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CanadianRockies

Tweaking challenge caches

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You're not describing a problem with challenge caches. You're describing a general status of the geocaching community and the hobby. "esoteric challenge caches" are certainly not prolific in every area of the world. It's very much a regional thing. Even then, some people's opinions of challenge "esotericity" will be quite different than others'. I don't see an argument or effort for resolution in your paragraph, just complaints/concerns about various aspects of the hobby and greater community.

 

I'm describing a problem that involves challenge caches. Challenge caches have been around for a long time. Why didn't they get stamped out when the ALR rule was imposed? They were specifically exempted from that. The moratorium is happening now, years after they could have easily eliminated them. Sometime between then and now, they've grown into a problem.

 

If Groundspeak is serious about making things better, they need to cut through the "if you don't like them, just ignore them" and all the lofty treatises. The real root of the issue is that cache owners feel ignored and frustrated, and challenge caches are a way to set the bar a little higher so they can have some semblance of quality control over their caches. If they brutally eliminate them without addressing that, there will be a lot of blow-back. They need to address the other, closely-related angst as well.

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However, I don't think it's a coincidence that everyone started jumping on the challenge cache bandwagon right around the same time the intro app came out, power trails became all the rage, and people started getting frustrated with that stuff.
Interesting. The correlation I noticed is that "everyone started jumping on the challenge cache bandwagon" right around the same time that ALRs were declared optional requests, and not mandatory requirements. Except for the ALRs in challenge caches, of course.

 

You can't make someone take a photo of themselves wearing a superhero costume, but you can make them find caches that spell out S-U-P-E-R-H-E-R-O C-O-S-T-U-M-E.

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The problem with esoteric challenges is that they occupy space ( and drive the placement of other caches to help met the challenge requirements) where a more accessible caches could be placed. As someone who lives in a state where significant restrictions have recently been placed on geocaching as a whole I am quite sensitive to this problem.
But the same applies for example to esoteric puzzle caches and in case of those one cannot even go find the container while most challenges are traditionals.
Actually, the volunteer reviewers do ask for information about how the puzzle works, so they can verify that the puzzle complies with the mystery/puzzle cache guidelines. But apparently, this process isn't creating the same kind of workload that challenge cache submissions were creating.

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However, I don't think it's a coincidence that everyone started jumping on the challenge cache bandwagon right around the same time the intro app came out, power trails became all the rage, and people started getting frustrated with that stuff.
Interesting. The correlation I noticed is that "everyone started jumping on the challenge cache bandwagon" right around the same time that ALRs were declared optional requests, and not mandatory requirements. Except for the ALRs in challenge caches, of course.

 

You can't make someone take a photo of themselves wearing a superhero costume, but you can make them find caches that spell out S-U-P-E-R-H-E-R-O C-O-S-T-U-M-E.

See bold. "Take a photo wearing a superhero costume" is not a geocaching-related requirement. Finding caches (with whatever required property) is. That would be one very significant reason as to why ALRs in the form of Challenges were considered exempted from the ALR ban. Also one good reason why "Geocaching Challenges" failed.

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I just realise it's impossible to ask challenge lovers for solutions. They just don't want to see things differently than what they are now.

 

Maybe it has more to do with what you say than others' inability to hear.

 

I am a challenge lover who is glad for the moratorium. I am very open to hearing intelligent suggestions. Unfortunately, in my opinion nothing you have offered thus far has met that criterion.

 

Absolutely, but you can't just sit and wait for others to provide solutions otherwise you'll always be deceived. What did you suggest so far (apart from keeping the challenge caches as is)?

 

I have made my suggestions to TPTB directly. I believe there should be a panel of volunteer reviewers that approves challenge caches. I am happy if they want to give challenge caches a new attribute or cache type.

 

I also think having a new log type or a souvenir-based system is a bad idea.

 

I also believe that the forum discussions of this issue are worse than useless, because they tend to be dominated by people who hate challenge caches. I mainly participate in them to make sure that TPTB don't think that the anti-challenge folks constitute some kind of majority. And also to point out that their arguments are pretty weak.

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I also believe that the forum discussions of this issue are worse than useless, because they tend to be dominated by people who hate challenge caches. I mainly participate in them to make sure that TPTB don't think that the anti-challenge folks constitute some kind of majority. And also to point out that their arguments are pretty weak.

