Jump to content

According to Google Trends, interest in Geocaching is the lowest it's been in well over a decade


brendan714
Followers 3

Recommended Posts

See this link here for the Google Trends Chart.

 

I posted this in another geocaching forum elsewhere and it received a lot of attention. Many of the users on the forum are casual geocachers who have maybe found in the neighbourhood of a few dozen to a few hundred geocaches (ie not only experienced geocachers; which I would argue this forum consists of primarily). Many people replied stating reasons why this trend might be true. I'll list the main reasons, with the most agreed upon points first:

 

  1. Too many micros, too many power trails. The game has been watered down.
  2. Poorly planned, poorly executed, poorly maintained caches.
  3. Land managers (often Parks officials) restrict or outright ban geocaching in many fascinating areas.
  4. Issues with the app and/or the subscription model in the new app caused many to lose interest.
  5. Some found all/most the geocaches in their area long ago and lost interest in the game.
  6. Other virtual games or outdoor activities simply overtook their interest in geocaching.
  7. The game has become too competitive, and geocachers only care about statistics and competing for numbers.
  8. The local active geocaching community primarily consists of a few veteran geocachers who are elitist.

 

The points above are not my opinion - they are what many others have said and agreed upon. Many argued that geocaching was alive and well in their area, although that often seemed to be overshadowed by the above points.

 

So, the first question is whether you believe the trend is accurate? Next, do you agree with any of the points these other geocachers have made? If you said yes to either of those (or if have your own suggestion), what are some possible solutions, in your opinion?

Link to comment

Geocaching has only been around for ~17 years. It makes sense, regardless of all the other gripes, that there would be a gradual increase in people going "geocaching, what's that" for a time, and then a gradual decrease. If general awareness of geocaching has more or less reached its saturation point, there are very few new people going "geocaching, what's that" and searching for it.

Link to comment

Geocaching has only been around for ~17 years. It makes sense, regardless of all the other gripes, that there would be a gradual increase in people going "geocaching, what's that" for a time, and then a gradual decrease. If general awareness of geocaching has more or less reached its saturation point, there are very few new people going "geocaching, what's that" and searching for it.

Yes, a good point. Although a similar search for 'What is Geocaching' says this search actually peaked last summer. Whether or not you can/do believe the data is true is another point entirely. But, it does raise some interesting thoughts and discussion points regardless!

Edited by brendan714
Link to comment

Looks like a couple of things going on. One is the graph on GT, which doesn't describe the source of the data. If it's just the website traffic, then I'm not surprised, if it doesn't take into account the mobile app traffic as well.

 

The second part is just opinions based upon conjecture about a graph I don't know much about.

 

I'm pretty sure Groundspeak keeps pretty close tabs on this sort of thing, since this pretty much defines their future direction.

 

All in all, it gets a "meh" from me.

Link to comment

Geocaching has only been around for ~17 years. It makes sense, regardless of all the other gripes, that there would be a gradual increase in people going "geocaching, what's that" for a time, and then a gradual decrease. If general awareness of geocaching has more or less reached its saturation point, there are very few new people going "geocaching, what's that" and searching for it.

Yes, a good point. Although a similar search for 'What is Geocaching' says this search actually peaked last summer. Whether or not you can/do believe the data is true is another point entirely. But, it does raise some interesting thoughts and discussion points regardless!

 

I believe the data is true, but I'm less inclined to give credence to the attached analysis, which seems to be little more than a litany of complaints that is only tangentially related to the data itself.

 

I'm mildly curious to know if the proliferation of voice recognition has changed the way people search for things. I say this because I wouldn't type "what is geocaching," but I would probably say it to my phone.

Link to comment

One is the graph on GT, which doesn't describe the source of the data.

If you're curious, I found a page that describes where the data comes from. There are also a few other topics there which may help you to better understand the graph.

OK, that makes sense. Thanks for the link. Since the data source doesn't actually represent traffic on the site, but merely search results on Google, I'm less inclined to put much weight in it.

 

I agree with narcissa, that the "litany" is pretty much what has been going around for years now, with or without a graph.

Link to comment

a litany of complaints that is only tangentially related to the data itself.

I agree. But it's often responses from people saying "yeah, I used to geocache. Here's why I lost interest."

Keep in mind many of those points are made from people who used to enjoy the game and are perhaps trying to explain their own personal reason for not geocaching anymore. In that way, it might help to explain the trend (if it is true). It's almost like an exit survey in a way, asking people why they left. I'm sure their opinions in some way represent why the trend is sloping downward. But yes, I agree this is maybe just overanalyzing the potentially unreliable data.

Link to comment

a litany of complaints that is only tangentially related to the data itself.

I agree. But it's often responses from people saying "yeah, I used to geocache. Here's why I lost interest."

Keep in mind many of those points are made from people who used to enjoy the game and are perhaps trying to explain their own personal reason for not geocaching anymore. In that way, it might help to explain the trend (if it is true). It's almost like an exit survey in a way, asking people why they left. I'm sure their opinions in some way represent why the trend is sloping downward. But yes, I agree this is maybe just overanalyzing the potentially unreliable data.

