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Jayme H

Communication

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Hey there!

 

We are interested in learning more about the various ways that users communicate on Geocaching.com. We would love your input on how you use the current system and what could be done differently.

 

In your first post, please include how long you have been geocaching.

 

Discussion point #1:

Geocachers need to communicate with each other while playing the game. What are some reasons that users may want/need to interact with each other? Which reasons do you find most valuable?

 

Discussion point #2:

Keeping in mind the possible interactions from discussion point #1, what obstacles arise in trying to communicate with each other on Geocaching.com today? What are some possible solutions that would help remove these obstacles?

 

Thanks so much!

 

*Please note: If you haven’t read the pinned post for this forum, please take a moment to do so. This thread will be open for one week.

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Hey there!

 

We are interested in learning more about the various ways that users communicate on Geocaching.com. We would love your input on how you use the current system and what could be done differently.

 

In your first post, please include how long you have been geocaching.

 

Discussion point #1:

Geocachers need to communicate with each other while playing the game. What are some reasons that users may want/need to interact with each other? Which reasons do you find most valuable?

 

Discussion point #2:

Keeping in mind the possible interactions from discussion point #1, what obstacles arise in trying to communicate with each other on Geocaching.com today? What are some possible solutions that would help remove these obstacles?

 

Thanks so much!

 

*Please note: If you haven’t read the pinned post for this forum, please take a moment to do so. This thread will be open for one week.

 

I thinks it's great you guys are doing this.

 

Geocaching for 3 or 4 years. On the forums for almost the same time.

 

#1 Reasons to contact users. Ask for hints for puzzles, or on high difficulty caches. Welcome, and offer help to new players. Offer help to those who may log a DNF on your own cache. I am a member of of non profit geocaching club and we also occasionally contact each other through the website when we don't have emails or phone numbers.

 

#2 obstacles. 2 come to mind. One is that we cannot contact users who have not validated their account. IMO if they can't click on a link why should they be allowed to use the services. It's not like they have to do anything complicated-just click a link. The other-well I can send you a message but I don't have to send my email along with it. I think that should be removed. If I don't want you to contact me, what right do I have to contact you? Plus the fact it just makes it a bit harder, it really doesn't prevent you from contacting me. Many new users would also reply to the email not knowing it really isn't going anywhere...

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Hi Jayme - we've been caching for three years. When we need to get in touch with other cachers, it is for the following reasons:

 

1. To congratulate them for finding our one tough cache or to thank them for a nice log or some maintenance help.

2. To let them know they made a logging error or posted a picture of a trackable number.

3. To contact a cache owner privately about an issue that needs attention but doesn't need to be recorded on the cache page.

 

One thing that would make communication easier would be the ability to add pictures (for example-the condition of a container or hiding spot) to private messages. The work-around at this point is to be willing to share your private email with the other person.

 

With regards to reaching users who don't have email contact info, perhaps we could institute a messaging system similar to (shudder!) Facebook where the logged-in dashboard would have a little icon to indicate messages waiting? This could also be integrated into the app with a push to email if the user opted for that.

Edited by 6NoisyHikers
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I have been Geocaching for nearly 4 years.

 

I agree with TDM, one of the major reasons to be able to communicate with other cachers is when you're stuck on a puzzle or a difficult cache that you know one of your friends has already found, and you need a hint. But right now, unless I've actually acquired that person's telephone number, the only way to contact them is via e-mail (unless they haven't even been required to provide an e-mail address, but that's a separate issue)When I'm standing in the woods at GZ and I need a hint, e-mail isn't going to help me....they may not see it for a couple of days, if they ever check it at all.

 

Why can't the app have a feature to add your Geocaching friends list and be able to contact them directly through the app, via text message? Could it be made where they don't have to provide their phone number, the app could contact them directly through THEIR Geocaching app (and the upside for Groundspeak would be that they might sell more Apps to people who never cared for the App for Geocaching but might like its function as a communication tool with other Geocachers) Obviously this idea needs some refinement but you get the basic idea. We get to set up instant notifications for new caches, why not an instant messaging feature between Geocachers?

 

In short, the major obstacle is time....if e-mail is the only way I have of contacting another cacher, and they only check their e-mail periodically (if at all), then I'm going to be waiting a long time for that hint. I have had this happen to me a couple of times already, when someone e-mailed me through my profile asking for a hint on one of my caches. I didn't get the message until much later, which did them no good that day.

 

Again, I think it's a great thing that you guys are asking for our input, at least. I'm sure our very vocal community will give you plenty to think about :laughing:

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Caching for over 12 years.

 

DP #1: Reason to communicate with other cachers

Important to me

  • To get a hint on a cache
  • Get together to go caching or plan an outing
  • Get together for fun outside of caching
  • To go over details of an event being planned

DP #2: Obstacles to communication on geocaching.com today. What can be done.

