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Place your own Lab Cache!?!?!


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So in other words, a lab cache is like an abstarct container as apposed to the physical containers we associate with geocaching. So the confusion comes in the wording and using cache in the name when used on the site given the auto perception. Let us not forget that cache has more meanings outside the box of geocaching.

 

Sounds a lot like a virtual cache to me. I know people want virtual caches to return. So why not give these virtual style lab caches a test drive?

 

So depending on your point of view, your definition of a lab cache can vary from person to person. And more so when one starts to speculate what another means or has in mind. I think Jayme H has done an outstanding job to try and get us to understand what Groundspeak means and defines as a lab cache, with many of us missing the mark becasuse we are focused on the negative percieved outcome of the "I <3 Geocaching" experiment. If we could think outside of our small narrow minded boxes, I think there may be a little less confussion over these lab caches.

 

I think the confusion come from the fact that lab caches aren't a defined type of cache. A lab cache is whatever the current cache experiment is. It has the potential to be anything the Lackeys have dreamed up.

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So the opportunity to produce something free of those constraints is appealing BUT the comparatively short notice, the fact it would be archived after only one finder and the fact it won't even show up in my hides down the line are all things that put me off investing a lot of time and effort.

 

I don't think it would take very much time or effort to try out some of the ideas that have been floated in the forums but we were unable to experiment with because the guidelines didn't allow it.

 

I see this as an opportunity to test out using QR codes to sign the log book. There aren't any proximity restriction nor are there any restrictions on location. I can now place that sock drawer cache that I've always wanted to place.

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Lab Caches aren't like mystery caches or virtuals... technically speaking. Practically, maybe, but that depends on the experiment. The Lab Cache is technically fundamentally different from any and all current standard geocache listing types (from events to traditionals and everything in between).

 

Local laws and regulations apply, and common sense.

Yes, and that's good. But my point is that it might not be enough.

Well then it's not enough for general geocaching either.

 

The only difference between lab caches and regular caches are Groundspeak-specific rules, such as no commercial caches. They've reduced the wording from the specificity of the guidlines novel to 'law, regulations, common sense'. By limiting the placers to premium members, the expectation is that 'common sense' will come from experience, like 'no burying', 'no damaging trees', 'permission (public access, eg parking lots) is presumed', etc. They can't know the 'right' and 'wrong' for every localized region in the world, so they leave it up to the premium locals' "common sense" on being paying members, where their own local laws and regulations don't apply.

 

It's not nearly as detailed and fool proof, but they could either recite the entire geocaching guidelines, or point to them - in the form of "local laws and regulations apply, and common sense" ... "oh, but you can do this, and this, and this..."

 

Being a once-off find, they know the hides can't be policed. There's no use telling people "you are not allowed to...", because how would they know? All they can say is - we trust you (paying members) to abide by your laws, and as experienced geocachers, use common sense.

 

U.S. national parks are public property, not private. Yes, these parks now restrict geocaching and require permission.

Are they not then publicly accessible private property? If they require permission - that's local laws/regulations. Covered.

 

Incorrect and more than a little patronising. The argument for correcting the statistics is simply that if there is a statistic, it should be correct. Otherwise the statistic is meaningless.

Right now, it is correct. A Lab Cache isn't a geocache, and doesn't have the properties of geocaches, and doesn't have a trackable log that helps generate the geocache statistics. The question is - should a lab cache find count in your find count? That's not a right or wrong, that's a point of discussion.

The statistics aren't incorrectly generated, they are completely accurate for what they analyze.

At best, they could add the lab cache icon to the cache type list, but again, a lab cache isn't a standard geocache, so the stats would no longer be correct.

So, is the find count an accurate display of your find count? That's the point of contention, at this point at least.

And again, if you don't want your lab cache find in your find count, you can delete it. It's not like you're deleting a geocache find :P

(for clarity, I'll reiterate my preference: That lab cache finds count similarly to benchmark finds)

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what is Groundspeak referring to when they say they'll eventually have Lab Caches more built in to profile stats? Does that mean that the 'lab cache' concept itself will become trackable in user profile stats moreso than just as a find count increment, but somehow incorporated into geocache property statistics?

The program is experimental enough at this point that there is not really a definitive answer to this. However, the general goal is to eventually better integrate the labs into the existing profile, whether by promoting labs to a "normal" cache type or by simply including them in more-or-less their current form in site-generated statistics. The fact that they are tracked in an entirely new database of a different design than existing caches means that it will take some time to see how the experiments are going, make decisions about their future status, and then engineer the integration.

 

Thanks for the info, moun10bike. I completely understand the technical hurdles to overcome with integrating them. I guess my preference is still towards not incorporating them into general geocache statistics -- unless the plan is to either 1) allow the owner to set standard properties (difficulty, terrain, size, placed date, etc) or 2) provide extra values for certain properties to accommodate the lab cache type, like a 'Not Applicable' D and T for example, which would (at this point) only apply to lab caches.

 

Essentially, if labs are included in the general geocaching stats, then the summary of any listing property should sum up to the same as the total find count. For those care about consistency and accuracy :P

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Lab Caches aren't like mystery caches or virtuals... technically speaking. Practically, maybe, but that depends on the experiment. The Lab Cache is technically fundamentally different from any and all current standard geocache listing types (from events to traditionals and everything in between).

 

 

As I see it, a Lab Cache isn't specifically defined. It *could be* mystery or virtual. It could be an ammo can under a pile of sticks in the woods with a log book and swag, or it could be something entirely different. The biggest difference, to me, are the processes involved in creating and logging a find.

 

Incorrect and more than a little patronising. The argument for correcting the statistics is simply that if there is a statistic, it should be correct. Otherwise the statistic is meaningless.

Right now, it is correct. A Lab Cache isn't a geocache, and doesn't have the properties of geocaches, and doesn't have a trackable log that helps generate the geocache statistics. The question is - should a lab cache find count in your find count? That's not a right or wrong, that's a point of discussion.

 

 

As I suggested earlier, this could easily be addressed if one could choose whether or not to count a lab cache as a find (a simple check box on whatever form is used to indicate a "Found It"). I think that most people would still want the icon to indicate that they participated in the experiment, but it doesn't need to count as a find, and if it doesn't in won't mess up stats (other than a statistic of how many different cache types one has found).

