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Release Notes - May 5, 2015

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When is the link to go back to the "Your Pocket Queries" screen from the pocket query configuration screens going to be put back? Currently the only way to do it is to either hit the back button or start over.

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I actually used to defend Groundspeak pretty vociferously regarding some of their decisions. Those days have long since passed. I guess I just need to start accepting that I'm no longer in the target demographic that drives all of their decisions, so my needs and desires as a non-smartphone cacher will not be met. :sad:

 

I reached that point a couple years ago. I have not hidden a cache for several years because I do wish to support GS with that activity. They can do what they want with their website, the past several changes have only increased the difficulty of use and once it gets really bad I'll quit.

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I guess I just need to start accepting that I'm no longer in the target demographic that drives all of their decisions, so my needs and desires as a non-smartphone cacher will not be met. :sad:

 

^^^^^

This

 

Mrs. Car54

 

That describes me, also. Of course, I'm in almost no one's target demographic anymore, except the funeral homes.

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I think none of us are in Groundspeak's target demographic: new sources of revenue.

 

Did I nail it? Groundspeak, please tell us.

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...so it's not that GS blocks contact of Unverified Members.

I would hope not, since that was the whole point behind creating the Message Center in the first place!

Can you verify that the "Send Message" link in fact works? Try to send a message: http://www.geocaching.com/profile/?guid=0dea764f-9379-4514-be4c-40f01a341063

 

All I get is an empty "link". It has no web address. I've tried it in FF, IE, and on my Android, in Chrome.

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The web link "send message" to an unverified member is malformed -- it doesn't include an HTTP address, so it's an empty "link" that's not clickable.
The link I see is a relative link: href="/account/messagecenter?..."

 

That's perfectly fine. When the protocol and server are not specified, they are assumed to be the same as on the current page. So, if the page with the link is http://www.geocaching.com/... then the link

href="/account/messagecenter?..." is equivalent to the link

href="http://www.geocaching.com/account/messagecenter?..."

What browser are you using? I certainly don't see what you're seeing. It's not really a link.

 

 

9d23be6f-3a94-4c3f-b622-0ae8bc1ed887.jpg

Edited by kunarion

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This is interesting. I have a questionable log on a puzzle from an "inactive the premium member" whatever that is, and of course the email address is not there, saying the feature is disabled because the member is inactive. The unexpected part is that just when we thought we knew the best use for the message center, this type of situation, the link doesn't work. It doesn't give an error and looks like a valid link, but nothing loads at all when you hit "send message".

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...so it's not that GS blocks contact of Unverified Members.

I would hope not, since that was the whole point behind creating the Message Center in the first place!

Can you verify that the "Send Message" link in fact works? Try to send a message: http://www.geocaching.com/profile/?guid=0dea764f-9379-4514-be4c-40f01a341063

 

All I get is an empty "link". It has no web address. I've tried it in FF, IE, and on my Android, in Chrome.

I agree, not working.

Maybe on purpose (for now), so nonvalidated members don't get pounded with a gazillion messages outta the blue?

Did you try that account to "Message this owner"?

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This is interesting. I have a questionable log on a puzzle from an "inactive the premium member" whatever that is, and of course the email address is not there, saying the feature is disabled because the member is inactive. The unexpected part is that just when we thought we knew the best use for the message center, this type of situation, the link doesn't work. It doesn't give an error and looks like a valid link, but nothing loads at all when you hit "send message".

See if you type the member's name into the Message Center directly, if it comes up that way. That's the only way I got it to work on the web site. It also works if typed into the Intro App. I'm guessing that odd link is an oversight. I'm beginning to think I'm not the only one who can't get that link to work. :laughing:

 

I'm curious to know if your message in the MC creates a dialog. That is, if a cold-called message is noticeable enough to cause a reply. Possibly the only way the member with your puzzle can communicate is within the App itself, when that member opens the App.

Edited by kunarion

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We are aware of the issue regarding the Send Message link not working for some users and we are working on it. No conspiracy, I promise. :)

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...so it's not that GS blocks contact of Unverified Members.

I would hope not, since that was the whole point behind creating the Message Center in the first place!

Can you verify that the "Send Message" link in fact works? Try to send a message: http://www.geocaching.com/profile/?guid=0dea764f-9379-4514-be4c-40f01a341063

 

All I get is an empty "link". It has no web address. I've tried it in FF, IE, and on my Android, in Chrome.

No, that link will not work, because it isn't a complete link. Looking at the source, there is an <a> tag signifying that it's a hyperlink, but there's no href attribute, so the link doesn't actually point anywhere.

 

However, it is still possible to message that person by going to the Message Center and putting in their name there, so the functionality does exist. I expect the missing attribute in the link is just an oversight and could be easily rectified.

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The web link "send message" to an unverified member is malformed -- it doesn't include an HTTP address, so it's an empty "link" that's not clickable.
The link I see is a relative link: href="/account/messagecenter?..."

