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CapeDoc

Numbers, badges and belts

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I don't mean to be inflammatory, demeaning or judgemental but is there anyone out there who can explain to me what the fascination is with Geocaching numbers?

I meant it softly and gently. Why the numbers chase? Sure I can see there may be some status involved with being the most prolific finder in the world / UK / SA. OK, even top 10, but after that it is really getting watered down. Is the status archived worth it? If it means finding hundreds of banal caches, is the status worth it?

Is it a competition with a Geocaching mate? See who can have the most finds?

 

If you reply, I won't infer that you are obsessed with numbers. No. I would just like to hear other people's take on things. I don't mean to create a rift. I also completely realize that no one is only in it for the numbers. Geocaching is a great activity and the numbers do just come out of gathering those great experiences.

 

I admit too, to being into some numbers. I like to watch Favourite points, that's my weakness.

 

So, what's up with the numbers thing?

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I believe it is an American phenomenon creating competition out of anything - not just the classic physical and sports challenges and car races. We have TV shows which make a competition out of cooking, choosing a mate, designing clothes, cheerleading, shooting a gun, and the straw that broke the camel's back for me, competetive travel ("The Amazing Race"). It's not the destination, so why would you ever want to rush through the journey??? People start geocaching just for the sheer enjoyment. Then they meet people who brag about their number of finds and being first or getting the most in one day. Even non-competetive people (like me) get a little rush thinking about a challenge. Hope this gives you an American perspective. Cache on!

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To me it gives just another aspect of the game.

 

I love the badges.

Majority of my caching are traditionals. So looking at the badges I am trying to "up" my multies, and unknowns. Do I rush out and only do those? No. But I do give them a little extra effort.

 

I love filling in my calendar.

If I miss a day so what... then I just fill it in next year.

But to me it is most enjoyable to get up 40 minutes earlier in the morning, go out on a lovely motorbike ride to some cache, find it and still be in time for work at 7AM.

 

So in a way I am chasing some numbers, but it not "balls to the wall" chasing them, it is at my own pace in my own time.

 

One problem perhaps later on will be the "groen blokkie" blues. What will I do once they are all filled in. What will I do next? Not sure. It will be interesting to find out though.

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I mentioned it in the Postbox thread. But what better way of Hating the GPS series with a group of great friends. 640 hate to finds in 24 hours. Awesome. But in the begining i took 6 or so months just to reach 50 finds. It was like the impossible feat to attain. But it was fun, now it is a case of ooops where did i just pass the last milestone. And at the moment i am sitting staring the next one right in the face and thinking i gotta go big or wait for a memorable one to just be there for me. But where or when.... maybe i must just go out and grab whatever comes, but will it be mudane or will it be worth it. I am not too worried about the types, or the fizzy charts or DT ratings. I have a few done, and yes they were hard or they were easy or something. The DT can be changed by the cache owner at any time and that messes around with all the stats. I might have one of the only D4.5 T3 or whatever cache in the area and one poor fellow has reached the 81 DT matrix only for me to up the DT to D4.5 T3.5 and mess up his stats. So yes enjoy your stats, but more importantly the experience you have enjoyed in finding the cache at the end of the day is what truely counts. Of the 2399 i have found i am glad to say there are probably a few hundred if not over 1000 truely enjoyable and story worthy caches. The rest, well, you will never know until you have done them.

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For us the numbers add a different dimension to caching, and it is about the numbers, our personal ones. For us it is more than just the number of caches we have found, and we have done various things to get a cache of a particular type, or altitude, or D/T rating, etc.

 

If you just look at the stats, that only gives a small part of the story and experience. It doesn't tell you that the 200km's we drove to get one cache above 3000m to be able to improve on our Head-In-The-Clouds badge was through a really scenic part of Lesotho. That we had a great picnic lunch on the top of the pass. That we stopped at a waterfall so that the kids could taste fresh mountain spring water for the first time.

 

It doesn't tell you about the first terrain 5 we targeted, where we detoured so Brendan and I could go crawling through the Bat Cave and had awesome fun together.

 

The day we got 53 caches in one day, looking at our stats just shows we found the P&M Cache Dash series. It doesn’t show the awesome day I had with Brendan where the two of us worked together the whole day to find all the caches when they were published. How we found the last ones as the sun set to wrap up a wonderful father-son day. We will do the GPS series one day, as part of personal challenge to see if we can, but also as part of spending a family day together, planning beforehand and then working together on the day to see if we can find 400 caches in a day.

 

Sometimes we get up early to chase a FTF that was published overnight, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we drive 50km's to sign the log on a complicated puzzle that we solved first to claim the FTF just because we can, sometimes weeks later we are still trying to figure out the puzzle.

 

The stats create an additional element for us, and encourage us to do things we would not normally attempt. Many of these experiences would not have happened if we hadn't been trying to fill in a block or tick a box on the stats, and that is what makes geocaching so much fun. It can be customised for the way you want to experience it, and you can play the game the way it suits you.

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I think there are a number of reasons for this "phenomena" to chase numbers, badges, belts etc.

 

First of all, it's human nature to be competitive. Whether it be to compete against others or even just against ourselves.

We see this in all aspects of life. Whether it be to have the best grades in school, employee of the month, having the most expensive, exclusive car or whatever. In some cases it's for the status, or because there's an incentive to be the best. Even sport is about competing against other people.

If not competing against others, it's about competing against ourselves. Athletes always try to achieve a personal best for a given race, for example.