 

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Lab Caches aren't like mystery caches or virtuals... technically speaking. Practically, maybe, but that depends on the experiment. The Lab Cache is technically fundamentally different from any and all current standard geocache listing types (from events to traditionals and everything in between).

As I see it, a Lab Cache isn't specifically defined. It *could be* mystery or virtual. It could be an ammo can under a pile of sticks in the woods with a log book and swag, or it could be something entirely different. The biggest difference, to me, are the processes involved in creating and logging a find.

Right, which is why I said technically Lab Caches are fundamentally different, while practically it depends on the experiment. ;)

 

Right now, it is correct. A Lab Cache isn't a geocache, and doesn't have the properties of geocaches, and doesn't have a trackable log that helps generate the geocache statistics. The question is - should a lab cache find count in your find count? That's not a right or wrong, that's a point of discussion.

As I suggested earlier, this could easily be addressed if one could choose whether or not to count a lab cache as a find (a simple check box on whatever form is used to indicate a "Found It"). I think that most people would still want the icon to indicate that they participated in the experiment, but it doesn't need to count as a find, and if it doesn't in won't mess up stats (other than a statistic of how many different cache types one has found).

Aye, part of the issue right now is that it's a +1 Find, but doesn't show up in the stats; so the stats total doesn't match the Find count. The option they provide to 'delete' the lab find re-synchronizes the count & stats, but it effectively removes any record of you finding the lab. As you say, some people want the icon, not the count. Don't know if there's a way around that, according to how they describe the current system setup.

If the ultimate result goes the way of either of my two suggestions, then it'll be fixed. But right now, I think it would be more complicated to have a negative find count adjuster, so that the lab cache count is accurate, but the find count is re-adjusted back to the geocache find count.

 

Unless they bring back the Geocaching Challenge method of putting Lab Cache count icons next to the find count :P But Challenges were a 'big' thing for the site, Lab Caches not nearly so much. I dunno.

 

Maybe people's perceptions need to change so there isn't so much value placed on having the lab cache icon in their profile :) then it won't matter so much if they want to delete the find and keep the stats sync'd. *shrug*

Edited by thebruce0
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Essentially, if labs are included in the general geocaching stats, then the summary of any listing property should sum up to the same as the total find count. For those care about consistency and accuracy :P

Perhaps, if you created subcategory of "Not applicable (lab caches)" for those properties that don't exist for lab caches. Then you could have a table whose total matches.

 

Eg.

Container size

unspecified 8

micro 400

small 370

regular 102

large 30

Not Applicable 3

 

But I don't really see why the total has to be the same in order to be consistent (and certainly not in order to be accurate). So long as you know that Container Size doesn't apply to lab caches the counts are correct.

 

My guess is the biggest issue is milestones;

You have found 1000 caches* (*including lab caches)

Most recent cache #997 GC12345 A traditional.

 

If you found 1000 caches the most recent find should be #1000. I can understand why people want the milestones to align with their find count.

 

Note that category stats aren't accurate anyhow. Container size, D/T, and even (in very rare cases) cacht types can change after you find a cache. The statistics are based on the current values for the cache, not what they were when you found it.

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Local laws and regulations apply, and common sense.

Yes, and that's good. But my point is that it might not be enough.

Well then it's not enough for general geocaching either.

That's right. Through long and sometimes painful experience, Groundspeak has learned that simply asking geocachers to obey laws and regulations and relying on their common sense isn't good enough for hiding normal caches.

 

Too many land managers were complaining about buried caches, damage to nature, caches hidden near schools or in cemeteries, etc. Too many land managers were banning geocaching from their properties or placing severe restrictions on the activity.

 

As a result, Groundspeak created guidelines that forbid many of the more common actions that upset a significant number of land managers. They now can assure land owners that Groundspeak guidelines forbid burying caches, nailing trees, placing containers under bridges, etc. And if the guidelines are violated, then those caches can be archived, their owners can be warned about their guideline violations, and repeat offenders can be banned from the website.

 

With the creation of lab caches, those assurances can no longer be made.

 

The only difference between lab caches and regular caches are Groundspeak-specific rules, such as no commercial caches. They've reduced the wording from the specificity of the guidlines novel to 'law, regulations, common sense'.

Many of those Groundspeak guidelines deal with actions that aren't forbidden by laws or regulations and which aren't stopped by common sense.

 

On many public lands, for example, it's legal to dig holes. In Alberta provincial parks, backpackers are asked to dig holes to deposit their own "scat." But those same park managers would be upset if geocachers dug holes to place and search for geocaches. So, Groundspeak has a guideline that forbids burying caches, even if it's perfectly legal to do so.

 

On many public lands, it's legal to walk off trails. But many public land managers would be upset if "social trails" (e.g., "geo-trails") developed on certain parts of their properties. So. Groundspeak has a guideline that forbids damaging the natural environment, even if it's perfectly legal to do so.

 

On many public lands, it's legal to place containers near schools. But... So, there's another Groundspeak guideline.

 

I could go on and on with other examples of legal activities that Groundspeak has, through experience, found it necessary to forbid with its own guidelines.

 

By limiting the placers to premium members, the expectation is that 'common sense' will come from experience, like 'no burying', 'no damaging trees', 'permission (public access, eg parking lots) is presumed', etc. They can't know the 'right' and 'wrong' for every localized region in the world, so they leave it up to the premium locals' "common sense" on being paying members, where their own local laws and regulations don't apply.

But experience has shown that relying on the common sense of geocachers, doesn't work. Even premium member actions have upset land managers. So, Groundspeak has adopted many guidelines to supplement laws, regulations, and common sense.

 

Common sense tells some premium members that it's better use a nail to secure their birdhouse cache to a tree instead of rope. They look around and see many public signs nailed into trees. Relatively few of them ever read these forums and realize that pounding nails into trees, while not necessarily harming trees, does upset a significant number of land managers and has caused problems for Groundspeak in the past.