 

I don't think the data is unreliable.

Link to comment

Or maybe people aren't searching for "geocaching" as much because geocaching is more mainstream, so fewer local feature articles about this "unusual GPS game" are being written.

 

Or maybe people aren't searching for "geocaching" as much because the search features of the geocaching.com site are improving, so geocachers don't need to use Google to find the geocaches they're interested in.

 

Or maybe people aren't searching for "geocaching" as much because other things have been on their minds recently.

 

Or maybe...

Link to comment

Good synopsis of the discussion brendan714.

 

I found this Feb 2016 discussion on Reddit to be very informative, in particular TassieTigers graphs .

 

It's grown, in theory...... but based on data from my country [Australia] there is a huge amount of people who come in, find a handful and go away. We are talking the majority. It looks bigger, but Geocaching on a percentage basis isn't retaining players in the numbers it used to.

 

Most players find less than ten caches before losing interest.

 

I'll try to find the analysis I did. It was quite an eye opener.

 

[EDIT] Found it:

 

Out of 110497 people who have logged caches in Australia since 2000, 3/4 of them (82,000) have only ever found 17 caches or less!

 

3/4 of all people who've cached in Australia stopped logging caches at or before 224 days! 1/2 of them (55,000 or so) stopped caching within 2 weeks!

 

Growth of new cachers is pretty spectacular with 32000+ new players in 2014, however the longevity of most is still quite low: 3/4 of those people found < 9 caches and logged for only one month (approx)

 

It would seem that geocaching, although increasing in numbers does have any real significant 'stickyness'.

 

The moral of this story: Embrace the new players, but don't bother to remember their names, they won't be around for long (statistically)

 

You might think it's growing, you ARE seeeing more new names in the logs, but they ain't sticking around!

 

If I made my business selling premium memberships I'd be fair s***ting myself.

 

http://imgur.com/6RFhKES

 

http://imgur.com/3om0GAf

 

http://imgur.com/M5AXELN

 

http://imgur.com/J8mmplR

 

http://imgur.com/hnrskQv

 

http://imgur.com/mqN080E

 

 

Retention statistics by country would be interesting to see.

I would also be interested to see a graph of active geocachers, what their find stats look like over time. Are the majority of active geocachers as active, more active, less active?

Edited by L0ne.R
Link to comment

I don't think the data is unreliable.

Then what do you conclude from it?

That the data is interesting and worth considering, but the attached analysis jumps to conclusions and has little relation to it.

If you believe the data, you should be able to discuss what the data means and suggest reasons why the data is doing what it's doing. Science 101, right? If what other people are saying jumps to a hasty conclusion, then what is your conclusion? Saying that the data is interesting isn't a conclusion. :)

Link to comment

I don't think the data is unreliable.

Then what do you conclude from it?

That the data is interesting and worth considering, but the attached analysis jumps to conclusions and has little relation to it.

If you believe the data, you should be able to discuss what the data means and suggest reasons why the data is doing what it's doing. Science 101, right? If what other people are saying jumps to a hasty conclusion, then what is your conclusion? Saying that the data is interesting isn't a conclusion. :)

 

I am confident that Google is reliable about collecting data, which is why I believe at a glance that the data they have collected is reliable. The data is quite distinct from the discussion / interpretation that it's being conflated with.

 

I haven't analyzed the data, so I am not going to interpret it. At this point, all I can say is that it is interesting, and suggest that there are innumerable theories that might explain why the data is like that.

Link to comment

I'd like to think this "trend" is simply phone users who found another app to go to.

Those who cater to those folks should know to factor that in.

The other 2/3rds even has found a handful of similar "games" to geocaching, though none were as interesting (to her).

We know of a couple who left this hobby (temporarily or not) to play that pokemon thing, and another that just scans stickers.

 

I look at it as any other hobby, with spurts of interest when something triggers a large group's attention, then slowly "gets back to normal" when other interests arise.

- Sorta like all the flyfishers I taught after many saw "A river runs through it". :)

Guess Brad Pitt probably had a lot to do with it...

Today, I could count on one hand how many I've bumped into.

 

But the "complaints" seem to be issues that folks caching awhile often speak of, and may be why there's a current thread on "Geocaching HQ has a new focus on geocache quality and health for 2017".

Maybe the site realizes they may need to keep this old fart GPSr user around a while after all. :)

Link to comment

I haven't analyzed the data, so I am not going to interpret it. At this point, all I can say is that it is interesting, and suggest that there are innumerable theories that might explain why the data is like that.

If you haven't analyzed the data in at least some way, then how can you say that the conclusions of others are hasty and have little relation to the data? Sounds like a contradiction. If you agree with the data, you can't disagree with others without first analyzing the data, interpreting it and formulating your own conclusion. If you don't wish to analyze the data, that's fine, but you can't disagree with other people who have analyzed it without doing so yourself.