 

That's perfectly fine. When the protocol and server are not specified, they are assumed to be the same as on the current page. So, if the page with the link is http://www.geocaching.com/... then the link

href="/account/messagecenter?..." is equivalent to the link

href="http://www.geocaching.com/account/messagecenter?..."

What browser are you using? I certainly don't see what you're seeing. It's not really a link.
Ah, sorry. I missed the "unverified member" point. And with an unverified member, I see the same thing. For the record, the markup for the non-link looks like this:

<a id="ctl00_ContentBody_ProfilePanel1_lnkSendMessage" target="_blank">Send Message</a>

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We are aware of the issue regarding the Send Message link not working for some users and we are working on it. No conspiracy, I promise. :)

See! I knew I wasn't going crazy! OK, I am going crazy, but I mean the link isn't quite right. :laughing:

Edited by kunarion

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We are aware of the issue regarding the Send Message link not working for some users and we are working on it. No conspiracy, I promise. :)

If it helps, the incorrect behaviour seems to be consistent in only happening on the profile pages of unverified members. The link is correctly formed on all other profile pages I checked.

 

I'm sure it was completely unintentional, but the optics look pretty bad when the Message Center was supposed to be a means to contact unverified members, but that the link on those respective profiles then doesn't work. :laughing: Hopefully it's easy to fix.

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We are aware of the issue regarding the Send Message link not working for some users and we are working on it. No conspiracy, I promise. :)

If it helps, the incorrect behaviour seems to be consistent in only happening on the profile pages of unverified members. The link is correctly formed on all other profile pages I checked.

 

I'm sure it was completely unintentional, but the optics look pretty bad when the Message Center was supposed to be a means to contact unverified members, but that the link on those respective profiles then doesn't work. :laughing: Hopefully it's easy to fix.

 

Totally agreed! We'll get it out as soon as we swat this pesky bug!

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More frustrations:

I did start a dialog in the message center. I was able to select the unverified member and wrote a fairly lengthy message. I was then disheartened to receive "communication error please try again" but with my text missing. The very least that could be done is to save a draft so the whole message isn't lost. Any use I can come up with for the message center won't work if there are commonly occurring errors(this is the second time this week I've been unable to use it when I had important communication going through it)and if your message can go poof like this.

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I'm sure I just don't understand, but it seems to me that if an unverified user has not provided a verified e-mail address, then there is no way to send that person an e-mail to check their message center for a message.

 

Also, I find it VERY inconvenient NOT to have all my correspondence in e-mail. I currently have saved all of my geocaching correspondence. I have found it extremely convenient to be able to perform different types of searches on my old e-mail. Perhaps I'm looking for a hint that I received on a mystery cache some years ago. No problem, just search old e-mail. Perhaps I can't remember someone's geocaching name that I corresponded with years ago, but remember their real name. No problem, just search my old e-mail. There have been lots of reasons that I have needed/wanted to search my old geocaching correspondence. How will that be done now with some of it going to a "message center"?

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More frustrations:

I did start a dialog in the message center. I was able to select the unverified member and wrote a fairly lengthy message. I was then disheartened to receive "communication error please try again" but with my text missing. The very least that could be done is to save a draft so the whole message isn't lost. Any use I can come up with for the message center won't work if there are commonly occurring errors(this is the second time this week I've been unable to use it when I had important communication going through it)and if your message can go poof like this.

That's pretty bad! I've sent messages to and from the MC between me an "Unverified Member", and it was OK on both the web site and the App. There is a delay with when the message may arrive, however. Or when I'm notified, not sure which.

 

At this time, seems to be not working so well. It would be good if it were somehow saving (that is, avoiding losing) messages as they are being typed.

Edited by kunarion

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I'm sure I just don't understand, but it seems to me that if an unverified user has not provided a verified e-mail address, then there is no way to send that person an e-mail to check their message center for a message.

You're right. This is why the App is key. The Unverified User ran the App to find the cache, and (in the meantime for example, you sent a Message) the next time he runs the App, there's a "Message" waiting, and an icon shows the number of messages. No email needed. The MC fills the gap where "email" (actually PM to email but we know what we mean) doesn't work. The web version of the MC can be used by the verified user (Cache Owner, etc.), and everything can be run in the App by the Unverified User.

 

Also, I find it VERY inconvenient NOT to have all my correspondence in e-mail. I currently have saved all of my geocaching correspondence. I have found it extremely convenient to be able to perform different types of searches on my old e-mail. Perhaps I'm looking for a hint that I received on a mystery cache some years ago. No problem, just search old e-mail. Perhaps I can't remember someone's geocaching name that I corresponded with years ago, but remember their real name. No problem, just search my old e-mail. There have been lots of reasons that I have needed/wanted to search my old geocaching correspondence.

Me too. If I were to engage in extended conversations with the Unverified User, I might send my email address. Very similar to what I do in PM with any other Geocacher. The Message Center is the way to contact an Unverified User. Once "Verified" (even before that, as I mentioned, through ordinary email), both of you may dispense with MC.