 

Many of the premium members in my area have no idea that certain Alberta parks are off limits to geocaching and others require special permission. Common sense doesn't inform them about these distinctions.

 

Believe it or not, many premium members have never read the entire set of guidelines, and common sense doesn't tell all of them that it's considered inappropriate to place a cache near a hospital.

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U.S. national parks are public property, not private.

Are they not then publicly accessible private property?

No. U.S. national parks are owned by the federal government (administered by the U.S. National Park Service within the Department of Interior). These parks are not owned by private individuals or businesses. These parks are publicly accessible public property.

 

If they require permission - that's local laws/regulations. Covered.

Once again, you missed my point. I'm not denying that U.S. national parks require special permission for geocaches. I'm saying once upon a time, these parks (like most public lands) didn't require special permission. But somebody buried a cache, upset a ranger, and the U.S. National Park Service responded by imposing severe restrictions on geocaching. Severe consequences resulted from just one bad action.

 

This began when you seemed to doubt that one badly placed cache could result in a public land manager banning geocaching:

 

In a public place, would there be someone to ban geocaching because one person decided there to nail a tree even though Groundspeak fundamentally does not approve of the practice?

I provided two examples. In Calgary, a single board screwed into a city-owned tree has resulted in caches being banned from certain city parks and nearly resulted in it being banned in additional parks and all city-owned trees. (Hard work by local geocachers prevented these worse consequences...at least for now.)

 

As a second example, I explained what happened with the U.S. national parks:

 

If I recall, it was precisely one buried cache that caused physical geocaches to effectively be banned in U.S. national parks for a long period of time. There are plenty of other places where one bad cache also has led to bans or serious restrictions.

Edited by CanadianRockies
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Yes but my point, CanadianRockies, is that, as mentioned, instead of reciting the entire guideline database, they've restricted creation to 1) premium members (who should be aware of 'good practices') and 2) made acceptance of the concept/experiment more streamlined (by summarizing as 'abide by laws and regulations and use common sense).

 

That means yes - because in the past people may have done actions that have given geocaching a bad name, use common sense and continue to be respectful both to nature and property. Get permission. Don't break laws. Common sense applies to now, now to what the hobby was like a decade ago.

I agreed that the setup isn't fool proof. There's no guarantee that no damage or harm whatsoever will be done. There's no guarantee that it will be done either. That's part of the experiment. And if any land manager (of publicly accessible private property, of private property, or of public property that has not yet been an issue) shows concern, Groundspeak can still say that geocaching does not condone the use of strategies that are disrespectful or harmful.

 

In this particular experiment, being a once-off, they cannot inherently police listings. You could say the experiment here is whether it's feasible to allow non-reviewed publications for single findings.

 

I would be extremely surprised if Groundspeak was not aware of your very, very repeated and blatant concern for the matter of the reputation of geocaching with land managers due to 'lax' guidelines in this particular experiment.

And as mentioned before, while I think your concern is good, I think your continued expression of this concern may be getting blown out of proportion.

 

I believe they know of the concern, are aware of the feasibility of potential issues, and are moving ahead with the experiment. I'd be surprised if they weren't at all prepared to deal with potential negative feedback from managers. All of this is in the name of experimentation, of the lab. Much worse happens outside the bounds of geocaching, and even occasionally within. Lab Caches aren't this Big Bad Thing.

 

Anyway, ultimately it boils down to, you're expressing your concern. That's good. For my part, I've responded, not in disagreement, but really attempting to say "ok ok we get your point!" ;)

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Perhaps, if you created subcategory of "Not applicable (lab caches)" for those properties that don't exist for lab caches. Then you could have a table whose total matches.

Right

 

But I don't really see why the total has to be the same in order to be consistent (and certainly not in order to be accurate). So long as you know that Container Size doesn't apply to lab caches the counts are correct.

It's all how it's presented. One stat (of the presumed 'all finds' filter) totals to 199 finds. Another stat totals to 204. Not consistent. Yeah, all that would be needed really would be an extra line saying "Lab caches: 5" :P Nonetheless, it's more about how the stats are calculated. Are lab caches programmed as an exception (whatever the difference is, it's Lab Caches) or is the difference attributed to a property of general cache data which (at this point) only applies to Lab Caches (like the Not Applicable value).

 

My guess is the biggest issue is milestones;

You have found 1000 caches* (*including lab caches)

Most recent cache #997 GC12345 A traditional.

 

If you found 1000 caches the most recent find should be #1000. I can understand why people want the milestones to align with their find count.

I think GS knows as well, also applicable to issues of duplicate logs, or logs on owned caches, etc, which is why they have the option to adjust milestones. The Find Count is a sum, currently, of Find Logs (plus Lab Caches). The stats generally do an analysis of all caches that find logs belong to, not necessarily taking into account duplicate listings. So there are more difficulties to account for in determining Find Count vs Statistics.

guh.

 

Note that category stats aren't accurate anyhow. Container size, D/T, and even (in very rare cases) cacht types can change after you find a cache. The statistics are based on the current values for the cache, not what they were when you found it.

Indeed. I still think optimally a Find log should either contain a snapshot of basic cache data, or cache listings should maintain a changelog of its history (entirely back-end) that can be utilized when looking up the date of a find log to determine the cache state at the time.

But I digress - that's undoubtedly a much more significant technical undertaking, and not really all that important ;)

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New to this Geocaching Lab thing, so let me give an example and see if this is a workable "Lab"

 

I get something like this, program it to respond to the "door bell" -- which is actually me barking like a dog into a microphone, then I program it to play a "Meow!" when it detects something that sounds enough like my dog bark.

 

I place it in a bush and tell people the name of the lab is "Bark Like A Dog"

 

So geocacher(s) arrive around GZ and proceed to try their bark (which would be good fun to record :) ) and try to trigger the Wigwag device to "meow". So that gives away the location of the final.

 

Does that sound about right?

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New to this Geocaching Lab thing, so let me give an example and see if this is a workable "Lab"

 

I get something like this, program it to respond to the "door bell" -- which is actually me barking like a dog into a microphone, then I program it to play a "Meow!" when it detects something that sounds enough like my dog bark.