Link to comment

I'd like to think this "trend" is simply phone users who found another app to go to.

Those who cater to those folks should know to factor that in.

The other 2/3rds even has found a handful of similar "games" to geocaching, though none were as interesting (to her).

We know of a couple who left this hobby (temporarily or not) to play that pokemon thing, and another that just scans stickers.

 

I look at it as any other hobby, with spurts of interest when something triggers a large group's attention, then slowly "gets back to normal" when other interests arise.

- Sorta like all the flyfishers I taught after many saw "A river runs through it". :)

Guess Brad Pitt probably had a lot to do with it...

Today, I could count on one hand how many I've bumped into.

 

But the "complaints" seem to be issues that folks caching awhile often speak of, and may be why there's a current thread on "Geocaching HQ has a new focus on geocache quality and health for 2017".

Maybe the site realizes they may need to keep this old fart GPSr user around a while after all. :)

Indeed, GCHQ focusing on geocache quality and health would address one of the major points made by others in my first post. I think that's a great step forward in the right direction!

Link to comment

I haven't analyzed the data, so I am not going to interpret it. At this point, all I can say is that it is interesting, and suggest that there are innumerable theories that might explain why the data is like that.

If you haven't analyzed the data in at least some way, then how can you say that the conclusions of others are hasty and have little relation to the data? Sounds like a contradiction. If you agree with the data, you can't disagree with others without first analyzing the data, interpreting it and formulating your own conclusion. If you don't wish to analyze the data, that's fine, but you can't disagree with other people who have analyzed it without doing so yourself.

 

I agree that the data shows that Google searches for "geocaching" appear to be trending downward. I think we can all agree on that, unless someone's looking at the graph upside down.

 

I don't really agree or disagree with any of the theories on offer. There's nothing to support them either way. I think it's unwise to attach a list of theories / complaints to the link as though it's an authoritative analysis, when it's really just a bunch of conjecture with no real analytical basis.

 

But it is interesting that searches for "geocaching" appear to be declining. The seasonal changes in searches are also cool to see in the data.

Link to comment

So, the first question is whether you believe the trend is accurate?

Perhaps it would help if you'd clarify what trend you think the graph reveals. All I learned from the graph is that fewer people are searching for geocaching, and my reaction to that is a shrug.

 

Next, do you agree with any of the points these other geocachers have made?

Are you asking if I agree those are fundamental problems with geocaching, or do I agree those are reasons fewer people are searching for geocaching? I don't think any of those are fundamental problems. A few are valid observations -- although I haven't seen it in my area, some forum threads suggest that there's a trend of more awareness and control of geocaching by land managers, and there is that other game that's more likely to attract newbies -- but I don't see either of those trends as negatives. I want land managers to be interested in geocaching, so I find that encouraging even though some land managers have decided to view geocaching negatively. And it doesn't matter to me if fewer people geocaching because they prefer chasing virtual creatures with make believe balls. More power to them!

 

The other points are just complaints based on a limit dataset that I doubt have anything to do with the graph. I actually don't see any of those tactical problems in my area, so while I'm sad some people are having those problems, I recognize them as local phenomena, not as strategic problems with geocaching.

 

If you said yes to either of those (or if have your own suggestion), what are some possible solutions, in your opinion?

I don't see a problem. Even if you interpret the graph as reflecting a loss of interest in geocaching over the last couple years, from my point of view the game is vibrant and successful, so I'm not worried that dwindling numbers are going to cause geocaching a problem any time soon.

Link to comment

Retention statistics by country would be interesting to see.

I would also be interested to see a graph of active geocachers, what their find stats look like over time. Are the majority of active geocachers as active, more active, less active?

Indeed, that would be interesting.

Here's something somewhat similar that might give a little more info to help explain the Google Trend. It's country statistics from Project GC. It only has data for 2016/2017, but I found some data comparing 2015/2016 from another poster on this forum in the "Is Geocaching Dead?" topic:

Active cachers from United States 2016 2015 Difference

Last week 14948 29428 -14480 -49%

Last month 67163 87354 -20191 -23%

Since 1st of January 594709 643006 -48297 -8%

Whole year 594710 645009 -50299 -8%

 

Active cachers in United States 2016 2015 Difference

Last week 15040 29553 -14513 -49%

Last month 68425 88652 -20227 -23%

Since 1st of January 617020 665815 -48795 -7%

Whole year 617024 667912 -50888 -8%

 

Active cachers in and from United States 2016 2015 Difference

Last week 14573 28854 -14281 -49%

Last month 66214 86245 -20031 -23%

Since 1st of January 591995 640608 -48613 -8%

Whole year 591996 642612 -50616 -8%

I haven't looked into this stuff enough (and I probably won't be bothered to do so), but at first glance there seems to be a correlation between the data Project GC has regarding relative numbers of active cachers and the general downward trend on Google Trends.