  • Sending an email from a user profile requires access to gc.com and will take awhile to be received/answered. I only use it to send earthcache or virtual answers, or to ask a CO that I don't know for a hint or to check a puzzle solution
  • Would be nice if I could setup my cell number and allow certain people to access it for texting or calling and allow quick access via mobile.
  • For getting hints from a CO I don't know, it would be great if I could have that info available from the field if the CO permits it. It could be setup so that it doesn't reveal numbers, maybe through the gc android app.
  • For the other longer term communication like planning, I prefer to do that outside of geocaching.com via phone, text, email, in person

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I've been geocaching for about 7 years. To place me better in the community, it may be worth mentioning that I have about 650 finds, but I'm near the top worldwide in average terrain and words per log.

 

Most of my communication with other cachers that's not appropriate for logs deals with cache listings in one way or another: logging questions, descriptions (mine and others), issues with caches I help maintain but don't own, issues with widely-loved caches I keep track of, possibilities for new caches. Almost all of this is by email, and I have the email addresses (and in some cases phone numbers) of the ones I contact more than once in a blue moon. I prefer "regular" email to email restricted to a single web site. In fact, I prefer a local email client, though it's becoming harder and harder to find one now that webmail is the de facto standard. (And I dislike Facebook more and more with every passing month. Any solution that involves FB is a non-starter for me.)

 

Others have stated the obstacles well. Some possible solutions:

 

For users with no verified email address, gc.com could accept and store messages, and display them when the user logs on. When and if ... I'm not sure if this would have much value, since many users with no verified email have not signed on for years.

 

For users who wish to remain anonymous but communicate more easily, gc.com could set up a simple anonymous email system. This would perhaps involve putting a unique token in the subject of each initial email, which would have to be retained on reply. A reply would reach the gc.com email system and be forwarded to the original sender based on the token.

 

However, my biggest annoyance with the current email system is the inability to enter a subject, with the result that I have many email threads with the subject line of "[GEO] somecacher contacting paleolith from Geocaching.com" even when all but the initial message went via normal email, not through gc.com. If I could enter my own subject (which would still be preceded by "[GEO]" or some such), keeping track of threads would be a lot easier.

 

Edward

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As an addition to my first post- I think we, as cache owners should be able to select a log and contact the user from the log. That log in question would also be referenced. Instead of saying "You logged XYZ cache on whatever day, and this is the problem" I could go to the log and say-you had logged this cache twice, or here's a hint for this cache, or even, and I've had this a couple times, you had logged a note when you should have logged found it. By having that specific cache and the log referenced the user could then directly click the link and change/fix it. Also the ability to include pictures.

 

As for communications I think we could also allow phone numbers to be included-as was referenced, sometimes email is not fast enough. This could only be limited to those people who are friends, and could be entirely optional. Most of the local geocachers know my number anyway, and I'm sure it's the same with other people.

 

Or the ability to contact a cacher from the app, in any of the above ways. Maybe even a IM feature for premium members through the app.

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I'd like to echo others' sentiments in applauding you for your approach.

 

Caching 5 years today! Here are our insights:

 

Point 1: as an owner of 50 puzzle caches, we get perhaps 1 email a week asking for assistance or clues. Other than that, general correspondence about travel bugs, or to let them know something about their cache I didn't think was best to put in our log, for fear of spoilers etc.

 

One thing, and I'm not sure is this is of use, is I tend to only use the messaging feature on geocaching.com to talk to cachers I don't already know. If it's a local cacher or one I know very well, the chances are I'll have their email, phone numbers, or be Facebook friends with them and I tend to use these channels to talk to such cachers rather than through the site.

 

Point 2: one thing messaging through the site has never been very good for is if you need to talk to a cacher urgently. There have been times when cachers have messaged us from ground zero asking for help. Sometimes we've seen this in time, sometimes not. Again, when we have seen it, we've replied with a phone number and carried on the conversation that way. Hypothetically, there might be occasions when you might need to contact a reviewer urgently, such as the time we found a cache that looked like a bomb scare waiting to happen, and the other time when security told us the cache we were looking for had caused a bomb scare and had been removed and destroyed.

 

The messaging feature, as is, doesn't really serve you in urgent situations and it may be possible to harness users mobile phones to contact them as an alternative. Keeping in mind we're all in different countries with different providers. I know the SMS features advertised on the site don't seem to work for us.

 

If we think of anything more, I'll reply underneath.

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I've been geocaching for a little over 8 years. (Wow... has it really been that long?!)

