials on how to a approach a puzzle or a link to a site with tools for decrypting generic codes. But if they ask for specific help or if someone asks for the the GC code so they can look at the puzzle, the clause from the TOUs is trotted out and people who are trying to be helpful are made to feel likes criminals whose account will be locked if they "say too much".

 

Now, granted, before this clause, we had an informal etiquette rule against discussing a specific cache. People would be told to take the discussion off-line or to get an answer from the cache owner. At least they weren't told that Groundspeak was going to ban accounts for being helpful. Why is the clause necessary now? Does it accomplish anything that the informal etiquette rule didn't?

 

Initially, Groundspeak wanted to apply the clause to third party sites. But they seem to have backed down on this. So puzzles can already be discussed in local forums and on so-called cheat sites. Just what makes the Groundspeak forums (or the cache page for that matter) any different?

 

I continued to believe that this clause runs counter to the spirit of geocaching. (I intentionally used this phrase because it is the same one Groundspeak has used to justified the clause). IMO, it is the spirit of geocaching to help others. If someone is having problems figuring out how to tackle a puzzle or is finding a particular cache difficult, it is in the spirit of caching to help out. Now the amount of help should be just what is required to have fun. I'm not suggesting posting the answers to puzzles. But we ought to be able to give hints or point someone in the right direction without getting scolded either by the forum denizens or by a moderator or lackey. Nobody seems to complain when we discuss lamppost hides. Per the Terms Of Use we should all get banned if just one LPC owner complains it a spoiler. I don't like double standards. I happen to feel that a number of popular type puzzles are about as lame as LPCs and if someone came and asked for help with a puzzle I would not feel any problem telling them to google "resistor code".

 

I just don't get it. I see an overwhelming number of people in the forums at least, who seem to support this clause. I keep hoping someone can convince me. But each time it comes up, I only question it more. Why have it?

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Most puzzle caches have me stumped (or posted or ravined or rocked, as the case may be). :blink:

 

I understand that the cache designer has gone to a lot of effort to create a puzzle, so I don't think it is right to give away answers - either on the forums OR on the phone. However, it would be nice to share some lessons about puzzles, maybe a list of things to look for or common types of codes; never attached to specific caches, of course, but things one might come across when attempting puzzles.

 

The short of it is this: A forum discussion that leads to a publicized answer to a specific puzzle or mystery cache feels like an inappropriate action to me. It's not something I would want to participate in, just like I would not PAF to find a cache.

 

BUT - I would like to see some discussion about basic puzzle knowledge (if there be any), just so I might have a half a chance at just getting started!

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Just what makes the Groundspeak forums (or the cache page for that matter) any different?

 

Groundspeak actually owns these servers so they can make whatever rules they want. They don't own the other servers and therefore have no business dictating what happens on someone else's servers.

 

I just don't get it. I see an overwhelming number of people in the forums at least, who seem to support this clause. I keep hoping someone can convince me. But each time it comes up, I only question it more. Why have it?

 

I support this clause because COs list their caches here with an expectation that the caches will not be spoiled.

 

While it's possible for your cache to be spoiled elsewhere, it would be a real slap in the face to log into the geocaching forums and see the answer to your puzzle cache posted for all to see.

 

However, to say you can't help anyone is incorrect. niraD posted some very helpful information earlier. But it would be inappropriate to offer specific advise on solving a specific puzzle here.

 

If you want help for a specific cache, then contact the CO.

Edited by GeoBain
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I've never thought the TOU was to keep us from helping others. I think of spoilers as saying "the final coordinates are 123456.78 654321.01" or maybe "the final coordinates can be found here." I don't think Groundspeak is looking to ban people for pointing someone in the right direction.

 

I think it's really unnecessary to post sections of the TOU. We are all familiar with it and don't have to be reminded. The OP is usually looking for help on a puzzle and is in no position to spoil anything, so they don't have to be reminded. What are you trying to tell us then, that you know how to copy and paste?

Edited by Ambient_Skater
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anyone can ask any question on any of my puzzles, so long as FTF is claimed. I am not naive, I know most folks share answers and sadly, many folks know the final coordinates without even knowing how to truly solve the last coordinates. Course, multis are the same, folks will just go to the final. Same with wherigos. I have even gone to a few finals myself, but the vast majority, I would rather see how its solved and see all the stages.

 

I do feel most folks in my experience would rather just know the final coordinates and not even bother knowing how it was solved.

 

So, personally, I would rather folks ask me and I will give levels of help depending on how much they want to know. However, I know other owners really want the puzzles solved by only the folks who put the effort in.

 

However, I would not want to see any Geocaching site piece that would allow folks to just simply go to X and get the answers easily, without my approval. I know some groups of folks share the answers on twitter feeds, shared bookmarks (hidden from average folks), spreadsheets, whatever, but its just amongst small groups, not to the masses.

Edited by lamoracke
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I've never thought the TOU was to keep us from helping others. I think of spoilers as saying "the final coordinates are 123456.78 654321.01" or maybe "the final coordinates can be found here." I don't think Groundspeak is looking to ban people for pointing someone in the right direction.

 

I think it's really unnecessary to post sections of the TOU. We are all familiar with it and don't have to be reminded. The OP is usually looking for help on a puzzle and is in no position to spoil anything, so they don't have to be reminded. What are you trying to tell us then, that you know how to copy and paste?

I'm pretty sure the point here is that it is "frowned upon" for people to come to the forums for help on any puzzles or related parts of the Mystery cache type. It isn't so much that saying, "Have you tried googling a 'running key cypher'?" is a bad thing; rather, it's that bringing any solutions or hints toward solutions to the forums is not a proper use. (Read: "Not in the spirit of geocaching.")

 

However, I'm with Toz here. I don't see the harm in helping, or coming to the forums for help. I'm also with you, AS. We shouldn't just give out solutions or give specific help.