Link to comment

I haven't analyzed the data, so I am not going to interpret it. At this point, all I can say is that it is interesting, and suggest that there are innumerable theories that might explain why the data is like that.

If you haven't analyzed the data in at least some way, then how can you say that the conclusions of others are hasty and have little relation to the data? Sounds like a contradiction. If you agree with the data, you can't disagree with others without first analyzing the data, interpreting it and formulating your own conclusion. If you don't wish to analyze the data, that's fine, but you can't disagree with other people who have analyzed it without doing so yourself.

 

I agree that the data shows that Google searches for "geocaching" appear to be trending downward. I think we can all agree on that, unless someone's looking at the graph upside down.

 

I don't really agree or disagree with any of the theories on offer. There's nothing to support them either way. I think it's unwise to attach a list of theories / complaints to the link as though it's an authoritative analysis, when it's really just a bunch of conjecture with no real analytical basis.

 

But it is interesting that searches for "geocaching" appear to be declining. The seasonal changes in searches are also cool to see in the data.

Yup, I'm with you on that. I think that's fair :)

Link to comment

If the decline in searches does indicate a decline in overall interest, I'd still be inclined to postulate that the decline is a matter of saturation, more than a matter of people leaving the game because of various complaints.

 

If that is the case, then maybe we can all look forward to a period of time where there are far fewer people joining for a couple of weeks, tossing out a couple of junk caches and then ghosting. But that's also conjecture.

Link to comment

So, the first question is whether you believe the trend is accurate?

Perhaps it would help if you'd clarify what trend you think the graph reveals. All I learned from the graph is that fewer people are searching for geocaching, and my reaction to that is a shrug.

In my opinion it may give some evidence to believe that the general interest in geocaching is declining, and has been for maybe 5 years or more. And this trend seems to be slowly accelerating as of late. More data would be needed to say for sure - this is just one little piece of the puzzle. But if this trend IS true, it's hard to say why that might be. It's probably because of a wide range of things. But, I must say that I agree with some (not all) of the points the others made which I outlined in my first post. I've recently found it very disappointing to hear of rather large restrictions placed on geocaching in our Provincial and National Parks (Alberta, Canada) within the past year or two. I've found myself lately doing other outdoor activities in the Parks besides geocaching.

 

Next, do you agree with any of the points these other geocachers have made?

The other points are just complaints based on a limit dataset that I doubt have anything to do with the graph. I actually don't see any of those tactical problems in my area, so while I'm sad some people are having those problems, I recognize them as local phenomena, not as strategic problems with geocaching.

I agree, they're just complaints. But some people claimed to have stopped geocaching because of "X". Perhaps I'm just not as in-tune with the larger caching community around my city as I used to be a few years ago, but things seem kind of quiet (apart from the regular geocachers). Maybe I just need to get out more!

 

If you said yes to either of those (or if have your own suggestion), what are some possible solutions, in your opinion?

I don't see a problem. Even if you interpret the graph as reflecting a loss of interest in geocaching over the last couple years, from my point of view the game is vibrant and successful, so I'm not worried that dwindling numbers are going to cause geocaching a problem any time soon.

Let's hope so! :)

Link to comment

But some people claimed to have stopped geocaching because of "X".

Some people leave geocaching. Nothing novel there: people leave hobbies all the time. Some people cite reason X. That's just anecdotal evidence. It doesn't even tell us X is widely true in their area, just that they noticed it and it annoyed them. And it also doesn't tell us X is a widespread problem, and my experience is that none of those are. But the bottom line is it doesn't tell us there's a general trend of people leaving geocaching because of X, and, from what I see, I doubt those issues are a factor. When I hear someone cite tactical problems like that for leaving geocaching, I often can't shake the feeling that what I'm hearing is really just geocaching justifications for a decision that has unstated non-geocaching root causes.

 

And most importantly, if you do think those things are a problem, then I think the solution is obvious: places that have those problems should work on developing a geocaching culture in which they don't happen. I smugly suggest that we should avoid causing problems in other areas by "fixing" those problems through changes to geocaching itself. That's exactly what happened when the "wide spread problems" with challenge caches -- problems I never saw -- were "fixed", killing the popular challenge cache culture in my area. (Although I hasten to add that I don't think anyone left geocaching because challenge caches were killed off...)

Link to comment

But some people claimed to have stopped geocaching because of "X".

Some people leave geocaching. Nothing novel there: people leave hobbies all the time. Some people cite reason X. That's just anecdotal evidence.

 

Most people leave geocaching, just as most people leave other hobbies as well. Indeed, over my time caching I have seen a lot of fanatic cachers come and go. In my experience, with a few notable exceptions (*cough* alamogul *cough*) the most fanatical cachers tend to burn out after about 3-5 years.

 

A more interesting question is whether Groundspeak's apparent focus on generating new cachers rather than retaining existing ones is best for the hobby. In my admittedly narrow view, I think it's not, but I am hardly a disinterested bystander, so I don't take my own opinion very seriously.