 

Unless you're really excited about using the Message Center, let it go for now. It may be best for the occasional message to or from an Unverified User for a couple of messages, where there was previously no way to contact them. I might also suggest the MC when any cacher seems to have evaporated and isn't answering email (maybe there's a PM problem this week or some email filter glitch or whatever). But I'll wait till people seem to be calmly discussing this topic around here first. :ph34r:

Edited by kunarion

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There is also the drawback that Groundspeak can see when messages are read and can see the messages at any time they wish, including reviewers I guess. That's not acceptable for me. There is no way to delete messages from the system.

 

Since the "Send Email" link is also a GC.com form, they already have the ability to store and read those email messages as well...

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Unless you're really excited about using the Message Center, let it go for now. It may be best for the occasional message to or from an Unverified User for a couple of messages, where there was previously no way to contact them. I might also suggest the MC when any cacher seems to have evaporated and isn't answering email (maybe there's a PM problem this week or some email filter glitch or whatever). But I'll wait till people seem to be calmly discussing this topic around here first. :ph34r:

 

A lot of the objections do not come from the existence of the message center but from the way it is imposed on the users of the site.

 

For the occasional use as you suggest it above or the deliberate use of those who really like the system, it would suffice to provide two links on each cache page (the first one for sending e-mail and the second one for using the beta message center) and to reverse the order of the links on the profile and label them more clearly. Right now many cachers use the message center because they just click at the link they are used to and which has produced e-mails over years.

 

The way Groundspeak is handling the matter looks like they intentionally want to achieve that as many cachers as possible use the MC for their communications.

 

Another aspect is that while investing a lot of effort and time into the new system, no effort at all is invested into the old system. Allowing for attachments and automatic links from cache pages with a filled in subject are features that have been asked for for years and they of course can be added to the existing e-mail messaging system too. It just requires the will to work on that which apparently is not present at Groundspeak as they are meanwhile only interested into the smartphone app/Facebook etc segment.

 

A calm discussion requires that both sides are listening to each other. However Groundspeak does not create the impression to take into account the needs of the segment that is not of the smartphone app/social media corner.

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I've actually received a few messages in the last few days and like the message center for the most part but here is what I'd change:

 

I don't like not having the body of the message in the email and having to log in is just to reply is extra work.

 

Perhaps a choice of communication should be offered.

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I don't like not having the body of the message in the email and having to log in is just to reply is extra work.

 

It's not only extra work. During some times of the day it can take several minutes from various places around the world until one is able to access the message (it does not help to be already logged on to the site) or it could even not work at all because timeouts happen.

For those affected it is much more than just "not liking" ...........

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At the very least, having a preview of the received message arrive in the email notfiication would make this much better. You have no idea if the message is "thanks"or "I like cheese" versus "your cache needs immediate attention" or "beware, don't go for that puzzle later". Because of this, I drop everything to log in and go to the MC... At one point from my iPod at work. As you could have guessed, the MC had an error that day. I had to contact the sender by email, yet another step. Not being able to reply from email is one thing, but this is another level entirely.

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it would suffice to provide two links on each cache page

I also don't like having the "Message Center" link on the cache page. The MC is suitable for App users (please, anyone predisposed, I'd prefer no more snotty replies from people that "No it isn't because I have no smartphone!", I mean it is expressly for people who do have one). It's also the last resort for contacting an Unverified Member, but that particular group can't see the cache page anyway. The MC is by default for use among people with the App. Note that there is no "Message this owner" link in the APP where it should be instead of on the web page! Groundspeak needs to remove that link from the cache page, add it to the App.

 

The link on the cache page should say "Message Groundspeak" (or just have a link to the Forums), since it's most suited to someone browsing without a user name who can't view cache coords. Anyone else can visit the CO's profile and decide on a message link. If there's an email address shown, use that. If not, try PM. If that doesn't work, use MC.

 

Cachers contacting you on MC are trying that method as a last resort. They aren't saying "I like cheese", they have no other way to contact you. Cut them some slack, you are impossible to communicate with! If they are in fact writing about their cheese, your single MC reply to them must be your email address with the request to use it. Put that in your Profile. "Use my real email address shown here. Contact me on The Message Center only as a last resort if email isn't working".

Edited by kunarion

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The MC is suitable for App users
More specifically, the MC is suitable for users of Groundspeak's free intro app. None of the third-party apps support it. Groundspeak's paid app doesn't support it. And based on the complaints, a lot of mobile browsers don't support the web version.

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Unfortunately I've found that even though my email link is available, even some cachers who have emailed me before and have my actual email address use the MC now. It's definitely my last choice if it keeps working as it does now, but it's the first contact method from many people now.

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Yup you are right the REAL problem with email contact, is that there is still a way to be UNVERIFIED.... i think as Premium member we sould also have the option to "block" unverified player to have our caches... i have no problem with basic members, it is those who does not even want to gives email... then i dont want to give them the coordinate to MY cache! I still do own that cache so i should still decide what are the conditions to give coordinates!

 

Having Mandotory Verification email would save SOooooooooooooooooooo many problem at once! and YES picture in email would be good!

 

...so it's not that GS blocks contact of Unverified Members.