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As the CO of a number of puzzle caches, I can say that I totally support Groundspeak in not allowing spoilers in the forums. We are always available to provide hints to anyone who asks us. We don't care if a bunch of people get together to solve one of our puzzles. They can talk about it all they want. We don't even care if somebody solves it and then a bunch of people with them log the find when they go caching together. That's the whole social part of the game and we hide our caches so that people WILL find them. I just don't want the solutions posted in a public forum so there is no incentive to even attempt the puzzle after we put in the work putting it together. If I wanted that, I'd just provide the coords and not do a puzzle.

 

We love puzzle caches and are frequently stumped. I have emailed the CO's for hints and, yes, sometimes they don't want to provide them. I respect that and keep working on the puzzle. Sometimes we solve them and sometimes we don't.

 

What I can't understand is why people would want to log a puzzle cache they haven't solved or at least attempted to solve? It certainly can't be for the numbers 'cause there are only about a zillion other caches they could log without the hassle of solving a puzzle.

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BUT - I would like to see some discussion about basic puzzle knowledge (if there be any), just so I might have a half a chance at just getting started!

 

niraD has posted this information numerous times:

 

Welcome to the addiction! And here are some general puzzle tips that I've posted before (based in part on a puzzle-solving class event presented by The Rat a while ago):

 

Identify the theme. Check the cache title, the hint, the HTML source, the graphics (including names/URLs), any links (including URLs), whatever is at the posted coordinates, etc. If you can figure out the theme, then you should look for numbering systems that are associated with that theme (zip codes, athletes’ jersey numbers, episode numbers, product codes, etc.).

 

Around here, coordinates will have 15 digits, and will look like "N 37° xx.xxx W 122° xx.xxx". So when I'm solving a nearby puzzle, I look for a group of 15 things, and then I look for ways to get the digits 37xxxxx122xxxxx from them. In general, I look for ways to get the number 37 (or the digits 3 and 7) from something near the beginning of the puzzle, and the number 122 (or the digits 1, 2, and 2) from something near the middle of the puzzle. (Of course, you'll need to adjust this for the coordinates near you.)

 

Other useful resources include:

Puzzle Solving 101 Series (bookmark list)

Puzzle Shortcuts Series (bookmark list)

Solving Puzzle Caches (online article)

How Do I Solve All These $@! Puzzle Caches? (tutorial-style puzzle cache)

Puzzle FUNdamentals (archived event cache) and the Puzzle FUNdamentals resources on the GeocacheAlaska! education page

The GBA's Puzzle Cache FAQ (for puzzle designers, but useful for understanding how puzzle caches work)

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I think it's really unnecessary to post sections of the TOU. We are all familiar with it and don't have to be reminded. The OP is usually looking for help on a puzzle and is in no position to spoil anything, so they don't have to be reminded. What are you trying to tell us then, that you know how to copy and paste?

 

Really? All cachers are familiar with the TOU? You're 100% sure about that?

 

That's like saying that "all" cachers are familiar with the Guidelines.

 

:rolleyes:

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As the CO of a number of puzzle caches, I can say that I totally support Groundspeak in not allowing spoilers in the forums. We are always available to provide hints to anyone who asks us. We don't care if a bunch of people get together to solve one of our puzzles. They can talk about it all they want. We don't even care if somebody solves it and then a bunch of people with them log the find when they go caching together. That's the whole social part of the game and we hide our caches so that people WILL find them. I just don't want the solutions posted in a public forum so there is no incentive to even attempt the puzzle after we put in the work putting it together. If I wanted that, I'd just provide the coords and not do a puzzle.

 

We love puzzle caches and are frequently stumped. I have emailed the CO's for hints and, yes, sometimes they don't want to provide them. I respect that and keep working on the puzzle. Sometimes we solve them and sometimes we don't.

 

What I can't understand is why people would want to log a puzzle cache they haven't solved or at least attempted to solve? It certainly can't be for the numbers 'cause there are only about a zillion other caches they could log without the hassle of solving a puzzle.

 

Just to be clear, we're talking about "Mystery/Unknown" caches...so puzzles are only part of what they can be, right?

 

But, there's another side of this to think about: Not all cache owners are like you or me. I've offered many hints for my "?" caches--happily. like you said, there are, however, many examples of help I've sought from an owner with no response. So, I've asked around for help. (Not in the forums as of yet, but why should that be ruled out?)

 

I've asked previous finders, caching friends, etc. I don't see too much of a difference of discussing a tough "?" cache here in the GS forums, and discussing over coffee with some contemporaries. If it comes to an actual solution on the forums, I do think it has crossed a line. But, if I come here and ask "What is a cypher?!", and provide a cache link as support of my question...why would that be frowned upon?

 

You see, it's all about helping to change the discourse. We simply need to self-police these types of threads. If someone asks for specific help, "we" should all be sure to remind the OP of the hypothetical thread that one should not ask for specific cache solutions--only a nudge or some other context about that "type" of cache.

 

If that's not acceptable, then should we not also ask that the "CCC" thread be closed, because it shows spoiler photos of cool cache containers?

 

Edit...me spel prettie

Edited by NeverSummer
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I think it's really unnecessary to post sections of the TOU. We are all familiar with it and don't have to be reminded. The OP is usually looking for help on a puzzle and is in no position to spoil anything, so they don't have to be reminded. What are you trying to tell us then, that you know how to copy and paste?

 

Really? All cachers are familiar with the TOU? You're 100% sure about that?

 

That's like saying that "all" cachers are familiar with the Guidelines.

 

:rolleyes:

:laughing:

 

+1

 

It's up to all of us to work on keeping it civil, spreading knowledge and exercising humility... :anicute:

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Now, granted, before this clause, we had an informal etiquette rule against discussing a specific cache. People would be told to take the discussion off-line or to get an answer from the cache owner. At least they weren't told that Groundspeak was going to ban accounts for being helpful. Why is the clause necessary now? Does it accomplish anything that the informal etiquette rule didn't?
AFAICS, adding the clause to the TOU allows Groundspeak to do something when a member violates the clause in the TOU. When it was just a matter of informal etiquette, Groundspeak couldn't really do anything.

 

Just what makes the Groundspeak forums (or the cache page for that matter) any different?
Groundspeak owns and controls them. That's the difference between Groundspeak sites and other sites.

