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A Modest Proposal or two


sexyboo
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My recent troubles with getting an EarthCache accepted because it concerns other forms of Earth Science besides Geology is provoking what will no doubt be a fairly long post here so please bear with me (What, you mean there is other Earth-related science that could make interesting and education caches? Say it isn't so!) Sarcasm aside, the exclusionary nature of the EarthCache and the Geological Societies monopoly on inclusion bears repeating. There should be an outlet for interesting, science-related "virtual" caches that would help generate interest in other aspects of our wonderful planet. Some examples might include:

 

A river forest, or bosque, with the unique flora and fauna that inhabit such a place (we have a state park in my area that WANTS an education virtual

A coastal inlet where atmospheric phenomenon such as the Marine Layer of California

A northern area where the Northern Lights are most observable

 

In any case, there are countless examples like the ones above that would make for excellent scientific caching exercises but are excluded as EarthCaches under the GSA's overly restrictive guidelines). Therefore, my proposal is as follows: create a new category of cache, call it a ScienceCache, that could have expert reviewers to determine the cache's validity a la EarthCaches. I personally know many scientific types, myself included, that would happily donate their time to this endeavor. Perhaps we could get the National Geographic Society on board to help with this.

 

Of course, as a buff of history and literature, I could extend this argument to creating another type of "virtual", the "HumanitiesCache", that could incorporate this same concept but with places of historical or literary significance. Again, there would be hundreds of cachers out there who would happily give their time to help review such postings to avoid the problems encountered when Virtuals were taken offline, including myself of course. Groundspeak, I would be happy at any time to present to you a full proposal for how to implement either one or both of these ideas. There is so much potential here for expanding the educational nature of Geocaching beyond the current scope. Thanks.

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The GSA's 'overly restrictive' guidelines are what makes this particular type of virtual cache possible.

 

If you could find some organization willing to administer their own set of 'overly restrictive' guidelines for one of your proposed categories, and if they wanted to go to the trouble to interface their concept with what Groundspeak might require, then you might have a chance to get this off the ground.

 

Groundspeak's VOLUNTEER reviewers are not equipped (and unwilling) to judge whether a virtual 'Historical' cache is historical enough, or whether a virtual 'Botanical' cache is botanical enough.

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The GSA's 'overly restrictive' guidelines are what makes this particular type of virtual cache possible.

 

If you could find some organization willing to administer their own set of 'overly restrictive' guidelines for one of your proposed categories, and if they wanted to go to the trouble to interface their concept with what Groundspeak might require, then you might have a chance to get this off the ground.

 

Groundspeak's VOLUNTEER reviewers are not equipped (and unwilling) to judge whether a virtual 'Historical' cache is historical enough, or whether a virtual 'Botanical' cache is botanical enough.

 

My point about GSA's overly restrictive nature is them calling these Earth Science Related caches but then not allowing most Earth Science caches. But yes, I will see what I can do.

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Therefore, my proposal is as follows: create a new category of cache, call it a ScienceCache, that could have expert reviewers to determine the cache's validity a la EarthCaches. I personally know many scientific types, myself included, that would happily donate their time to this endeavor. Perhaps we could get the National Geographic Society on board to help with this.

I think your final sentence contains the key to your best shot with this. If you can get a reputable third party source to commit to the project, you might be able to put together a winning proposal. I am skeptical that a group of committed cachers, no matter how genuine their enthusiasm and intentions, would inspire Groundspeak to introduce a new category of virtual caches (or, I would guess, it would have been done long ago).

 

But an outside organization with serious credentials and a willingness to see the project through, that might be the kind of thing that would facilitate a good discussion. That's the direction I'd go.

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In the meantime, you could just create some local challenges.

 

:lol:

Or a waymark. At least those flavor of plout have .loc and .gpx(lite) type of files the user can download. And a smidgen of owner control. :unsure:

Maybe list them in the 'Best kept Secrets' category. :rolleyes:

 

As another stated, you need National Science type group to supervise to even have a slim chance to get this to go anywhere. Sad I know. :(

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Looking at the three examples you cited, I can't see why you couldn't turn each into an earth cache. Each unique phenomenon is the direct result of geography, right? For instance, a site with unique flora and fauna has such unique flora and fauna because of its geography. Soil conditions, elevation, etc, all combine to make that particular spot habitable. Make your focus on those unique geographic qualities, rather than on the critters themselves, and you have a study on earth science. California's Marine Layer, while often considered an atmospheric phenomenon, is actually caused by geography. The unique qualities of the land mass inland lends itself to intense heating, which creates the pressure gradient that draws the layer in from the sea. The Northern Lights are caused by collisions between charged particles (originating in the magnetosphere, and guided by our magnetic field), and atoms in the thermosphere.

