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Ethics of Finding


Profbrad
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I've been in the hobby for a year and half, and at times, I've had questions about various finding situations. After reading through these forums and looking on-line, I was unable to find a document like the one below. My apologies if I've simply missed it. I'd love to read reactions and incorporate suggestions / additions / modifications - Profbrad

 

Geocaching.com provides very little guidance or rules about claiming finds. Regarding what counts as a find, the website merely says you must “sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location” (pt. 7 “How the game is played,” under Geocaching 101). Many would see the simplicity of the definition to be a strength, and may be heard to say something to the effect of “everyone gets to decide what’s right for them.” Others, by contrast, see trouble lurking in an overly simplistic definition, and may suggest that “anything worth doing is worth doing right.” But what is right?

 

The purpose of this document is to begin to address that general question by suggesting tentative answers to a range of commonly experienced issues in finding caches. Readers may disagree and formulate alternative answers or suggest other aspects I’ve not anticipated. Those are welcome possibilities. My hope is that this document will provide a starting point for conversations that may lay the groundwork for the geocaching community to settle on some rules to promote consistency and fairness in the hobby.

 

I would argue that even in the absence of formal rules, there is a spirit of geocaching that dictates sensible answers to many of the questions that come up about finds. The spirit of geocaching would suggest that a proper found claim is one in which each of the following is true:

 

1. The finder located the physical container or was on site to visit an earthcache or virtual.

2. The finder signed the log if it was possible to do so and, if not, documented evidence of the find.

3. The find was made without overwhelming assistance from others.

4. The find was made by following any specific rules in the cache description.

5. The find was publically available when claimed.

6. The find was not a cache placed by the finder.

7. The find was not previously discovered by the finder.

 

Commonly experienced issues (in no particular order):

 

Sharing information – A find is not legitimate if the finder received so much help that the cache is no longer truly hidden (#3). For regular caches, this would mean being told or shown exactly where the cache is. For puzzle caches, this would mean being given the coordinates directly or being given so much help that there is no puzzle to solve. Seeking assistance is okay. But both the seeker and giver of information should make sure that there is something legitimately left for the finder to discover.

 

Manipulating checking software – Some puzzle caches have coordinate checking programs, such as geochecker.com. Finders should not attempt to circumvent solving a puzzle by, for instance, trying a long list of possible coordinates until receiving the correct coordinates. This aspect is most closely related to point #4 above. The goal of puzzle caches is to solve the puzzle, not just to get to the coordinates as easily as possible.

 

Signing for others / having others sign for you – It is not legitimate to sign another finder’s name or to have someone else sign a cache for you (#1, 2). Relatedly, if a cache is in a difficult location (e.g., in a tree or under water), it is not legitimate for someone else to bring you the cache for you to sign (#3, 4). Serving as a member of the ground crew on a 5/5 does not entitle you to claim a find. To summarize: If you are unable to retrieve and sign a cache in the way intended by the owner without overwhelming help from others, then you should not claim a find.

 

Shared accounts – Sharing a geocaching account with others is likely to be problematic because of the high potential to violate one or more of the above principles. For example, if another person under your account claims a find when you aren’t there, you’re violating #1-3. Finders who are active should have separate accounts. Families with young children caching under the same account would be advised to create separate accounts if grown children decide to continue in the hobby separately.

 

First to find (FTF) etiquette – FTF is a special honor and should be treated as such. Thus, FTFers should be particularly reluctant to request help from the cache owner, and similarly the cache owner should be reluctant to provide help (#3). Exceptions would include correcting errant coordinates or mistakes in a puzzle. Successful finds should be promptly logged to avoid providing undue hope to other eager finders.

 

Logging – Found caches should be claimed for the actual date of the find (#7). It is not appropriate to continue a found streak by logging a find at a later date. Failing to find a cache should be accompanied by a DNF log on the cache. There’s no shame admitting you did not find the cache and doing so may alert others if the cache is actually missing.

 

Self smilies – You aren’t finding a cache if you already know where it is because you placed it (#6).

 

Damaged or missing caches – If a cache has a log that cannot be signed, it is permissible to claim a find provided you document your find. Documenting could mean taking a picture of the cache. Better still would be to replace the ruined log with a fresh one. If a cache appears to be missing, it is not permissible to “throw down a replacement” unless there is additional evidence that the cache is missing. Such evidence may include several recent logged DNFs or difficulty ratings or other information in the description that would support your belief. In the end, the best strategy is to report a DNF and to request maintenance needed from the CO.

 

Virtual virtuals – Finders should have to visit the location of the virtual in order to claim a find (#1). Same for earthcaches.

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:drama:

 

I disagree with your positions on "Signing for others / having others sign for you", "shared accounts", and "FTF Etiquette". They're too strict.

 

For those and for the others: how would these be enforced? I think that they're followed about as much as they can be without external enforcement - and I'd hate to see more enforcement than we have already.

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Damaged or missing caches – If a cache has a log that cannot be signed, it is permissible to claim a find provided you document your find. Documenting could mean taking a picture of the cache. Better still would be to replace the ruined log with a fresh one. If a cache appears to be missing, it is not permissible to "throw down a replacement" unless there is additional evidence that the cache is missing. Such evidence may include several recent logged DNFs or difficulty ratings or other information in the description that would support your belief. In the end, the best strategy is to report a DNF and to request maintenance needed from the CO.

 

I like your list and the details. There will be much to discuss. My one bugga-boo is under Damaged or missing caches. Omit "Better still would be to replace the ruined log with a fresh one." Add: Post a Needs Maintenance log.

Edited by L0ne.R
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My hope is that this document will provide a starting point for conversations that may lay the groundwork for the geocaching community to settle on some rules to promote consistency and fairness in the hobby.

 

Three reasons why I see your "hope" as being misplaced:

 

1. Your document is overly long/complicated, and like the Terms of Use, few people will read it in its entirety.

 

2. It's the internet. The more you try to control it, the more people will want to try and break it.

 

3. It's International. As various Forum discussions continue to illustrate, different regions of the world, play the sport differently.

 

Interesting read of your points nonetheless. Kind of reminds me of the various classifications of "free ascents" in rock climbing, which were enumerated back in the 90's (e.g. on-site, red point, pink point, blah, blah, blah...).

 

Good luck with your crusade. Might be good fodder for a blog, but as a Forum post, I doubt you'll find consensus.

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:drama:

 

I disagree with your positions on "Signing for others / having others sign for you", "shared accounts", and "FTF Etiquette". They're too strict.

