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Professional Reviewers?


The Hornet
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Over the last few weeks, having been reading the forums again, a thought has begun to form. It's something I've wondered for a long time now but it has resurfaced due to recent postings. It concerns Groundspeak Reviewers.

 

Let me start by supporting the efforts my erstwhile colleagues and the host of new reviewers put in. I know better than many here the work involved in being a reviewer so I thank them all for their continuing unpaid efforts.

 

But.... (there had to be a "but" with a start like that! ;) )

 

I wonder how viable Groundspeak's business model can be, having to rely on more and more unpaid volunteers to keep their business running. In the early days it was relatively simple for a few dedicated cachers to volunteer their time to promote the game locally. At least that's how I felt when I was doing it. I was in a privileged position being able to help what I saw as a new but growing pastime. I felt I could contribute to its development in the UK and my reward was seeing it shaped in a way that suited our particular culture and customs.

 

Times change and the pastime has grown dramatically. The numbers of caches submitted has skyrocketed and more and more part time volunteers are being recruited to keep things going. Also the whole ethos of the game has changed and because of its size it is becoming more homogeneous around the world. There is less room for localisation and local flavour.

 

Because of this I wonder if the time has come to change the way Groundspeak run their business and to start employing a small group of paid, professional, reviewers. I would imagine being able to insist on a relatively large group of disparate volunteers to apply a unified corporate approach is much more difficult than controlling a small group of paid employees. Whereas once, reviewers played a part in trying to represent local cachers to Groundspeak, the exact opposite is now happening. Presumably at the insistence of the company, local reviewers are having to impose more centrally directed rules upon a growing mass of the geocaching public.

 

When a volunteer loses the opportunity for discretion and creativity I question whether that person would be better off as a paid employee carrying out his/her employer's instructions.

 

Let me finish by reiterating that I do consider all our volunteers to be honest and dedicated people. What I am questioning is whether it is still feasible for a company that has grown so much to continue to rely on what at the end of the day is a group of amateur enthusiasts to support their revenue stream and corporate growth.

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Forgive my intrusion... but saw this thread on accident, thought is was good.

 

I have pondered this question myself many times. Paid reviewers would have the benifit of more consistency wih guideline enforcement. However, it also would limit the flexibility we currently have in a given regions. If there are 100 reviewers now, we would likely only need only 10 to 15 'professionals'. The odds of having a reviewer at your local event would decrease drastically and thus have less chance of picking their brains or proposing suggestions.

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If there are 100 reviewers now, we would likely only need only 10 to 15 'professionals'.

 

At the US minimum wage rate(*) ($7.25/h according to wikipedia), that will work out at ~$150,000-$225,000 just for the employees salaries, not including any overheads, health plans, pension plans, HR costs, etc. That's a lot of money for GS to stump up for a service they currently get for nothing.

 

(*) Of course they could offshore the roles and do it cheaper in India/South America/China/Eastern Europe/etc

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Irrespective of the merits of your suggestion, I can't see Groundspeak paying to have it done unless they are unable to find sufficient unpaid volunteers.

 

Rgds, Andy

 

I agree. I understand that Groundspeak recruit volunteers by invitation from a 'pool' of cachers that offer their services. I wonder if anybody knows how extensive this 'pool' is?

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I agree. I understand that Groundspeak recruit volunteers by invitation from a 'pool' of cachers that offer their services. I wonder if anybody knows how extensive this 'pool' is?

The "pool" is everyone :lol: . If the existing reviewers collectively think someone is suitable, and Groundspeak agree, they would be invited whether they had offered their services or not.

 

Rgds, Andy

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I was hinting at this when I made the comment on the other thread about reviewers implementing unsuitable rules. If you disagree with a rule, as an unpaid volunteer what do you have to lose if you refuse to implement it?

If you're paid a salary, you might accept that some things you're asked to do don't make sense but you do it anyway (as long as it's reasonably moral!).

So I have to agree that if Groundspeak want to bring in changes that UK reviewers don't think are suitable then they can't (unless such reviewers are weak-willed). Not without any sackings.

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Great idea... But... If there were full time paid jobs going do you think they would be in the UK... I think not.. The jobs would stay in the US .. reviewing would be centralised.... one set of rules for all (GS rules)..Contact your local reviewer oh dear you haven't got one anymore you would wait 3-4 weeks for a reply from the 'duty reviewer'.... Because of costs staffing would be low so no more caches published on the day you submit because it's in the queue...

The system we have may] be slightly flawed but with the number of new caches being published the amount that OUR reviewers 'disagree' with is I would think very small

Hundreds of UK cachers are happy with the fact that their caches get published quickly and if not they can get lots of help

The system is only slightly bent ..it's not broken... it doesn't need fixing

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It would an interesting financial experiment. I doubt the business could support it.

It would solve disparities and inequality though. We can't call them our reviewers , it's been clearly stated that they do not represent us. They work for the company. They have said for a long time that they are just following the rules and there is no wriggle room.