I would hope not, since that was the whole point behind creating the Message Center in the first place!

 

It still baffles me that so much unnecessary time, effort, and resources were spent to solve that problem. All that needed to be done was:

  • Require email validation for all members
  • Add the ability to attach a picture to the old email system
  • Add GC code auto-linking and auto-fill info (ie. Pre-fill the email with the GC code and cache name) to the old email system

We'd then be able to contact any member, and would have the oft-requested additional functionality in the old system. Instead of making these relatively-straightforward* changes and getting us to a good spot much faster*, tons of time was spent setting up a new system that doesn't actually solve the problem (rather than solving the unverified member problem, it simply ignores it), does give some new functionality, but also takes away other functionality, ease-of-use, and customizability (managing the emails as you desire). Add onto all that an inexplicable push to use the unfinished and unfit-for-purpose system where some members can't even use it at all, and we have a fiasco on our hands.

 

I actually used to defend Groundspeak pretty vociferously regarding some of their decisions. Those days have long since passed. I guess I just need to start accepting that I'm no longer in the target demographic that drives all of their decisions, so my needs and desires as a non-smartphone cacher will not be met. :sad:

 

*...as it appears from the outside. Maybe the code is such a mess that it would be too difficult?

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I am ok with the idea of a free tryout apps... but still it should require email validation from the site

The MC is suitable for App users
More specifically, the MC is suitable for users of Groundspeak's free intro app. None of the third-party apps support it. Groundspeak's paid app doesn't support it. And based on the complaints, a lot of mobile browsers don't support the web version.

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Unfortunately I've found that even though my email link is available, even some cachers who have emailed me before and have my actual email address use the MC now. It's definitely my last choice if it keeps working as it does now, but it's the first contact method from many people now.

Groundspeak has publicly invited everyone to use the Message Center to check it out. If that's a huge problem for you, you'll need to individually tell people to stop that.

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I am ok with the idea of a free tryout apps... but still it should require email validation from the site

If you provide an example of a Geocaching site that requires "validation" before any Apps may even be tried, I'll show you an example of a much less prominent Geocaching site.

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Yup you are right the REAL problem with email contact, is that there is still a way to be UNVERIFIED.... i think as Premium member we sould also have the option to "block" unverified player to have our caches... i have no problem with basic members, it is those who does not even want to gives email... then i dont want to give them the coordinate to MY cache!

[emphasis mine]

Everyone gives an email address upon signing up. They pass the test.

 

Many "Verified" Geocachers ignore their emails, should they also have no coordinates to your cache?

Edited by kunarion

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The MC is suitable for App users
More specifically, the MC is suitable for users of Groundspeak's free intro app. None of the third-party apps support it. Groundspeak's paid app doesn't support it. And based on the complaints, a lot of mobile browsers don't support the web version.

True, it's not fully implemented. This is almost like a Beta test which people may be invited to try, but won't necessarily work for all. Go figure.

 

And please cut it out with the clipping out of context!! My point was that the MC is designed for Apps. The fact that it's not in every App is irrelevant to what I said.

Edited by kunarion

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...so it's not that GS blocks contact of Unverified Members.

I would hope not, since that was the whole point behind creating the Message Center in the first place!

 

It still baffles me that so much unnecessary time, effort, and resources were spent to solve that problem. All that needed to be done was:

  • Require email validation for all members
  • Add the ability to attach a picture to the old email system
  • Add GC code auto-linking and auto-fill info (ie. Pre-fill the email with the GC code and cache name) to the old email system

We'd then be able to contact any member

[emphasis mine]

But this is provably false. There are hundreds of posts on this Forum about not being able to contact members. Verified members. For this, the MC is a godsend, since the recipient may not even know his email isn't functioning (being rejected by servers or whatever). MC would be a great way to fill a need if it were not for the hyperbole of so many people around here stomping in circles yelling 'La-la-la-la-la I can't heeeer you!!' with their fingers in their ears about MC. And denying that. :anibad:

 

Groundspeak uses "verification" as a Spam prevention plan. They even say as much when a new user signs up:

 

b97dc262-ad3f-4475-a6af-028a6db9820c.jpg

 

The reason an unvalidated member is not blocked in the App, yet is blocked on the site, is that web robots are much more prominent. And in order to run the App, the user has "Validated" himself as a human in several other ways already.

Edited by kunarion

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Unfortunately I've found that even though my email link is available, even some cachers who have emailed me before and have my actual email address use the MC now. It's definitely my last choice if it keeps working as it does now, but it's the first contact method from many people now.

Groundspeak has publicly invited everyone to use the Message Center to check it out. If that's a huge problem for you, you'll need to individually tell people to stop that.

 

However the truth is that most people who now use the message center for contacting other cachers about something specific did not do it to try out the system or because they like the system, but just because they clicked at the same link as before but just with the difference that the new link leads to the MC and the old one sends the messages via e-mail. None of those who contacted me via the MC this week did it with the special wish to use the MC.

 

At the time when the MC was new but there was no link on the profile and on the cache page, I only received test messages that were indeed intended to be sent via the MC and I also sent out some messages for the same reason.