 

For those and for the others: how would these be enforced? I think that they're followed about as much as they can be without external enforcement - and I'd hate to see more enforcement than we have already.

 

This would definitely be self-enforcement (no caching police!). What do you mean by too strict?

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:laughing::laughing::laughing:

 

Tell me you're not serious. Do you really want to write a rule book for when WIGAS points are awarded?

 

This used to be a simple, fun, activity. You go out and search for caches. Alone or with friends. Sometimes maybe even with the cache onwers. Then you go online an share your experiences.

 

Why make this complicated?! Just have fun. <_<

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Sometime about a year and a half ago or so, there was a Geocaching Newsletter item which gave the "3 Rules of Geocaching" as:

1. Find the container

2. Sign the paper log

3. Log it online

 

Simple enough for everyone to understand, I think.

 

My thoughts for your list: (as to caches with physical containers)

 

1. The finder located the physical container or was on site to visit an earthcache or virtual.

Obviously a requirement If you find the container (like if it is missing), how do expect to claim a find. Visiting the location of a missing container is not a find, neither is visiting the location and not finding the cache.

 

2. The finder signed the log if it was possible to do so and, if not, documented evidence of the find.

No mark on the log, no find. - If I can see the container up the tree, but am physically unable to climb, that is not a find for me.

 

3. The find was made without overwhelming assistance from others.

Doesn't matter If I am given the coords to a puzzle, then go sign the paper, it is a find.

 

4. The find was made by following any specific rules in the cache description.

ALR (Additional Logging Requirements - specific 'rules' by the cache owner) not allowed (except Challenge type)

 

5. The find was publically available when claimed.

Doesn't matter. If my name is on the paper, I found it. I have found caches by accident weeks before they were published here)

 

6. The find was not a cache placed by the finder.

Obviously one shouldn't claim a find on something they hid. (Although some CO have DNF their own cache due to cache migration or finders re-hiding it differently.)

 

7. The find was not previously discovered by the finder.

Some cache types were designed to be found and logged more than once, like the various Traveling caches still out there.

 

- First to Find is not a special honor, it is simply a factual occurrence. You're either first, or you're not.

 

Additional cache type you didn't mention:

 

- Webcam caches - finder must take photo via the webcam, not a selfie at the location nor a photo of the actual webcam.

- Event caches (non-CITO) - Finder need only attend the event, not participate in certain activities to claim the find.

- CITO Events - Finder should participate in the activity of the CITO (usually clean-up of a particular location), and for my definition participation may be as simple as providing trashbags or drinks instead of actually picking up litter.

- Challenge caches - Complete the required caching activities (jump through the ALR hoops) prior to claiming the find online.

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Part of the reason I like this game is because I'm not in competition with anyone else. My finds are my finds, your finds are yours.

 

I love watching my numbers grow, but I pay little attention to how anyone else's grow.

 

As long as I am logging the caches in the way I feel is OK, and the CO doesn't care, than that is how the game should be played.

 

For those of you who feel this game is a contest between players, and want consistency and fairness, that's good, that's how you play. But geocaching was not and is not set up to be a competitive sport.

 

As long as I'm consistent to my own way of playing, it should not affect your way of play.

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It's a nice list, and covers many points often debated here. It is one person's view, but there will be lots of agreement on some points, but not total consensus.

 

I don't think such a list is needed, but my views on it:

 

The 7 commandments I broadly agree with, but not as strict rules. More like guidelines...

 

Some of your points I don't agree with.

 

- Can't sign for others: When caching in a group, it is common to have one person sign for all, and in general I don't see an issue with that.

 

- Team/family accounts: I don't see any issue with the "Smith Family" having one account where either Mr or Mrs Smith sign the log. I don't agree that all members of the family need to be together for each find, or get their own accounts

 

- If you get lucky and find a cache which is not published, you got lucky, you found it. So that is an exception to "5. The find was publically available when claimed." in my view.

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2. The finder signed the log if it was possible to do so and, if not, documented evidence of the find.

No mark on the log, no find. - If I can see the container up the tree, but am physically unable to climb, that is not a find for me.

 

3. The find was made without overwhelming assistance from others.

Doesn't matter If I am given the coords to a puzzle, then go sign the paper, it is a find.

 

 

Isn't that pretty inconsistent? What's the difference between sending someone else up the tree and let the container bring to ground level

to sign the log and being given the coordinates of a puzzle cache? Just to be clear, none of the two conforms with my own approach to geocaching.

 

I will never understand why so many T5 cachers (I'm not referring to a specific person and I have no knowledge what caches you are able to do)

think that 3 is perfectly ok while they have a big issue if someone is not climbing up a tree and gets help for this part.

 

From the point of view of Groundspeak's rules it is only signing the log book that plays a role, so also from that point of view there should not

be a difference where the help is used. From the point of view of a consistent approach, I either expect someone to be on the "help is ok" side or on the

"help is not ok" side, but not on side for physical challenges and on another for intellectual challenges.

 

 

Cezanne

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Your criteria for an ethical find seems fine as a standard for yourself. Extending such a list to other geocachers, however, would be very problematic.

 

One of the nice features of geocaching is the extent to which individuals can tailor the activity to their own personal tastes. I frequently enjoy caching with others, even if they discover the cache before I do (#1). When I'm with a group, we usually consider it courteous to offer to sign the log for others in that group (#2). I might want to place a gift for someone in a cache and give them the coordinates before making it public (#5), even if that might upset some people playing the FTF side game. I've often walked across ice to island caches that were intended to be found with a boat (#4).

 

While these deviations might violate your ethical standards, I don't believe they run counter to the spirit of geocaching. I suspect the spirit of geocaching is more flexible than you imagine...although I don't think it's unlimited.

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Some of the most fun I have caching is when I take my parents along. They don't have an account and only go when I'm visiting. My dad loves trying to find the cache before I do, and we have a lot of laughs over who spots it first. You're saying I shouldn't log a find if he's the one to find it? If I was forced to adhere to that rule, it would take a lot of fun out of my caching experience, when fun is the whole point.

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What do you mean by too strict?

Guideline #7, for example, is extremely strict: "The find was not previously discovered by the finder." It would forbid multiple finds for:

 

  • Events that recycle their GC Code each month (e.g., GCR999).
     
  • Grandfathered locationless caches (e.g., GC43F3).
     
  • Grandfathered moving caches (e.g., GCA0D6).

 

Guideline #2 is very strict as well: "The finder signed the log if it was possible to do so and, if not, documented evidence of the find."

