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Protocol for replacing a cache container that's damaged?


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What is the protocol for replacing a damaged cache container that's not your hide? Numerous people have posted that a cache near me is damaged and soaking wet, and the owner hasn't been on since October of last year. Is it bad form to replace it? The owner only has 8 finds so I'm not even sure will be back to caching.

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What is the protocol for replacing a damaged cache container that's not your hide? Numerous people have posted that a cache near me is damaged and soaking wet, and the owner hasn't been on since October of last year. Is it bad form to replace it? The owner only has 8 finds so I'm not even sure will be back to caching.

 

I personally wouldn't replace the container. If the person is not active, then replacing their container only prolongs the situation. If the cache owner is not interested in maintaining their caches, there's no point in doing it for them.

 

Post a "needs maintenance" log, in addition to your "found it" log. You have found the cache yourself, yes?

 

If you like, you can monitor the situation, and if nothing is done, or others post "needs maintenance" or note the condition in their logs, then post a "Needs Archived" log in a month or so.

 

You can put the cache on your watchlist and be notified of any logs posted to it.

 

Or you can post the "nm" log, and move on.

 

B.

Edited by Pup Patrol
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Numerous people posted of a cache damaged and wet, but did any log a NM?

I won't keep a cache that's doomed, going.

Already a piece of carp, with an inactive CO, if there aren't any NM, place one.

Already NMs, time for an NA.

 

It's fine to replace a piece of log paper, until an active CO can do proper maintenance, but replacing a container? Not.

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What is the protocol for replacing a damaged cache container that's not your hide? Numerous people have posted that a cache near me is damaged and soaking wet, and the owner hasn't been on since October of last year. Is it bad form to replace it? The owner only has 8 finds so I'm not even sure will be back to caching.

 

Unless you have permission from the owner, don't.

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If there are caches that need owner attention, then post "needs maintenance" logs.

 

But only if you have personally see/found the cache. How else would you know if the cache is in need of maintenance, without seeing it?

 

If these caches are not getting properly maintained now, then they won't if you or someone else replaces the container.

 

If the cache owners have no interest in maintaining their caches, those people should not own caches.

 

Once you've found the caches, then post the "NM" logs.

 

If nothing is improved, post "Needs Archived". Wait and see.

 

If the caches get archived, that will open up spots for responsible cache owners to place new caches.

 

But enabling cache owners who lost interest isn't helping anyone. And that's what replacing containers is doing.

 

B.

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If there are caches that need owner attention, then post "needs maintenance" logs.

 

But only if you have personally see/found the cache. How else would you know if the cache is in need of maintenance, without seeing it?

 

If these caches are not getting properly maintained now, then they won't if you or someone else replaces the container.

 

If the cache owners have no interest in maintaining their caches, those people should not own caches.

 

Once you've found the caches, then post the "NM" logs.

 

If nothing is improved, post "Needs Archived". Wait and see.

 

If the caches get archived, that will open up spots for responsible cache owners to place new caches.

 

But enabling cache owners who lost interest isn't helping anyone. And that's what replacing containers is doing.

 

B.

 

It's all been said before, but it bears repeating. If the OWNER doesn't care about their cache, why should you? Let it die a natural death and, if it's in a nice spot, someone (maybe even you) will put a new one there and hopefully take better care of it.

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The *proper* route, I think, would be to go find the cache yourself to verify the condition, then post a NM log, although from what you say, I think it is highly doubtful that the cache owner will attend to it. Then wait a bit to see if there is a response or other action from the cache owner. If not, then post a NA log. The reviewer will see that, and probably fire a warning shot over the cache owner's bow, and a few weeks later, if no change, will archive the cache, leaving a hunk of geo-litter out there. Hopefully, after all that time, you would still have enough interest to go back out there and remove the garbage, and to be *really* proper, send an email to the cache owner, offering to give it back to them if they want it.

 

Whew!

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Yes, what everyone else has said.

