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Logging with QR codes


cache_n_out
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The idea's been considered -- and rejected. All caches must have a paper log that can be signed with a pen, pencil or other low tech device.

 

In addition to promoting accessibility, this approach shares something in common with the prohibition of "codeword" caches: it ensures that cache containers will have some absolute minimum dimension, like a blinky nano or a piece of paper enclosed in plastic on the back of a flat magnet.

 

I noticed you used the word "alternate" in your post. Did you mean "QR code in addition to a paper log" or "QR code as an alternative to a paper log"? The first option would have more traction.

 

Here is a discussion from earlier this year in this section of the forums; there are other more recent discussions that you can find if you use my same search terms, "log" and "scan." You can't search for the words "code" or "QR" due to search engine constraints.

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The idea's been considered -- and rejected. All caches must have a paper log that can be signed with a pen, pencil or other low tech device.

 

In addition to promoting accessibility, this approach shares something in common with the prohibition of "codeword" caches: it ensures that cache containers will have some absolute minimum dimension, like a blinky nano or a piece of paper enclosed in plastic on the back of a flat magnet.

 

I noticed you used the word "alternate" in your post. Did you mean "QR code in addition to a paper log" or "QR code as an alternative to a paper log"? The first option would have more traction.

 

Here is a discussion from earlier this year in this section of the forums; there are other more recent discussions that you can find if you use my same search terms, "log" and "scan." You can't search for the words "code" or "QR" due to search engine constraints.

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We go out caching with a gps, and nothing else. No phones because we don't own any mobile phones.

 

We come home and I sit at the computer and log our finds/dnf's the old-fashioned way. QR codes would be completely useless to us.

 

If you do an advanced forum search for "QR codes" (those quote marks are imperative), you should be able to find a few threads where this idea, or similar, has been floated previously in the forums.

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We go out caching with a gps, and nothing else. No phones because we don't own any mobile phones.

 

We come home and I sit at the computer and log our finds/dnf's the old-fashioned way. QR codes would be completely useless to us.

 

If you do an advanced forum search for "QR codes" (those quote marks are imperative), you should be able to find a few threads where this idea, or similar, has been floated previously in the forums.

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Plus, anyone who can scan a QR in the field likely has data already and/or is using an app, which by extension would allow logging (and they'd likely prefer to use that to keep track of their logs if so). QR logging for online seems redundant, and quickly only in the few peoples' cases where none of the above matters. It would still require either going to a web page and filling out your account info (which is all as much or more work than using the app you like to use anyway) -- and dear God also require a log text field -- or heavy development of the or an app that would auto-fill based on the app already being logged in for your profile. Just seems like far too much work for a tiny segment of potential users.

 

That said, as the CO, nothing is stopping you from putting a QR in your own caches that people can scan to bump them right to the cache listing, or even the log posting page (presuming their mobile browser is already logged in :) )

Edited by thebruce0
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you could still have evidence you were there....

It might be evidence, but certainly not proof. As with every other arcane logging method I've read about here, there would always be ways to cheat. It would be really easy for one cacher to photograph a QR code he finds in a cache, print out the photo, and show it to all his friends at the next caching event. After which every one of these friends can log the cache as found even though they never even got out of their seats.

 

This discussion reminds me of a proposal to include some sort of unique "secret code" with every cache that a finder would have to enter somewhere when they claim the find, to prove they were there. That works perfectly until one unscrupulous cacher copies down the code and shares it with all his equally unscrupulous friends.

 

Or, even worse, shares it on-line with the entire caching world. Which, by the way, could also be done with the QR code we're discussing.

 

--Larry

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It might be evidence, but certainly not proof. As with every other arcane logging method I've read about here, there would always be ways to cheat.

And the counter? Cheaters will cheat. :P I know locals who have group-cached and signed people in who were not at the cache (even who said they didn't want their name in the log because they weren't able to get to gz).