 

If a group of geocachers find a cache (perhaps using the Huckle-Buckle-Beanstock method to abide by your Guideline #1), why would anyone object to a single member of that group signing the log for other members? In some cases, it might even make sense to save log space by signing with a team name instead of individual signatures.

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I'll agree with you in that the rules can be vague. I think that the rules of Geocaching are almost deceptively simple and yet they are fraught with personal preferences and unwritten rules. I think you've got some good suggestions here, although I do disagree with a few of them simply because of the logistics involved. This isn't me trying to be petty: I'm just trying to further the discussion.

 

1. The finder located the physical container or was on site to visit an earthcache or virtual.

2. The finder signed the log if it was possible to do so and, if not, documented evidence of the find.

 

I agree with these but I think that #2 could be a bit problematic. Typically signing the log is considered the only way to truly make a find. Something needs to happen to verify that you've made a find and signing is what Groundspeak lists as the requirement. Maybe that's where your documented evidence of the find comes in, although I could see this being disputed as a legitimate find if it doesn't involve a log being signed.

 

3. The find was made without overwhelming assistance from others.

I think this is problematic because it is so open to interpretation. If I'm caching with a friend and I spot the cache, does my friend get to count the find? What if I DNF a find and a CO gives me some guidance, plays hot/cold, or tells me the location to check on it. What if the cache has been placed out in the open by a muggle and I run across it while searching. Again, this rule just seems too subjective and problematic for the way people play the game.

 

4. The find was made by following any specific rules in the cache description.

 

Again- what rules could someone make that would need to be followed? I could see this applying to a challenge cache but I couldn't see many other uses for this rule due to the banning of additional logging requirements.

 

5. The find was publicly available when claimed.

I assume you're referencing finding a cache that hasn't been published yet, is not on Groundspeak (maybe archived or deactivated here but listed on another site), or currently archived/ deactivated?

 

6. The find was not a cache placed by the finder.

This makes sense. Unless of a severe case of muggleitis you can't really find your own cache, can you?

7. The find was not previously discovered by the finder.

Makes sense, again. If a cache container, location, or hiding style changes significantly, it should just be archived and relisted as a new cache.

 

Commonly experienced issues (in no particular order):

 

Sharing information – A find is not legitimate if the finder received so much help that the cache is no longer truly hidden (#3). For regular caches, this would mean being told or shown exactly where the cache is. For puzzle caches, this would mean being given the coordinates directly or being given so much help that there is no puzzle to solve. Seeking assistance is okay. But both the seeker and giver of information should make sure that there is something legitimately left for the finder to discover.

 

Manipulating checking software – Some puzzle caches have coordinate checking programs, such as geochecker.com. Finders should not attempt to circumvent solving a puzzle by, for instance, trying a long list of possible coordinates until receiving the correct coordinates. This aspect is most closely related to point #4 above. The goal of puzzle caches is to solve the puzzle, not just to get to the coordinates as easily as possible.

 

Once again, this seems too open to interpretation and impossible to track. I'm not in favor of couch logging for virtuals or TB's at all, but if someone finds the cache through whatever means and signs the log, I say give it to them.

 

Signing for others / having others sign for you – It is not legitimate to sign another finder’s name or to have someone else sign a cache for you (#1, 2). Relatedly, if a cache is in a difficult location (e.g., in a tree or under water), it is not legitimate for someone else to bring you the cache for you to sign (#3, 4). Serving as a member of the ground crew on a 5/5 does not entitle you to claim a find. To summarize: If you are unable to retrieve and sign a cache in the way intended by the owner without overwhelming help from others, then you should not claim a find.

 

I see what you're saying if the challenge is something physical but once again, if caching in a group or with a friend should everyone climb the tree individually? Does the first person put the cache back in the tree for the next person? If I\m signing a LPC while sitting in the car does everyone have to sign their own name or can I sign for someone else who is present and helped with the search? I'm not in favor of leapfrogging, but if I'm signing a standard nano I find it pretty common for one person to write other people's names. I also cache with a differently-abled friend and often have to provide some assistance. Are his finds invalid because I helped write his name on a piece of paper that was too small even though he came out, hiked the hike, and helped make the find and open the cache?

 

Shared accounts – Sharing a geocaching account with others is likely to be problematic because of the high potential to violate one or more of the above principles. For example, if another person under your account claims a find when you aren’t there, you’re violating #1-3. Finders who are active should have separate accounts. Families with young children caching under the same account would be advised to create separate accounts if grown children decide to continue in the hobby separately.

 

First to find (FTF) etiquette – FTF is a special honor and should be treated as such. Thus, FTFers should be particularly reluctant to request help from the cache owner, and similarly the cache owner should be reluctant to provide help (#3). Exceptions would include correcting errant coordinates or mistakes in a puzzle. Successful finds should be promptly logged to avoid providing undue hope to other eager finders.

 

FTF is cool and all, but I don't see any reason to add in a "promptly logged" condition. I don't own a smart phone. I try to log my caches on the day I find them (typically without fail as I'm so excited) but a cache I find at 8am on a Saturday morning might not be logged until late that night.

 

Logging – Found caches should be claimed for the actual date of the find (#7). It is not appropriate to continue a found streak by logging a find at a later date. Failing to find a cache should be accompanied by a DNF log on the cache. There’s no shame admitting you did not find the cache and doing so may alert others if the cache is actually missing.

 

Agreed. DNF's are really helpful.

 

Self smilies – You aren’t finding a cache if you already know where it is because you placed it (#6).

 

Damaged or missing caches – If a cache has a log that cannot be signed, it is permissible to claim a find provided you document your find. Documenting could mean taking a picture of the cache. Better still would be to replace the ruined log with a fresh one. If a cache appears to be missing, it is not permissible to “throw down a replacement” unless there is additional evidence that the cache is missing. Such evidence may include several recent logged DNFs or difficulty ratings or other information in the description that would support your belief. In the end, the best strategy is to report a DNF and to request maintenance needed from the CO.

 

I think changing logs should always be permitted (still let the owner know) since we're looking for containers outside. Stuff gets wet and damp, you know? Not so sure about any kind of throwdowns. They're just too problematic. I'm amazed that some folks get upset when you log a NM on their cache. Even if you're a good CO who maintains your stuff, caches break. I've heard a lot of bizarre rumors about NM logs from owners, so maybe Groundspeak needs to do some education on this.

 

Virtual virtuals – Finders should have to visit the location of the virtual in order to claim a find (#1). Same for earthcaches.

 

Amen.