 

Anyway, reviewing my recent communication with other geocachers over the past several months, here are some of the more important reasons I've communicated with other geocachers (either as sender or as recipient):

  • organizing geocaching trips and sharing photos, lists of found caches, etc. afterwards
  • organizing unevents (gatherings that aren't listed as events on geocaching.com)
  • planning/scheduling/discussing events before they're actually listed on geocaching.com
  • discussions with cache owners, volunteer reviewers, or other geocachers that shouldn't be publicly visible (detailed cache status, virtual/Earthcache answers, puzzle Q&A, etc.)
  • Venona's ACTIVITIES, an annual (more or less) event with the Geocachers of the Bay Area
  • recruiting volunteers to help with geocaching classes, or to adopt caches owned by someone moving out of the area, or to support local geocaching in some other way.
  • private messages thanking finders for maintenance/repair of a cache, welcoming new geocachers to the hobby, ask about personal signature items, etc.
  • private messages regarding trackables: letting someone know that you grabbed it and fixed the TB history, letting someone know that you're waiting for them to drop it so you can grab/discover it correctly, etc.

And here are some of the other reasons I've communicated with other geocachers (either as sender or as recipient):

  • passing on park/trail conditions (closures, sightings of dangerous animals, etc.)
  • general discussion, trip reports, announcements, etc.
  • discussion of products/services that compete with Groundspeak's products/services
  • suggestions for additions to public bookmark lists

And here are some of the obstacles I've observed with communicating via the geocaching.com site:

  • Some of these topics are not welcome on geocaching.com (e.g., discussion of competing products/services), so those discussions will take place somewhere else. And if people hold those discussions somewhere else, then they often hold other discussions somewhere else too, even discussions that would be welcome on geocaching.com
  • Private messages through the site are clunky: only one recipient per message, email replies silently fail if the sender didn't include his/her email address, etc.
  • Once I have another geocacher's email address, sending email is just a lot more convenient for private discussions than going through the geocaching.com site.
  • Public discussions are already taking place somewhere else (Facebook, local geocaching forums, etc.), and there is inertia to overcome to move the discussions to geocaching.com
  • The geocaching.com forums are too big, so it is impractical to simply list the new messages and read them. Most of the new messages here are in subforums that I don't read, so I have to view the small number of subforums that I do read, and then open the new messages in each of those subforums. In contrast, I read most of the subforums in our smaller local forums, so it works much better to simply list all the new messages and read them. (Maybe there is a way to view only the new messages of certain subscribed subforums here, but I haven't found it.)

Anyway, I hope this helps, and all that...

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In your first post, please include how long you have been geocaching.

Actively, a little under a year.

 

Discussion point #1:

Geocachers need to communicate with each other while playing the game. What are some reasons that users may want/need to interact with each other? Which reasons do you find most valuable?

- As a finder: talk to cache owners about their hides (asking for hints, passing on the current condition of the cache, etc. I once contacted a CO to tell them that the area the cache was in was going to be developed soon, so they could move their cache before the bulldozers came.)

 

- As a cache owner: Providing hints to seekers; helping out newbies with either hides or with general etiquette.

 

- Misc: Contacting TB owners about the state of their TB, or other TB communications; Asking recent visitors to one's cache about TB's that were recently in it but that have disappeared... "phone a friend" to ask for help on a cache

 

Most valuable? Umm... I think all these reasons are valuable. I don't think I can really rank them.

 

Discussion point #2:

Keeping in mind the possible interactions from discussion point #1, what obstacles arise in trying to communicate with each other on Geocaching.com today? What are some possible solutions that would help remove these obstacles?

- App users that haven't verified their email.

- Cannot tell if the message you sent via the site has been received, or if it is floating somewhere in oblivion.

 

Possible solutions:

- An in-site PM system rather than one sent to an email. It could alert users to a message via email or text message (per the user's choice)

- Some sort of "message received" notification through the current system when the email message is opened. Regular email can do this; I'm not sure what it'd be like to implement it using the current system.

- Require intro app users to verify their account with an email. ;)

- Require an annual email check for all cache owners, at least, if not all users (i.e. when a user logs in on their signup anniversary or something, display the email address and require them to confirm it as still good or to change it)

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4 years.

 

When I communicate with another user, it's almost always about a specific cache, thought sometimes about a specific traveler, so I typically want to point them to that cache or traveler. As it is, I have to manually copy the name and the coord.info link into the message (and it drives me crazy when people don't send me a link so I have to go track down the link to see what they're talking about).

 

A big help would be a way to say, "I want to send mail to the CO about his cache" or "I want to send mail about this user about his log", and I'd use something more general, too: "I want to sent mail about this cache to this unrelated user". Ideally the identifying information would be in the e-mail's subject line, but at least it could start the message with the information already in the text box. When saying something about a log, it would be great to quote the log in the text box.

 

I never use geocaching.com when I'm out caching, so I have nothing to say about more immediate communications.

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Look to the left just under my name and you can see when I joined in this hobby. (7 years for the mathematically challenged)

 

Discussion point #1:

Geocachers need to communicate with each other while playing the game. What are some reasons that users may want/need to interact with each other? Which reasons do you find most valuable?