 

Personally, I don't see a problem with the Groundspeak TOU applying when someone takes information from a Groundspeak site (e.g., a puzzle cache description) and does something inappropriate with it elsewhere (e.g., posting spoilers for the puzzles without the owner's permission). Nondisclosure agreements do this all the time. In fact, the whole point of nondisclosure agreements is to restrict what the recipient can do with the information once they take it away from the provider's direct control. But IANAL, and the problem may not have been a legal problem anyway.

 

Nobody seems to complain when we discuss lamppost hides. Per the Terms Of Use we should all get banned if just one LPC owner complains it a spoiler.
I don't think the analogy works. Discussing LPCs in general is like discussing transposition ciphers in general; neither are spoilers. If someone posted that cache GCxxxxx is an LPC, or if someone published a bookmark list of LPCs, then that might be the equivalent of posting puzzle spoilers. But no one does that—at least, not that I recall.

 

I just don't get it. I see an overwhelming number of people in the forums at least, who seem to support this clause. I keep hoping someone can convince me. But each time it comes up, I only question it more. Why have it?
The clause was added in response to a very strong demand from users, demanding that Groundspeak do something about certain spoiler sites.

 

You don't need to understand why some people care about spoilers. But whether you understand or not, these people do care about spoilers. The clause is there because a lot of these people demanded that Groundspeak do something.

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What is the reason that Groundspeak feels the need for a clause in the the Terms of Use forbidding the use of the forums to give help with puzzles or other difficult caches without the cache owners permission?

 

I like the clause, many years ago I spent about 40 hours of my time, several tanks of gas in my truck, and drove a total of 400 miles to set up a puzzle/multi cache. So one cacher included all the information needed to solve my puzzle in her logs. Then she sent me a very nasty e-mail when I deleted her log. gee, what an idiot.

 

If your are frustrated by puzzles just don't do them

Edited by JohnnyVegas
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What is the reason that Groundspeak feels the need for a clause in the the Terms of Use forbidding the use of the forums to give help with puzzles or other difficult caches without the cache owners permission?

 

I like the clause, many years ago I spent about 40 hours of my time, several tanks of gas in my truck, and drove a total of 400 miles to set up a puzzle/multi cache. So one cacher included all the information needed to solve my puzzle in her logs. Then she sent me a very nasty e-mail when I deleted her log. gee, what an idiot.

 

If your are frustrated by puzzles just don't do them

 

As an owner of a mystery cache which you spent many hours constructing, how do you feel about this other option. Instead of someone asking for help from someone that has already solved it, there is a somewhat common practice for two or more geocachers collaborating via email or some other backchannel mechanism to work on the solution together. The solution is never published and working together on a cache seems to be very much in the spirit of geocaching. I've seen some traditional caches and finding the actual cache on a mystery after the coordinates have been solved with as many as 14 geocaches searching for the container, or another cache in a tree that 15 geocachers found after an event when only one person actually climbed the tree. I don't see how that is any different from a couple of people exchanging email to solve a particularly difficult mystery cache.

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But does it really?

 

[sarcasm]

I guess if you look at it that way, why go to all the pretense of posting the solutions in the Forum, or on some other website? Like JV's *helpful* cacher, why not cut to the chase and just post the solutions on the Listing page, where it will be sooooo much easier to find?

[/sarcasm]

 

:rolleyes:

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When I make a cache a puzzle I think of the puzzle as an added bonus for someone who enjoys that sort of thing but I don't want it to be an obstacle for someone who doesn't. That means I'll help them out however much they want.

 

I also don't care if others work on them together or go with someone else who solved it. I figure people will solve the puzzle in a way that is most enjoyable for them -- from "No hints, I don't want to know unless I do the whole thing myself." to "I haven't worked on it at all, can I go with you to Find it?"

 

The only reason I object to direct solutions is because someone who may not be wanting a spoiler may stumble across it.

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What I don't understand is why solvers who hit a brickwall don't drop an email to the cache owner - they seem to go right to the forums or friend.

 

I have several fun (but difficult) puzzles out there, and anytime someone sends me an email, I try to nudge them in the right direction (without giving it away), or tell them if the route they are trying is the wrong one or not. Usually I get an email back within 24 hours saying that the hint give them the "Aha!" moment. They appreciate the fact that the solved it themselves, and I didn't give them a full-on spoiler.

 

When solving, if I don;t get it right away, I put it aside to try it with a fresh set of brains later. If still no success after a few revisits, I will drop the owner an email with the list of things I tried. Most will provide a nudge.

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I don't see too much of a difference of discussing a tough "?" cache here in the GS forums, and discussing over coffee with some contemporaries.

 

The difference is that not everyone is privy to your conversation at a coffee shop with a couple of your puzzle solving friends however the forums are something that anyone ccould come to and read and once word got out that puzzle solutions were available int he forums, everyone would.

 

I don't have a problem sharing solutions with others interested in learning how to solve a partcular puzzle and by that I mean how to solve it, not the actual coordinates. What I don't like is when coordinates or locations are shared with someone that doesn't otherwise solve puzzles. I know of one case in particular where a cache owner archived one of his puzzles because someone that had the solution to it took a large group of people with them to go and get it. Several of them had never even looked at the cache page. If your going to go for a puzzle cache I think you should at least know how the puzzzle is solved.

 

As far as discussing puzzles in the forums go, I don't have a problem with that either, as long as the discussions are general in nature. Including things like, "have you tried cipher solving web site X?" or, "looked at this Base Number converter?" I think more specific discussions should be taken offline so that people aren't using the forums as a source for solutions to specific puzzles.

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I think its safe to say that perhaps 5% of people actually solve the puzzle. The rest of the folks either get the necessary hints/help/coords or goes along with someone else to grab the cache.

In this hobby its all about the numbers and everything goes to grab the smiley and thus the extra point and puzzle caches just add an extra hurdle to that goal.

In my corner of the world some folks dont even attempt to solve puzzles but funnily enough have found all the puzzle caches around.

Edited by ZeMartelo
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I think we might be overlooking the fact that the people that come here looking for help are trying to solve the puzzle.