 

I cannot help myself but it looks to me like Groundspeak is doing that intentionally to trick as many people into using the MC as possible.

 

I'm not critizing that the MC exists, but the way it is sold to the cachers. Groundspeak does not appear to be willing to make a move towards reducing the number of usages of the MC which have not been intended.

This brings us back to this release and the release notes. One of the new features of this release they proudly announced is that they added a link to the message center to each cache page.

Without this change there would hardly exist any replies to the first post about the release.

 

It would be a huge improvement to either have no link to a message system on the cache pages or two clearly marked links (one to e-mail and one to the beta MC). The current situation is very unfortunate and is not in any way related to being able to contact cachers via the MC who cannot be contacted in other ways. It rather makes me feel that Groundspeak wants to decide what geocachers have to use and have to like.

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There are hundreds of posts on this Forum about not being able to contact members. Verified members. For this, the MC is a godsend, since the recipient may not even know his email isn't functioning (being rejected by servers or whatever). MC would be a great way to fill a need if it were not for the hyperbole of so many people around here stomping in circles yelling 'La-la-la-la-la I can't heeeer you!!' with their fingers in their ears about MC. And denying that. :anibad:

 

Hope I'm not clipping out of context. :)

 

I'm probably misunderstanding, but how would the MC be a godsend to a user who doesn't have a smartphone or an app? As the recipient, I *still* wouldn't know my email was malfunctioning. In that example, this is no worse than without the MC, but I'm not seeing how the MC makes it better???

 

Mrs. Car54

 

And I resent the implication that those of us who dislike the MC are somehow petulant children. :mad:

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...so it's not that GS blocks contact of Unverified Members.

I would hope not, since that was the whole point behind creating the Message Center in the first place!

 

It still baffles me that so much unnecessary time, effort, and resources were spent to solve that problem. All that needed to be done was:

  • Require email validation for all members
  • Add the ability to attach a picture to the old email system
  • Add GC code auto-linking and auto-fill info (ie. Pre-fill the email with the GC code and cache name) to the old email system

We'd then be able to contact any member

[emphasis mine]

But this is provably false. There are hundreds of posts on this Forum about not being able to contact members. Verified members. For this, the MC is a godsend, since the recipient may not even know his email isn't functioning (being rejected by servers or whatever).

If a verified member's email isn't working correctly and they're using an app other than the Intro App (which I expect describes a significant percentage of the newer members), the MC won't do any good. There are lots of people that cache solely through an app and never visit the website. If they never see the MC on the website or app, and they aren't getting the emails, then they're still oblivious.

 

Really, what needs to happen is what I discussed over in my "Mandatory email validation" topic: periodic revalidation. That way there'd be some indicator that there's a problem with a member's email setup. If a member's account came up for revalidation and they didn't get the email, there'd be an indicator of a problem (ie. can't log into the website, unable to view listings, however it's set up), and guidance could then be provided to help them. Under the current system, there's no indicator that there's a problem. Forcing mandatory validation and period revalidation would mean every active member would have a valid email at which they can be contacted. We can never do anything about whether they actually read or care about the emails, but at least we'd have a method of attempting contact.

 

I see the whole MC thing like throwing a life-ring to a man dying of thirst in the desert. Sure, it's a solution to a problem, but not the problem at hand. The problem is members with unverified email addresses who can't be contacted. The MC solves that problem for a fraction of the problem members (the exact number is unknown), but not all of them, and it causes headaches for everyone else.

 

Mandatory email validation under the old system would solve the problem without all the headaches. That won't happen now, though, because like the new Search tool, they've already invested (wasted?) too much time in it to simply abandon it. We're stuck with it, so all we can hope for is that they listen to the feedback being provided and change the MC to make it usable for non-app users (message content in the email, UI changes, reply to message via email, etc.). I'm not very optimistic, though. Even very simple and no-brainer UI changes like increasing the size of the input field haven't been done. If that isn't going to happen, I'm not going to hold my breath for the more involved changes. Heck, we're months into the new Search tool and there still isn't a simple text link to its FAQ. Baffling...

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we're months into the new Search tool and there still isn't a simple text link to its FAQ. Baffling...

We added a link to the FAQ to the page about 3 weeks ago. It's visible at the top right of any search results page.

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we're months into the new Search tool and there still isn't a simple text link to its FAQ. Baffling...

We added a link to the FAQ to the page about 3 weeks ago. It's visible at the top right of any search results page.

Ah, so it is. Thanks for pointing that out. However, it leads to two questions:

  1. Why is it only on the results pages, and not on the main search page itself? People need to be given guidance right from the start with the current (IMO, unintuitive) design, not just after they've already tried, more than likely failed, and have already begun to get frustrated. Now that I think about it, there needs to be more guidance right on the search page to indicate what the main search field is and isn't used for. I expect most people fail on their first, and probably next few, attempts because they don't understand how the search is intended to work. Every effort should be made to avoid a user's first search failing, because the value of the tool is instantly degraded if it doesn't do what they think it should do and they assume it just doesn't work. This has been repeatedly demonstrated by people posting here in the forums.
  2. Why does it point to a blog post? Wouldn't it make more sense to point it to the Advanced Search FAQ in the Help Center? They currently seem to contain the same content, but if there are any changes, it's more likely that the Help Center article would be updated, not an old blog post.