Link to comment

If the decline in searches does indicate a decline in overall interest, I'd still be inclined to postulate that the decline is a matter of saturation, more than a matter of people leaving the game because of various complaints.

 

If that is the case, then maybe we can all look forward to a period of time where there are far fewer people joining for a couple of weeks, tossing out a couple of junk caches and then ghosting. But that's also conjecture.

 

In THAT we are in agreement.

Link to comment

And most importantly, if you do think those things are a problem, then I think the solution is obvious: places that have those problems should work on developing a geocaching culture in which they don't happen.

It's sometimes not that easy. What happens if the community doesn't or can't fix the problem? For example, how can I convince our Parks officials to allow relatively unrestricted geocaching inside our Provincial and National Parks? It's a barrier to the game, and I don't see it changing any time soon. Sure, that's maybe the extreme example and I know I can geocache in areas outside the parks. But I'm not prepared to always leave the parks just to participate in geocaching - hence my participation in geocaching has seen a decline.

 

Some others might think the same about other topics too depending on the issue.

 

I truly think that some of the problems I outlined are, in fact, legitimate problems to certain people in certain areas. To sweep it under the carpet and say all of these issues don't exist whatsoever might be the wrong approach. And it's often hard to change an established community or culture without serious intervention.

 

Assuming some of the items on the list ARE problems, how would we go about fixing them? It's not an easy question to answer!

Link to comment

But some people claimed to have stopped geocaching because of "X".

Some people leave geocaching. Nothing novel there: people leave hobbies all the time. Some people cite reason X. That's just anecdotal evidence.

 

Most people leave geocaching, just as most people leave other hobbies as well. Indeed, over my time caching I have seen a lot of fanatic cachers come and go. In my experience, with a few notable exceptions (*cough* alamogul *cough*) the most fanatical cachers tend to burn out after about 3-5 years.

 

A more interesting question is whether Groundspeak's apparent focus on generating new cachers rather than retaining existing ones is best for the hobby. In my admittedly narrow view, I think it's not, but I am hardly a disinterested bystander, so I don't take my own opinion very seriously.

 

I'm with ya. In all facets of your statement.

 

I'd like to toss another reason for leaving Geocaching into the mix: Overzealous and/or inconsistent rule enforcement. I've heard both neophyte and veteran cachers make this complaint, and cite this as a reason for their losing interest in Caching.

 

I have to say, among the reasons listed in the OP, I'd never heard anyone complain that there were only a few cachers in their area, and that those cachers were elitist snobs. As someone who has taken a day and gone back over caches I've already found so that I could help new cachers get comfortable with caching, it's incomprehensible to me that someone would be that much of a jerk. When you can help new cachers learn, the new cachers don't make so many of the faux pas that everyone complains about.

Link to comment

I have to say, among the reasons listed in the OP, I'd never heard anyone complain that there were only a few cachers in their area, and that those cachers were elitist snobs.

This was a minor complaint brought up in the discussion (it's the last one on the list and I almost thought of not even adding it on). I've got to say, I've never heard of that being a problem either. But I see how it potentially could be a problem if it were true.

Link to comment

I agree that the data shows that Google searches for "geocaching" appear to be trending downward. I think we can all agree on that, unless someone's looking at the graph upside down.... But it is interesting that searches for "geocaching" appear to be declining.

All I learned from the graph is that fewer people are searching for geocaching...

In my opinion it may give some evidence to believe that the general interest in geocaching is declining, and has been for maybe 5 years or more.

But the Google Trends data isn't an estimate of the total number of searches for "geocaching" on Google. Instead, it's normalized data showing the relative popularity of "geocaching" searches compared to all other searches at a given moment in time.

 

In July, 2011, "geocaching" searches didn't peak at 100 billion searches. In July, 2011, searches for "geocaching" was at its highest proportion of total searches (so Google assigned a value of 100 to it). For the sake of discussion, let's say that in July, 2011, there were 1 billion "geocaching" searches vs. 1 gazillion total searches. In July, 2016, the relative popularity of "geocaching" searches had fallen to 64 percent of what it was in July, 2011 (so Google assigned a value of 64 to it).

 

But the total number of Google searches has increased over time, so we don't know whether the actual number of "geocaching" searches has gone up or down. If there were 15 gazillion total Google searches in July, 2016, then (based on our previous assumption) there were 9.6 billion "geocaching" searches in July, 2016. (1 billion * (15 gazillion / 1 gazillion) * 0.64 = 9.6 billion.) That would reflect a huge increase in the actual number of "geocaching" searches (1 billion vs. 9.6 billion).

 

On the other hand, maybe there were only 1.5 gazillion total Google searches in July, 2016. If so, then there were only 0.96 billion "geocaching" searches in July, 2016. That would reflect a slight decline in the actual number of "geocaching" searches (1 billion vs. 0.96 billion).

 

So, have "geocaching" searches increased or decreased over the past few years? We don't know, because Google doesn't publish how many total searches they've performed over the years.