 

I place it in a bush and tell people the name of the lab is "Bark Like A Dog"

 

So geocacher(s) arrive around GZ and proceed to try their bark (which would be good fun to record :) ) and try to trigger the Wigwag device to "meow". So that gives away the location of the final.

 

Does that sound about right?

 

Sounds fun - too bad it will only be a single cacher that can do it. Giving the CO the option to have it unlimited or limited (and she/he can select the number of people that can use the code) is much better in my opinion. Also, letting the finders log their find (well...requiring it) will also add much more to this concept in my opinion. Yes, the new type of cache does open up more creativity in the hide, but limiting it to one finder and having no log detracts from the community aspect of geocaching.

 

I have actually done this "lab" concept before. There is a company for whom I have occasionally worked that sells team building exercises to companies (executive retreats, department team building events, etc.) They do canoeing, a rope course, etc. But one of their big sells is based upon geocaching. The client is split into teams to find a magnitude of caches. Sometimes all or a majority are virtual, other times about 50/50 with physical caches. But the one common thread is that the teams get to GZ and they have to answer a question or collect a clue. They have a smart phone (or a few) and are logged onto a website with an event specific url. If they enter the right answer - they are told so. They then have to record that in an "answer sheet". Most points wins (there are some other variations....some caches are harder or further away so they are worth more points).

 

The Lab cache sounds very much like this concept - except it is limited to one cacher. I understand the Valentines Day connection, but (sorry to be repeating myself) the "single find then it self-destructs with no trace" aspect is just so undesirable in my opinion. Sure, I will make one - if possible, even try to claim the icon. But if this is a "Lab" and GS wants to experiment, make it a real experiment with variables. Let the CO's determine how many can use their Labs. That way GS can hear feedback from those single-user/one-on-one, limited groups, and unlimited public Labs. Seems more valuable data to me...and the best data would be logs that record the finders' feelings, impressions and thoughts (just like other caches).

Edited by caccbag
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New to this Geocaching Lab thing, so let me give an example and see if this is a workable "Lab"

 

I get something like this, program it to respond to the "door bell" -- which is actually me barking like a dog into a microphone, then I program it to play a "Meow!" when it detects something that sounds enough like my dog bark.

 

I place it in a bush and tell people the name of the lab is "Bark Like A Dog"

 

So geocacher(s) arrive around GZ and proceed to try their bark (which would be good fun to record :) ) and try to trigger the Wigwag device to "meow". So that gives away the location of the final.

 

Does that sound about right?

Well, that wouldn't have to be a Lab Cache... that sounds like it would be a great Mystery cache... sort of like a 'Chirp' cache :P As a regular cache I find it hard to believe any reviewer would not love the idea and have no issue publishing it (as far as you've described it).

 

But on that note, I don't think there's anything stopping you from using that for an I <3 Geocaching lab cache either :)

Edited by thebruce0
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The Lab cache sounds very much like this concept - except it is limited to one cacher. I understand the Valentines Day connection, but (sorry to be repeating myself) the "single find then it self-destructs with no trace" aspect is just so undesirable in my opinion. Sure, I will make one - if possible, even try to claim the icon. But if this is a "Lab" and GS wants to experiment, make it a real experiment with variables. Let the CO's determine how many can use their Labs. That way GS can hear feedback from those single-user/one-on-one, limited groups, and unlimited public Labs. Seems more valuable data to me...and the best data would be logs that record the finders' feelings, impressions and thoughts (just like other caches).

...just to be clear, it's not the "lab cache concept" that is limited to one person. It's the I <3 Geocaching sub-type of the lab cache that's being experiment which, in this particular case, is limited to one find.

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New to this Geocaching Lab thing, so let me give an example and see if this is a workable "Lab"

 

I get something like this, program it to respond to the "door bell" -- which is actually me barking like a dog into a microphone, then I program it to play a "Meow!" when it detects something that sounds enough like my dog bark.

 

I place it in a bush and tell people the name of the lab is "Bark Like A Dog"

 

So geocacher(s) arrive around GZ and proceed to try their bark (which would be good fun to record :) ) and try to trigger the Wigwag device to "meow". So that gives away the location of the final.

 

Does that sound about right?

Well, that wouldn't have to be a Lab Cache... that sounds like it would be a great Mystery cache... sort of like a 'Chirp' cache :P As a regular cache I find it hard to believe any reviewer would not love the idea and have no issue publishing it (as far as you've described it).

 

But on that note, I don't think there's anything stopping you from using that for an I <3 Geocaching lab cache either :)

 

I agree that there doesn't seem to be any reason why the idea couldn't be created as a Mystery cache. That actually suggests something that could be a useful application of the platform....if it were kept up after the end of February. It could be used to beta-test a puzzle cache or some creative design of a container. One could create a "listing" on the platform, which would create a URL to share with the beta-tester. The beta-tester could solve the puzzle, or whatever, then "find" the cache. Once the viability of the lab cache is confirmed the listing could be cut-n-pasted to the "real" cache submission form.

 

 

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Even GC's own site says what geocaching is:

 

The Game

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

 

Their lab experiment is a completely different game so it really shouldn't be associated with geocaching. Sounds to me that someone is worried about the M game taking a bite out of their profits and trying to come up with some new twist to offset this.

 

 

UH, no containers at virtuals, webcams, or earth caches - do you do those???

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Hope the new logging method goes production.

 

I CERTAINLY hope it DOES NOT.

The story of the adventure told by the finder is a big part of my reason for placing a cache. If all I get is a notice that someone entered the correct code for one of the caches I placed, I will quickly find another game to play. I feel the majority of non-power trail cache owners would agree.

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Hope the new logging method goes production.

 

I CERTAINLY hope it DOES NOT.

The story of the adventure told by the finder is a big part of my reason for placing a cache. If all I get is a notice that someone entered the correct code for one of the caches I placed, I will quickly find another game to play. I feel the majority of non-power trail cache owners would agree.

 

But K... you'll get to fill out a survey and everything afterwards!!!:laughing:

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Hope the new logging method goes production.

 

I CERTAINLY hope it DOES NOT.