 

This must be a really sensitive topic because we all feel the other camp is dominating the discussion and their arguments are weak. :anibad:

 

I do agree forums are usually useless, but who knows, I'm sure here and there a good idea can make its way to Groundspeak.

 

BTW, the moratorium was not caused by the anti-challenge people, but by the challenge enthusiasts (maybe they were too enthusiastic?). If TPTB decided to momentarily pull the plug, there must be a good reason.

 

Let's hope they come back with a good solution that will please the majority.

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Actually, the volunteer reviewers do ask for information about how the puzzle works, so they can verify that the puzzle complies with the mystery/puzzle cache guidelines. But apparently, this process isn't creating the same kind of workload that challenge cache submissions were creating.

 

Actually, if the reviewers take the time to check the details (what not every reviewer is doing), it has nothing to do with the complexity of the puzzle. The puzzle needs to be solvable but the guidelines say nothing about the difficulty.

I was not thinking about insider information required for the solution, but very specialized knowledge and expertise that hardly any cacher will have. Offering a shortcut for some cachers is not forbidden.

 

Cezanne

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Well, the only solution to avoid appeals is to make the creation of a challenge very strict and regulated.

If you dislike challenge caches, then that's a wonderful standard to apply to any potential solution since it would completely eliminate challenges. But if you like challenge caches and want to see changes that make them less burdensome, then that's an absurd standard.

Really? There would still be challenge caches around, so I would still live my pain (lighter, but present).

But even currently existing challenge caches could generate appeals by "finders" whose qualifications for the challenges might be disputed by challenge cache owners. If you want to avoid any challenge cache appeals, then you'd have to get rid of all challenge caches.

 

You can only work with what you know. Conspiracy theory won't do you any good. All we know is they said the challenge cache COs were creating too much fuss. Accept it or not, but that's the framework you are allowed to work with.

Please re-read my original post. That is the framework I'm working with.

 

Being constructive will bring you more satisfaction that whine about the way they imposed a moratorium on their website.

I am seeking constructive changes that will make challenge caches less burdensome on reviewers and lackeys; that's why I introduced this topic. If I wanted to be non-constructive, then I'd have framed this discussion in a way that requires unrealistically avoiding appeals instead of realistically reducing appeals.

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The main problem with challenge caches seems to be the burden they impose on the review/appeals process. I'd say you're entering the realm of "impossible" when you suggest that the only solution to this problem is to generate no appeals:

First, I suggest nothing. I just point out that "impossible" is not a valid argument as it's (a lot) different for everyone.

The "you" in my sentence was the generic, all-encompassing "you" rather than the specific "you" that your interpreting. I thought that was clear when I went on to quote someone who wasn't you (but you snipped that portion). Still, it would have been even clearer if I had written "one" instead of "you."

 

As for appeals, I said it before and I'll say it gain, we don't know what the problem is with appeals except that challenges generate a higher workload. Since GS wont elaborate there's no point in suggesting anything.

Why is it pointless to suggest changes that might lessen the higher workload that challenge caches generate?

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Without knowing examples of what precisely is causing angst in reviewers in some parts of the world, its hard to solution jump to minimize what kind of challenges should be allowed. However, will throw some darts on the board. There are some types of challenges I personally think are the most difficult to administer (like blackouts) and they could go away or any challenge that is not easy to show qualifications in either stock statistics or a simple bookmark list and that a person who is not a GSAK expert can do. Personally I also think any challenge caches that involve cache titles, cache owner names or attributes etc etc to not be allowed going forward as they spawn lots of caches being created simply to make the challenge easier. Personally am okay with those challenges but those could be an example I think of some types that I would not mind seeing not allowed going forward. Again, if those are not the types that are causing angst, then it may be moot.

 

Either way, they have gotten lots of feedback in their thread and I hope that team figures something out. I think a challenge cache reviewer team, like we have for Earth Caches, would be nice as well, assuming the reviewers in that area do not mind them.

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The very reason that challenge caches are so popular is that they permit cache owners to decide who gets to log their caches. Don't get me wrong, there are some great challenges out there that really get people out of their comfort zone and push themselves to accomplish cool things. But there are so, so many that are nothing more than a way to filter out finders. It's absolutely a knee-jerk reaction to the proliferation of one-and-done app users who treat people's caches badly, and a predictable reaction at that.