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The existing rules don't describe what makes a find. They don't deal with ethics at all. They only describe under what conditions a CO can reject a find. That determination is objective, and it divides the remaining issues into those the CO can decide and those the seeker can decide.

 

In the objective cases where the CO is allowed to reject the find, he's left free to allow it anyway when the issues you discuss come up. In the other cases where the CO could not reject the find, the seeker is left to determine for himself whether he got "too much" help or whatever.

 

The only ethical question anyone should be asking is, "Am I making it harder for someone else to have fun?" While not your intention, that's exactly what your rules try to do: if anyone anywhere "has fun wrong", they should be declared unethical. I see no value in that. The puzzle cache is just as much fun for me no matter how many people subvert the puzzle.

 

As it happens, most of the suggestions you make I already follow. I mention that because it's too easy to see people disagreeing with your list as wanting to be free to do the things you don't want them to. I already do those things, and I want to encourage others to do them, but only because I think it makes the game more fun for them, not because I want to hold them to my ethical standard.

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It's a cliche to say that we play the game our own way, but the things that are important to me about the game - and my ethics - are not necessarily yours. I don't consider signing a blank log to be a special honor or something to claim - I never use the three initials in a log - but when I have come across a container before it was published, I log it as a find. If I am in a group, I don't insist on personally signing the log or avoiding overwhelming assistance.

 

I have certain boundaries - I make sure that I have completed the logging tasks for earthcaches, virtuals, webcams, and challenges before logging them online, but if there are requirements that go beyond the guidelines, I feel free to ignore them. The search and the find are probably the least interesting things about this game to me, so I don't worry about what anybody else might define legitimacy.

 

Life is complicated enough. This game need not be.

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Some interesting comments so far (thanks). I see now that I should have provided more/better examples for a few things. I was not implying that taking a picture of a cache up in a tree should count as a find. I was meaning cases in which the log was too wet to sign. etc. I was also not meaning these as rules for COs to exclude finds or to bump up competition. They were meant as guidelines (thanks red sox mark) for self-policing.

 

To those who interpret what I'm saying as trying to limit fun, well, no, that's not the goal. The goal is to flesh out some standards for the hobby. Why do that? To reduce misunderstandings that cause hard feelings. To help newbies understand what to do and not do. Etc. These are good things, right? For those who like to "do it their own way," I'd ask what other sport/ hobby / activity operates without some standards? I believe people have more fun when they know the rules of the game.

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Some interesting comments so far (thanks). I see now that I should have provided more/better examples for a few things. I was not implying that taking a picture of a cache up in a tree should count as a find. I was meaning cases in which the log was too wet to sign. etc. I was also not meaning these as rules for COs to exclude finds or to bump up competition. They were meant as guidelines (thanks red sox mark) for self-policing.

 

To those who interpret what I'm saying as trying to limit fun, well, no, that's not the goal. The goal is to flesh out some standards for the hobby. Why do that? To reduce misunderstandings that cause hard feelings. To help newbies understand what to do and not do. Etc. These are good things, right? For those who like to "do it their own way," I'd ask what other sport/ hobby / activity operates without some standards? I believe people have more fun when they know the rules of the game.

 

We already have standards.

 

We don't need subjective "ethics."

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There are two official sources for logging standards. The first is found in the Guidelines:

 

1. Logging of All Physical Geocaches

 

Physical caches can be logged online as "Found" once the physical log has been signed.

 

An exception is Challenge Caches, which may only be logged online after the log is signed and the challenge tasks have been met and documented to the cache owner as per instructions on the published listing. Other than documenting a Challenge Cache, physical caches cannot require geocachers to contact anyone.

 

For physical caches all logging requirements beyond finding the cache and signing the log are considered additional logging requirements (ALRs) and must be optional. Cache finders can choose whether or not to attempt or accomplish such tasks. [Transition rules snipped]

 

2. Logging of Non-Physical Geocaches

 

1. EarthCache Logging Guidelines

 

EarthCaches are designed to be educational, so visitors will be asked to log an aspect of their visit that demonstrates they have learned something at the site. Unlike physical caches, where "additional logging requirements" are optional, an EarthCache requires geocachers to comply with all instructions in order to log the cache online. See EarthCache.org for more comprehensive EarthCache logging guidelines, including that photographic logs must be optional for all EarthCaches.

 

2. Virtual Cache Logging Guidelines

 

A cacher must visit the location of the virtual cache site to log the cache online. Logging a virtual cache requires compliance with the requirements detailed on the cache listing. These logging requirements could include emailing the cache owner to provide the required answers or posting photographs. Neither answers to questions nor hints should be placed in the logs, even if encrypted.

 

3. Webcam Cache Logging Guidelines

 

A webcam cache can only be logged with a photograph taken from the webcam associated with the cache page.

 

4. Event Cache Logging Guidelines

 

Any Event Cache (including Mega, Giga and CITO Events) can be logged online if the geocacher has attended the event. Event Cache owners can request that cachers sign a logbook, but this is optional and cannot be a requirement for logging an Event Cache.

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I'd ask what other sport/ hobby / activity operates without some standards? I believe people have more fun when they know the rules of the game.

 

But the only verifiable criteria for finding a cache is that there's a name on the bit of paper. You can set all the rules/standards you like about not being passed the log, finding the cache without any help etc, but none of that can be proven in any way, so what's the point trying to implement such rules?

 

I have my standards which, for example, mean if I'm caching with a group and one of the group finds it behind a tree while I'm looking behind a rock then I still claim a find, but if someone goes up a tree to retrieve the cache and passes it down then I don't claim it; and I don't particularly care what personal standards others apply to their own game.

 

As for other activities, I would suggest trainspotting & birdwatching - I guess that their rule is you see the train/bird and you can tick it off, I doubt they have rules saying it doesn't count if someone tells you where to look for the Lesser Spotted Bandersnatch sitting in a tree.

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:drama:

 

I disagree with your positions on "Signing for others / having others sign for you", "shared accounts", and "FTF Etiquette". They're too strict.

 

For those and for the others: how would these be enforced? I think that they're followed about as much as they can be without external enforcement - and I'd hate to see more enforcement than we have already.