I have needed to contact other cachers to (in order of importance to me) :

1. Ask a question or report a condition about a specific cache which I feel would not be appropriate in a cache log. (Earthcache/Virtual answers as well)

2. Welcome a new cacher to the hobby.

3. Contacting a finder about a logging issue on a cache.

 

Discussion point #2:

Keeping in mind the possible interactions from discussion point #1, what obstacles arise in trying to communicate with each other on Geocaching.com today? What are some possible solutions that would help remove these obstacles?

1. As others have said, the email to/from another user is not super. More detailed Subject Lines would be a useful addition. Instant communication is not something that GS should prioritize in my opinion. My GPS does not communicate until I connect it to my computer. I do not use a phone for geocaching and I'm sure that there are many others who do not use theirs' either.

2. A major obstacle to contacting new users is the lack of validated contact information. Either a validated email address or for the phone App users, have them give up their phone number for text messages.

3. Finders with no validated email make them unable to contact.

 

With as many websites and social sites that require users to validate their information, I find it unbelievable that Groundspeak allows even first-time users to do so without validating their information.

 

I have never felt the need for immediate contact while out geocaching. If I am unable to locate a cache, I mark my DNF and move on. My ego doesn't mind the DNF. Any other issue related to a cache can be addressed when I get back to my computer.

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Hi Jayme - we've been caching for three years. When we need to get in touch with other cachers, it is for the following reasons:

 

1. To congratulate them for finding our one tough cache or to thank them for a nice log or some maintenance help.

2. To let them know they made a logging error or posted a picture of a trackable number.

3. To contact a cache owner privately about an issue that needs attention but doesn't need to be recorded on the cache page.

 

One thing that would make communication easier would be the ability to add pictures (for example-the condition of a container or hiding spot) to private messages. The work-around at this point is to be willing to share your private email with the other person.

 

With regards to reaching users who don't have email contact info, perhaps we could institute a messaging system similar to (shudder!) Facebook where the logged-in dashboard would have a little icon to indicate messages waiting? This could also be integrated into the app with a push to email if the user opted for that.

 

I have to add to this:

4. to contact Sol Seaker when 6 Noisy cachers are coming by her house. (are you guys coming by again soon?)

 

I use the "contact another user" a fair amount of times. (and others use it to contact me).

 

That is a feature I value immensely. It really helps when there are people I've met that I don't know well and want to cache with. It also is great for other things. I've gotten a number of cache owners saying they appreciated my log on their cache. That is really nice. It encourages me to create better logs everywhere.

 

I've also used it to help out other cachers (I've helped replace some caches, both with the cache owner when they needed help and also with permission of the cache owner when they were too far from their cache).

 

It has a lot of great uses. I like that communication the best and appreciate that feature a lot.

 

Oh, I've been caching 5 years.

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I have been geocaching for about 2 years and 4 months.

 

#1

I need to interact with other geocachers for the following reasons:

  • Answer log requirements for virtuals and earthcaches
  • Plan caching trips
  • Get hints for mysteries or other caches
  • Tell them they made a mistake or give hints
  • Get to know new local cachers

 

I've also had people contacting me just because they've liked the personal SWAG I've left in some caches.

Geocachers are awesome, and we need to communicate.

 

#2:

  • The single biggest obstacle is that we cannot contact members with non-verified email addresses
  • If I have to delete a log (double logging etc.), I first have to delete it, then find the users profile and send him an explanation. I would like to be able to write an explanation directly when deleting the log, which is included in the log deletion notification
  • You never know if the recipient actually got the email or not

 

I agree on the suggestions earlier, a messaging system where messages are stored on geocaching.com would solve a lot of the current issues. Just remember to add email notifications.

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I agree on the suggestions earlier, a messaging system where messages are stored on geocaching.com would solve a lot of the current issues. Just remember to add email notifications.

 

Yes...I believe there is too much reliance on email for communication between users and between Groundspeak and its users. I'd love to see GS reduce its reliance on email which often is unreliable, overlooked or ignored. Communication between users can break down into different types:

1. personal communications and discussions (related to either general questions about specific caches or something related to geocaching not requiring any sort of approval or review by the other user)

2. cache-specific communications (answers to virtual or earthcaches requiring review and approval)

 

Communication under type 1 could be handled using the suggestion above and use an on-site notification system like I suggest in the "Dashboard" thread in this forum. Type 2 could be handled using logs as I suggested in this thread and wouldn't require any sort of two-way communication.

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I participated in a few cache hunts in 2003, but did not start caching actively until 2008.

 

I mostly email (or want to) other cachers to let them know about a problem with a cache, a trackable, or a log on either. I mostly receive emails from other cachers to ask for help on one of my puzzles.