I suppose that might be a motivation for some challenge cache owners, but I certainly don't think it's absolutely such a knee-jerk reaction. I suspect there are many different reasons why people create challenge caches. For example, I usually do it because I hope others might enjoy striving to accomplish the same kinds of challenges that I had fun completing.

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Why is it pointless to suggest changes that might lessen the higher workload that challenge caches generate?

 

1) Because we don't even know what the problem is. All we know is that the "problem" causes huge workload for reviewers and lackeys.

 

2) Even if we did know what the problem is (which we don't), we don't know what the constraints are regarding what would be considered a valid solution, and we haven't weighed the unintended consequences of those changes against fixing the problem (which we still don't know what it is).

 

See, even I can suggest changes that would lessen the workload problem.

  • Hire a thousand new lackeys just to handle the workload. (Oh, wait ... Groundspeak doesn't have an infinite pool of money? )
  • Ban all challenges entirely. Voila, no more workload! (Oh, wait ... that'll piss off thousands of challenge cache owners that aren't causing problems?)
  • Only allow objectively verifiable challenges with automated checkers. (Oh, wait ... who's going to write all those checkers? Especially when Groundspeak tends to have love/hate relationships with non-Groundspeak companies? And won't that stifle creativity?)

I could keep going, but I'm starting to sound shrill here.

 

When making a sales pitch, a good salesperson focuses not on how cool their product is, but on how the product meets the customer's needs. We don't know what Groundspeak needs.

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Why is it pointless to suggest changes that might lessen the higher workload that challenge caches generate?

1) Because we don't even know what the problem is. All we know is that the "problem" causes huge workload for reviewers and lackeys.

How does that make it pointless to suggest changes that might lessen the higher workload that challenge caches generate?

 

2) Even if we did know what the problem is (which we don't), we don't know what the constraints are regarding what would be considered a valid solution, and we haven't weighed the unintended consequences of those changes against fixing the problem (which we still don't know what it is).

How does that make it pointless to suggest changes that might lessen the higher workload that challenge caches generate?

 

See, even I can suggest changes that would lessen the workload problem.

Great, so let's weigh the feasibility and merit of the suggestions you make. That would be an appropriate response, as opposed to telling people not to make suggestions at all. #doesnotcompute

 

When making a sales pitch, a good salesperson focuses not on how cool their product is, but on how the product meets the customer's needs. We don't know what Groundspeak needs.

But we know they're watching. And in discussing ideas, something might stick. That's why we discuss ideas.

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How does that make it pointless to suggest changes that might lessen the higher workload that challenge caches generate?

 

Back to the car analogy. My car doesn't start. Solution?

You can discuss this all you want and give all kind of advice but you need to know what the problem is. Empty tank, battery not charged, wrong ignition key, loose wire, faulty plug... You can suggest 100 things and 1 might solve the problem or not. If the problem is known, then you can try to find the a solution. For all we know "appeals" is just one guy working part time :ph34r:

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How does that make it pointless to suggest changes that might lessen the higher workload that challenge caches generate?

 

Back to the car analogy. My car doesn't start. Solution?

You can discuss this all you want and give all kind of advice but you need to know what the problem is. Empty tank, battery not charged, wrong ignition key, loose wire, faulty plug... You can suggest 100 things and 1 might solve the problem or not. If the problem is known, then you can try to find the a solution. For all we know "appeals" is just one guy working part time :ph34r:

 

... the car is still going, it can still be driven, but the driver is hearing a rattle, and it's annoying. This information is given to a group of other drivers (perhaps some are even mechanics themselves) who talk about potential problems. Any potentail problem. The mechanic is listening in, also working on his own ideas and solutions. That group might give him an idea to check on. That group may never find out what the mechanic is doing in his shop. The next day, the car could roll out - fixed or not. A good mechanic would thank the group regardless for helping with their input.

 

Analogies can always be adjusted to make or fill holes. This one ain't perfect either. But it's a little closer than the car not working at all.