 

I agree with the OPs position on "Signing for others". As we all know, the guidelines indicate that if you're name is on the log sheet you can log the cache as found. That language is frequently treated as a loophole. If someone else climbs a tree, locates a container and puts your name on the log sheet, the language in the guideline allows you to post a Found it log, even thought you didn't *technically* find the cache. Maybe you're standing at the base of the tree, or even gave the person that climbed it a boost. If you (the general you) consider that to be a valid find, would it be any different if someone went up into a tree a thousand miles away, found a container and wrote your name in the log? This loophole has also frequently been taken advantage of when putting together an adhoc team, splitting up the members to "find" different caches, each stamping the "team name", and then having everyone on the team log finds for all the caches found by a member of the team. The guideline allows everyone to log a find, even if someone wasn't even close to the actual cache location.

 

Ethics should not need to be enforced. Something that is unethical does not become ethical if it's unenforceable.

 

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Some interesting comments so far (thanks). I see now that I should have provided more/better examples for a few things. I was not implying that taking a picture of a cache up in a tree should count as a find. I was meaning cases in which the log was too wet to sign. etc. I was also not meaning these as rules for COs to exclude finds or to bump up competition. They were meant as guidelines (thanks red sox mark) for self-policing.

 

To those who interpret what I'm saying as trying to limit fun, well, no, that's not the goal. The goal is to flesh out some standards for the hobby. Why do that? To reduce misunderstandings that cause hard feelings. To help newbies understand what to do and not do. Etc. These are good things, right? For those who like to "do it their own way," I'd ask what other sport/ hobby / activity operates without some standards? I believe people have more fun when they know the rules of the game.

I agree and proposed better standards back in 2005. Those didn't fair much better.

 

This is a light fun game. It's not a competition. The online log is not the goal. Getting out and having fun is the goal. Some people have more fun caching solo and feeling a sense of accomplishment that they found somthing. Some have more fun just socializing with friends as they join forces to find caches. Sure, some seem to have fun when they can yell "Woohoo! I got another smiley" and log online. Different people may have a different opinion of what constitutes a find.

 

I know someone will point to 3rd party statistics sites or even Geocaching.com statisics showing the number of finds, when I post this quote from a wise man

Bickering over the rules of a cache "find" was never the intent of Geocaching.com. There's no prize, no leaderboard, and no trophy, so there's no reason to get your knickers in a twist about anyone else's definition of a find.

Edited by tozainamboku
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If someone else climbs a tree, locates a container and puts your name on the log sheet, the language in the guideline allows you to post a Found it log, even thought you didn't *technically* find the cache. Maybe you're standing at the base of the tree, or even gave the person that climbed it a boost.

 

I said before that I do not log a find for caches I need help to retrieve the container which then allows me to sign myself (typically such caches are well visible and of course I found them in the sense of seeing them).

 

However I do not think that claiming a found it log for a puzzle cache someone has not solved is any different from the situation where someone lets the tree climb do someone else. In both cases not the whole mission has been completed by the logging cacher and in both cases the log book is signed by the logging cacher.

Edited by cezanne
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I've been in the hobby for a year and half
Welcome!

 

Readers may disagree and formulate alternative answers or suggest other aspects I’ve not anticipated. Those are welcome possibilities.
Oh, good. Then here we go...

 

2. The finder signed the log if it was possible to do so and, if not, documented evidence of the find.
How narrowly are you defining "the finder"? On group trips, it is common for one person to sign for everyone, either signing the geocaching names for everyone present, or signing an informal team name used just for that trip (e.g., "GBA ECR" or "GBA Kayakers" or "Karl's Krew"). Some group trips even create a self-inking stamp to sign the logs.

 

3. The find was made without overwhelming assistance from others.
How narrowly are you defining "overwhelming assistance"? For that matter, how narrowly are you defining "the find"? Some group trips use the huckle buckle beanstalk method, where each person gets the opportunity to spot the hide unassisted. Others use the three musketeers method, where the first person to spot the hide declares victory for everyone present. Others are somewhere in the middle. And a few might even use a "sudden death" method where only the first person to spot the hide will post an online Find log, although that method is pretty rare from what I can see.

 

4. The find was made by following any specific rules in the cache description.
Unless those "specific rules" are actually Additional Logging Requirements, which are prohibited by the guidelines.

 

5. The find was publically available when claimed.
How narrowly are you defining "publicly available"? Are you objecting to people who find caches before they're published on geocaching.com (or any other specific listing site)? Or are you objecting to people who sign the logs of caches that are sitting on their friend's kitchen table, before they've been hidden?

 

6. The find was not a cache placed by the finder.
I've known cache owners who have DNFed their own caches, thanks to cache migration. If they can DNF their own caches, then there might be situations where they would need to Find their own caches. I wouldn't log a Find on one of my own caches, but I can see how someone else might.

 

7. The find was not previously discovered by the finder.
As mentioned before, there are caches that are intended to be found multiple times.

 

Shared accounts – Sharing a geocaching account with others is likely to be problematic because of the high potential to violate one or more of the above principles.
Shared accounts have worked just fine for the couples and families that I know who use them. There has been nothing problematic about them. (Otherwise, they would have created separate accounts already.) And yes, sometime only one or the other finds any given cache. So what?

 

First to find (FTF) etiquette – FTF is a special honor and should be treated as such.
FTF is a simple statement of fact, just like any other find, and should be treated as such.
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The problem with publishing an ethics document is that it is, by definition, subjective. The only objective rules are what Groundspeak says are valid or not. Beyond that, there could be any number of 'ethics' employed by people worldwide, so publishing one merely introduces the potential for arguments and anger.

 

The reason Groundspeaks rules are so open and flexible is fundamentally because the only enforceable rules are verifiable rules, and the nature of this game is so individualistic that defining a ruleset so specific would be impossible without heavy arbitration on Groundspeak's part. As it stands, Groundspeak already passes off much of the decision making to the CO because they are the next best 'authority' on the activity that took place where the cache is located.

 

And so, as it pertains to logging a find online, the only (arguably) verifiable parameter is whether a user's name is in the log book - and even then it's presumed that the CO is acting respectably, and even then the CO may still decide whether exceptions can be granted for an online find log.

 

At best, instead of an ethics document saying some action is right and some action is wrong, there should simply be suggested guidelines for the generally accepted activity of geocaching, not to be taken as rules set in stone, but merely as what is generally considered in the activity of "geocaching", while explaining that the activities vary so much just within the range of geocache and geocaching styles as well as over various regions around the world.

 

Objective rules are few, for good reason.

 

Subjective ethics cannot be enforced, and can easily cause divisions and negativity when promoted as the definition of "right" and "wrong".

Edited by thebruce0
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A second source of authority for logging practices are the articles in the Help Center, or "Groundspeak Knowledge Books." I will quote some things relevant to the discussion, but ProfBrad, if you've not read through this resource library, it is good stuff to consume on a day that's too cold for caching.