 

To my mind, the biggest obstacle to communication is the Not Validated Accounts. There has got to be a way of forcing email validation in order to post logs and I sure wish GS would enforce it. I have been unable to reach NVAs to teach them about proper logging of trackables, not posting tracking numbers, not posting spoilers, etc. This has become one of my greatest frustrations about geocaching.

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I'm only one month in to this hobby and have only reached out to one member to thank them for the hide that was my first find. Is there not a PM function?

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As I mentioned in the other thread in this new forum section I started geocaching in January 2007. My wife was doing some web surfing and came across a personal web page from someone that mentioned Geocaching as an "other interest". I was pretty actively engaged with Usenet since the early 1980's and read a newsgroup (rec.backcountry) that had some overlap with the newsgroup where it all started. However, I guess the idea didn't take back then because I mostly forgot about it until my wife mentioned it. Since I was an avid sea kayaker I had a legitimate reason for buying a GPS and the fact that I could use it for something else was all it took for me to pick one up.

 

I went out the day after it arrived and went to search for my first geocache. I spent about a half an hour looking all over but never did find it. There was another one about 1/4 of a mile away and that became my first find (I eventually adopted that cache). I went home and logged my find and posted a DNF log for the cache that I couldn't find. The next day I got a PM via email from a local geocacher that said he owned that first cache, had verified that it was missing, and when I confirmed that I had searched in the exact spot where it was hidden he told me I could log it as a find (I didn't, but found it after he replaced the cache). It was that initial communication, that reaching out by someone else in the geocaching community that drew me into the game.

 

Unfortunately, the game has changed. I just don't see the community aspect as common as it once was. Instead we have huge numbers trails, and thousands of smaller trails so that geocachers can show 5 digit find counts in their profiles. We get challenges that seem to exist only to create something more difficult and more complex for others to complete. In the forums I see people defending the right of others to post a four character acronym to "describe your experience". It's that degradation of the community aspect and lack of communication that has led me to be much less actively engaged in the game. As far as I am concerned, anything that GS can do to improve communication (and requiring a valid email address for every user account is a good start) is going to improve the game.

 

 

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I am geocacher for twelve years and, firstly, I hope that this new attempt to hear the comunity, will prevail.

 

The suggestions that I would add are already referred above.

 

So, I'll only underline that the main obstacle to comunication between players of this great hobby is the existence of some of them without a validated email address.

We, as geocache owners and responsible for their maintenance, cannot contact those players to whatever it's needed: to thank them, to ask them information about a cache not much visited, to ask them to change/remove a spoiler in a log/photo, etc, etc...

 

I hope this is not considered out of topic but it is important to keep communication flowing that, whoever has access to the geocache's database must be contactable and responsible for what he/she may cause to the geocache status.

 

 

 

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Caching for about three years now.

Most of my communication through geocaching.com deals with specific caches: reporting answers for virtuals/earthcaches, reporting on cache conditions that would be inappropriate for a log, reporting problems with a cache listing (e.g. broken links to images needed to solve a puzzle), asking and receiving hints on finding caches, either ones I own or ones I don't, and so on.

 

I agree that it would be handy to have a shorter way to contact a cache owner regarding a specific cache. Obviously, you can do it now, but it takes 2-3 clicks, which moves you away from the cache page where you had the original thought to contact the owner.

Edited by Team Hugs
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I count logs as a form of communication with cache owners, so something I would like to see is a digest email mode for cache/trackable logs. It would be so much nicer if you could get a single email say every half hour, hour or day with either all of the logs, or emails with multiple logs but a single email for each log type (found/write note/discovered trackable) etc.

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Caching for 8 years. I think if emails were at least validated you would solve a lot of the issues.

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Echoing the validated e-mails request. As a CO of a wide range of caches I find that there is a tendency for newer players to log incorrectly or double log, I try to contact them via their profile and am not sure whether the e-mail has arrived. I would therefore ask whether there could be a read receipt option/similar.

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I have been caching somewhere between 3 or 4 years. Have roughly 1200 finds. Only around 12 hides.

 

I can only really echo the comment about wanting to let a cache owner know the state of a cache with a photo. Not ever really appropriate to put in a log as too much of a spoiler. As it is now I've never found a way to do it.

 

All other things mentioned by others above agreed but actually think it isn't too bad the way it is. Local cachers I am friends with I have a phone number for if needs be.

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I've been caching for 11 years.

 

My main reasons for communicating with other cachers through gc.com are:

issues with trackables

queries regarding logs e.g. checking that someone (especially a new member)who posted a DNF was actually looking in the right place

requesting confirmation of puzzle solutions when there is no coordinate checker link

 

I am beginning to encounter one obstacle more frequently these days and that is the unvalidated email address issue already highlighted. I strongly believe that full access to the site should not be allowed until a new member has responded to a validation email.

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Hey there!