Geocaching is still going on and enjoyable by everyone who's already doing it (and, well, enjoying it). There's just a little rattle right now that's trying to be fixed. We're talking about any and all possible causes of that rattle, even though we don't know what it sounds like. They can make use of our input, relevant or not, towards finding a solution themselves, whether it's based on what we like in our car (survey?), or what we think the rattle is actually being caused by (general discussions?). It can all be relevant to them, because we don't know what they're actually doing back there in their shop.

:omnomnom:

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I also believe that the forum discussions of this issue are worse than useless, because they tend to be dominated by people who hate challenge caches. I mainly participate in them to make sure that TPTB don't think that the anti-challenge folks constitute some kind of majority. And also to point out that their arguments are pretty weak.

 

This must be a really sensitive topic because we all feel the other camp is dominating the discussion and their arguments are weak. :anibad:

 

Since when is "I like them" a weak argument?

 

Geocaching is about having fun, not about bludgeoning others with one's intellectual might. And yes, I understand about glass houses. :blink:

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As has been stated above, we really don't know exactly why Challenge Caches cause such a load on the appeals process, but I suspect that the following two sections of the guidelines may be major contributors.

 

A challenge cache needs to appeal to, and be attainable by, a reasonable number of geocachers.

If a challenge cache is submitted within an area where a similar challenge cache already exists, then it will need to have a unique list of qualifying criteria (geocaches, waymarks, etc.).

I believe we could eliminate both these guidelines without problem, provided that:

 

i. the CO be required to prove their own qualification for the challenge AND

ii. CO's not be permitted to have more than one Challenge Cache with identical requirements, but would be allowed a series of up to 5 similar Challenge caches provided the challenge requirements for each one in the series are significantly more difficult than the preceding one.

 

We would need to nail down the definition of a series and to quantify "significantly" but these two changes would stop a lot of the perceived problems.

 

Forcing the CO to pre-qualify would stop someone posting a challenge that only they qualify for under a sock puppet account, just to claim the smiley on their own account. Want to make a challenge to find 800 letterboxes whose names begin with "X"? Fine, provided you qualify for it and you realise that you can't claim a smiley for it. That would definitely not appeal to the majority of cachers and almost no-one else would qualify, but does that really matter? Let them publish it and the rest of us can ignore it. Yes, it is wasting real estate but it is just one cache and it is something reviewers no longer have to worry about. They qualify, they can publish - provided it meets the other requirements.

 

I believe it was Keystone who said that he has great difficulty remembering all the Challenge Caches in his area, making the second requirement above a burden. Make the limit apply to just the CO submitting the cache. Is it the same as one of your other challenges? Yes? End of story. Again, the reviewer load is reduced. The reviewer would just look at this CO's Challenge caches and make sure they aren't duplicated. This change would also make it harder (not impossible) to place a power trail of challenges.

 

A series of challenges would be a set of caches with similar challenge requirements, but each being more difficult than the previous. 5 Year, 15 Year and 50 Year Lonely cache challenges; Find a cache at 1000m, 2000m, 5000m altitude; Find 25 earthcaches, find 50, find 100. However, what about find 10,20,50,100,200 caches whose names begin with "X"? Is that the same series as Find 10,20,50,100,200 caches whose names begin with "Y"?

 

The "significantly more difficult" part needs quantifying. As a starting point "The increment cannot be smaller than the value of the easiest requirement and cannot be smaller than the immediately preceding increment". Each of the above examples fit the rule, as would find 1, find 2, find 3, find 4, find 5. However, find 50, find 51, find 52 would be rejected.

 

I think that these two changes would reduce the reviewer burden and would reduce the number of challenge submissions which get sent to appeals. Is this the major cause of appeals? I don't know. But I do think that they would be a step in the right direction.

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But even currently existing challenge caches could generate appeals by "finders" whose qualifications for the challenges might be disputed by challenge cache owners. If you want to avoid any challenge cache appeals, then you'd have to get rid of all challenge caches.

 

 

In another thread (too difficult for me to find) a reviewer clarified that "appeals" is only about cache publication. Disputes about finds/log deletion is also time consuming for Groundspeak, but no statements have been made about this being an issue for Challenge caches. Though I expect that a disproportionate percentage of log disputes relate to Challenge caches as well.

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Well, now that HQ has shut down the "User Insights" thread on Challenges, maybe we'll get some more information on what's going on in a few weeks ...

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