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I expect most people fail on their first, and probably next few, attempts because they don't understand how the search is intended to work. Every effort should be made to avoid a user's first search failing, because the value of the tool is instantly degraded if it doesn't do what they think it should do and they assume it just doesn't work. This has been repeatedly demonstrated by people posting here in the forums.

In addition to the in-person user testing we continue to conduct for the new search tool (and other features), we've been listening to the struggles, requests, and complaints that people have shared in these forums and through other feedback channels. With all that feedback in mind, we've deployed several follow-on releases to the search tool with improvements such as:

  • Making home location and current location searches more discoverable by suggesting them from the main search box
  • Re-working regional searches (e.g. all caches in Canada) so that they are accessible from the main search box and to all members
  • Letting users pick between a radius search or going directly to the cache page when they enter a GC code
  • Creating a one click featured search for discovering upcoming events in your area
  • Refining autocomplete fields for better keyboard accessibility
  • Adding links to the old search forms and the FAQ for the new search tool

Although there's plenty of improvements still to make - we're working on more right now - we've focused so far on some the top issues that users have expressed since the initial release a couple months ago.

 

Why does it point to a blog post? Wouldn't it make more sense to point it to the Advanced Search FAQ in the Help Center? They currently seem to contain the same content, but if there are any changes, it's more likely that the Help Center article would be updated, not an old blog post.

The relevant sections of the linked blog post have been repeatedly updated as we've released the changes described above.

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With all that feedback in mind, we've deployed several follow-on releases

 

How about stopping to "break what works" until the replacement functionality is really proven to work? (Thankuflly) I wasn't in the beta program of either search or message center, but from what I hear, the beta testers predicted a good part of the mess that ensued. So what gives? If you insist on pandering to the smartphone-only demographic, why not allow for a phase-out period where you give the users the choice of what they prefer? And if the usage numbers show that the users prefer the "old" search or email functionality, to revert back? Your customer is the outdoorsy cacher. Once you switch to an approach where your customer is the paying advertiser, and the cacher is the product being sold, there is no turning back, and the hobby won't ever be the same. I hope we haven't crossed that Jordan yet, but after the recent changes, I'm frankly not sure.

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I expect most people fail on their first, and probably next few, attempts because they don't understand how the search is intended to work. Every effort should be made to avoid a user's first search failing, because the value of the tool is instantly degraded if it doesn't do what they think it should do and they assume it just doesn't work. This has been repeatedly demonstrated by people posting here in the forums.

In addition to the in-person user testing we continue to conduct for the new search tool (and other features), we've been listening to the struggles, requests, and complaints that people have shared in these forums and through other feedback channels. With all that feedback in mind, we've deployed several follow-on releases to the search tool with improvements such as:

  • Making home location and current location searches more discoverable by suggesting them from the main search box
  • Re-working regional searches (e.g. all caches in Canada) so that they are accessible from the main search box and to all members
  • Letting users pick between a radius search or going directly to the cache page when they enter a GC code
  • Creating a one click featured search for discovering upcoming events in your area
  • Refining autocomplete fields for better keyboard accessibility
  • Adding links to the old search forms and the FAQ for the new search tool

Although there's plenty of improvements still to make - we're working on more right now - we've focused so far on some the top issues that users have expressed since the initial release a couple months ago.

 

Why does it point to a blog post? Wouldn't it make more sense to point it to the Advanced Search FAQ in the Help Center? They currently seem to contain the same content, but if there are any changes, it's more likely that the Help Center article would be updated, not an old blog post.

The relevant sections of the linked blog post have been repeatedly updated as we've released the changes described above.

 

One thing that is missing is the ability to download the results either in .loc form or as a PQ. The list is nice, but not very useable if there is no way to get it into the GPS.

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Unfortunately I've found that even though my email link is available, even some cachers who have emailed me before and have my actual email address use the MC now. It's definitely my last choice if it keeps working as it does now, but it's the first contact method from many people now.

Groundspeak has publicly invited everyone to use the Message Center to check it out. If that's a huge problem for you, you'll need to individually tell people to stop that.

 

However the truth is that most people who now use the message center for contacting other cachers about something specific did not do it to try out the system or because they like the system, but just because they clicked at the same link as before but just with the difference that the new link leads to the MC and the old one sends the messages via e-mail. None of those who contacted me via the MC this week did it with the special wish to use the MC.

 

At the time when the MC was new but there was no link on the profile and on the cache page, I only received test messages that were indeed intended to be sent via the MC and I also sent out some messages for the same reason.

 

I cannot help myself but it looks to me like Groundspeak is doing that intentionally to trick as many people into using the MC as possible.