The story of the adventure told by the finder is a big part of my reason for placing a cache. If all I get is a notice that someone entered the correct code for one of the caches I placed, I will quickly find another game to play. I feel the majority of non-power trail cache owners would agree.

 

Can't agree more. I have 524 published caches (no power trail(s)) and if eliminating a logging requirement comes into play, I won't hit 530. One of my greatest joys is reading the logs - one of my greatest disappointments is reading a "TFTC" or "Found" or even a blank log. (Tell me something! You hated it, you loved it, it was like others you found, whatever! I put the effort into creating this hide for you - how about sparing more than 3 seconds to type TFTC?!…sorry, I digressed). If this game evolves into one where logs are not a part of the game, then the Groundspeak staff better switch from developing the I<3 Geocaching cache experiment to actually hiding real caches because, as K13 said, Groundspeak and this hobby would lose the vast majority of those that help keep this game moving forward - those that create and hide the caches (my belief - not trying to speak on behalf of all other hiders).

Edited by caccbag
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Hope the new logging method goes production.

 

I CERTAINLY hope it DOES NOT.

The story of the adventure told by the finder is a big part of my reason for placing a cache. If all I get is a notice that someone entered the correct code for one of the caches I placed, I will quickly find another game to play. I feel the majority of non-power trail cache owners would agree.

 

Can't agree more. I have 524 published caches (no power trail(s)) and if eliminating a logging requirement comes into play, I won't hit 530. One of my greatest joys is reading the logs - one of my greatest disappointments is reading a "TFTC" or "Found" or even a blank log. (Tell me something! You hated it, you loved it, it was like others you found, whatever! I put the effort into creating this hide for you - how about sparing more than 3 seconds to type TFTC?!…sorry, I digressed). If this game evolves into one where logs are not a part of the game, then the Groundspeak staff better switch from developing the I<3 Geocaching cache experiment to actually hiding real caches because, as K13 said, Groundspeak and this hobby would lose the vast majority of those that help keep this game moving forward - those that create and hide the caches (my belief - not trying to speak on behalf of all other hiders).

 

I agree, there should be a place to actually log a story. I was assuming they would go that. Remember, still in experimental stages here. I hope GS is listening.

 

On the other hand not all caches are for everyone.

 

On the third hand, I doubt they will change existing caches. This logging method one would be a new type/icon I bet.

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What I think might be a good idea with this particular lab would be a free listing like usual for one that is intended to be out for a long period of time, then offer a temp listing where one would pay a small fee for the listing if it is intended to be for a single finder, or a temp cache for an event, family gathering, etc.

 

I dont know if GS would want to get into something like that, as a secondary system would have to be built in to monitor the time frame the cache is left active, then if it is archived sooner than the determined time for a permanent cache listing, the owner would be then have to be billed some how.

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I think the confusion come from the fact that lab caches aren't a defined type of cache. A lab cache is whatever the current cache experiment is. It has the potential to be anything the Lackeys have dreamed up.

 

And due to the given perception of what cachers believe a cache is or should be, using the word cache in the name lab cache has further added to the confusion. People are hung up on the wording so much that they cant see past it and grasp the bigger concept.

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Man... always new drama with Lab Cache announcements...

So much has gone down in this thread; here are some of my thoughts on points that have been raised (sometimes repeatedly) (or just skip to the TLDR at the bottom :laughing:)

 

--re: "The Lab Cache"

 

I think one of the major issues is the confusion about what lab caches actually are. Here is my understanding:

 

The Lab Cache is the lowest common denominator - a 'container' if you will - in which ideas and experiments can take place, without being bound by 'statistics' and standard cache properties, only suggested themes (no log, no properties, just a code and validation of success). For this reason (as well as the technical limitations explained earlier in the thread) they aren't (cannot) be included in the standard geocaching stats.

 

Additionally, having no online log makes a significant difference in how generation of its stats happen. Consider: when you download "My Finds", you're not downloading cache listings, you're downloading all your logs which are tied to, and thus pull, their associated caches' details. In the end the result may be the same, but the process for pulling that information is very different. This is why Geocaching Challenges were different, and Benchmarks, as far as my knowledge, have been programmed (a long time ago) as a workaround to this 'standard' geocaching log process, or at least a leftover that's been tweaked to continue working.

 

What we're Finding at any point (whether during mega event lab period or this "I <3 Geocaching" period) is not "A Lab Cache" -- what we're find is a variant of an experimental cache idea that is being classified as a "Lab Cache". The Mega Event lab caches aren't the exact same thing as the I <3 Geocaching lab caches.

I do think though, ideally, whenever Groundspeak talks about finding a 'lab cache' they should qualify that you're not "findind a geocache" - you're helping with an experimental idea, and your ability to Find, and success in Finding a particular Lab Cache (which may or may not be physical) is rewarded by an increase in your find count.

 

But you didn't find a geocache.

 

Think of it like beta testing. If you're a beta tester, you might join and play a game - it's not the final version, and that version may end up very different than what you played. You might even still need to purchase the full game afterwards. If you're a beta tester, you're partaking in a sandboxed 'experiment' from which the creators are able to parse response and feedback and decide how to move forward, and even how to treat their beta testers.

When you partake in the 'lab cache' experiment, you're not finding a geocache, you're being a part of a process that is intended to gauge response and success for an idea that doesn't yet have a final structure. IF Groundspeak feels a particular experiment was a success, there's a greater chance that its concept may become an official geocache type (or some other form) in the future - once all the other hurdles (described earlier in the thread) are overcome.

 

Our "Lab Cache" statistics aren't (shouldn't) be considered on par with finding official/standard geocaches. They are more like our statistics in helping shape the geocaching pastime as a whole.

 

--re: Stats

 

As far as the end result is concerned, I think I'm likely more inclined to favour the idea that lab cache 'finds' be counted in stats similar to Benchmarks, as mentioned earlier in the thread. But I don't know how technically feasible that is.

 

--re: Code swapping

 

So two premium members create an IHG lab cache for each other and can then both get the Lab Cache icon. ... well, so what? They can only create one (part of this experiment), so they're limiting what they can create. BUT, if the reason they did it is for the lab cache icon, that will be part of the result analysis Groundspeak takes into consideration. Then they can decide how much weight to place on that decision of those players. It's no one's loss except the cachers' themselves (not being able to create any more). Yet they still get 'rewarded' by a +1 find for contributing to the experiment.