 

One thing that I've noticed over more than a decade of caching... the people who replace broken abandoned caches, replace them with cheap (free) containers (pill bottles, film canisters, cheap bison tubes) that also become broken and abandoned. They convince themselves that they've done a good thing and that ultimately it's not their responsibility for the container they left behind but the original owner's responsibility for the geolitter that perpetuates.

A good thing for this recreational activity is to clear the database of abandoned caches with delinquent owners, so that people have a good chance of enjoying a find that includes containers and contents that are cared for and in decent shape.

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Yes, what everyone else has said.

 

One thing that I've noticed over more than a decade of caching... the people who replace broken abandoned caches, replace them with cheap (free) containers (pill bottles, film canisters, cheap bison tubes) that also become broken and abandoned. They convince themselves that they've done a good thing and that ultimately it's not their responsibility for the container they left behind but the original owner's responsibility for the geolitter that perpetuates.

A good thing for this recreational activity is to clear the database of abandoned caches with delinquent owners, so that people have a good chance of enjoying a find that includes containers and contents that are cared for and in decent shape.

 

Sadly, though, there are many folks who get angry at our local reviewer for running his occasional "sweeps" and doing just that.

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The *proper* route, I think, would be to go find the cache yourself to verify the condition, then post a NM log, although from what you say, I think it is highly doubtful that the cache owner will attend to it. Then wait a bit to see if there is a response or other action from the cache owner. If not, then post a NA log. The reviewer will see that, and probably fire a warning shot over the cache owner's bow, and a few weeks later, if no change, will archive the cache, leaving a hunk of geo-litter out there. Hopefully, after all that time, you would still have enough interest to go back out there and remove the garbage, and to be *really* proper, send an email to the cache owner, offering to give it back to them if they want it.

 

Whew!

 

Yes. Good advice.

It's the route I take. NM, put a watch on the cache, NA if no response.

I will go straight to NA if the cache already has DNFs and NMs that have been ignored. Check the CO's profile to see the last time the logged in.

Pick up the cache container when it is archived. Leave a note on the page telling the owner we can arrange for a pickup of the container within 4 weeks, after that it goes in the trash.

 

Last summer though I tossed the container straight into the trash bin in the park. Multiple NMs, CO hadn't logged in in a couple of years. The cache was gross! Gagging gross - blackened cache contents swimming in swamp water, turn-your-stomach-smell. I used my hiking pole and a stick to pick it up and hold it 3 feet away from me as I carried it over to the bin.

 

Edit to add: I also posted photos of the cache to prove that it was not salvageable. And logged an NA. The reviewer Temporarily Disabled it within a couple of hours of my post. A month later it was archived.

Edited by L0ne.R
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I've done a few cache rescue missions for caches that were archived by a reviewer because of owner indifference. What wasn't salvageable went right into the trash. I'm not going to bother contacting the owner and trying to return their cache to them. They had plenty of opportunities to take care of things if they really cared to.

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Check the CO's profile to see the last time the logged in.

One thing to keep in mind when doing this detective work is that the "Last Visit" date is only updated when the member visits the website. If they're using an app or some other kind of access, that date won't update. For this reason, it's good to look a level deeper and see if they've logged any recent finds. If you're really gung-ho and they don't have many hides, you could even browse their other hides to see if they've posted any Owner Maintenance or Write Note logs on their other caches.

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Is it bad form to replace it?

 

That depends.

 

All the above answers are good ones and you can't go wrong following that advice. I wouldn't mind, though, offering different perspective. I could provide logical discussion that counters each point made here but will spare you from that for now.

 

I see no reason to take a hard-line approach to all caches in need of maintenance. What is the rush to get a cache archived? Is it in a bad location, does it require trespassing, does it feel really yucky to be there searching?

 

If you don't feel there is a need for it to be gone, if you feel it deserves to live, or if you just want to test what it feels like to do a good deed then, in the situation you describe, there is no absolutely no harm done by replacing it.

 

If you fix it it will no longer be in need of maintenance = problem solved. If it gets bad again in the future then any of the good suggestions listed above can be put into play and the cache can ultimately be archived = problem solved.