 

I'm not critizing that the MC exists, but the way it is sold to the cachers. Groundspeak does not appear to be willing to make a move towards reducing the number of usages of the MC which have not been intended.

This brings us back to this release and the release notes. One of the new features of this release they proudly announced is that they added a link to the message center to each cache page.

Without this change there would hardly exist any replies to the first post about the release.

 

It would be a huge improvement to either have no link to a message system on the cache pages or two clearly marked links (one to e-mail and one to the beta MC). The current situation is very unfortunate and is not in any way related to being able to contact cachers via the MC who cannot be contacted in other ways. It rather makes me feel that Groundspeak wants to decide what geocachers have to use and have to like.

 

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ability to download the results

That's our very next roadmap project, which will be starting very soon.

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ability to download the results

That's our very next roadmap project, which will be starting very soon.

 

roadmap project?? I thought you were working on the Search malfunctions, not mapping. Maybe that is indicative of all the problems updates of late.

 

Someone once saiid 'If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it.' I have yet to see a simple explanation of how to use the new search function. Does anyone at HQ really understand it well enough to explain it to the people out here trying to use it?

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roadmap project?? I thought you were working on the Search malfunctions, not mapping. Maybe that is indicative of all the problems updates of late.
Maybe, just maybe, Ben H was referring to a technology roadmap...

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I'm probably misunderstanding, but how would the MC be a godsend to a user who doesn't have a smartphone or an app? As the recipient, I *still* wouldn't know my email was malfunctioning.

It's a teeny icon on the web site. It actually could be more than that, but that's what ya get (some people dislike MC as it is :yikes:). In your example (and A-Team's especially) you'd have to notice some issue on your own. As examples, you aren't getting any email this week from GC, when normally you get some every day, or someone "found" your Earthcache and "never sent answers". Why not just check the website once in a while and look at the icon. The sender's or the recipient's email could be completely broken, yet the message gets through.

 

Again, the entire thing (logs, Forums, Facebook, PM, ordinary email, MC) won't work for people who aren't using at least some of them. If you wish to ignore all contact, you can (hint, send your email into the trash folder, done). Groundspeak's whole communication system relies on people who pay attention. Everyone involved should keep lines of communication open, and notice clues of a problem. That fact that most don't is discouraging. The fact that people around here casually use that as an argument against another line of communication, is even more discouraging. :anitongue:

 

And I resent the implication that those of us who dislike the MC are somehow petulant children. :mad:

I won't insist that anyone not dislike the MC. I dislike it! If the GS plan is in fact to keep it, there's much work ahead, as I've said. But there's a lot of weirdness going on where any suggestion of a MC benefit is rejected using specially edited quotes. Your ability to resist clipping a piece of what I said out-of-context to argue about, and instead respond to what I actually said, means you're likely not included the petulance. But if one insists that in protest they won't even check for a message once in a while, if the shoe fits, resent it. Don't be that shoe. :anibad:

Edited by kunarion

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If a verified member's email isn't working correctly and they're using an app other than the Intro App (which I expect describes a significant percentage of the newer members), the MC won't do any good. There are lots of people that cache solely through an app and never visit the website. If they never see the MC on the website or app, and they aren't getting the emails, then they're still oblivious.

That would be the case, "verified" or not. And the guy in your example cannot "validate". People can pretty much not communicate, and GS is fine with that. If there's a serious problem with one member's PM or whatever, they have a new line of communication available. Verified or not.

 

I think GS' Intro App idea is to have people load the free App on a whim and find a cache with no paperwork, no Validation to try it out. That's worthy of discussion, but only slightly related to an MC thread, although MC is likely the only way an ordinary member may contact the newbie.

 

I'm pretty sure the "MC" thing will live about as long as Challenges did, then vanish as they did. But if it were "in Apps", it certainly would not be limited to the Intro App. It's not fully rolled out yet, it's a test. Almost like a Beta. It's amazing how the fact that it's not more pervasive can be used as an argument against it. Again, you don't actually believe that the MC is exclusively for the Intro App? Right? :rolleyes: MC could even have its own App. In fact, it does. I have several paid Geocaching Apps on my tablet, and MC works just fine. OK, it ain't "fine", but it's on there. :ph34r:

 

they're using an app other than the Intro App (which I expect describes a significant percentage of the newer members), the MC won't do any good.

If they're not using an official Geocaching App, they are Validated members. The vast majority of people we can't contact are. And if they're actively ignoring communication, "validation" sure won't equal communication. I signed up on tons of web sites using fake emails specifically so they can't send me junk. Validation is a Spam-prevention thing with an extra step to prevent clogging a web site with robots, not a communication plan.

Again, of course the MC should be available in at least the Official Apps.

 

Really, what needs to happen is what I discussed over in my "Mandatory email validation" topic: periodic revalidation. That way there'd be some indicator that there's a problem with a member's email setup. If a member's account came up for revalidation and they didn't get the email, there'd be an indicator of a problem (ie. can't log into the website, unable to view listings, however it's set up), and guidance could then be provided to help them. Under the current system, there's no indicator that there's a problem. Forcing mandatory validation and period revalidation would mean every active member would have a valid email at which they can be contacted. We can never do anything about whether they actually read or care about the emails, but at least we'd have a method of attempting contact.