 

For the most part, I'd agree. However, there also seems be a few that are not really interested in solving the puzzle, but do want to obtain the actual coordinates.

 

The difference may be subtle but it's periodic posts that niraD contributes that helps those that want to solve the puzzle and the "cheat sites" that some have mentioned target those that just are looking for the actual coordinates so that they may add a smiley.

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What is the reason that Groundspeak feels the need for a clause in the the Terms of Use forbidding the use of the forums to give help with puzzles or other difficult caches without the cache owners permission?

 

I like the clause, many years ago I spent about 40 hours of my time, several tanks of gas in my truck, and drove a total of 400 miles to set up a puzzle/multi cache. So one cacher included all the information needed to solve my puzzle in her logs. Then she sent me a very nasty e-mail when I deleted her log. gee, what an idiot.

 

If your are frustrated by puzzles just don't do them

 

As an owner of a mystery cache which you spent many hours constructing, how do you feel about this other option. Instead of someone asking for help from someone that has already solved it, there is a somewhat common practice for two or more geocachers collaborating via email or some other backchannel mechanism to work on the solution together. The solution is never published and working together on a cache seems to be very much in the spirit of geocaching. I've seen some traditional caches and finding the actual cache on a mystery after the coordinates have been solved with as many as 14 geocaches searching for the container, or another cache in a tree that 15 geocachers found after an event when only one person actually climbed the tree. I don't see how that is any different from a couple of people exchanging email to solve a particularly difficult mystery cache.

there is not much than can be done about cacher collaborating on a puzzle, this is not the same as a cacher posting the information required to find a cache in a log. People that log a puzzle cache that they did have a hand in solving? there is not way to prove they did not help with the puzzle so there is not a lot that can be done about. I have a bigger problem with groups experianced cachers that go out in a groups and place a cache container when they cannot find the cache because they are in a hurry. Ihave seen this happen.

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Now, granted, before this clause, we had an informal etiquette rule against discussing a specific cache. People would be told to take the discussion off-line or to get an answer from the cache owner. At least they weren't told that Groundspeak was going to ban accounts for being helpful. Why is the clause necessary now? Does it accomplish anything that the informal etiquette rule didn't?
AFAICS, adding the clause to the TOU allows Groundspeak to do something when a member violates the clause in the TOU. When it was just a matter of informal etiquette, Groundspeak couldn't really do anything.

But didn't the informal etiquette work just as well? The idea that Groundspeak punishes people who are just trying to be helpful bothers me. All of a sudden Groundspeak is not just a listing service but the enforcer of the cache owners' desires to protect against spoilers. "Post a spoiler for my cache and I'll send a lackey to break your legs".

 

Just what makes the Groundspeak forums (or the cache page for that matter) any different?
Groundspeak owns and controls them. That's the difference between Groundspeak sites and other sites.

 

Personally, I don't see a problem with the Groundspeak TOU applying when someone takes information from a Groundspeak site (e.g., a puzzle cache description) and does something inappropriate with it elsewhere (e.g., posting spoilers for the puzzles without the owner's permission). Nondisclosure agreements do this all the time. In fact, the whole point of nondisclosure agreements is to restrict what the recipient can do with the information once they take it away from the provider's direct control. But IANAL, and the problem may not have been a legal problem anyway.

I don't doubt that Groundspeak can have rules. Perhaps they can even restrict what members do on other websites. But I believe that I can question the rules if they don't make sense to me.

 

Nobody seems to complain when we discuss lamppost hides. Per the Terms Of Use we should all get banned if just one LPC owner complains it a spoiler.
I don't think the analogy works. Discussing LPCs in general is like discussing transposition ciphers in general; neither are spoilers. If someone posted that cache GCxxxxx is an LPC, or if someone published a bookmark list of LPCs, then that might be the equivalent of posting puzzle spoilers. But no one does that—at least, not that I recall.

I'm pretty sure there are bookmark lists of LPCs, but I don't have the time to look for one now. In any case, there are certainly post where a newbie says "The coordinates took me to the middle of a parking lot and there was no place to hide a cache anywhere nearby beside the light pole," and someone will reply, "Did you lift up the skirt?". If someone asks about a specific puzzle and you post "Lookup transposition cipher", wouldn't that be the same thing?

 

I just don't get it. I see an overwhelming number of people in the forums at least, who seem to support this clause. I keep hoping someone can convince me. But each time it comes up, I only question it more. Why have it?
The clause was added in response to a very strong demand from users, demanding that Groundspeak do something about certain spoiler sites.

 

You don't need to understand why some people care about spoilers. But whether you understand or not, these people do care about spoilers. The clause is there because a lot of these people demanded that Groundspeak do something.

Clearly there were a lot of vocal cache owners who requested that something be done to stop spoilers. In several of the threads I challenged these owners to explain how they are harmed because someone found their cache without solving the puzzle. None or the answers I got were totally satisfactory, though some of the responses seemed reasonable for certain specific situations. Groundspeak has never explained their rational in making this change other than spoilers are "not in the spirit of geocaching".

 

I will keep asking and hoping for an explanation of why we are told that we can't be helpful on Groundspeak's websites when a cacher asks for help. I'm not sure why the wishes of the cache owner not to have spoilers trump the wishes of the cache seeker to be able to ask for help without getting this "rule" thrown at them. Perhaps we need a narrower rule that defines what a spoiler is, or maybe the old informal forum etiquette was satisfactory and now that Groundspeak has decided not to try to police what we post on other websites the clause is no longer necessary.

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Clearly there were a lot of vocal cache owners who requested that something be done to stop spoilers. In several of the threads I challenged these owners to explain how they are harmed because someone found their cache without solving the puzzle. None or the answers I got were totally satisfactory, though some of the responses seemed reasonable for certain specific situations. Groundspeak has never explained their rational in making this change other than spoilers are "not in the spirit of geocaching".

The obvious question here is how are you harmed?