 

If the cache owner has dropped out of the game then you are not "enabling" bad behavior because they are gone. I would say that even if the CO is still in the game then replacing a cache that they clearly don't care about still causes no harm. As above, if the cache goes bad in the future it can be delt with which would likely result in archival which is not a bad thing. I doubt they really care whether their cache is fixed or archived.

 

The geocaching guidelines suggest that we help out with cache maintenance. I cleanout moldy containers, remove soppy and mildewed junk, replace logs in new ziplocs, and even replace containers when we have them and feel the cache warrants continued life. Not once in 13 years of caching has anyone complained about our maintenance deeds and we've done a lot of it.

 

I also don't hesitate to post Need Maintenance and Needs Archived logs when it seems like that is the right thing to do. I've posted many NM & NA logs over the years for container caches and I don't recall anyone legitimately complaining about that either. Sometimes a grumble can be posted by a CO that hates to be reminded that they have fallen down on the job of maintenance. The NA/AMs result in the cache getting either fixed or archived.

 

Do what you feel is appropriate and if you decide to fix it my hat is off to you.

 

The owner only has 8 finds so I'm not even sure will be back to caching.

 

And they haven't been active for six months. Seems a clear case that this cache owner won't care what you do. But we've also done maintenance/replacements for active owners with tens-of-thousands of finds.

 

The key with working on other people's caches is to read the specific situation well. It is not always appropriate to do maintenance but, by far, most times it is o.k.

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I've done a few cache rescue missions for caches that were archived by a reviewer because of owner indifference. What wasn't salvageable went right into the trash. I'm not going to bother contacting the owner and trying to return their cache to them. They had plenty of opportunities to take care of things if they really cared to.

 

Oh, I seriously doubt that few (including myself) really would. If you are referring to my post, that is why I said, "and to be *really* proper, send an email to the cache owner, offering to give it back". Some here would argue (and be technically correct) that it is the cache owner's property. Personally, I would argue that it was abandoned, but then we'd get the people pretending to be lawyers quoting web pages about legal abandonment, etc. etc.

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I see no reason to take a hard-line approach to all caches in need of maintenance

There's nothing wrong with what you're saying, but I disagree with your conclusion. I don't recommend against replacement because of the problems replacement might cause. I recommend against replacement because everyone should be clear that maintenance is the CO's responsibility. Consequently, instead of asking "What is the rush to get a cache archived?", I ask "What's the big deal if a cache gets archived?" If I don't replace the cache, yes, it might get archived, and so what?

 

And to me, all the comments about contacting the CO boil down to one thing: it's OK to replace a cache because the CO asks you to. But it's bad to replace a cache because you can imagine that the CO might possibly like it if you did, and it's a very bad idea to replace a cache because you're afraid if you don't, it will be archived. If you're worried it will be archived if you don't attend to it, then, well, it should be archived.

 

And if I ever question that thinking, I consider that if I'm not working with the CO, how do I know the CO doesn't want the cache to be archived?

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I see no reason to take a hard-line approach to all caches in need of maintenance

There's nothing wrong with what you're saying, but I disagree with your conclusion. I don't recommend against replacement because of the problems replacement might cause. I recommend against replacement because everyone should be clear that maintenance is the CO's responsibility. Consequently, instead of asking "What is the rush to get a cache archived?", I ask "What's the big deal if a cache gets archived?" If I don't replace the cache, yes, it might get archived, and so what?

 

And to me, all the comments about contacting the CO boil down to one thing: it's OK to replace a cache because the CO asks you to. But it's bad to replace a cache because you can imagine that the CO might possibly like it if you did, and it's a very bad idea to replace a cache because you're afraid if you don't, it will be archived. If you're worried it will be archived if you don't attend to it, then, well, it should be archived.

 

And if I ever question that thinking, I consider that if I'm not working with the CO, how do I know the CO doesn't want the cache to be archived?

 

+1 x 1000!

Edited by L0ne.R
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It is not always appropriate to do maintenance but, by far, most times it is o.k.

I'm not sure if "most" is accurate. "Some", at best.