 

Google says:

 

What’s most useful for storytelling is our normalized Trends data. This means that when we look at search interest over time for a topic, we’re looking at that interest as a proportion of all searches on all topics on Google at that time and location.
Edited by CanadianRockies
Link to comment

I have to say, among the reasons listed in the OP, I'd never heard anyone complain that there were only a few cachers in their area, and that those cachers were elitist snobs.

This was a minor complaint brought up in the discussion (it's the last one on the list and I almost thought of not even adding it on). I've got to say, I've never heard of that being a problem either. But I see how it potentially could be a problem if it were true.

 

I have heard this complaint around here from time to time. It's patently untrue, but I've heard it.

Link to comment

a litany of complaints that is only tangentially related to the data itself.

I agree. But it's often responses from people saying "yeah, I used to geocache. Here's why I lost interest."

Keep in mind many of those points are made from people who used to enjoy the game and are perhaps trying to explain their own personal reason for not geocaching anymore. In that way, it might help to explain the trend (if it is true). It's almost like an exit survey in a way, asking people why they left. I'm sure their opinions in some way represent why the trend is sloping downward. But yes, I agree this is maybe just overanalyzing the potentially unreliable data.

Once I've found geocaching, I don't need to do very many Google searches. I think a dropoff in Google searches is a better measure of new interest rather than for people losing interest and going away. I agree with the people who observed that geocaching is much more mainstream now, so that fewer people are hearing about it for the first time and saying "what's that? I think I will do a Google search for it."

 

I found out about geocaching in 2002 because my daughter was studying "pirates" in elementary school, and told me that she wanted to go on a "real treasure hunt." Geocaching came up in the search results for "treasure hunt," and the rest is history.

Link to comment

So, have "geocaching" searches increased or decreased over the past few years? We don't know, because Google doesn't publish how many total searches they've performed over the years.

True, but the percentage of searches about geocaching has declined significantly. That could suggest a decrease in popularity. The data does show that if X% of all searches were about geocaching in 2011, it's now ~(X/5)%. That's a fairly significant drop. It's hard to interpret exactly how many searches that equates to without more data, you're right.

But, see below...

 

I think a dropoff in Google searches is a better measure of new interest rather than for people losing interest and going away.

Regardless of what the Google Trends data may really mean, it's hard to dispute the numbers from Project GC (posted above) which show a decrease in the number of active geocachers (a decrease of 8% in the USA from 2015 to 2016). It's too bad they don't share longer term data - it would be interesting to plot active cachers and Google Trend data on the same time frame to see if there's a correlation.

Link to comment

I read through all of the comments and I was truly impressed with the maturity and level of discussion of this topic. I was drawn to this topic as I work in websites and a major part of my job is analyzing Google Trends and suggesting improvements.

 

I see this entire topic as having two separate functions... 1) exactly what the title says it is - a look at the Google Trends, and 2) A list of "what's wrong with geocaching".

 

1) It seems that most people are intrigued and are looking at the data and providing valuable insight. One thought I had was that last year there was a huge push to add "geocaching" to the Scrabble dictionary. This drew a lot of attention from an entirely different subset of people. This drummed up a lot of interest in the hobby. I also remember when the app came out and people started looking for outdoor games and stumbled on the app and started playing (or started researching - therefore spiking the Trends). Ken Jennings being on Jeopardy and talking about geocaching caused a spike, too, I'll bet. Lots of possibilities why the trends are down this past year (in addition to people losing interest, getting frustrated, etc.)

 

2) As far as "what's wrong with Geocaching" there are a number of threads about that on this forum, and this gets discussed often amongst people on Facebook groups, in geocaching gatherings, and as friends go out caching together. I've heard all of the complaints you brought up. It's contagious: "Yeah - I've felt that way, but never knew how to phrase it.", "I've never thought about that before, but you're right!", "Not only that, but..." In the end, most of the old cachers I know who quit, quit because they got upset about something and got enough people to agree with them to validate their frustration... so they took other people down with them. New cachers quit because the old cachers were too busy licking their wounds to care about training the new cachers, or the new cachers either didn't care about geocaching guidelines and local norms or didn't know how to become a part of the community to learn more about geocaching. I also believe this is part of why pokemon go was such a flash in the pan, community struggles.

 

All of these observations are MY OBSERVATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS based on my local experience... and should not be taken any further than that. I feel similarly about others' conclusions when they try to tell me what's wrong with geocaching and what Groundspeak should do to fix it - you have lovely suggestions, thanks for your interesting input, same old, same old. I'm not diminishing your suggestions and possible solutions, I've just seen them a lot, and seeing them again and again worries me because of what I stated earlier about it being contagious.

 

I guess I've enjoyed this game long enough and had enough ups and downs with geocaching to recognize that Groundspeak is working hard to make money and stay profitable, and make the game enjoyable enough to do just that. I assume they have people MUCH better at analyzing the trends than I am, and are constantly trying to evolve to gain popularity in a world that's creating more and more augmented reality, geolocation games, and escapist experiences.