 

I will keep asking and hoping for an explanation of why we are told that we can't be helpful on Groundspeak's websites when a cacher asks for help. I'm not sure why the wishes of the cache owner not to have spoilers trump the wishes of the cache seeker to be able to ask for help without getting this "rule" thrown at them. Perhaps we need a narrower rule that defines what a spoiler is, or maybe the old informal forum etiquette was satisfactory and now that Groundspeak has decided not to try to police what we post on other websites the clause is no longer necessary.

Where does it say you can't be helpful? If proves to be too difficult to honor the terms, nothing is stopping you from being helpful in private. BTW, here are the terms:

 

(m) Publish, on any Groundspeak owned web property, the solutions, hints, spoilers, or any hidden coordinates for any geocache without consent from the cache owner.

I see plenty of leeway. Besides, it never hurts to ask the cache owner, which should be aways be the starting point anyway.

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I don't see too much of a difference of discussing a tough "?" cache here in the GS forums, and discussing over coffee with some contemporaries.

 

The difference is that not everyone is privy to your conversation at a coffee shop with a couple of your puzzle solving friends however the forums are something that anyone ccould come to and read and once word got out that puzzle solutions were available int he forums, everyone would.

 

I don't have a problem sharing solutions with others interested in learning how to solve a partcular puzzle and by that I mean how to solve it, not the actual coordinates. What I don't like is when coordinates or locations are shared with someone that doesn't otherwise solve puzzles. I know of one case in particular where a cache owner archived one of his puzzles because someone that had the solution to it took a large group of people with them to go and get it. Several of them had never even looked at the cache page. If your going to go for a puzzle cache I think you should at least know how the puzzzle is solved.

 

As far as discussing puzzles in the forums go, I don't have a problem with that either, as long as the discussions are general in nature. Including things like, "have you tried cipher solving web site X?" or, "looked at this Base Number converter?" I think more specific discussions should be taken offline so that people aren't using the forums as a source for solutions to specific puzzles.

 

it sounds like you are referring to my experience FM and since you brought it up, will expand on my experience since I had already posted on this thread and I want to get the facts straight of your example.

 

The CO had the temerity to delete people's finds rudely because they were with me (and had not solved the puzzle beforehand on their own) and I mean rudely. I had one person in my car with me and 2 other folks were in a different vehicle behind me and we were caching together for a while. So, he would have gotten 3 extra finders. Hardly seems fair to delete folks logs, call them rude all over his cache page, and then demand to know how I solved the puzzle. This is a CO who I had never even heard of before I solved the puzzle a day or two prior. What he did is against the guidelines of Geocaching but no other person with me wanted to log a find on it after that, was not worth it.

 

So, yes, an example of how COs differ on what they think is fair. That CO is naive to think past finders solved the puzzle though on their own, very naive. Everyone in my group learned how to solve the puzzle from me, its not like they were not with a person who solved it and its not like I was sharing that puzzle answer to anyone who was not with me that day caching. So, if you are out caching with some buddies and have 1 or more solved puzzles with you, everyone in your group is supposed to hide at a gas station while one gets a puzzle and then rejoin after? Its not like we ONLY went to that one cache.

 

However by the logic of that puzzle CO, no one can cache together as a group if not the entire group of cachers solved any planned puzzle collectively or individually beforehand. Its supposed to be a fun hobby.

Edited by lamoracke
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I'm not sure why the wishes of the cache owner not to have spoilers trump the wishes of the cache seeker to be able to ask for help without getting this "rule" thrown at them. Perhaps we need a narrower rule that defines what a spoiler is, or maybe the old informal forum etiquette was satisfactory and now that Groundspeak has decided not to try to police what we post on other websites the clause is no longer necessary.

 

Or maybe we should consider treating cache owners with a modicum of respect.

 

Nah, that would never do.

 

This one is reaching, even for you, Toz.

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I'm not sure why the wishes of the cache owner not to have spoilers trump the wishes of the cache seeker to be able to ask for help without getting this "rule" thrown at them. Perhaps we need a narrower rule that defines what a spoiler is, or maybe the old informal forum etiquette was satisfactory and now that Groundspeak has decided not to try to police what we post on other websites the clause is no longer necessary.

 

Or maybe we should consider treating cache owners with a modicum of respect.

 

Nah, that would never do.

 

This one is reaching, even for you, Toz.

+1

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I think it's OK to have this rule for the forum, especially if there have been cache owners upset in the past over having their puzzles spoiled. This is enough reason, really, I don't think there's any need to over-analyze the situation.

 

If someone needs help, they can ask the cache owner or another cacher who has recently found it.

 

I try my best to do puzzles on my own, as I find it more satisfying, but on the few occasions I was really stumped, I was able to get help without going to the forum.

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it sounds like you are referring to my experience FM and since you brought it up, will expand on my experience since I had already posted on this thread and I want to get the facts straight of your example.

 

The reference I made was purely generic in nature so any supposition on your part is strictly your own.

 

The CO had the temerity to delete people's finds rudely because they were with me (and had not solved the puzzle beforehand on their own) and I mean rudely.

 

In the example you cite, it sounds to me like the temerity was yours in assuming that the CO was OK with you taking a large group of people with you when you went to find it after you solved it.. Did you think to write to him before hand and ask if he was OK with it? You know, something like, "Hey, I'm going caching with 20 people on Saturday and I thought I'd take them to your cache that I've solved but none of the others have. I promise to tell them how to solve it before we go look for it..."

 

As I said I don't have an issue with solution sharing and as you well know, there are many puzzles that I have found that I needed help in solving, that's not the issue. It's one thing to share a solution with one or two individuals and another thing completely to take a large group with you while out caching in an area. I mean you didn't HAVE to look for that cache that day did you, with all those people? You could have skipped it and gone about finding all of the others that you found that day and then gone back and found ithe puzzle later, right? Maybe with some of the same people that you took the first time and after they had solved the puzzle themselves.

 

However by the logic of that puzzle CO, no one can cache together as a group if not the entire group of cachers solved any planned puzzle collectively or individually beforehand. Its supposed to be a fun hobby.

 

Agreed, it's supposed to be fun for everyone however, including the CO that designed the puzzle in the first place, not just the people that go to find it when they never solved the puzzle. Can you imagine that maybe it's not much fun for the CO when a bunch of people find a cache that he intended to be a little more work than just being lead to the cache by someone else?