 

Personally, I don't want people doing any maintenance on my caches beyond drying out moisture or adding a log sheet as a temporary stop-gap. I want to personally visit the location to not only deal with the reported problems, but also look for other unreported ones and basically inspect the entire situation (ie. damage to the area, changes in foliage cover, etc.). I absolutely do not want anyone replacing my containers. If a container is damaged, report it and I'll disable the cache until I can replace it.

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What is the protocol for replacing a damaged cache container that's not your hide? Numerous people have posted that a cache near me is damaged and soaking wet, and the owner hasn't been on since October of last year. Is it bad form to replace it? The owner only has 8 finds so I'm not even sure will be back to caching.

Post a "Needs Maintenance" on the cache.

 

You can also email the owner directly and ask them if they'd appreciate a replacement the next time you're there. But it doesn't end there--you need to go back and do it quickly if you offer to "help out".

 

Honestly, the best thing to do is post a NM log and be descriptive so that future finders (sometimes only moments on your heels) can know that something is wrong.

 

Cache maintenance is the owner's responsibility, and the general caching public shouldn't go out repairing caches and replacing them without first contacting the owner. All too often we see a cache "repaired" or "replaced" and the original is actually still right there, just fine, and ready to be found. In cases where you absolutely know you've found the actual cache, it's still best to let the owner know and to follow up with a NM.

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Personally, I don't want people doing any maintenance on my caches beyond drying out moisture or adding a log sheet as a temporary stop-gap.

 

I absolutely do not want anyone replacing my containers.

 

Comments like yours are very common here but they always seem to be by people who care about their caches and you clearly care about yours. (I would love to search for them! It could be a good reason to renew our expired passports.)

 

I don't see how replacing a broken or clearly missing container is an imposition to the cache owner. It doesn't cause them any extra work because they need to make a trip out there anyway. With a temporary container in place they can wait a little longer to make the trip and there may be some thankful finders in the mean time.

 

This is not a malicious action we are talking about and not all who do this are simply after a throw-down find. For the most part it is people wanting to help the game. (We don't claim finds where we replace a missing container.)

 

Edited to shorten.

Edited by Team Sagefox
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Cache maintenance is the owner's responsibility, and the general caching public shouldn't go out repairing caches and replacing them without first contacting the owner.

 

Then why do they sell cache maintenance kits? Why does gc.com encourage us to occasionally do maintenance of other people's caches?

 

Let's say you are out in the Nevada desert on a 12-day camping trip, not power-trailing, a cache container is half shattered and the log is soaked from the current series of storms, it is a good cache site, the CO lives several hours away, people like this cache, you brought along a couple medium sized containers, you have a supply of logsheets and ziplocs, it is mid-week, mid-day and you just simply feel like doing a good deed for this cache?

 

And... you've got miles to go and it is totally impractical to contact the cache owner.

 

What good reason is there for me to just walk away from this situation when I feel like helping out?

 

All too often we see a cache "repaired" or "replaced" and the original is actually still right there, just fine, and ready to be found.

 

But just how often does this actually happen? We might read here about a few instances each month but I think that the forums amplify problems beyond what is actually happening out there.

 

Out of the nearest 1000 caches to your home location how many currently have two containers because of this? How often per year does it happen there?

 

I've seen it a handful of times in 7000 finds over 13 years. Maybe even 50 or 100 times which would be about 1% of our find count.

 

Edited to shorten.

Edited by Team Sagefox
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All too often we see a cache "repaired" or "replaced" and the original is actually still right there, just fine, and ready to be found.

 

But just how often does this actually happen? We might read here about a few instances each month but I think that the forums amplify problems beyond what is actually happening out there.

 

 

I agree it doesn't happen often. There have been a few times where I found 2 containers; OR when I found only the "old" container and not the new one which had been placed. But in all these cases, the CO replaced the cache, so it can happen even then.

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I've done a few cache rescue missions for caches that were archived by a reviewer because of owner indifference. What wasn't salvageable went right into the trash. I'm not going to bother contacting the owner and trying to return their cache to them. They had plenty of opportunities to take care of things if they really cared to.