 

With almost anything weird and/or notable, you should be able find a way to link it to geographic sciences.

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1. Since the OP is asking for something outside the boundaries of Earthcaches, the OP likely reasoned that starting a thread in the Earthcaching forum would be off topic.

 

2. For whatever it's worth, from a volunteer cache reviewer's perspective, I found AZCachemeister's posts to be bang-on accurate. Thank you for that.

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Here's a bit of history behind EarthCaches and why they are what they are.

 

Way back, Groundspeak allowed users to create virtual caches. Then main idea was to allow geocaching in areas where a physical cache couldn't be hidden (wasn't allowed or otherwise inappropriate). Many people used virtual caches to highlight interesting locations and often there was some educational aspect to the virtual cache - historic, cultural, scientific, etc.

 

But often virtual caches seemed to have no point other than someone wanting to hide a cache without the expense or effort of hiding a cache. People tried to use virtuals to get around the vacation restrictions or to avoid having to seek out permission to place a cache. Groundspeak instituted the so-called "wow requirement" for virtual caches. If the reviewer didn't think your virtual cache was "wow", then it didn't get published.

 

The Geological Society of America was looking for a way to promote geological science and education. Someone there thought of teaming with geocaching.com to have some special caches to highlight geologically interesting places and encourage people to visit them and learn a little geology when doing so. Since geocaching.com is a listing site, they were very willing to do this, despite the issues they already saw with virtual cache. GSA would create EarthCache.org and EarthCache.org reviewers would be the ones to review and publish these caches.

 

Later, Groundspeak created the Waymarking.com website. This site allows any group to establish new categories of waymarks. Categories were quickly formed to highlight places of scientific, historic, and cultural significance. Many categories required waymarks to have an educational component. EarthCache.org initially created an EarthCache Waymarking category and it seemed for a while that Waymarking would solve the issues with people who liked sharing important sites in whatever field interested them.

 

But Waymarking had its detractors. In addition to serious educational categories there were categories that were simply silly fun games - misspelled roadsigns or hungry trees - and there were the dreaded commerce categories - McDonalds Restaurants and Starbucks. Some people couldn't accept a activity that was so broad in its concepts; and the website was not designed to emphasize that you could pick and choose only the categories that were interesting to you. But most importantly, it was not Geocaching. Geocaching had been around for awhile and geocachers were used to loading up the GPS with the results of a PQ and heading out to search for traditional caches, virtuals, and EarthCaches as if they were all the same thing. Waymarking did not have the same features nor could you easily combine Waymarking with geocaching.

 

The people who owned EarthCaches demanded that instead of moving all EarthCaches to Waymarking, they stay on Geocaching.com; and because of the agreement with GSA, Groundspeak had no choice but to keep EarthCaches where they were. There were some modifications made to GSA EatchCache requirements at the time to emphasize the educational aspect even more.

 

So what does this mean?

 

First, it is very unlikely you can get GSA to expand the definition of Earth Science they use for EarthCaches. As Clan Riffster pointed out, you often can get an EarthCache approved that talks about biology or meteorology by emphasizing a connection with the geology of the site. Second, it is very unlikely that Groundspeak will partner again like they did with GSA. If an historical society wanted to do history caches or a biological society wanted to do Life Science caches, they would probably be directed to Waymarking which is set up to allow these things to be created easily. Finally, geocaching.com recently created the concept of challenges. Because some people not satisfied that they could share locations on Waymarking, Groundspeak decided to allow people to once again share locations without placing a cache by creating challenges. These challenges are kept separate from the core concept of geocaching but are listed on the Geocaching.com website.

 

If you have a location you want to share with others you have three options:

1) place a physical cache at the location (or nearby)

2) place a waymark in the appropriate Waymarking category

3) make a challenge (Groundspeak has announced that a new challenge type - Discover challenges - are coming soon and that these will allow for an educational experience at the location, though the suggestion I made for a Learn challenge would have been more to the point).

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The people who owned EarthCaches demanded that instead of moving all EarthCaches to Waymarking, they stay on Geocaching.com; and because of the agreement with GSA, Groundspeak had no choice but to keep EarthCaches where they were. There were some modifications made to GSA EatchCache requirements at the time to emphasize the educational aspect even more.