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I do not think caching with 3 people would be considered a large group of people. Am sure all of us have cached in a group and done a puzzle cache where one person in the group solved it. That puzzle in question was over 30 miles away for me, to just simply come back another day solo was not really an option to me to consider.

 

If you were not referring to my example, I apologize for the possible inference.

 

Cannot contemplate why I would ask any CO if its okay to cache with some friends a given day and find their cache together? Cannot imagine many scenarios where that would apply, though, I have asked approval from COs if it was a series completion cache or something odd like that.

Edited by lamoracke
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I don't see too much of a difference of discussing a tough "?" cache here in the GS forums, and discussing over coffee with some contemporaries.

 

The difference is that not everyone is privy to your conversation at a coffee shop with a couple of your puzzle solving friends however the forums are something that anyone ccould come to and read and once word got out that puzzle solutions were available int he forums, everyone would.

 

I don't have a problem sharing solutions with others interested in learning how to solve a partcular puzzle and by that I mean how to solve it, not the actual coordinates. What I don't like is when coordinates or locations are shared with someone that doesn't otherwise solve puzzles. I know of one case in particular where a cache owner archived one of his puzzles because someone that had the solution to it took a large group of people with them to go and get it. Several of them had never even looked at the cache page. If your going to go for a puzzle cache I think you should at least know how the puzzzle is solved.

 

As far as discussing puzzles in the forums go, I don't have a problem with that either, as long as the discussions are general in nature. Including things like, "have you tried cipher solving web site X?" or, "looked at this Base Number converter?" I think more specific discussions should be taken offline so that people aren't using the forums as a source for solutions to specific puzzles.

 

FM, you miss the point. I'm talking about discussing a cache, not posting a solution. Everyone could be privy to my conversation with other cachers at a coffee shop...if they wanted to listen. This situation is not unlike the forums: not everyone looks at the forums, and certainly not everyone looks at the forums for solutions to a puzzle.

 

Also, it doesn't say anywhere that someone has to solve a puzzle to log a find. All they must do is sign the physical log. I've even stumbled upon a brand new mystery cache while out on a hike. And if I had other cachers along, they could have signed the log as well. There are, in fact, rules against "ALRs" on Geocaching.com hosted geocaches. This means, no one can place a requirement additional to simply logging a find in the logbook and online. This would include any requirement of completing a puzzle to be allowed to log a find. It's that simple.

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FM, you miss the point. I'm talking about discussing a cache, not posting a solution. Everyone could be privy to my conversation with other cachers at a coffee shop...if they wanted to listen. This situation is not unlike the forums: not everyone looks at the forums, and certainly not everyone looks at the forums for solutions to a puzzle.

 

I understood your point and I know what the guidlines say. What I was saying is that if you are talking about a cache in a coffee shop, not everyone there is going to be a geocacher that cares what you are talking about. And while it might be true that not everyone comes to the forums you can be sure that once word got out that the solution or even clues on how to solve a particular puzzle is available int he forums, that everyone that cared about finding that particular cache would come here for help in solving it. Not saying that is a bad thing or even wrong, just my opinion on what the result would be.

 

Also, it doesn't say anywhere that someone has to solve a puzzle to log a find. All they must do is sign the physical log. I've even stumbled upon a brand new mystery cache while out on a hike. And if I had other cachers along, they could have signed the log as well. There are, in fact, rules against "ALRs" on Geocaching.com hosted geocaches. This means, no one can place a requirement additional to simply logging a find in the logbook and online. This would include any requirement of completing a puzzle to be allowed to log a find. It's that simple.

 

That's the very point that lamorake is making above. It is a bit of Groundspeak having their cake and eating it too. On one hand, they say no ALR's. On the other hand, they say don't post puzzle spoilers, which takes us back to the OP...

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I'm not sure why the wishes of the cache owner not to have spoilers trump the wishes of the cache seeker to be able to ask for help without getting this "rule" thrown at them. Perhaps we need a narrower rule that defines what a spoiler is, or maybe the old informal forum etiquette was satisfactory and now that Groundspeak has decided not to try to police what we post on other websites the clause is no longer necessary.

 

Or maybe we should consider treating cache owners with a modicum of respect.

 

Nah, that would never do.

 

This one is reaching, even for you, Toz.

I have no problem with respect for the cache owner, but respect is a two way street.

 

I assume that people hide puzzle because they enjoy working puzzles themselves. They are certainly putting the cache out hoping that people who enjoy puzzles will enjoy solving this one. In that respect I understand the desire to reduce the chance that someone who wants to solve the puzzle will not inadvertently see a spoiler.

 

However, once the cache is out there, the cache owner can't control what others do. There will be some who see a puzzle and ignore it. Others may give it a look and decide they aren't going to be able solve this one. Others might start working on a brute force solution. Others might contact the owner for a hint. Others may work on the solution with a group of other caches. And some will ask in forums "How do you solve this puzzle?"

 

For a long time we had an informal rule in this forum that you shouldn't ask for help on a specific cache. When someone posted a question about a specific puzzle, they got a polite response that specific caches shouldn't be discussed but they could ask about general approaches to solving puzzles. In fact people could often ask specific questions so long as specific cache was not identified, e.g. "How do I find a point equidistant from three other points?"

 

I question the need for a clause in the TOU to enforce respect. To me it's no longer respect when I do it so I won't get banned. And what's worse is that now that it is in the TOU, when someone does ask a question, or if someone tries to answer a question, the TOUs are brought up. It's no longer an etiquette faux pas, but instead you're in violation of the terms you agreed to when you signed up for an account.

 

 

In the example you cite, it sounds to me like the temerity was yours in assuming that the CO was OK with you taking a large group of people with you when you went to find it after you solved it.. Did you think to write to him before hand and ask if he was OK with it? You know, something like, "Hey, I'm going caching with 20 people on Saturday and I thought I'd take them to your cache that I've solved but none of the others have. I promise to tell them how to solve it before we go look for it..."