(not that I'm promoting the qr idea, just responding to the 'cheating' idea)

 

It would be really easy for one cacher to photograph a QR code he finds in a cache, print out the photo, and show it to all his friends at the next caching event. After which every one of these friends can log the cache as found even though they never even got out of their seats.

 

This discussion reminds me of a proposal to include some sort of unique "secret code" with every cache that a finder would have to enter somewhere when they claim the find, to prove they were there. That works perfectly until one unscrupulous cacher copies down the code and shares it with all his equally unscrupulous friends.

This is the exact conversation that I had over in the beginning days of the mobile game-that-shall-not-be-named based on QR code hunting. They eventually went with the secret code hidden in the QR. Still subject to the same type of cheating, but avoids free copying of the known QR source pattern enabling easy cheating.

*shrug*

 

Or, even worse, shares it on-line with the entire caching world. Which, by the way, could also be done with the QR code we're discussing.

Sort of like TB codes, or puzzle solutions, and various annoying web-based resources. :sad:

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It might be evidence, but certainly not proof. As with every other arcane logging method I've read about here, there would always be ways to cheat.

And the counter? Cheaters will cheat. :P I know locals who have group-cached and signed people in who were not at the cache (even who said they didn't want their name in the log because they weren't able to get to gz).

(not that I'm promoting the qr idea, just responding to the 'cheating' idea)

I totally agree, which reinforces my point that QR codes wouldn't change anything, so why bother with them? They wouldn't prevent cheating or add anything else to the game (with the possible exception of technological "cool").

 

--Larry

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This is the exact conversation that I had over in the beginning days of the mobile game-that-shall-not-be-named based on QR code hunting. They eventually went with the secret code hidden in the QR. Still subject to the same type of cheating, but avoids free copying of the known QR source pattern enabling easy cheating.

*shrug*

I'll take your word about secret codes in QR codes in the mobile game-that-shall-not-be-named. I found a couple of those things when they first came out and failed to see the point of the exercise. I've successfully ignored them ever since.

 

But I digress.

 

--Larry

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I'll take your word about secret codes in QR codes in the mobile game-that-shall-not-be-named. I found a couple of those things when they first came out and failed to see the point of the exercise. I've successfully ignored them ever since.

No loss, really :P

Initially, the QR was just the encoded URL to its listing. But the app would do a special request with the device location so the website could decide if it should be treated as a 'log me found' request.

To cheat? Encode the URL of any you want to log, get within 1000 feet (initial minimum distance) and scan it. Boom found. Ridiculously easy to "not" play the game.

Solution implemented: Owner-generated QR codes would include a random secret 'key' in the QR url. Without the key, no requests would be treated as a find. Only thing is, as with any once-you-find-it-you-know method, it can be passed around. But at least the 'key' put 'cheating' on par with any other method of logging a find. Oh and they've since reduced the minimum distance, afaik.

 

I personally haven't gone hunting for quite some time. But if I see one, I might be tempted to grab a point or two. Don't know why. :P

 

And this is why I think geocaching should just stick with the physical log sheet as its defining 'find' mechanic. That's ultimately what makes geocaching geocaching (compared to even say Waymarking, or benchmarking, or other location-based gaming styles)

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I personally haven't gone hunting for quite some time. But if I see one, I might be tempted to grab a point or two. Don't know why. :P

The last time I logged one of those QR-code-based things, I had just found a "real" geocache. By chance, while I was poking around some bushes looking for the cache, another cacher, who I'd never met, drove up, waved his GPS unit, and asked me if I'd found it. He and his wife had just driven there to look for the same cache. We introduced ourselves, chatted for a couple of minutes, then joined forces to find the cache (it's always fun when that happens).

 

After we signed the log and re-hid the cache, he mentioned that they had looked for the cache earlier in the day, but were interrupted by muggles. Since they didn't want to waste the visit, they'd found and logged one of those QR codes in the mobile game-that-shall-not-be-named. Which happened to be maybe 15 feet from the geocache, on a pole of some sort. Due entirely to social pressure, I thanked them for the heads-up, scanned the QR code, and logged the find. Still didn't see the point, other than to be sociable.