 

From "What log type should I use?"

 

Found It

 

Use if you found a geocache and physically signed the log sheet. Share your story and pictures. You can help future finders out by letting them know if the coordinates were off for you (because of trees, building bounce, etc) by stating where it was that you found the geocache (ex: 30 feet NW of GZ), or that you replaced a full log book for the cache owner, or that the container or place you found it didn't quite match the hint, or that you had the most amazing pie right across the street from the geocache - this is all stuff that will help future finders.

 

Didn't Find It (aka: DNF)

 

Use if you looked for a geocache and you couldn't find it. Share your story and let others know if you were able to see evidence of a critter making off with or destroying the geocache (half eaten lids), muggle activity (swag all spread out outside the geocache), or if you were just off your "caching game" for the day. It's best to remain humble in a DNF log - because we've learned that the geocache is most likely there...staring at you, mocking you, and waiting for you to come back and try again.

 

Bad example of a DNF: It's not there - I looked and looked...geocache is gone.

 

Good example of a DNF: Bummer! We looked and looked for this one today. Guess we'll have to come back and try again another day.

 

It is important to post a DNF. If a cache owner sees a string of DNFs on the geocache page they will usually check to see if it is still there. Also, it will alert other finders of the possibility that the geocache either is missing or super tough to find.

 

Please also see the article about Log Deletion. For a "regular" cache (not a challenge, virtual, earthcache or event) it basically comes down to "is the geocacher's name signed in the physical logbook?" If yes, they can log an online find. That is very simple, and everything else is non-binding etiquette and personal ethics. Keeping it simple allows for people with different standards to co-exist in the playing field, since geocaching is not intended to be a competition.

 

For example, my personal ethics as a player mean that I never use the "phone a friend" option. On rare occasions, I might write to a cache owner after already logging a DNF on my first visit. But, I recognize that many other geocachers regard "phone a friend" as part of the social fun of geocaching. I don't let it bother me when someone mentions they needed to contact a prior finder in order to locate one of my hidden caches. I'm just glad they went to the location and found it.

 

My personal ethics are largely aligned with what is in the Opening Post. Once I stopped worrying about other geocachers' differing standards, the game got a lot more fun for me. I believe that the Groundspeak guidelines are designed to encourage this approach.

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Signing for others / having others sign for you – It is not legitimate to sign another finder’s name or to have someone else sign a cache for you (#1, 2). Relatedly, if a cache is in a difficult location (e.g., in a tree or under water), it is not legitimate for someone else to bring you the cache for you to sign (#3, 4). Serving as a member of the ground crew on a 5/5 does not entitle you to claim a find. To summarize: If you are unable to retrieve and sign a cache in the way intended by the owner without overwhelming help from others, then you should not claim a find.

As most, these "ethics" you're spouting are of your opinion.

 

When we have friends with us while climbing, rappelling, diving (whatever...) we appreciate that we're all working as a team.

Just something as simple as untangling/rewinding my throwline makes the day a bit easier for me.

Others might gather gear or take pics - all part of the team.

I'm more than happy to share that find, by dropping them the log and replacing it myself.

- And it's allowed by Groundspeak.

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I think a problem is that someone with looser ethics may not like being called "wrong" or a "cheater" when someone with tighter ethics speaks out.

And that someone with tighter ethics has a hard time explaining their personal ethics without sounding "pompous" or "elitist" when they describe their caching style.

 

So tempers flare when one person's ethics (spoken in the context of 'right and wrong' as opposed to 'how I prefer to play') clash with another's.

 

Once I stopped worrying about other geocachers' differing standards, the game got a lot more fun for me. I believe that the Groundspeak guidelines are designed to encourage this approach.

Very much this.

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Shared accounts – Sharing a geocaching account with others is likely to be problematic because of the high potential to violate one or more of the above principles.
Shared accounts have worked just fine for the couples and families that I know who use them. There has been nothing problematic about them. (Otherwise, they would have created separate accounts already.) And yes, sometime only one or the other finds any given cache. So what?

Yep.

Over ten years now. If something ever became "problematic", we woulda fixed it by now...

Most couples and families in my area have the same type of account as we do - shared.

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For those who like to "do it their own way," I'd ask what other sport/ hobby / activity operates without some standards? I believe people have more fun when they know the rules of the game.

 

This is a game and over the years I have found nearly all games have "house rules", or different rules in different areas.

 

When learning to play Mexican Train for example. We went on line for some clarification of some of the rules, and found many web sites with differing rules. When I was in the Navy, we often had to figure out the difference in rules and agree on how to play before we got very far into some games.

 

Geocaching is just a game. As long as I am consistent in the way I play, and if going out with others we agree on how we will play that day, than everything is good.

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If someone else climbs a tree, locates a container and puts your name on the log sheet, the language in the guideline allows you to post a Found it log, even thought you didn't *technically* find the cache. Maybe you're standing at the base of the tree, or even gave the person that climbed it a boost.

If you (the general you) consider that to be a valid find, would it be any different if someone went up into a tree a thousand miles away, found a container and wrote your name in the log?

Two completely different subjects. You truly don't see a difference?

One, folks are at GZ, working as a team for the find.

The other, just fake logging finds for others.

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Some interesting comments so far (thanks). I see now that I should have provided more/better examples for a few things. I was not implying that taking a picture of a cache up in a tree should count as a find. I was meaning cases in which the log was too wet to sign. etc. I was also not meaning these as rules for COs to exclude finds or to bump up competition. They were meant as guidelines (thanks red sox mark) for self-policing.

 

To those who interpret what I'm saying as trying to limit fun, well, no, that's not the goal. The goal is to flesh out some standards for the hobby. Why do that? To reduce misunderstandings that cause hard feelings. To help newbies understand what to do and not do. Etc. These are good things, right? For those who like to "do it their own way," I'd ask what other sport/ hobby / activity operates without some standards? I believe people have more fun when they know the rules of the game.

I agree and proposed better standards back in 2005. Those didn't fair much better.

 

This is a light fun game. It's not a competition. The online log is not the goal. Getting out and having fun is the goal. Some people have more fun caching solo and feeling a sense of accomplishment that they found somthing. Some have more fun just socializing with friends as they join forces to find caches. Sure, some seem to have fun when they can yell "Woohoo! I got another smiley" and log online. Different people may have a different opinion of what constitutes a find.