Dude! We can force people to do things?!! Why didn't you say so! If Groundspeak incorporates punishments for infractions, the sky's the limit! Enforce Mandatory Message Center action, since "I can't do email" can't be used as an excuse there. Maintain a zero balance of waiting messages (and of course post appropriate replies), or enforcement kicks in. This works with or without "Validation", although whatever punishment has been decided in the "Mandatory Validation" thread is fine with me :anibad:.

Edited by kunarion

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Preface: Message Center or not, I believe having a valid email should be required for Geocaching. Nearly every message forum or social media requires a valid email to sign up. Geocaching involves actual property (the caches) thus this seems doubly important. Kids these days may love their Facebook and Tumblr, but they still have email accounts so that's not the problem.

 

Lets review why the Message Center is useful, since some folks seem to have missed before when this was stated:

 

1. Messages back and forth between two cachers occurs where Groundspeak can see them in case of abuse or harassment.

 

2. A stranger completes one of my Earthcaches, or seeks a help regarding one of my other caches. Since they are a stranger I do not want them to have my email address. In the old system, they go to my profile and send a message. Then I go to their profile and send a reply to their email. This may continue several times. Now the back-and-forth is all in the same place.

 

3. If Groundspeak for some reason continues to allow unverified users now we at least have a way to contact them.

 

4. If I send an email to another user through their profile that message may end up in a Spam filter, or the CO might otherwise claim they never received it. With the Message Center, the recipient not only gets an email notification but also gets a notification if they visit geocaching.com or the Message Center for another message or on the Groundspeak app (if they use it, although this might be available via the API to other apps in the future?). It becomes more difficult for a cacher to be accidentally ignorant of a message from another cacher and impossible for another cache to be willfully ignorant of a message.

 

I'm sure there are other advantages that I have not thought of.

 

Speaking of which, I'm not sure why the Message Center is seen as a Groundspeak bending over backwards for smartphone users. Is it because it looks like a chat/IM screen? Yes, it is accessible via the Groundspeak app (and maybe API apps in the future?), but smartphone users have email too.

 

FWIW the only way I've ever sent a message to another geocacher in the field is via email, phone, or log on a cache; I probably never tried to message someone via their profile in the field under the current system nor using the Message Center, nor do I expect I would.

 

Yes, the Message Center needs work. Let us focus on constructive feedback of what is needed to improve it rather than a chorus of "Don't like it, refuse to use it."

 

And I resent the implication that those of us who dislike the MC are somehow petulant children. :mad:

 

Disliking the Message Center does not make someone a petulant child. Refusing to see it as having any value, refusing to use it even if someone contacts you that way, and especially threatening to archive Earthcaches/Virtuals if someone sends answers via the message center is petulant. Not everyone who dislikes the Message Center has exhibited that behavior, but some have.

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1. Messages back and forth between two cachers occurs where Groundspeak can see them in case of abuse or harassment.

 

2. A stranger completes one of my Earthcaches, or seeks a help regarding one of my other caches. Since they are a stranger I do not want them to have my email address. In the old system, they go to my profile and send a message. Then I go to their profile and send a reply to their email. This may continue several times. Now the back-and-forth is all in the same place.

 

3. If Groundspeak for some reason continues to allow unverified users now we at least have a way to contact them.

 

4. If I send an email to another user through their profile that message may end up in a Spam filter, or the CO might otherwise claim they never received it. With the Message Center, the recipient not only gets an email notification but also gets a notification if they visit geocaching.com or the Message Center for another message or on the Groundspeak app (if they use it, although this might be available via the API to other apps in the future?). It becomes more difficult for a cacher to be accidentally ignorant of a message from another cacher and impossible for another cache to be willfully ignorant of a message.

+1

 

I also think for Earthcaches especially, there could be a form to fill out the answers that then get sent to the MC (perhaps including a block for the cache log itself). Both the finder and the CO can then fully enjoy all the paperwork. :yikes:

 

Preface: Message Center or not, I believe having a valid email should be required for Geocaching. Nearly every message forum or social media requires a valid email to sign up. Geocaching involves actual property (the caches) thus this seems doubly important. Kids these days may love their Facebook and Tumblr, but they still have email accounts so that's not the problem.

In order to run an App, users have "Validated" in several different ways already (again, "Validating" is proof of being a human rather than a Bot, it's a site administrator's business decision, not a communication plan for members). There is almost zero company-provided security for our caches, Validated or not. Some of the worst offenders are long-time Validated Geocachers, and we even sometimes know where they live.

 

Phones/tablets reveal way more about you than "Validation" does, even sending your current location at any moment. I'm guessing that this, and the fact that website Spam is a huge issue on websites, not Apps, GS made a business decision to allow the Intro App to be as unintrusive as any Intro/Demo App. No need to block Spam in Smartphones anyway, since all of the "Free Game Apps" have the Spam built right in! :lol:

Edited by kunarion

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