 

I just hit 5000 caches and am looking forward to my next 5k. I'm not even in the top 200 in Ohio. As of right now, I think geocaching will be just fine. :)

Link to comment

So, have "geocaching" searches increased or decreased over the past few years? We don't know, because Google doesn't publish how many total searches they've performed over the years.

True, but the percentage of searches about geocaching has declined significantly. That could suggest a decrease in popularity.

It could suggest a decrease in popularity. Or it could suggest that people are Googling a broader range of topics these days. For example, I wouldn't be surprised if, today, lots of Internet users turn to Google to look up the definition of "Fascism," whereas plenty of folks would have been more likely to open their paper dictionaries five years ago. The lack of information from Google Trends makes it difficult to draw good conjectures from their data.

 

The data does show that if X% of all searches were about geocaching in 2011, it's now ~(X/5)%. That's a fairly significant drop.

You're comparing July, 2011, (normalized score = 100) with Dec., 2016, (normalized score = 21). That is a fairly significant drop, but it's not a fair comparison for a seasonally-affected term like "geocaching." A better comparison is between July, 2011, and July, 2016, where the normalized scores are 100 vs. 64. That's a significantly smaller drop, which easily could be explained by a broader use of Google over the past five years (see above).

 

I think a dropoff in Google searches is a better measure of new interest rather than for people losing interest and going away.

Regardless of what the Google Trends data may really mean, it's hard to dispute the numbers from Project GC (posted above) which show a decrease in the number of active geocachers (a decrease of 8% in the USA from 2015 to 2016).

Yes. If I was working at the Lily Pad, then I'd be far more concerned about the much clearer Project GC numbers than I would be about the very vague Google Trends data.

Edited by CanadianRockies
Link to comment

Yes. If I was working at the Lily Pad, then I'd be far more concerned about the much clearer Project GC numbers than I would be about the very vague Google Trends data.

I would contend that they are paying attention, hence the hubbub about 2017 and cache quality. The number #1 way to increase the stickiness of new players is to make the object that they are looking for more appealing. They can either do that by the trying to make the find experience better or by some sort of new metric/reward system. I think the experiment of giving in to the high numbers players has failed the game. You can say "ignore the junk and find what you want to find" over and over and over and maybe you even believe it but overall, that mentality does have a negative impact on the game overtime.
Link to comment

I truly think that some of the problems I outlined are, in fact, legitimate problems to certain people in certain areas. To sweep it under the carpet and say all of these issues don't exist whatsoever might be the wrong approach.

I'm not saying these problems don't exist. I'm pointing out that they're local issues which call for local solutions. I'm not saying the local solutions are easy, but am I suggesting that there are no solutions other than local solutions to them.

 

And it's often hard to change an established community or culture without serious intervention.

I see this the other way around: if a community which allows those things isn't changed, nothing that happens in the broader world of geocaching is going to make much difference.

 

Assuming some of the items on the list ARE problems, how would we go about fixing them? It's not an easy question to answer!

The answer for myself is to encourage people complaining about things to look at themselves to see what they can do to change them so they stop waiting for the problems to be fixed by an act of god. I suspect that's also the only answer for geocaching in general, but I'd be happy to be proved wrong with the appearance of something more universal, like something Groundspeak can do, that would help people improve their local culture beyond simply encouraging them to do so. But I fear the problem here is more like addiction: no one from outside can help a broken community until it decides to help itself.

Link to comment

a few years ago I heard about geocaching from a friend, I've NEVER seen any advertisements for anything that would indicate this hobby existed. Now I'm very much into it, and could honestly care less about high numbers, I find caches, I hide caches "I purposely to avoid hiding to many micros, and try to make each hide fun and different in some way". It's very clear why the popularity has gone down, NOBODY knows about it! Maybe a few commercials, or youtube ads could turn the hobby's interest around? Also an idea, maybe Groundspeak could seek volunteers from each county to pass out or hang a few flashy flyers, informing people that this hobby exists? It's good for your health, and good for the family.

Edited by Wildguineapig530
Link to comment

I think a dropoff in Google searches is a better measure of new interest rather than for people losing interest and going away.

Regardless of what the Google Trends data may really mean, it's hard to dispute the numbers from Project GC (posted above) which show a decrease in the number of active geocachers (a decrease of 8% in the USA from 2015 to 2016).

Yes. If I was working at the Lily Pad, then I'd be far more concerned about the much clearer Project GC numbers than I would be about the very vague Google Trends data.

Okay, so the Google Trend shows that it's possible the popularity is dropping, and Project GC definitely shows a drop in activity between 2015 and 2016 (8%; and the drop so far in January 2017 compared to January 2016 is a whopping 40%!).

The next question is: why? Why are we seeing a decline in interest instead of a stagnation or even a steady increase?

What are some of the possible reasons, and, more importantly, is there any way to fix this trend?