 

And this is why I think geocaching should just stick with the physical log sheet as its defining 'find' mechanic. That's ultimately what makes geocaching geocaching (compared to even say Waymarking, or benchmarking, or other location-based gaming styles)

I agree. I'm old-fashioned, I guess, I won't claim a find unless I not only find the cache container but also open it, find the log, and sign it. That's the rule I used when I first started (from what I'd read that was the most important rule of the game), and my attitude hasn't changed since. It's what differentiates geocaching from all those other games.

 

--Larry

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Glad caches have an optimized logging system. Glad I came into the game where everything is squared away. We have the perfect logging system, just the right number of virtual caches, just the right number of webcams. Congrats GC.COM. Seems like to a majority of folks here you just need to keep raking in their $30/year and keep publishing caches on guardrails. Your customers are satisfied.

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Glad caches have an optimized logging system. Glad I came into the game where everything is squared away. We have the perfect logging system, just the right number of virtual caches, just the right number of webcams. Congrats GC.COM. Seems like to a majority of folks here you just need to keep raking in their $30/year and keep publishing caches on guardrails. Your customers are satisfied.

Nobody has claimed that we have an "optimized logging system". It's just that neither you nor anyone else has demonstrated how an alternative approach such as QR codes would improve anything. The only "advantage" I can see would be to trade a pen or pencil for some unknown piece of technology which you admit doesn't even exist yet. What would be the point? Exactly what problem would this solve?

 

And what do virtual caches, webcam caches, and guardrail caches have to do with anything? :blink:

 

--Larry

Edited by larryc43230
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I just reread your posts in this thread and saw that you mentioned the problem of wet logs. There's an easy solution for that and I've employed it many times: Carry dry paper and replace a wet log with a dry one. Anybody can find a few slips of paper, and it's a whole lot cheaper than buying some electronic gadget whose sole purpose would be to scan QR codes on geocaches.

 

--Larry

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I just reread your posts in this thread and saw that you mentioned the problem of wet logs. There's an easy solution for that and I've employed it many times: Carry dry paper and replace a wet log with a dry one. Anybody can find a few slips of paper, and it's a whole lot cheaper than buying some electronic gadget whose sole purpose would be to scan QR codes on geocaches.

 

--Larry

No, just because a log is wet, doesn't mean you should "replace". If you feel you want to log a small dry sheet and add it, that is fine. I have removed logs myself, but only because I fully document, dry, restore and photograph the log and post on the cache pages. Unless you want to go to that length....leave it.

Edited by TheWeatherWarrior
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I just reread your posts in this thread and saw that you mentioned the problem of wet logs. There's an easy solution for that and I've employed it many times: Carry dry paper and replace a wet log with a dry one. Anybody can find a few slips of paper, and it's a whole lot cheaper than buying some electronic gadget whose sole purpose would be to scan QR codes on geocaches.

 

--Larry

No, just because a log is wet, doesn't mean you should "replace". If you feel you want to log a small dry sheet and add it, that is fine. I have removed logs myself, but only because I fully document, dry, restore and photograph the log and post on the cache pages. Unless you want to go to that length....leave it.

My phraseology was a shorthand for doing what's necessary to make sure the cache has a dry sheet of paper to sign. I went into the gory details in this post from a few weeks ago. It's still not rocket surgery.

 

--Larry

Edited by larryc43230
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I played the game-that-shall-not-be-named for about a year. Yes, logging via phone was nice. Quick scan and you're done. Especially nice when it's cold outside. But it contributed to lazy logging. 95% of finders scan and leave - no comment. It's tough enough now with so many TFTC-only logs on online cache logs. Give people an even easier way to capture a smiley and they will, goodbye online logs. As a GTSNBN owner it was not rewarding, I thrive on feedback. QR codes would make geocaching even more about collecting smileys and less about social interaction. Also, I can foresee COs placing a QR code in a baggie, putting it behind the post of a guardrail, between cracks on a brick wall, under a lamp post, behind a magnetic sheet, and calling that a cache.