 

We are interested in learning more about the various ways that users communicate on Geocaching.com. We would love your input on how you use the current system and what could be done differently.

 

In your first post, please include how long you have been geocaching.

 

Discussion point #1:

Geocachers need to communicate with each other while playing the game. What are some reasons that users may want/need to interact with each other? Which reasons do you find most valuable?

 

Discussion point #2:

Keeping in mind the possible interactions from discussion point #1, what obstacles arise in trying to communicate with each other on Geocaching.com today? What are some possible solutions that would help remove these obstacles?

 

Thanks so much!

 

*Please note: If you haven’t read the pinned post for this forum, please take a moment to do so. This thread will be open for one week.

 

We have been geocaching for just over 2 years.

 

Communicating via email yet some dont have a validated email which is really annoying as if they are new to the game it means you cant suggest/help them in anyway, is it possible for Groundspeak to give people a limited time that if they arent validated within this time then their account closes ? sometimes we need to send NMs so CO's read the maintenance checks because we cannot get a reply from their email, whether its validated or the fact they are being plain ignorant.

 

Another factor is we always having to tick the box to say send our email with the email we are sending to others, can this not be made automatic? as not everybody realises they can do this then they wonder why they dont get a response.

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I have had my account for two years but only actually active for the last year.

 

I have contacted other members to ask for hints, inform them of problems with a particular cache/trackable, and once to try and ask about non maintained caches.

 

It would be helpful to know if an email has been received (and ignored) or if it is going to an old unused account. Having a message notification or access to messages via HX.com would be a useful alternative.

 

I know there was another part to the question but I can not get access to the forum via my account on the computer and am on my phone so can't look back. Sorry.

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We have been caching for around 3 years now I think. Since 2011 anyhow!

 

I would like to say (although probably get shouted at for it) that I have used the forums a couple of times before, but they are clunky, full of ancient posts and, imo, people telling to go read this that and the other, or lead to indepth discussions between regulars, rather than actually helping. Although I did get some nice help from some Floridian cachers when planning a trip there, thanks guys.

 

I have instead found several facebook groups in our area and in the UK where you get (again imo) much more helpful answers and no-one expects you to have trawled through years of ancient posts or to know everything. I also tend to know the people in my local groups so feel more comfortable asking questions there. Unfortunately I had to sign up to facebook to access this, after years of deliberately avoiding it..!

 

Discussion point #1:

Geocachers need to communicate with each other while playing the game. What are some reasons that users may want/need to interact with each other? Which reasons do you find most valuable?

 

I communicate with, and receive queries from other cachers for many reasons, (usually via either by GS email or via facebook on caching groups I belong too). Some of the more common reasons (I can't hope to remember them all) include:

 

1) Asking for help, additional hints or confirmation of answers to puzzle caches.

2) Asking COs if they could check if the cache is still there, or if an AWOL cache is likely to be replaced before we visit an area.

3) Advice on where to park/start a series (as not always clear and not everyone posts waypoints for these on the cache page).

4) General planning queries regarding the terrain, current state of the footpaths, distance/time involved (especially from people with small children and/or buggies) or who have limited time.

5) TBs generally - I regularly attempt to chase up unlogged TBs of mine by checking if recent finders have seen it in the cache it is meant to be in, and then contacting those who have logged the cache since the TB was logged into it and before it was reported missing. Have had some success doing this. Have also attempted to contacted local cachers when a cache is archived with a TB in it and no response from CO (one I brought to the UK from the states was retrieved from an archived cache after asking for local help on UK facebook group).

6) To thank people for a particularly great log and/or photos, or who have replaced wet log books or reported issues with my cache.

7) To ask COers if they want a log book back after I have replaced full/wet logs for them.

8) Asking for recommendations/advice on child friendly trails when taking my nephews with me (ie distance involved, if the caches are well maintained with good swaps to keep little ones interested, people's opinions on which of 2 or 3 options would be more suitable given distance/time/age of geokids on any given day)

9) Planning re attending events - Finding out if there are any published or planned events where we are going on holiday. For megas it is nice to know who else from our area is going, where people are staying (if overnight stay required). Also info on any events people recommend outside of our notification area that we may not know about otherwise. GAGB have recently produced a UK wide event list which is much more helpful than the weekly notification GS sends (which has events for the next couple of days only, and for some reason some are hundreds of miles away in other countries even). Have also seen offers of help at event (eg other local cachers offering to help with putting up tent for lone cacher who was worried they couldn't manage it, arranging lifts, or offers of help with the event itself).

10) Newbies asking for help re placing caches, and general etiquette re caching (particularly TBs seem to give rise to a lot of questions/concerns), cache page design, placement queries, and for help maintaining caches (I am usually happy to help maintain caches local to me if the CO is unable to visit the area/cache and I am going that way before they will be). These tend to be cachers I know so we email/text each other directly.