 

Obviously Groundspeak is more interested in uses that are more creative, out of the box, technical, endearing, challenging -- AND those that are less successful, or which fail, for whatever reason -- so they can amass all that data and decide how to proceed with the concept they were testing.

 

That is precisely what the 'Lab Cache' concept was created for.

 

--re: "special person"

 

If you don't find one, that doesn't mean you're not special. That was clearly not Groundspeak saying 'you're not special if you don't find one'. That was Groundspeak talking to anyone who creates one, the one to decide who is 'special' to them. And that is part of the I <3 Geocaching experiment. Perhaps it's more of a social analysis than geocaching-specific, but it's a theme that someone can make use of -- just like the idea of making a smartphone-specific lab cache (are you not special now if you don't have a smartphone to do the lab cache?)

 

Ultimately only the person who creates this IHG lab cache is the one who decides who is "special", to them. Groundspeak is not restricting who can find one. Not directly.

 

--------

 

tl;dr:

 

1) Lab Caches technically aren't "geocaches" themselves. They are experiments that reward those who contribute and 'Find' one a +1 to their findcount. I think too many people think "Lab Caches" are all the same type of thing (equivalent to standard physical/virtual geocaches), even across different experiment periods, thus some of the confusion.

 

2) Being a formless data 'container', the way they exist in the database is fundamentally different than standard geocaches and finds (logs) and so can't be simply included in profile statistics without enormous work

2b) They don't have properties and rules because those are presented in the form of themes and guidelines for the experiment being done; this is also a reason why they are only available temporarily, since different experiments may require different 'container' programming (like multiple code 'finds' vs one-time finds).

 

3) I think having Lab Caches displayed and function in the profile similar to Benchmark finds would be more favourable, and likely less controversial

 

4) Finding a lab cache does not make you a "special person" to Groundspeak. In this experiment, they make you a "special person" to the one who gave you the link to their I <3 Geocaching Lab Cache link.

 

5) Code swapping may well happen -- but so what? It's a valid sample case in the context of this lab cache experiment. Those people consider each other "special" enough to not actually do anything except take a code and enter it online for an icon in their profile.

 

6) Groundspeak should put more emphasis on the point that Lab Cache is not a standard geocache, and that at any particular time a new experiment is being run, the current "Lab Cache" you may find may actually be completely different (practically speaking) than any previous Lab Cache you may have found. People are 'finding' (participating in) experiments.

 

7) Like beta testing a game, the option to partake (the creation portion of the experiment) is not open to everyone. To 'make the cut' as a participant in that element of the experiment you need to be a Premium Member. That is not a "gift", it's a right afforded by being a paying member. Even then, anyone can find one of these lab caches and 'earn' a +1 Find.

 

Why would anyone want to find an experiment?

Well if you don't, then don't.

If you do, do.

Simple as that.

 

Be a beta tester and find [anyone can], or create [paying members only] - but realize that you're not buying the full release of the game, you're helping forge the final release through constructive (positive or critical) feedback. And Groundspeak has decided that our contribution (as finders) will be rewarded with 1 more find count. Don't like it? Don't find it, or delete it (they've provided instructions for how to do so)

 

The whole problem is GS leaking out the info without telling the whole story - stirring speculation etc.

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The whole problem is GS leaking out the info without telling the whole story - stirring speculation etc.

That may not be a bad thing.

Sure, we know it's marketing/sales gimmicks to get folks excited, but through these posts (and I'd bet a few other sites they're watching), they're able to fix something they hadn't thought of, before the official announcement goes out to the general population tomorrow.

 

I asked over twenty people already (looking for a use for my code) and none knew about this before I told them.

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The whole problem is GS leaking out the info without telling the whole story - stirring speculation etc.

Maybe. But you can also take it at face value.

 

Here's my speculation, based on the information given out in various posts.

 

The development team has created a Geocaching Laboratory to try out new ideas/features before adding these to Geocaching.com. This new code base in on a separate server with its own database.

 

The developers got to a point where you could start creating caches in the new laboratory. They go to marketing/product development and ask for their help to come up with some use of the new code base, perhaps one that will give users a limited opportunity to try it out. These limited, experimental caches will be called "lab caches".

 

The first idea for these limited caches was to use them to have temporary caches at mega events. The development team set up the geocaching laboratory code to allow mega event organizers to add lab caches to be found as temporary event caches.

 

Looking for another idea, marketing thought a way to play off Valentine's Day would be to have I <3 Geocaching caches for the month of February. They decided that these would be caches hidden by premium members for one other geocacher to find.

 

In the future, Groundspeak might allow users to come up with ideas for other uses of the Geocaching Laboratory.

 

Remember that the developers view this as a way of verifying their code. They probably don't care if the ideas are really something that will be a new cache type or not. Just so that it exercises the features they have in the code. In that respect, the developers don't seem ready, just yet, to add full blown statistics to the new code. But that doesn't mean that some idea that tests partial statistics might not be useful.

 

Marketing is looking for ideas that can create buzz and perhaps tie in to promotions like I <3 Geocaching month, or Let's Streak in August.

 

The volunteer coordinators likely want to make sure that these experimental caches don't add to the load of the volunteer cache reviewers. That is why the ideas they chosen so far don't require any review. My guess is that much farther down the line, the development team is going to add reviewer features to geocaching labs code, and that will open up the experimentation to ideas where reviewers get involved.

 

What isn't clear to me is whether the plan is to continue developing Geocaching Labs for another 2 or 3 (or 10) years, till it has all the features needed to release Geocaching 2.0; or to integrate chunks of code into the current production Geocaching site as these new features become ready. My speculation is also that few, if any, of the lab cache ideas will be get implemented as new caches types in the production code.

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Lab Caches aren't like mystery caches or virtuals... technically speaking. Practically, maybe, but that depends on the experiment. The Lab Cache is technically fundamentally different from any and all current standard geocache listing types (from events to traditionals and everything in between).