 

I know someone will point to 3rd party statistics sites or even Geocaching.com statisics showing the number of finds, when I post this quote from a wise man

Bickering over the rules of a cache "find" was never the intent of Geocaching.com. There's no prize, no leaderboard, and no trophy, so there's no reason to get your knickers in a twist about anyone else's definition of a find.

You forgot this>>>>:mmraspberry:

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Shared accounts – Sharing a geocaching account with others is likely to be problematic because of the high potential to violate one or more of the above principles. For example, if another person under your account claims a find when you aren’t there, you’re violating #1-3. Finders who are active should have separate accounts. Families with young children caching under the same account would be advised to create separate accounts if grown children decide to continue in the hobby separately.

I suspect that what you find problematic about shared accounts (and the violations of several of your principles) is that they make it difficult to compare find counts across accounts. It's easier for a multi-person account to find 1,000 caches than it is for a single-person account, so it's like comparing apples to oranges.

 

The thing is, geocaching is designed to allow both apples and oranges to exist. A find for one person (or one account) can mean something quite different than a find for another person/account. And that's good. It allows different people to enjoy this activity in different ways.

 

To those who interpret what I'm saying as trying to limit fun, well, no, that's not the goal. The goal is to flesh out some standards for the hobby. Why do that? To reduce misunderstandings that cause hard feelings.

Trying to impose your individual standards on someone else often causes hard feelings and limits fun.

 

Yes, at some point certain "geocaching" behaviors cease to fall under the commonly accepted understanding of what constitutes geocaching (e.g., armchair caching). But those extreme behaviors are way beyond the scope of what you're discussing.

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For those who like to "do it their own way," I'd ask what other sport/ hobby / activity operates without some standards?

Someone else mentioned birdwatching, and it's not a bad analogy. For example, if someone says that they spotted a New Caledonian owlet-nightjar when they really didn't, who does it really affect? Does it really matter to anyone else? Similarly, if someone says they found a cache when they really didn't, or found it under "questionable" circumstances (in relation to your documented guidelines), why does it really matter? In my opinion, as long as a log meets the criteria outlined by Groundspeak, the circumstances surrounding the find don't put the future of the cache or geocaching in jeopardy, and both the finder and hider are fine with it, then all's good. Other people with differing opinions may roll their eyes at a log if it doesn't fit their personal ethos, but beyond that...

Bickering over the rules of a cache "find" was never the intent of Geocaching.com. There's no prize, no leaderboard, and no trophy, so there's no reason to get your knickers in a twist about anyone else's definition of a find.

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Trying to impose your individual standards on someone else often causes hard feelings and limits fun.

 

True to some extent, but on the other I need to admit that I have serious issues with the statement "Everyone can play as they want".

It ruins my enjoyment as a cache hider enormously how some finders behave. I'm not hiding hiking and puzzle caches for those who abuse my caches as traditionals. All what my caches are about happens before finding the container and I would not invest even 5 minutes to appeal provide a further container for those to find for whom it is about searching for containers and who do not care for anything else.

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:drama:

 

I disagree with your positions on "Signing for others / having others sign for you", "shared accounts", and "FTF Etiquette". They're too strict.

 

For those and for the others: how would these be enforced? I think that they're followed about as much as they can be without external enforcement - and I'd hate to see more enforcement than we have already.

 

I agree with the OPs position on "Signing for others". As we all know, the guidelines indicate that if you're name is on the log sheet you can log the cache as found. That language is frequently treated as a loophole. If someone else climbs a tree, locates a container and puts your name on the log sheet, the language in the guideline allows you to post a Found it log, even thought you didn't *technically* find the cache. Maybe you're standing at the base of the tree, or even gave the person that climbed it a boost. If you (the general you) consider that to be a valid find, would it be any different if someone went up into a tree a thousand miles away, found a container and wrote your name in the log? This loophole has also frequently been taken advantage of when putting together an adhoc team, splitting up the members to "find" different caches, each stamping the "team name", and then having everyone on the team log finds for all the caches found by a member of the team. The guideline allows everyone to log a find, even if someone wasn't even close to the actual cache location.

 

Ethics should not need to be enforced. Something that is unethical does not become ethical if it's unenforceable.

 

I have no problem with another person signing my name, while i'm in his/her presence, in a logbook on caches that i can reach myself. Someone else writing my name in a log in a cache that i cannot reach myself, is not a find for me. You climbing a tree and dropping a cache down to me is not a find in my book. I'll make the climb myself and reach the cache or it'll be a DNF. This is one of those things that's very easy to figure out, at least for me.

 

I agree with your last line for sure. Just because no one is watching, or enforcing, doesn't mean it's ok. Unfortunately, ethics are pretty much out the window for many people these days.

 

As far as the OP's opening post, i have to say that i agree with just about everything stated. Those statements pretty much cover the way i geocache. Many of the things mentioned are practical, and if they happened to be followed, would make our game more fluent and help to alleviate some of the angst that comes up from time to time. Unfortunately, the lack of respect, lack of ethics, and the sense of entitlement for many, get in the way, making it unrealistic to try and enforce most of the things the OP has suggested. I think too many people would get upset and quit if they were told they should try to do things the right way. GC.com is not about to stir that pot!

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:drama:

 

I disagree with your positions on "Signing for others / having others sign for you", "shared accounts", and "FTF Etiquette". They're too strict.

 

For those and for the others: how would these be enforced? I think that they're followed about as much as they can be without external enforcement - and I'd hate to see more enforcement than we have already.

 

I agree with the OPs position on "Signing for others". As we all know, the guidelines indicate that if you're name is on the log sheet you can log the cache as found. That language is frequently treated as a loophole. If someone else climbs a tree, locates a container and puts your name on the log sheet, the language in the guideline allows you to post a Found it log, even thought you didn't *technically* find the cache. Maybe you're standing at the base of the tree, or even gave the person that climbed it a boost. If you (the general you) consider that to be a valid find, would it be any different if someone went up into a tree a thousand miles away, found a container and wrote your name in the log? This loophole has also frequently been taken advantage of when putting together an adhoc team, splitting up the members to "find" different caches, each stamping the "team name", and then having everyone on the team log finds for all the caches found by a member of the team. The guideline allows everyone to log a find, even if someone wasn't even close to the actual cache location.

 

Ethics should not need to be enforced. Something that is unethical does not become ethical if it's unenforceable.

 

I have no problem with another person signing my name, while i'm in his/her presence, in a logbook on caches that i can reach myself. Someone else writing my name in a log in a cache that i cannot reach myself, is not a find for me. You climbing a tree and dropping a cache down to me is not a find in my book. I'll make the climb myself and reach the cache or it'll be a DNF. This is one of those things that's very easy to figure out, at least for me.