11) Offers of PAF by CO or friends who have completed a series already. On occasion I have given my mobile number to people who have contacted me in advance while planning their trip and are coming a long way to spend a weekend/week in the local area caching.

12) Advising of double logging and/or why I deleted a log.

13) Communicate further info to people attending events. Megas tend to have their own website, but not all smaller events do (so you have to request attendees email details to send them stuff because if you try and email them via GS it tells you tha you have reached your quota for today's emails! Plus you can't send attachments via GS).

14) I also try and send messages to newbies who log my caches (or those local ones I watch), both welcoming them and inviting them to contact me if they need help or have any queries about the hobby. Sometimes I also contact people whose logs indicate they are in the area on holiday. I met up with some holidaying cachers from Germany to go caching together after doing this, and was able to help with some translation issues, particularly on some 'clever' hints which were definitely lost in translation.

15) Contacting people I met at an event to send a friend request or pass on info they/I enquired about, or arrange to go caching together.

 

Discussion point #2:

Keeping in mind the possible interactions from discussion point #1, what obstacles arise in trying to communicate with each other on Geocaching.com today? What are some possible solutions that would help remove these obstacles?

 

1) Members with unvalidated emails are becoming a big issue! - I was unable to contact a newbie just this week who posted the tracking code of my TB in their log. As they picked up the TB I didn't feel deleting the log was an option, the only option I had was to encrypt the log. If they don't drop my TB off I have no way of contacting them to find out if/when/why they haven't.

I have had several instances of a found it log being posted 2,3 or more times now by newbies. I assume they are trying to get the app to work, but no with no email available to contact them explaining why I deleted the log I have no choice but to delete the duplicates and there's no way to pass on an explanation pr offer of assistance.

 

2) Not knowing if the person you have emailed got the email. At least on facebook I can see when someone has read the message.

Some COers use the app and never seem to come online, although they are logging caches. And some seem to be long gone for whatever reason. Would be nice to know if your request for help on a puzzle, or to enquire after a TB that has been held for 2+ years (I'm not bitter...) has just not been seen or if you are being ignored for whatever reason. Requiring accounts to be verified annually to ensure the current email is up to date would be good too (and mark an account as currently unverified if the cacher doesn't respond).

 

3) I have no smart phone so when we are away on holiday I can't see emails and usually come home to several enquiries for puzzle answer confirmations. These are scattered in with the several hundred email notifications of new caches, log notifications and the like.

 

4) Not being able to send photos with an email, or 'hide' them in a log is a problem - I couldn't get a container open once and didn't want to force it and possibly break it. So I took a photo to show the CO we had found it and explained the issue via email, but couldn't send the photo with it. I didn't want to include the photo on my log as there was no way to hide it from everyone else and that would have given the game away about the great container.

 

5) Most of the general/info communicating I do is via facebook groups as GS is limited in what it offers. IE one person at a time via email, or forum option which doesn't get used by the people I am trying to communicate with, or in the way I need.

 

6) Communication from GS should include useful info, like updates to policy and guidelines. EG many earthcaches still say that you can't log them until you receive confirmation from the CO. This is not as per current GS policy. I also think newbies should get am email early on explaining about trackable items and how to handle them, and we should all be reminded regularly about the swap guidelines (something of equal or greater value) which seems to be flouted by many ime.

 

Finally I would like to add (someone mentioned it above as un-necessary) that I like the anomymity of not having to send your email address. Most of the time I am happy to send my email address when I contact cachers. There was one exception though when someone I already knew contacted me, and I was grateful to have the option to remove my email address from being automatically displayed in my reply as I didn't want that person to have it.

Edited by Bean & Sprout
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Echoing the validated e-mails request. As a CO of a wide range of caches I find that there is a tendency for newer players to log incorrectly or double log, I try to contact them via their profile and am not sure whether the e-mail has arrived. I would therefore ask whether there could be a read receipt option/similar.
I just encountered this for the first time myself. If you can't send email because their email address is not validated, and if the cache logs are not to be used as a discussion forum, then the only way you have to communicate with someone who posts a bogus or inappropriate log is to delete that log. That's a rather blunt instrument of communication.
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As others have pointed out invalid addresses are a big problem. My feeling is if your address is not validated you should not be able to log finds. Along this line following the thread on the problems with Comcast email it should be evident that if the email is being blocked because the email is not valid you should also invalidate the address on the users profile. Another point with invalid email addresses, if the user has any caches it seems that any system generated messages for logs is also not being delivered and I assume reviewer generated messages. Perhaps you should use the bounces from these emails as a sign you should be invalidating addresses.

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In your first post, please include how long you have been geocaching.

 

Nearly 11 years

 

Discussion point #1:

Geocachers need to communicate with each other while playing the game. What are some reasons that users may want/need to interact with each other? Which reasons do you find most valuable?