A Lab Cache might not be like a Mystery Cache, or a Multi Cache or an Event Cache, but they're all caches. Like all of those other cache types, they are called caches, and they are found by using your GPS while geocaching. They are most like the Mystery Cache type, because the Mystery Cache type also includes many different types of caches, just as over time the Lab Caches category will include many different types of experimental concept caches.

 

If you were a test driver for Toyota and they gave you an experimental new model to drive for a day, well, you'd definitely have driven a car around for the day - you weren't riding a bicycle! You just couldn't say you were driving a particular model car, other than it was an experimental concept car.

 

Nothing I've read here breaks that analogy.

 

It doesn't matter if a particular lab cache experiment results in a new type of cache - when you found one of them as a lab cache it was and always will be a lab cache find, and just like my concept car analogy above, if Toyota later released that model, you would still have been driving an experimental concept car that day.

 

Incorrect and more than a little patronising. The argument for correcting the statistics is simply that if there is a statistic, it should be correct. Otherwise the statistic is meaningless.

Right now, it is correct. A Lab Cache isn't a geocache,

We may have to agree to disagree about whether a Lab Cache is a cache. You can't get less "cache-like" than an event, a virtual, a webcam or an earthcache - all accepted cache types. Lab caches are clearly, given there is something to find at some coordinates, a geocache.

 

and doesn't have the properties of geocaches, and doesn't have a trackable log that helps generate the geocache statistics.

That seems to be tail wagging the dog logic. Because some data properties have not been defined for something then that something does not exist. A baby born somewhere out in the wilderness is not a human because it has no birth certificate... or a name...

 

The question is - should a lab cache find count in your find count? That's not a right or wrong, that's a point of discussion.

That is a good question. Benchmarks aren't and while I am not armed with all the answers why not, I'd say they predate geocaching and weren't set up or defined for the purpose of geocaching. Lab caches, however, and in whatever form the current experiment takes, do adhere to the concept of geocaching - they are created for the purpose of caching, and you go out geocaching and find them with a GPS device. What's more - Groundspeak decided they counted as a cache find and added them to the find count. Of course that could be reversed but I'm saying that someone/people thought about it through the design process and came to that decision so it must at least have some merit.

 

The statistics aren't incorrectly generated, they are completely accurate for what they analyze.

At best, they could add the lab cache icon to the cache type list, but again, a lab cache isn't a standard geocache, so the stats would no longer be correct.

So, is the find count an accurate display of your find count? That's the point of contention, at this point at least.

And again, if you don't want your lab cache find in your find count, you can delete it. It's not like you're deleting a geocache find :P

(for clarity, I'll reiterate my preference: That lab cache finds count similarly to benchmark finds)

Following your logic then, Virtuals, Earthcaches, Events (all types) and Webcams should not count as finds.

 

I do dispute the use of the term "standard geocache", because there really isn't such a thing and that's why there are +/- a dozen types already, and I think once again you're kind of using tail wagging the dog logic - instead of telling me why, in reality and outside the abstract world of IT and statistics, a Lab Cache is not a geocache.

 

Anyway, my criticism for tozainamboku was that they couldn't seem to state their opinion without putting down those who share my opinion - implying that clearly we don't understand what statistics mean or that we are blinded by numbers and that's all we geocache for - and that couldn't be further from the truth, frankly. I'm not interested in inflating or deflating my statistics, but if I look at them, I want them to accurately reflect reality. My partner is a trail runner, and she records the length, duration, elevation change, etc of every training run. She wants the numbers to be accurate - no more, no less - not to boast or build her ego, but because she is interested in being able to see exactly what she has personally achieved/completed over time.

 

It's the same for me, and I'm hopeful that the lab caches get incorporated properly in time. Not because I desparately need 22 more on my find count (they're already there anyway) but because I want all the stats to marry up. To be honest, I'd settle for the total find count to be consistent wherever it's stated, and for the milestones page to be consistent with it. Once again, I care very little about what the milestones actually are, but having recently reached 5000, I had to wait for another 22 cache finds for it to even recognise I'd got there, and to allow me to then correct for the missing 22, and select the cache that was the 5000th. It's not hugely important, but if it's there on my profile, I want it to be right.

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Essentially, if labs are included in the general geocaching stats, then the summary of any listing property should sum up to the same as the total find count. For those care about consistency and accuracy :P

Perhaps, if you created subcategory of "Not applicable (lab caches)" for those properties that don't exist for lab caches. Then you could have a table whose total matches.

 

Eg.

Container size

unspecified 8

micro 400

small 370

regular 102

large 30

Not Applicable 3

 

But I don't really see why the total has to be the same in order to be consistent (and certainly not in order to be accurate). So long as you know that Container Size doesn't apply to lab caches the counts are correct.

If you were to apply a size attribute to a Lab Cache, why on earth would you need a new "not applicable" size when the "not specified" size is already there and used on virtuals, webcams, events and earthcaches?... You know, all those other non-geocache geocache types...

 

My guess is the biggest issue is milestones;

You have found 1000 caches* (*including lab caches)

Most recent cache #997 GC12345 A traditional.

 

If you found 1000 caches the most recent find should be #1000. I can understand why people want the milestones to align with their find count.

I'd settle for the milestones aligning properly, and in fact I reckon GS could do that right now, since they can do the overall find count right now - it's no more complicated an integration between the two systems.

 

Note that category stats aren't accurate anyhow. Container size, D/T, and even (in very rare cases) cacht types can change after you find a cache. The statistics are based on the current values for the cache, not what they were when you found it.

Yes D/T ratings may be corrected over time, but that does not make them inaccurate. In fact, I would argue that they make the D/T grid *more* accurate, but then again, I'm one of those people who want the stats to reflect reality, and for me the D/T grid is not some kind of side game collecting numbers - that's what baseball cards are for (and I'm not into them either). ;-)

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Essentially, if labs are included in the general geocaching stats, then the summary of any listing property should sum up to the same as the total find count. For those care about consistency and accuracy :P

Perhaps, if you created subcategory of "Not applicable (lab caches)" for those properties that don't exist for lab caches. Then you could have a table whose total matches.