 

Oh, I seriously doubt that few (including myself) really would. If you are referring to my post, that is why I said, "and to be *really* proper, send an email to the cache owner, offering to give it back". Some here would argue (and be technically correct) that it is the cache owner's property. Personally, I would argue that it was abandoned, but then we'd get the people pretending to be lawyers quoting web pages about legal abandonment, etc. etc.

 

I wasn't replying to any specific post, just the idea that had crept up that part of the process was to contact the CO and offer to return the cache. I do understand that would be the best, most sociable way to handle it but the CO, at that point, has already been notified a minimum of four times. Once with the initial Find/DNF log (I presume a finder would mention the issue with the cache in their log), a NM log (if not several NM logs), a NA log after the CO does nothing, a Temp. Disable log by a reviewer and finally, an archive log. So, it might be even more logs but a minimum of four as a cacher may opt to email a reviewer rather than log an NA. Either way, they received four emails already without taking action.

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Cache maintenance is the owner's responsibility, and the general caching public shouldn't go out repairing caches and replacing them without first contacting the owner.

 

Then why do they sell cache maintenance kits? Why does gc.com encourage us to occasionally do maintenance of other people's caches?

 

Let's say you are out in the Nevada desert on a 12-day camping trip, not power-trailing, a cache container is half shattered and the log is soaked from the current series of storms, it is a good cache site, the CO lives several hours away, people like this cache, you brought along a couple medium sized containers, you have a supply of logsheets and ziplocs, it is mid-week, mid-day and you just simply feel like doing a good deed for this cache?

 

And... you've got miles to go and it is totally impractical to contact the cache owner.

 

What good reason is there for me to just walk away from this situation when I feel like helping out?

 

All too often we see a cache "repaired" or "replaced" and the original is actually still right there, just fine, and ready to be found.

 

But just how often does this actually happen? We might read here about a few instances each month but I think that the forums amplify problems beyond what is actually happening out there.

 

Out of the nearest 1000 caches to your home location how many currently have two containers because of this? How often per year does it happen there?

 

I've seen it a handful of times in 7000 finds over 13 years. Maybe even 50 or 100 times which would be about 1% of our find count.

 

Edited to shorten.

Don't get me wrong here. There are certainly times when it might be ok. But, on the whole, I think that it's best to hold the line that it is the owner's job to maintain their caches. You could replace a container, but why not also post a NM log so that the owner goes out and makes sure that everything is alright at the cache site?

 

I don't know what to say about "selling cache maintenance kits", other than that I think they're great for me to use on my caches! :anicute:

 

All jokes aside, I don't see a problem with adding a temporary logsheet if need be, or adding a new ziplock baggie. What I don't always agree with is a broken container. If the container is broken, log the find (if pen is to paper on a logbook) and a NM. The owner can head out and take care of it. Otherwise, how do we know that we're not just simply prolonging a cache which isn't maintained by the owner in the first place? Again, I really think the onus needs to be on the owner of the cache from the onset if we're recommending something "to the masses".

 

If we want to discuss nuance, we can. But those nuances are hard to discuss when addressing a new cacher who may not have met enough derelict caches yet to understand when they should or shouldn't "replace a broken cache". To that end, I'd recommend a new cacher not replace a container, and instead report it via NM and contact the owner directly to offer to replace the cache if they can't. If the cache owner won't replace the container, the person can offer to adopt the listing. If the owner won't repair and won't adopt, then why keep the cache alive so that we all have to take care of it for someone else?

 

Again...nuance.

 

If a cache owner lives several hours away, I'd ask why they placed the cache if they can't maintain it in a reasonable amount of time? Certainly you remember the days where geocaches were not published unless Reviewers could honestly assess your ability to maintain the cache at X distance from your home coordinates or "usual geocaching radius"? Personally, if I'm on a camping trip and geocache, I'm not going to replace someone's geocache unless I've been asked to. I'll report a cache if it's obviously missing, or if the cache needs an owner visit to fix a container or other issue that isn't so easy as a new ziplock or a dry rag to wipe out a container. But that's just me.

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