Link to comment

and Project GC definitely shows a drop in activity between 2015 and 2016 (8%; and the drop so far in January 2017 compared to January 2016 is a whopping 40%!).

 

Just a short comment: Do not rely on short term data of project-gc as many cachers are way behind with logging (from days to weeks to months) - I have a backlog again too. From my experience with the data of various stat sites (including a local one) one needs to wait for quite some time until the year and month data are almost "complete".

 

Moreover, there are of course weather effects too. For example, in my area January 2016 was quite warm and there was no snow. Right now we have the coldest January in 30 years and even in my area a snow cover (not very thick) which together with the ice makes caching more difficult.

 

Month data are not very reliable except when a trend can be seen for a whole year or preferably for a longer time.

Link to comment

  1. Too many micros, too many power trails. The game has been watered down.
  2. Poorly planned, poorly executed, poorly maintained caches.
  3. Land managers (often Parks officials) restrict or outright ban geocaching in many fascinating areas.
  4. Issues with the app and/or the subscription model in the new app caused many to lose interest.
  5. Some found all/most the geocaches in their area long ago and lost interest in the game.
  6. Other virtual games or outdoor activities simply overtook their interest in geocaching.
  7. The game has become too competitive, and geocachers only care about statistics and competing for numbers.
  8. The local active geocaching community primarily consists of a few veteran geocachers who are elitist.

 

Saying these points "have been agreed upon" is not really worth saying. Agreed upon by whom? How are these discussed? Here in the forums? Is a nationwide poll given to geocachers of all types? Nothing is "agreed upon" or "settled"...so let's dispense with that, shall we?

 

Honestly, the second and third points are the only ones that I believe have a measurable impact. In my own case, my own decrease is due almost 100% to the fact that I've found most, if not all, of the caches in the areas I can get to easily in my day-to-day activities. Where is THAT in your list?

Link to comment

FWIW, my GC mailbox used to be flooded quite often. But now, I only get a handful notifications every day. Almost no new publications in a 40km circle, my caches almost get no more visits... I know it's a very cold winter here, but the trend started even before. A lot of the most active cachers of the area have singularly reduced their interest, some even almost completely stopped playing.

It may bea local phenomenon. It may not...

I'd say the main reason is the poor quality of the new caches placed. I guess that after a while, cachers just no longer want to go out looking for micros without interest.

From the guidelines:

"When you go to hide a geocache, think of the reason you are bringing people to that spot. If the only reason is for the geocache, then find a better spot."

This very first guideline is hardly followed. If it were, geocaching might be more interesting, don't you think

Link to comment

Do you know what cache violates that guideline--put a cache in a spot where you want people to come? Why it's...Mingo, the oldest active cache in the world. I was so very disappointed when I found it. Boring spot right off the highway. Arikaree, now, that was a pretty spot.

Of course, when Mingo was placed that guideline (or any other guideline) did not exist. GC.com didn't start until a few months after those oldie's were placed. Look at the first cache placed - it "violated" many current guidelines (uninteresting spot, buried, on private property without permission, contained food). So what?

Link to comment

Of course, when Mingo was placed that guideline (or any other guideline) did not exist. GC.com didn't start until a few months after those oldie's were placed. Look at the first cache placed - it "violated" many current guidelines (uninteresting spot, buried, on private property without permission, contained food). So what?

 

While I'm not surprised about caches like Mingo (they were motivated by people thrilled about the idea that GPS-receivers could now be used to guide someone to a container) and also not about that many cachers invest a lot of money and time to go visit such a cache, I do not agree however

that "interesting spot" is one of the current guidelines - it#s just an empty statement made. Power trails and many other developments speak a clear language. Moreover, there exist many highly celebrated caches which are placed at boring locations but are praised due to the set-up of the cache.

Edited by cezanne
Link to comment

Do you know what cache violates that guideline--put a cache in a spot where you want people to come? Why it's...Mingo, the oldest active cache in the world. I was so very disappointed when I found it. Boring spot right off the highway. Arikaree, now, that was a pretty spot.

Of course, when Mingo was placed that guideline (or any other guideline) did not exist. GC.com didn't start until a few months after those oldie's were placed. Look at the first cache placed - it "violated" many current guidelines (uninteresting spot, buried, on private property without permission, contained food). So what?

 

Was it every OK to dig out the hole the work crew filled, then pour concrete to give the cache a more permanent ground hole? Groundspeak lost a lot of guideline integrity when it allowed that cache to stand.

 

Editted to add some history:

 

"In this example (the Mingo example) the hole was not pre-existing. Initially the ground was probably augered (as opposed to shoveled out) to make a round hole for the container. But that was in 2000, pre no digging guideline, which took effect early 2001. At one point it was covered in concrete to prevent people from placing a cache there. Then a geocacher drilled into the concrete to fit a container. Drilling into the concrete violates the guidelines"

Edited by L0ne.R
Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Followers 3
×
×
  • Create New...