This is the reason I don't like the TOU clause. While the majority of cache owners realize that you can't control what people do once you place your cache, it seems there are way too many people who still think cache owners should have the power to dictate how you find their cache. I thought the ALR guideline put a end to this. But clearly some think that if you have a puzzle cache you can require that people solve the puzzle in order to log a find on it. If I didn't keep hearing stories like this, perhaps I could respect the wishes of the caches owners more. If puzzle owners don't want to accept that people will share solutions then they don't get my respect. For most people geocaching is about going out an finding caches. Puzzle are a best small adjunct to finding the cache. We don't typically log a find for solving a puzzle. We log finds for finding caches. If you can't accept that a group find may occur where only one person in the group actually worked the puzzle then I'd say the cache owner needs to learn a little respect. Perhaps it there weren't so many cases like this I could live with accepting the cache owners wishes that I don't put solutions on Groundspeak websites without permission. Instead I see this clause as Groundspeak caving into cache owners who wanted to have control over something that perhaps would be better to leave alone.

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It is a bit of Groundspeak having their cake and eating it too. On one hand, they say no ALR's. On the other hand, they say don't post puzzle spoilers, which takes us back to the OP...

Don't confuse these two thing. (Despite the fact that I also connected them in my previous post).

 

The Logging of Physical Caches guideline is a rule applying to cache ownership. It removed some of the power that cache owners previous had in deleting found logs. Groundspeak felt that cache owners deleting Found logs for trivial reasons was getting out of hand. The ALR craze began as a way for cache owners to add extra rules to the game. Groundspeak brought it back to the basics of finding a cache and signing the log.

 

It is clear that with group finds, phone-a-friends, and other ways of sharing, that puzzle caches can be found without solving the puzzle. It is also clear that sometime puzzles are brute forced; and sometimes puzzle are found by chance. For most people, making solving the puzzle a requirement for logging finds would clearly be an ALR.

 

The TOU clause that I want to discuss has nothing to do with deleting logs. It is part of the agreement for using the forums and other publishing tools on Groundspeak website. The TOUs are filled with the standard stuff you find in the TOUs of most websits that have user submitted content. All the usual stuff about obscenity and threatening language and about copyright. It also has this strange clause that is unique to geocaching. Don't post the solutions, hints, spoilers, or any hidden coordinates for any geocache without consent from the cache owner. As it now applies only to Groundspeak owned web property, it should be clear that people can still find spoilers and solutions to puzzles elsewhere. You can not point to this clause as justification for deleting logs.

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it sounds like you are referring to my experience FM and since you brought it up, will expand on my experience since I had already posted on this thread and I want to get the facts straight of your example.

And I will correct as appropriate...

 

The CO had the temerity to delete people's finds rudely because they were with me (and had not solved the puzzle beforehand on their own) and I mean rudely.

 

I will grant you, the archiving message was a tad testy, but then I wasn't thrilled with a bunch of non-solvers tagging along for the smiley. But "rude"? Judge for yourself.

 

I had one person in my car with me and 2 other folks were in a different vehicle behind me and we were caching together for a while. So, he would have gotten 3 extra finders.

And for me, it truly is not about the numbers. This was a difficult puzzle. Relatively few cachers were able to solve it. That's what I intended. I intended for it to have few visitors. I intended those who did find it to have some sense of accomplishment in having solved the puzzle (even if they might have personally felt the puzzle was lame, which would be a totally fair opinion to hold).

 

Hardly seems fair to delete folks logs, call them rude all over his cache page, and then demand to know how I solved the puzzle.

 

Where did I call anyone rude? Isn't that you, Paul, calling me rude repeatedly?

 

As for me demanding to know how you solved the puzzle: I didn't "demand" anything, but I did ask if you solved it and if so, how. Why? My question to you was in response for your disputing a characteristic of the puzzle: I said I was archiving primarily because I wasn't comfortable with how the solution exposed personal information about me. You said you didn't think it did, which led me to question how you arrived at your results - at which point you admitted that you hadn't solved that portion of the puzzle. I have the entire email string, and I'd be happy to post it if you wish to stand by falsehoods. (Because you keep bringing this old issue up in the forums, people around here know who you're referring to when you continue to attack me.)

 

This is a CO who I had never even heard of before I solved the puzzle a day or two prior.

 

Not true.

 

What he did is against the guidelines of Geocaching but no other person with me wanted to log a find on it after that, was not worth it.

 

If the experience left such a bad taste, why not just delete your log and forget about it?

 

That CO is naive to think past finders solved the puzzle though on their own, very naive.

 

I know some solved it on their own. I know others solved it collectively, and/or with hints from me. That's all fine. What wasn't fine with me was people who had made no attempt at solving the puzzle, who had perhaps never even previously looked at the cache page, logging a find. I agree that people play the game differently, and I definitely think a lot of people play it differently now than when I started out. There's nothing I can do about that, but then I also don't have to make my caches available to people who play the game that way. Frankly, given this kind of drama from some numbers-hounds, I frequently wonder why I bother to keep any caches out there. (ETA: And the answer is, there are still people who play with integrity and that is still satisfying.)

Edited by Lightning Jeff
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There is no point going over every detail on this. I did not call out your name nor mention the cache, but since you brought it up and have now brought up the cache in question...

 

Obviously the word rude is subjective. No, your archive log may not have been the rudest, but you wrote terrible things on your blog too and your blog is required to solve the puzzle or don't you remember that and you also did a note. So, the combination of deleting my friends logs, stuff you posted on your blog and your notes left me the impression of rude. That is how I took it and my friend who you deleted their log just for being with me took it as rude as did the other folks who never got the chance to log the cache because of the actions that day.

 

Yeah, I did one of your puzzles before that it would seem, but that does not mean I knew who you were, nor remembered your name. I do a lot of caches and the CO name is just that, a name. Unless I actually talk to a cacher, or meet a cacher in the field, I won't remember I did one of your caches.

 

Perhaps the word "demand" is subjective too, but reviewing the facts...You archive your cache and in my mind, post rude stuff and delete any logs from my friends who did not solve the puzzle. Then you email me inquiring to me how I solved it, which gave me the implication that if I could not explain how to solve it, then you would delete my log. Would you have? I do not know, but you deleted my friends logs.