 

Exactly. If my mother, 3 feet away from me, has taken off her winter gloves to open and sign the cache that we both found on a fence post (an easy spot to reach), why can't I keep my fingers warm?

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Some interesting comments so far (thanks). I see now that I should have provided more/better examples for a few things. I was not implying that taking a picture of a cache up in a tree should count as a find. I was meaning cases in which the log was too wet to sign. etc. I was also not meaning these as rules for COs to exclude finds or to bump up competition. They were meant as guidelines (thanks red sox mark) for self-policing.

 

To those who interpret what I'm saying as trying to limit fun, well, no, that's not the goal. The goal is to flesh out some standards for the hobby. Why do that? To reduce misunderstandings that cause hard feelings. To help newbies understand what to do and not do. Etc. These are good things, right? For those who like to "do it their own way," I'd ask what other sport/ hobby / activity operates without some standards? I believe people have more fun when they know the rules of the game.

I agree and proposed better standards back in 2005. Those didn't fair much better.

 

This is a light fun game. It's not a competition. The online log is not the goal. Getting out and having fun is the goal. Some people have more fun caching solo and feeling a sense of accomplishment that they found somthing. Some have more fun just socializing with friends as they join forces to find caches. Sure, some seem to have fun when they can yell "Woohoo! I got another smiley" and log online. Different people may have a different opinion of what constitutes a find.

 

I know someone will point to 3rd party statistics sites or even Geocaching.com statisics showing the number of finds, when I post this quote from a wise man

Bickering over the rules of a cache "find" was never the intent of Geocaching.com. There's no prize, no leaderboard, and no trophy, so there's no reason to get your knickers in a twist about anyone else's definition of a find.

 

I don't know what made your rules "better." It looks like wat you were after was quite different.

 

Pointing out that this is a fun activity is not an argument against adopting some standards.

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There are two official sources for logging standards. The first is found in the Guidelines:

 

1. Logging of All Physical Geocaches

 

Physical caches can be logged online as "Found" once the physical log has been signed.

 

An exception is Challenge Caches, which may only be logged online after the log is signed and the challenge tasks have been met and documented to the cache owner as per instructions on the published listing. Other than documenting a Challenge Cache, physical caches cannot require geocachers to contact anyone.

 

For physical caches all logging requirements beyond finding the cache and signing the log are considered additional logging requirements (ALRs) and must be optional. Cache finders can choose whether or not to attempt or accomplish such tasks. [Transition rules snipped]

 

2. Logging of Non-Physical Geocaches

 

1. EarthCache Logging Guidelines

 

EarthCaches are designed to be educational, so visitors will be asked to log an aspect of their visit that demonstrates they have learned something at the site. Unlike physical caches, where "additional logging requirements" are optional, an EarthCache requires geocachers to comply with all instructions in order to log the cache online. See EarthCache.org for more comprehensive EarthCache logging guidelines, including that photographic logs must be optional for all EarthCaches.

 

2. Virtual Cache Logging Guidelines

 

A cacher must visit the location of the virtual cache site to log the cache online. Logging a virtual cache requires compliance with the requirements detailed on the cache listing. These logging requirements could include emailing the cache owner to provide the required answers or posting photographs. Neither answers to questions nor hints should be placed in the logs, even if encrypted.

 

3. Webcam Cache Logging Guidelines

 

A webcam cache can only be logged with a photograph taken from the webcam associated with the cache page.

 

4. Event Cache Logging Guidelines

 

Any Event Cache (including Mega, Giga and CITO Events) can be logged online if the geocacher has attended the event. Event Cache owners can request that cachers sign a logbook, but this is optional and cannot be a requirement for logging an Event Cache.

 

Thanks Keystone. While poorly placed on the website, these are useful. Interestingly, you omitted a line about the rules being changed in 2009. I'd be interested to learn the history behind the change. But even without knowing that, the fact that the rules have changed - at least once - should quiet those who are so adamant about whatever approach they take being within the rules. Maybe today, but maybe not tomorrow. But beyond that, how should we play?

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Shared accounts – Sharing a geocaching account with others is likely to be problematic because of the high potential to violate one or more of the above principles.
Shared accounts have worked just fine for the couples and families that I know who use them. There has been nothing problematic about them. (Otherwise, they would have created separate accounts already.) And yes, sometime only one or the other finds any given cache. So what?

Yep.

Over ten years now. If something ever became "problematic", we woulda fixed it by now...

Most couples and families in my area have the same type of account as we do - shared.

There are many historical examples of things being fixed after many more years than 10. Are you really arguing that things are perfect because people have been doing this for ten years? Come on.

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To those who interpret what I'm saying as trying to limit fun, well, no, that's not the goal.

I know it's not the goal, but when you present it as a question of ethics, it's the inevitable effect.

 

The goal is to flesh out some standards for the hobby.

And I think fleshing out standards for geocaching is a useless, if not bad, goal. The goal should be to make the hobby more fun. Apparently standards make something more fun for you, but not for everyone.

 

Why do that? To reduce misunderstandings that cause hard feelings.

But your proposal gives people more reasons to have hard feelings. In fact, I would say that in the game today, the biggest cause of hard feelings are one party or another thinking there's a standard where there isn't and shouldn't be one. The way to reduce hard feelings is to teach people that it's a question of fun, not to encourage them to think it only works if they follow standards.

 

To help newbies understand what to do and not do.

Helping newbies is great, but it's much better to do it by presenting the case for why these things make geocaching more fun, not as standards they should follow whether they understand why or not.

 

For those who like to "do it their own way," I'd ask what other sport/ hobby / activity operates without some standards?

Every sport I know of operates with the degree to which standards are followed being largely up to the individual. I think you're imagining sports played as official competitions and, of course, in that case, standards must be followed. But all sports are also played for fun, in which case you're free to pick and choose which standards to follow and how strictly. Even when you're playing with someone else, while the two of you need to agree, you can still agree to whatever you think will be the most fun.

 

I believe people have more fun when they know the rules of the game.

Interesting choice of words. The current rules of the game are "sign the log, claim the find". Everyone knows and can understand those rules. You're proposing expanding the rules with a bunch of complexity covering specific cases making something that is virtually impossible to remember even if we could even dream of agreeing on all of them. That's only fun for people that think haggling is fun.

 

And the bottom line is "who cares?" Whether someone else follows your rules would only be important if this is a competition, and if you're thinking of geocaching as a competition, you're doing it wrong.

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