 

Eg.

Container size

unspecified 8

micro 400

small 370

regular 102

large 30

Not Applicable 3

 

But I don't really see why the total has to be the same in order to be consistent (and certainly not in order to be accurate). So long as you know that Container Size doesn't apply to lab caches the counts are correct.

If you were to apply a size attribute to a Lab Cache, why on earth would you need a new "not applicable" size when the "not specified" size is already there and used on virtuals, webcams, events and earthcaches?... You know, all those other non-geocache geocache types...

If the new lab caches database were to have the same categories as caches in the existing geocaching database, then you could conceivably combine statistics from two sources as you describe.

 

AFAIK the labs caches currently don't have container size or D/T terrain entered for these caches. So the data is missing altogether. I doubt very much that Groundspeak has any intention of going back and filling in these field for old lab caches. Therefore you can't combine stats. The correct term is that the data is missing (I used not applicable). This is different than not specified. Not specified means that when asked for the data the cache owner declined to identify the container sized.

 

Now I will admit that not specified probably exists because the very earliest caches that were hidden before Geocaching.com site, often did not specify a container size. When these caches were moved to the Geocaching.com database, if the size was not known it was entered as unknown or unspecified. So conceivably one could do the same with lab caches.

 

However, this does not make the statistics accurate or consistent. Instead it makes the statistics rather meaningless. At one time there was no small size. Caches that are now small were listed as either micro or regular. So if you've found some of these old caches, you statistics will be over counting micro and regular and under counting small. Or you can claim that the you've found a certain number of caches that had micro, small, or regular listed as the size, but you know nothing about what the actual sizes were.

 

My guess is the biggest issue is milestones;

You have found 1000 caches* (*including lab caches)

Most recent cache #997 GC12345 A traditional.

 

If you found 1000 caches the most recent find should be #1000. I can understand why people want the milestones to align with their find count.

I'd settle for the milestones aligning properly, and in fact I reckon GS could do that right now, since they can do the overall find count right now - it's no more complicated an integration between the two systems.

You don't really have any idea of how the statistics are currently created, do you? There is software that processes the found, attended, and photo taken logs you have entered. It sorts these by find date and perhaps by log id (to account for more than one find in a day). It then goes through this sorted list to compute your milestones. Lab caches don't have found logs and in any case are in a different database. Assuming you found some non-lab caches the same date you found the lab caches, the software would have no idea which order you found these in. In fact, since you log your lab caches on a different site, I don't think many people even logged them in order.

Note that category stats aren't accurate anyhow. Container size, D/T, and even (in very rare cases) cacht types can change after you find a cache. The statistics are based on the current values for the cache, not what they were when you found it.

Yes D/T ratings may be corrected over time, but that does not make them inaccurate. In fact, I would argue that they make the D/T grid *more* accurate, but then again, I'm one of those people who want the stats to reflect reality, and for me the D/T grid is not some kind of side game collecting numbers - that's what baseball cards are for (and I'm not into them either). ;-)

:blink: Go ahead and give any meaning you like to the statistics and call that reality. If you understand that the statistics for various categories reflects the values at the time the statistics are generated and by that definition are accurate, then good for you. But in the same way understanding that certain statistics don't include lab cache means that these are accurate in the same way. Don't try to have it both ways.

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You don't really have any idea of how the statistics are currently created, do you?

Yes I do. Thanks for asking.

 

:blink: Go ahead and give any meaning you like to the statistics and call that reality. If you understand that the statistics for various categories reflects the values at the time the statistics are generated and by that definition are accurate, then good for you.

:blink: I guess I have to spell things out. The D/T grid reflects the *reality* of exactly what the owners of your found caches have rated their caches right now when the statistics are generated - these may be different than when you found it because the cache owner may have adjusted them - so what.

 

But in the same way understanding that certain statistics don't include lab cache means that these are accurate in the same way. Don't try to have it both ways.

I guess if multi caches were new and weren't included in the stats you'd argue that we just have to accept that and not "have it both ways". I don't even know what the heck you're suggesting about having it both ways! There's nothing to have "both ways".

 

Lab Cache is a new geocache type, just like all the other cache types. You go out and find them and you "log" them on the website. Sure "logging" them might be a bit different with just a log date - they may not have an online log (I wish they did) but an online log does not a geocache make. It's the activity of geocaching that makes for a geocache. A Lab Cache is an experimental geocache that may be one of numerous guises depending on when you found it, but you found it, and it was a geocache.

 

Anyway, I'm kind of bored of this now so I think I'll just go caching instead. Happy caching! :)

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It came to my attention that GS made selections and that not all Premium Members get the invitation to make a Labcache. Can this be true? If it is ... GS made a lot of false promises toward us.

I would say this quote form the FAQ would disagree with that,

“For the month of February every Premium Member will be able to hide one personalized, temporary geocache for one person.”

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It came to my attention that GS made selections and that not all Premium Members get the invitation to make a Labcache. Can this be true? If it is ... GS made a lot of false promises toward us.

I would say this quote form the FAQ would disagree with that,

"For the month of February every Premium Member will be able to hide one personalized, temporary geocache for one person."

 

That is what I thought so myself. But on a different forum someone posted the message:

"GS saw their mistake and only invited a particular bunch of geocachers."
and another one:
"Only geocachers with at least 3000 FOUNDS can make a Labcache."

These are messages on Dutch forums.

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It came to my attention that GS made selections and that not all Premium Members get the invitation to make a Labcache. Can this be true? If it is ... GS made a lot of false promises toward us.

 

Your information source is faulty.

 

I sure hope so. Since GS promissed that ALL premium members could make a Lab cache.

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That is what I thought so myself. But on a different forum someone posted the message:

"GS saw their mistake and only invited a particular bunch of geocachers."
and another one:
"Only geocachers with at least 3000 FOUNDS can make a Labcache."

These are messages on Dutch forums.

 

Anybody can make stuff up and post on forums. Unless something is posted on the Groundspeak forums by a Lackey, I would put no credibility into posts "Some guy on the internet said ..."

 

Be patient. Information will be released later today, and keep your eye on the blog post.

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