 

So, there you go.

 

(edited to fix a grammar mistake)

Edited by lamoracke
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and as far as keeping "evidence", post what you like. I chose to try and forget this episode and deleted all your emails and tried to not look at your blog and cache page again.

 

The reality is, I had the final coordinates to your puzzle whether I solved 1% of it on my own or 100% of it on my own, I was caching with some friends, we found the cache together, and you deleted my friends log and then archived the cache. Those are non subjective facts. No CO has the right to delete a found log because the puzzle was not solved by them.

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Obviously the word rude is subjective. No, your archive log may not have been the rudest, but you wrote terrible things on your blog too and your blog is required to solve the puzzle or don't you remember that and you also did a note.

 

I don't believe there was a blog post; the blog was, at that point, cobwebs. There hasn't been a single post to the blog between August 2010 and last month. I did tweet, but no one is required to read those (and few do!) - and it was pretty darn mild. Yes, there was an additional note on the cache page that responded to a nasty note left by someone else. Agreeing with you that the cache page shouldn't serve as a debate forum, I deleted both.

 

Yeah, I did one of your puzzles before that it would seem, but that does not mean I knew who you were, nor remembered your name. I do a lot of caches and the CO name is just that, a name. Unless I actually talk to a cacher, or meet a cacher in the field, I won't remember I did one of your caches.

 

None of which means you'd never heard of me, which was your assertion. Which is frankly irrelevant of course, except that your incorrect assertion might imply inaccuracy elsewhere in your telling.

 

Perhaps the word "demand" is subjective too, but reviewing the facts...You archive your cache and in my mind, post rude stuff and delete any logs from my friends who did not solve the puzzle. Then you email me inquiring to me how I solved it, which gave me the implication that if I could not explain how to solve it, then you would delete my log. Would you have?

 

You had the correct coordinates, and claimed to have solved the puzzle. You admitted that you had help, which as I've said, was and is fine by me. Yes, I might have deleted your log had you admitted that you made no attempt to solve. But again, I didn't initiate that conversation, you did, and I only inquired as to whether you solved it when you challenged my reason for archiving.

 

I have no problem with your disagreeing with what I did - deleting logs by a mini caravan of people who hadn't solved the cache. Groundspeak itself might disagree and that's fine - we're all free to do as we please. If it came to the point that I was forced to accept logs that contradict my intent for my cache, I'd honor their wishes for their web site by not listing puzzles here anymore. I'm perfectly fine being in the minority on this. Just please don't distort what actually happened.

Edited by Lightning Jeff
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Moderator please lock this thread as it seems to be hijacked to a discussion about deleting found logs of people who didn't solve the puzzle instead of a discussion of section 4(m) of the Terms of Use.

 

For what it's worth, if a cache owner is deleting find logs because they don't like how someone found their cache they won't get any respect from me.

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Moderator please lock this thread as it seems to be hijacked to a discussion about deleting found logs of people who didn't solve the puzzle instead of a discussion of section 4(m) of the Terms of Use.

 

For what it's worth, if a cache owner is deleting find logs because they don't like how someone found their cache they won't get any respect from me.

Apparently you were only asking rhetorical questions, which defeats the whole purpose of asking them on a discussion forum anyway.

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I've never had anyone flat out ask me for the coordinates of my puzzles, but they have asked for very strong hints. I give them what they want. If they ask for the coords and they really want them, I'll give them up. Makes no difference to me. The cache is for the finders, however way the choose to find it.

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Going back to the OP, I think the reason for the rule is that if discussion of puzzles were allowed to that extent (especially specific methods of solving a cache or giving out solutions), the forum would turn into a searchable database for puzzle solutions. That is very different than group efforts in private, PAF, and other things.

 

As a listing service, Groundspeak does have an obligation to preserve the sanctity of the puzzle, in the spirit of geocaching. If the owner wants to give out the solution, or if others work together or communicate with each other via private means, that is fine. But the listing service really should remain neutral on the subject. Thus, the rule.

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That is very different than group efforts in private, PAF, and other things.

 

 

Yes it is very different, because it is 'fair' to all who would wish to find the solution, not just those in the right 'clique'. People who want to avoid any 'help' could easily avoid the thread where it is discussed and people wanting/needing help would have a place to go with a wealth of information outside their 'circle'.

 

As long as it doesn't degenerate to postings of the solution is XX XX.XXX XXX XX.XXX and focus on explaining techniques, explaining 'why' a particular technique might be suitable to a particular puzzle etc then I honestly do not see the harm. It would provide a way for newer puzzle solvers to learn and get better at solving them and might lead them to putting out 'good' puzzles of their own. Getting to see a specific puzzle posted in California that used a technique I had not seen before might help me here in Indiana expand my puzzle output.

 

The way I am seeing the TOU is that even as the cache owner I can not have a discussion specifically about my own puzzle. I can't discuss specifically why people are not picking up on the subtle hints, why this red herring was effective and that one wasn't, if this solution technique is too obscure etc etc. I would be 'spoiling' my own puzzle.

 

Basically all caches I put out are puzzles. I know that one at least one of them that no one was able to completely solve it on their own(though I still don't understand why). I also know that several of the people who found it never had a clue on what the puzzle was even about. But I put the caches out to be found and however they did it they were able to sign the log. Having a discussion of my specific puzzle on the internet is not going to change the fact that some people may solve the puzzle and some people may just tag along and sign the log. But if discussing here it might help people get that 'ah-ha' moment of getting a solution that you know even without a checker that it just has to be the right one, well then I am all for it. To me that 'ah-ha' moment is one of the best feelings you can legally have. So if deconstructing my puzzles on the internet helps others be able to get that same feeling then I am all for it.

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Do you often have discussions without your own consent?

Depends on which of me you ask :unsure:

 

Actually was thinking more along the lines of a second account where all it does is list mystery caches. If I don't post under that account I would not be allowed to discuss those caches even though they would be 'mine'.

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