I am curious; what is the factual basis for this statement? Can you provide a link? I see this assertion often from you in your "history of earthcaching" post, but it sounds like you know more than I do, and I thought I was "in the know."

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My point about GSA's overly restrictive nature is them calling these Earth Science Related caches but then not allowing most Earth Science caches. But yes, I will see what I can do.

 

I have been told, in no uncertain terms, that EarthCaches are about any Earth Science, and not just geology. (You might find the quote on the EarthCache Forum, concerning an EarthCache about a tree growing in a landfill.) So, if I were you, I would appeal a decision not to publish an EarthCache becaue it has nothng to do with geology, but teaches valid lessons about another Earth Science.

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The people who owned EarthCaches demanded that instead of moving all EarthCaches to Waymarking, they stay on Geocaching.com; and because of the agreement with GSA, Groundspeak had no choice but to keep EarthCaches where they were. There were some modifications made to GSA EatchCache requirements at the time to emphasize the educational aspect even more.

I am curious; what is the factual basis for this statement? Can you provide a link? I see this assertion often from you in your "history of earthcaching" post, but it sounds like you know more than I do, and I thought I was "in the know."

Granted it is speculation on my part, though I thought at one time I saw a reply from a lackey that indicated that this was close to what happened.

 

My speculation is that there was some sort of written agreement between Groundspeak and EarthCache.org (GSA) to list EarthCaches on Geocaching.com and that after getting feedback from EarthCachers, EarthCache.org used this agreement to get EarthCaches to remain on geocaching.com.

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In the meantime, you could just create some local challenges.

 

:lol:

 

Of course if you do this, most people will not even look at it since a majority of people think challenges are lame.

 

I happen to be in the group that feels Geocache Challenges are lame, but I would certainly be interested in knowing where you derived the FACT that the MAJORITY agree.

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In the meantime, you could just create some local challenges.

 

:lol:

 

Of course if you do this, most people will not even look at it since a majority of people think challenges are lame.

 

I happen to be in the group that feels Geocache Challenges are lame, but I would certainly be interested in knowing where you derived the FACT that the MAJORITY agree.

 

I figured that someone would catch that. I will say I have no stats that back that up. But Most of the cachers I have talked to think they are lame. I also say if they are so popular how come so many cachers don't have more than a couple of challenges logged. THey have been out awhile now and when I click on a cacher it usually shows no more than 4 challenges being logged.

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In the meantime, you could just create some local challenges.

 

:lol:

 

Of course if you do this, most people will not even look at it since a majority of people think challenges are lame.

 

I happen to be in the group that feels Geocache Challenges are lame, but I would certainly be interested in knowing where you derived the FACT that the MAJORITY agree.

 

CG,

 

Perhaps you should spend more time on puzzles and less time worrying about statistics!

 

 

[sarcasm for anyone outside Ohio]

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Of the cachers who have posted on this thread. Four have completed challenges. Cx1, sexyboo, Clan meister, and myself. Only Clan has more than ten (24) and The other three of us have 5, 3, and 1.

So I would propose people not doing challenges as an example of people thinking they are lame.

I myself have five and think they are terribly lame.

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Of the cachers who have posted on this thread. Four have completed challenges. Cx1, sexyboo, Clan meister, and myself. Only Clan has more than ten (24) and The other three of us have 5, 3, and 1.

So I would propose people not doing challenges as an example of people thinking they are lame.

I myself have five and think they are terribly lame.

 

If you're finding challenges to be lame that's only because those that created the challenges you have found, create lame challenges. There is nothing inherent about challenges that prevents someone from creating a challenge that is *not* lame. There are a lot of really lame geocaches as well but apparently they're tolerated as long as finding them will increase ones find count. IMHO, the biggest problem with challenges is that a lot of people think of them as a type of geocache and expect that the process for creating and completing them should be like hiding and finding a geocache. They're not geocaches, thus insisting on an expectation that they should *be* like geocaches is just asking for disappointment.

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Of the cachers who have posted on this thread. Four have completed challenges. Cx1, sexyboo, Clan meister, and myself. Only Clan has more than ten (24) and The other three of us have 5, 3, and 1.

So I would propose people not doing challenges as an example of people thinking they are lame.

I myself have five and think they are terribly lame.