That doesn't seem a universal opinion , I wonder if all reviewers feel quite so constrained.

A small band of paid employees would probably get through the publishing of caches not that much slower.

Have a problem with the company? Well there's little point talking to someone who doesn't represent you and getting a lackey's ear now is difficult so would we see that getting better or worse?

 

It's not an easy job being a reviewer but if you're not part of the solution could that not make you a part of the problem?

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It would solve disparities and inequality though. We can't call them our reviewers, it's been clearly stated that they do not represent us.

I think it has NEVER been the case that reviewers were there to represent "us". It may be that in the past they were more free to interpret guidelines in the light of local conditions, but that isn't anything to do with representing us.

 

It is not the reviewer's job to act as a sort of union shop steward. They are there to review caches, which is why they are called reviewers.

 

There is no way to raise a grievance with Groundpeak other than directly, or through the forums, or get together with a lot of other people and make a group representation. But as we know, they do things how they want to do them and are not very responsive, even in the face of widespread disagreement with their policies. So if you discuss it with Groundspeak and get nowhere, you can choose to put up with it or use another site. But the other sites just don't have enough listings to make it practical for most people to stop using Groundspeak, so while they have close to a monopoly there is little you can do.

 

Rgds, Andy

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I think it has NEVER been the case that reviewers were there to represent "us". It may be that in the past they were more free to interpret guidelines in the light of local conditions, but that isn't anything to do with representing us.

 

To be fair Andy, we DID try on occasions to promote the local "consensus" to Groundspeak, sometimes with some limited success. I have no idea if that happens now but I suspect not.

There is no way to raise a grievance with Groundpeak other than directly, or through the forums, or get together with a lot of other people and make a group representation.

Very true. Another thought I've had, as well as the "professional reviewers", is wouldn't it be nice to have an independent body or person to appeal to in the case of a dispute. Right now if you disagree with something a Groundspeak reviewer does you are told that you can go to "appeals@Groundspeak.com". It is frankly laughable that if you disagree with Groundspeak you can take your grievance to .............. Groundspeak! Even when I was involved as a reviewer we knew that it was virtually inevitable that Groundspeak would side with the reviewer.

 

In this country if a company has a monopoly or very dominant position within a particular market we can usually appeal to an "Ombudsman". Hence OFCOM or OFWAT or whatever. I know Groundspeak is not British and those rules don't apply but maybe as a public relations exercise they might consider the appointment of an independent "OFCACHE". :rolleyes:

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In this country if a company has a monopoly or very dominant position within a particular market we can usually appeal to an "Ombudsman". Hence OFCOM or OFWAT or whatever. I know Groundspeak is not British and those rules don't apply but maybe as a public relations exercise they might consider the appointment of an independent "OFCACHE". :rolleyes:

'Tis true, but the omnbusman is imposed on the companies and I suspect none would choose to be subject to one. I think your :rolleyes: neatly sums up the chances of Groundspeak voluntarily submitting to one.

 

Rgds, Andy

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if a company has a monopoly

The only thing which is enforcing Groundspeak's "monopoly" is the cachers. I'm often amused by comments about how Groundspeak won't publish such and such a cache. If they won't, look elsewhere :rolleyes:.

 

Back to the OP: using professional reviewers would simply entrench the business aspects of geocaching even further. I'd like to see a return to the days when caching was performed by a friendly community of like-minded individuals and caches were published by members of that community rather than by employees paid or unpaid. This is the model used by other listing sites.

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I'd like to see a return to the days when caching was performed by a friendly community of like-minded individuals and caches were published by members of that community rather than by employees paid or unpaid. This is the model used by other listing sites.

So would I but it's not going to happen. Long term reliance on the goodwill of volunteers to keep your business earning you money rather than taking full control is, to my mind, not good business sense. Like it or not, Groundspeak have long since changed from essentially a hobby site to a full grown business now and I think this should be reflected in the way they use people to make their money.

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How do people know what Groundspeak can or can not afford? Are the accounts in the public domain?

 

Volunteers do a great job as reviewers but mainly in this country volunteers help charity's i.e. National Trust, English Heritage, Oxfam, Cancer research etc.

 

How many people donate time at the local B&Q, Tesco or Amazon? All companies that people pay for goods or use of their services.

 

Why is Groundspeak different?

 

Don't get me wrong I think the reviewers do a great job and I am not sure if full time paid reviewers would be beneficial or not but are Groundspeak taking advantage of peoples willingness to help the Geocaching community?

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There is another oddity to the Groundspeak business model apart from the time donated by the reviewers there is also all the time donated by the cachers who design build hide and maintain caches. If so many people were not hiding the caches there would be nothing for the reviewers to review and there would be no business for Groundspeak.

 

My be if reviewers were paid hiders would have to be paid as well. Just a thought!

 

How do people know what Groundspeak can or can not afford? Are the accounts in the public domain?