 

Spreading news of new caches seems a key feature of intercacher communications on Facebook groups, promoting events or trips (http://www.facebook.com/groups/gigaorbust) plus all the usual things covered by logs - alerting the owner and others of problems (NM), the chance of the cache missing (DNF) and so on. Personally I find a good spoiler photo/comment the most valuable, but that's because I hate DNFing a cache which is there to be found :)

 

Discussion point #2:

Keeping in mind the possible interactions from discussion point #1, what obstacles arise in trying to communicate with each other on Geocaching.com today? What are some possible solutions that would help remove these obstacles?

 

Echo others' comments about cachers with unverified email addresses. I've a cache missing and the last three finders are all uncontactable via GS.com, rendering me powerless to find out what's happened to it, or where it was last located. This is a big big issue from time to time.

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In your first post, please include how long you have been geocaching.

 

7 years

 

Discussion point #1:

Geocachers need to communicate with each other while playing the game. What are some reasons that users may want/need to interact with each other? Which reasons do you find most valuable?

 

I use the website to contact other members for the following main reasons:

To send answers for Earthcaches or Virtuals

To let the CO know more details on a problem with the cache

Planning for a challenging cache - advice for parking, the route up the mountain, etc.

To welcome a newbie to the game if a new cacher logs one of my caches

 

Most of my planning for caching outings takes place either directly with some people I cache with regularly, or through our local Facebook group. Sometimes I use the geocaching website if I've lost or forgotten their email.

 

Discussion point #2:

Keeping in mind the possible interactions from discussion point #1, what obstacles arise in trying to communicate with each other on Geocaching.com today? What are some possible solutions that would help remove these obstacles?

 

The "send message" feature works, but would be enhanced by the ability to change the subject line (or add to it), and to attach photos. If i come across a cache that needs maintenance, I often snap a few photos so that I can give the CO a good idea of what needs to be fixed. These photos are useless unless we communicate enough that I have their email address. As others have mentioned, the unverified addresses don't allow me to contact some newer members of the game, but it's not something that I run across regularly in my corner of the world.

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Around since August 2008.

 

#1. Use for most of the reasons already stated. I regularly try to assist cachers new and old with their game.

Sometimes I seek help myself. I use PM system, anonymous email and usually get emails back with direct email addresses. I've met many people online, some have become friends the same way.

 

#2. I've talked about the unvalidated user for a long time now. It started with a slightly different lean though, that being the NO LONGER vald email for a user. People change addresses, drop accounts, things like the Comcast situation occur for bulk mailings (don't know if that affects emails), know of one chap who mentioned that his ISP was dropping email services as well (he swapped services). There are many reasons why email fails, not all are controllable.

 

Some people are just busy and miss the message when you try to contact them, or we miss the reply when they do. I had one person dumped into my JUNK folder before I noticed it. That was not a clear problem, but apparently the cause was something in their address or message. It was easily corrected, but happened at least once. Filters get slightly out of whack.

 

Some people are just prone to not answering reasonably promptly and forget that they wanted to.

 

I don't see any complex reason why the PM information at the top of the Forums Page could not be replicated on the GC homepage etc. I'm pretty sure the login for both sites is the same, and same PW. Not all users would know that at first, I didn't and nearly created a second account for the Forums. Still, another benefit of that would be bringing the forums themselves to the attention of more users. Only a small percentage of users come on here from what I read. Trying out the PM section would drop the hint that they could if they wanted to.

 

Just a few thoughts.

Doug 7rxc

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Caching for about 3 years.

 

Lots of points I would say have been covered by other people so I won't repeat them.

 

I think one big (but relatively simple) improvements would be to put messaging shortcuts that take you directly to a compose message screen.

e.g.

1. Next to the cache owners name on a cache page - (rather than the 3-4 clicks through different pages it takes at the moment.

2. Next to a loggers name in the logs.

 

In both cases the message page should provide context/a link to the page/log that was clicked from so people know what is being talked about.

 

An extra bonus would be for earth/puzzle cache owners to be able to include in the cache description a separate link to contact them which allows them to customize the message subject and body - so that they can define a standard email template containing the questions in it - saving the contacter from having to flip between screens trying to remember what they need to write.

 

Another nice to have feature would be allowing 'Write Notes' to be attached as responses to other logs (and informing the original log owner when this was done). This would mean when a cache owner (or other people) congratulate the first to find or respond to a particular message it is clear what the response relates to and notifies the original logger so they see the messages.

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Thanks so much for all the great responses, everyone! We really appreciate your sharing of thoughtful insights with us. These two threads have been incredibly helpful and constructive, thanks so much for staying on-topic and really giving us some great condensed information. Look for more topics like these in the future!

 

Closing this thread to further comment now. We will be compiling everything that we have heard from you to help guide us in the development process.

 

Thanks again! :)

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