 

If you're finding challenges to be lame that's only because those that created the challenges you have found, create lame challenges. There is nothing inherent about challenges that prevents someone from creating a challenge that is *not* lame. There are a lot of really lame geocaches as well but apparently they're tolerated as long as finding them will increase ones find count. IMHO, the biggest problem with challenges is that a lot of people think of them as a type of geocache and expect that the process for creating and completing them should be like hiding and finding a geocache. They're not geocaches, thus insisting on an expectation that they should *be* like geocaches is just asking for disappointment.

 

No my friend you are incorrect. I think some of the challenges out there are very creative and very neat. I just think the process of challenges is lame. I enjoy every virtual I have seen. I like the fact I am required to send correct info to owner or have my log deleted. Earth caches are the same way I have to read material look at the evidence at location and answer questions to prove I was there as well as that I understood what I saw. I could go complete every challenge in the world right now and nothing could happen unless the runners of the site were willing to delete all of those on my account. Which since they don't matter and don't count on stats, it would seem to be a pointless fight. Especially since I have found virtuals from our state which have been archived but had members from a certain European country logging them as finds. Those peoples counts were not deleted.

 

For what you are stating those to me should be virtuals with Owners who have been there and appreciate the beauty or history or even earth geography of these locations. So when people say I was there and are able to say what they saw to the owner, both parties will understand the importance of that Virtual being there.

Plus a virtual will get way more people going to a location than a challenge will. (Before I get attacked on this point, It is an opinion not a fact)

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Of the cachers who have posted on this thread. Four have completed challenges. Cx1, sexyboo, Clan meister, and myself. Only Clan has more than ten (24) and The other three of us have 5, 3, and 1.

So I would propose people not doing challenges as an example of people thinking they are lame.

I myself have five and think they are terribly lame.

 

For the record, since I was mentioned specifically I do not think Challenges are lame. I do think there are lame Challenges though. Same way I don't think traditional caches are lame, but I have logged some pretty lame traditionals.

Why I have so few is the support by the website for them IMHO is very lame.

No PQ support

No gpx/loc files (even waymarks get those)

They don't show on the maps with caches so I have no idea if there are nearby Challenges unless I search specifically from each cache. Tedious at best.

 

Also GSAK does not support them as a separate category like it does benchmarks and waymarks so trying to include them in my statistics throws milestones and other stats off.

 

So overall the lack of support by Groundspeak for Challenges compared to the tools they make available for virtual caches is why I don't do many Challenges.

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...who would happily give their time to help review such postings to avoid the problems encountered when Virtuals were taken offline, including myself of course.

 

I would wager you would run screaming from your computer, out into the street, in less than a week. From what I've read in the Forums and talking with people, it really was that bad.

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Of the cachers who have posted on this thread. Four have completed challenges. Cx1, sexyboo, Clan meister, and myself. Only Clan has more than ten (24) and The other three of us have 5, 3, and 1.

So I would propose people not doing challenges as an example of people thinking they are lame.

I myself have five and think they are terribly lame.

 

For the record, since I was mentioned specifically I do not think Challenges are lame. Why I have so few is the support by the website for them IMHO is very lame.

As one who was almost mentioned specifically, I agree completely.

Most of the folks I speak with regarding Challenges are rather bewildered about the concept. I find myself sounding like a broken record, explaining over and over how they work and what they were intended for. I see this overall lack of comprehension to be indicative of a marketing failure on Groundspeak's part. The Powers That Be did not properly promote Challenges when they had the door open. They failed again with implementation, and design.

 

Because of these combined failures, Challenges were doomed from the start. The masses had only the vaguest notion on the proper way to create them, and as such, were reluctant to try. Those who did try often had their attempts shot down because they did not understand the requirements. Many of these folks were discouraged from creating any more.

 

The end result is, there just aren't a whole lot out there to find.

 

Hence, my low numbers.

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In the meantime, you could just create some local challenges.

 

:lol:

 

Of course if you do this, most people will not even look at it since a majority of people think challenges are lame.

 

I happen to be in the group that feels Geocache Challenges are lame, but I would certainly be interested in knowing where you derived the FACT that the MAJORITY agree.

 

I figured that someone would catch that. I will say I have no stats that back that up. But Most of the cachers I have talked to think they are lame. I also say if they are so popular how come so many cachers don't have more than a couple of challenges logged. THey have been out awhile now and when I click on a cacher it usually shows no more than 4 challenges being logged.

 

The very low number of Challenges should also be an indication that they have not been the replacement for Virtuals that were hoped for. There are only 6 in RI (compared to nearly 2000 caches) and most have been logged by very few people.

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