Same goes for geocaching; this activity is no different to anything else. So geocachers will compete against others to see who can have the most finds, finds in a day, hide the most caches, fill the matrix, find a cache-a-day or whatever.

Due to the nature of geocaching, as an activity, it lends itself exactly to these sort of competitive challenges. If I cannot compete against others in a certain category, I can create my own challenge. I might not be able to have the most FTF's in the WC (is that a 'recognised' achievement), but I could be the geocacher with the most finds in a sq. km from my home coordinates! Stupid example, but you get the idea. tallglenn also touched on this point in her comment. In a capitalistic society, this implies that one can use/exploit this human trait for financial gain. Just turn it into a reality show and you can make money.

So there will always be people that play geocaching competitively. When they've run out of challenges, they create new ones to be able to keep on being competitive.

 

Secondly, it's about people that cannot or will not do something repetitively. In 2005, when I started geocaching, there were few geocaches around Cape Town, all worthy of a favourite point. Geocaching wasn't a boring activity, as there was always a new town, hiking route or wine farm to visit. Even heading up the West Coast or along the South Coast was an adventure. However, as the number of geocachers and caches grew, it became a bit repetitive. Another cache down the road, on the mountain, even on the same wine farm. That's when it started becoming repetitive and in my mind, to keep geocaching and the excitement going, geocachers started creating all the challenges and variations on the original idea, which was to go new places with the aid of a GPS receiver, to have fun, to write great logs as a reward to the geocachers that have made the effort to hide quality caches.

 

Thirdly, it's about financial gain. Groundspeak obviously gain from us being premium members, so it's in their interest that we are competitive and create variations on the original idea. Also there are all the achievement geocoins etc., so geocaching has created an industry where once there was none. Many people benefit financially from geocaching. I'm sure many Garmins are sold only for geocaching. What if geocaching was the same as way back when in 2005? I might have gotten bored and moved on to do something else and more fun. Who knows?

 

One of the things that drew me to geocaching (and how I still explain geocaching to interested people) is that what makes geocaching so unique is that there are so few rules and that geocaching is so informal. I can choose to go geocaching six times a year or every weekend. I can play it day or night, in miserable rainy weather or on sunny days. Geocaching is for everyone. In a way, it's a negative - this causes the proliferation of stupid, low quality caches for example, or the competitive variations to Geocaching. Unlike a sport like rugby, with a limited, or strict set of rules, geocaching is what you make of it.

 

I personally hate low quality caches, uninspiring cache descriptions, mindless power trails. It detracts from what made geocaching so great in the first place. Like I mentioned in a different post, unfortunately, this is the nature of any activity like geocaching. Initially it's taken up by passionate people (geocachers) and then it evolves over time, because more and more people get involved, and add their own ideas and interpretations of the rules. As I've said a number of times, if anything, we can vote with our hides, our log entries, the caches we choose to do or not to do, and awarding favourite points.

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One of the things that drew me to geocaching (and how I still explain geocaching to interested people) is that what makes geocaching so unique is that there are so few rules and that geocaching is so informal. I can choose to go geocaching six times a year or every weekend. I can play it day or night, in miserable rainy weather or on sunny days. Geocaching is for everyone. In a way, it's a negative - this causes the proliferation of stupid, low quality caches for example, or the competitive variations to Geocaching. Unlike a sport like rugby, with a limited, or strict set of rules, geocaching is what you make of it.

 

I personally hate low quality caches, uninspiring cache descriptions, mindless power trails. It detracts from what made geocaching so great in the first place. Like I mentioned in a different post, unfortunately, this is the nature of any activity like geocaching. Initially it's taken up by passionate people (geocachers) and then it evolves over time, because more and more people get involved, and add their own ideas and interpretations of the rules. As I've said a number of times, if anything, we can vote with our hides, our log entries, the caches we choose to do or not to do, and awarding favourite points.

 

Well said Br&Pc!

 

I started in 2006 and really enjoyed being shown different places, the numbers unimportant and as for badges and belts I don't even know what they are or how they are achieved. But enjoy going out with friends and family and signing a few good cache logs, but I guess it amounts to each his own!

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Some interesting replies. Although I don't really ever cache for statistical purposes, the nature of Geocaching will tend to give one good adventures when you ARE caching for statistical purposes. I hadn't thought about "Groen blokkie blues", that made me smile. We will all end up playing the way we want. There is no right or wrong. Where I choose to use my ignore list, others get together to see how many power trail caches they can find. Where I would rather spend an entire week end getting one hard earned smilie others may be chasing terrain or difficulty combos for the next badge. It is actually really nice that caching gives us all the ability to enjoy the game in the way we want to.

I will continue to try to hide caches that are entertaining, in awsome locations, as that is the type of cache I personally like to find. My reward is not from a statistic but from a grateful log or being taken somewhere great. But it doesn't mean my enjoyment is any more than anyone else's enjoyment. No matter how they play the game, or for what reasons.

I personally want to be taken somewhere great by Geocaching. I will continue to vote (as B&P put it) with thoughtful logs and Favourite points for caches that do that. I will write harsh logs if I dislike a cache, but realize all caches serve a purpose for someone and even the lamest caches can bring pleasure to some, if not for the location, for the statistic they generate.

And as for the badges and belts, all they do is provide pleasure, so CACHE ON! :lol:

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Excuse our ignorance, but what are these 'badges and belts'? Where do they come from? How does one get them?

 

All I know is we cache everywhere and anywhere! Why? Because we love going to nice places and having fun!

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"No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?"

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