 

Volunteers do a great job as reviewers but mainly in this country volunteers help charity's i.e. National Trust, English Heritage, Oxfam, Cancer research etc.

 

How many people donate time at the local B&Q, Tesco or Amazon? All companies that people pay for goods or use of their services.

 

Why is Groundspeak different?

 

Don't get me wrong I think the reviewers do a great job and I am not sure if full time paid reviewers would be beneficial or not but are Groundspeak taking advantage of peoples willingness to help the Geocaching community?

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There is another oddity to the Groundspeak business model apart from the time donated by the reviewers there is also all the time donated by the cachers who design build hide and maintain caches. If so many people were not hiding the caches there would be nothing for the reviewers to review and there would be no business for Groundspeak.

 

My be if reviewers were paid hiders would have to be paid as well. Just a thought!

Not as much as an oddity as you might think, many car owners clubs are Ltd companies and these would not exist if it was not for their members owning, restoring and displaying cars.

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Yes that's very true but the caches are owned by the person you hides them and we pay Groundspeak to access where they are and to download their apps onto smart phones etc to be able to find the caches hidden by others.

 

Another option would be to start charging people to upload their caches to Groundspeak to pay the reviewers to review them. It may make people think twice before sticking a nano on a bin too.

 

There is another oddity to the Groundspeak business model apart from the time donated by the reviewers there is also all the time donated by the cachers who design build hide and maintain caches. If so many people were not hiding the caches there would be nothing for the reviewers to review and there would be no business for Groundspeak.

 

My be if reviewers were paid hiders would have to be paid as well. Just a thought!

 

How do people know what Groundspeak can or can not afford? Are the accounts in the public domain?

 

Volunteers do a great job as reviewers but mainly in this country volunteers help charity's i.e. National Trust, English Heritage, Oxfam, Cancer research etc.

 

How many people donate time at the local B&Q, Tesco or Amazon? All companies that people pay for goods or use of their services.

 

Why is Groundspeak different?

 

Don't get me wrong I think the reviewers do a great job and I am not sure if full time paid reviewers would be beneficial or not but are Groundspeak taking advantage of peoples willingness to help the Geocaching community?

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Actually, you do not pay Groundspeak to list your cache or to access most caches placed by others. Premium membership gets you pocket queries and other tools. Oh, don't forget Off Topic in the forums. :)

 

Sorry Moose Mob back on topic now.

 

How about a paid reviewer to deal with problems and can lead cachers in the UK with support and back up of volunteer reviewers?

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Actually, you do not pay Groundspeak to list your cache or to access most caches placed by others. Premium membership gets you pocket queries and other tools. Oh, don't forget Off Topic in the forums. :)

 

Sorry Moose Mob back on topic now.

 

How about a paid reviewer to deal with problems and can lead cachers in the UK with support and back up of volunteer reviewers?

 

We have a team of lackeys who work to support and assist the community and the volunteers. We are the Community Relations team and among us are the Volunteer Coordination and Support team. We work very closely with our volunteers across the world.

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How do people know what Groundspeak can or can not afford? Are the accounts in the public domain?

 

Volunteers do a great job as reviewers but mainly in this country volunteers help charity's i.e. National Trust, English Heritage, Oxfam, Cancer research etc.

 

How many people donate time at the local B&Q, Tesco or Amazon? All companies that people pay for goods or use of their services.

 

Why is Groundspeak different?

 

Don't get me wrong I think the reviewers do a great job and I am not sure if full time paid reviewers would be beneficial or not but are Groundspeak taking advantage of peoples willingness to help the Geocaching community?

Whatever monies that they spent towards paid Reviewers would take monies away from paying for a development team. Personally, I'd rather them pay for site development than for reviews.

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Actually, you do not pay Groundspeak to list your cache or to access most caches placed by others. Premium membership gets you pocket queries and other tools. Oh, don't forget Off Topic in the forums. :)

 

Sorry Moose Mob back on topic now.

 

How about a paid reviewer to deal with problems and can lead cachers in the UK with support and back up of volunteer reviewers?

My apologies... I wasn't referring to you being off topic at all. I was referring to the folks that dwell in the Off Topic forums since they can't/won't go out and play.

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How do people know what Groundspeak can or can not afford? Are the accounts in the public domain?

 

Volunteers do a great job as reviewers but mainly in this country volunteers help charity's i.e. National Trust, English Heritage, Oxfam, Cancer research etc.

 

How many people donate time at the local B&Q, Tesco or Amazon? All companies that people pay for goods or use of their services.

 

Why is Groundspeak different?

 

Don't get me wrong I think the reviewers do a great job and I am not sure if full time paid reviewers would be beneficial or not but are Groundspeak taking advantage of peoples willingness to help the Geocaching community?

Whatever monies that they spent towards paid Reviewers would take monies away from paying for a development team. Personally, I'd rather them pay for site development than for reviews.

 

Given how often site updates leave other things broken I wonder if they'd be better off fixing the bugs and then just leaving it alone for a while.

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