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I played the game-that-shall-not-be-named for about a year. Yes, logging via phone was nice. Quick scan and you're done. Especially nice when it's cold outside. But it contributed to lazy logging. 95% of finders scan and leave - no comment. It's tough enough now with so many TFTC-only logs on online cache logs. Give people an even easier way to capture a smiley and they will, goodbye online logs. As a GTSNBN owner it was not rewarding, I thrive on feedback. QR codes would make geocaching even more about collecting smileys and less about social interaction. Also, I can foresee COs placing a QR code in a baggie, putting it behind the post of a guardrail, between cracks on a brick wall, under a lamp post, behind a magnetic sheet, and calling that a cache.

 

This raises the other dramatic shift in log content... between 'old school' when people would actually write their lengthy logs in the large logbook, compared to today when they just sign their name, sometimes date, and maybe say a word or two more on a good day, but then only write their logs online.

I wonder how those veteran cachers felt when they started seeing all the paper logs filled with a 'tftc' equivalent in that era... :laughing:

(which is not me condoning the 'tftc' mentality today, far from it; but the parallel is interesting)

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I played the game-that-shall-not-be-named for about a year. Yes, logging via phone was nice. Quick scan and you're done. Especially nice when it's cold outside. But it contributed to lazy logging. 95% of finders scan and leave - no comment. It's tough enough now with so many TFTC-only logs on online cache logs. Give people an even easier way to capture a smiley and they will, goodbye online logs. As a GTSNBN owner it was not rewarding, I thrive on feedback. QR codes would make geocaching even more about collecting smileys and less about social interaction. Also, I can foresee COs placing a QR code in a baggie, putting it behind the post of a guardrail, between cracks on a brick wall, under a lamp post, behind a magnetic sheet, and calling that a cache.

 

I wonder how those veteran cachers felt when they started seeing all the paper logs filled with a 'tftc' equivalent in that era... :laughing:

 

 

My old paper logbooks are keepsakes. Some nice stuff was written in 2002 to about 2010.

 

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Now they can be chucked into the trash, they are simply a list. Maybe that's why so many COs don't give a hoot about replacing them and only have them because the rules say they must. I can see the appeal of QR codes for that reason.

 

It's sad to see the demise of the paper logbook. People don't even make the effort to buy a pack of 4 notebooks from the dollar store. I use to see little logbooks in micros - someone would cut down a wire coiled notebook to fit, you could even write a short note in those, it felt like the CO cared about the visit to his cache.

 

It's been said, why bother writing in the logbook, you can say what you need to say online. But it looses something. Why was it that people were happy to write both in the physical logbook and online back in the early 2000s? There's something about sharing the experience while it's fresh. Writing it (not typing it) in your own personal hand writing in a book that other finders and the CO may take the time to read. Taking the time to geocache slowly, enjoying the experience, the location, and the logbook entries. QR codes would contribute to the increase in the pace of the geocaching experience.

 

(Micro) logsheets already make me feel that the owner could care less. They probably were never going to look at the logsheet and perhaps they never intend to replace the logsheet, hoping the community will do it for them. A QR code could lead to more set-it-and-forget-it caches.

Edited by L0ne R
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I played the game-that-shall-not-be-named for about a year. Yes, logging via phone was nice. Quick scan and you're done. Especially nice when it's cold outside. But it contributed to lazy logging. 95% of finders scan and leave - no comment. It's tough enough now with so many TFTC-only logs on online cache logs. Give people an even easier way to capture a smiley and they will, goodbye online logs. As a GTSNBN owner it was not rewarding, I thrive on feedback. QR codes would make geocaching even more about collecting smileys and less about social interaction. Also, I can foresee COs placing a QR code in a baggie, putting it behind the post of a guardrail, between cracks on a brick wall, under a lamp post, behind a magnetic sheet, and calling that a cache.

 

Ah yes, the "Parking lot sticker defacement game". It's a bit of a let down in most cases to find a sticker to scan, vs a logbook with real human signatures.

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