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fizzymagic

Fraudulent "Performed Maintenance" logs

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I've started noticing a new trend since the Cache Health Score (CHS) has come into play. When a Needs Maintenance log appears, the COs now seem to be responding with a Performed Maintenance log that indicates that no maintenance was actually performed.  Something to the effect of "I will check on the cache soon."  And in the case of at least three caches I sought this weekend, no such check ever took place (in the case of a couple of those caches, it has been over a year).

This development comes as no surprise whatsoever, of course.  It's a great example of completely foreseeable unintended consequences of new geocaching policies. What's interesting about this one is that is makes the situation worse than it was before.  Previously, unaddressed Needs Maintenance logs could be used to filter out caches that were likely to have problems; now, with the new perverse incentive, those caches look as if the maintenance issues were resolved when they were not.

It's a great lesson. Making what seem to be obvious changes to improve cache quality can have the exact opposite effect. Changes that have the potential to change the caching culture are especially tricky, because they can be impossible to reverse.

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14 minutes ago, fizzymagic said:

I've started noticing a new trend since the Cache Health Score (CHS) has come into play. When a Needs Maintenance log appears, the COs now seem to be responding with a Performed Maintenance log that indicates that no maintenance was actually performed.  Something to the effect of "I will check on the cache soon."  And in the case of at least three caches I sought this weekend, no such check ever took place (in the case of a couple of those caches, it has been over a year).

This development comes as no surprise whatsoever, of course.  It's a great example of completely foreseeable unintended consequences of new geocaching policies. What's interesting about this one is that is makes the situation worse than it was before.  Previously, unaddressed Needs Maintenance logs could be used to filter out caches that were likely to have problems; now, with the new perverse incentive, those caches look as if the maintenance issues were resolved when they were not.

It's a great lesson. Making what seem to be obvious changes to improve cache quality can have the exact opposite effect. Changes that have the potential to change the caching culture are especially tricky, because they can be impossible to reverse.

It's certainly likely that what you say is occurring in some cases, but I suspect there's a simpler and less nefarious cause for the increased misuse of the OM log.

When you go to submit a new log for a cache you own, the new logging page defaults to "Owner Maintenance" as the log type. A CO would have to manually change it to "Write Note" if that would be the most appropriate log type. I suspect it's just a case of laziness and/or a lack of awareness of when to use the different log types.

Edit to add: Maybe this is good evidence for changing the default to "Write Note"?

Edited by The A-Team
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I've noticed some of this before, and perhaps even a little bit more of this now.  I think that when CO's use the OM log when it is clear that maintenance is needed and no actual maintenance has been performed it is an abuse of the system.  If they log a OM for a cache that may mistakenly have been caught by the CHS, but reasonably does not require a check, this seems like an appropriate use.  It would take the human reviewer to likely determine this distinction, in much the same way that they would determine the distinction between a legitimate NA posted by a cacher, and a mistaken one.

As a side note, I don't think it makes sense to log a OM for this purpose or stating " I will check on this cache soon".  I find the 'I will check on this cache soon' notes seem to be rarely followed up on.  Better to state such intentions in a note. 

Edited by m0bean
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My very unscientific observations tell me that this isn't really something new, but maybe it's shown a slight uptick with the advent of the CHS.  My general sense of these non maintenance/owner maintenance type logs is a big meh!  I can appreciate the fact that these cache owners cared enough to come online and acknowledge the problem, but sooner or later, things will catch up with them.  For those that have the best intentions, but just lack the available time at that particular moment, I'm  good with letting them have some extra time to sort things out.

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19 minutes ago, fizzymagic said:

I've started noticing a new trend since the Cache Health Score (CHS) has come into play. When a Needs Maintenance log appears, the COs now seem to be responding with a Performed Maintenance log that indicates that no maintenance was actually performed.  Something to the effect of "I will check on the cache soon."  And in the case of at least three caches I sought this weekend, no such check ever took place (in the case of a couple of those caches, it has been over a year).

 

 

It is nothing new, but a common technique used by slacker cache owners to remove a red wrench. I see this normally from the cache owners with 1000 + caches, and usually something about it's okay to replace the film pot somewhere on the cache page or their profile. B)

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I am not really blaming the COs; I generally believe that they should be given a break.  This is more about the incentive structure that has been created that encourages the behavior, and the negative result on one's ability to filter out bad or missing caches.

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38 minutes ago, The A-Team said:

When you go to submit a new log for a cache you own, the new logging page defaults to "Owner Maintenance" as the log type. A CO would have to manually change it to "Write Note" if that would be the most appropriate log type. I suspect it's just a case of laziness and/or a lack of awareness of when to use the different log types.

Given the number of times I accidentally logged a Find on my own caches (when I intended to log an OM or a Note, back before OM was the default), I don't think either laziness or lack of awareness is required. Simple human fallibility is sufficient to explain the behavior.

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34 minutes ago, The A-Team said:

It's certainly likely that what you say is occurring in some cases, but I suspect there's a simpler and less nefarious cause for the increased misuse of the OM log.

When you go to submit a new log for a cache you own, the new logging page defaults to "Owner Maintenance" as the log type. A CO would have to manually change it to "Write Note" if that would be the most appropriate log type. I suspect it's just a case of laziness and/or a lack of awareness of when to use the different log types.

Edit to add: Maybe this is good evidence for changing the default to "Write Note"?

I kinda agree,  and one of the (many) reasons I still use the "old" log page, which leaves the log option to you.

We do act on logs, so leaving a Write Note of,  "Thanks for the heads-up, will check soon." makes a lot more sense.  :)

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26 minutes ago, fizzymagic said:

I am not really blaming the COs; I generally believe that they should be given a break.  This is more about the incentive structure that has been created that encourages the behavior, and the negative result on one's ability to filter out bad or missing caches.

 

I'm not sure what you mean by cache owners should be given a break, but I need a way to filter out bad caches with armchair maintenance without having to read the last logs from other finders. 

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Agreeing with A Team, I think the uptick in empty OM logs is because OM is now the default. 

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2 hours ago, Manville Possum said:

It is nothing new, but a common technique used by slacker cache owners to remove a red wrench. I see this normally from the cache owners with 1000+ caches

CO activity of any kind by someone with 1000 caches is kind of impressive, even false activity. Often by that point the CO is operating on a "publish it & forget it" mentality.

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1 hour ago, Isonzo Karst said:

Agreeing with A Team, I think the uptick in empty OM logs is because OM is now the default. 

It is also good to notice that CO can not change the OM to a Note afterwards. If CO would like to conceal the action, he would delete the entire log.

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2 hours ago, fizzymagic said:

I am not really blaming the COs; I generally believe that they should be given a break.  This is more about the incentive structure that has been created that encourages the behavior, and the negative result on one's ability to filter out bad or missing caches.

Based on what I've seen I blame the COs. Those I see do this over the years are slack owners who never go back to fix or replace the cache. It's just a delay tactic. I think they're hoping that someone throws down a cache in the time it takes for the next person to start the DNF>NM>NA>Reviewer Disable>Reviewer Archive cycle again. And yes, the tactic is increasing. I think it's because of more vigilant reviewers. 

 

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1 hour ago, L0ne.R said:

Based on what I've seen I blame the COs. Those I see do this over the years are slack owners who never go back to fix or replace the cache. It's just a delay tactic. I think they're hoping that someone throws down a cache in the time it takes for the next person to start the DNF>NM>NA>Reviewer Disable>Reviewer Archive cycle again. And yes, the tactic is increasing. I think it's because of more vigilant reviewers. 

 

You are right, of course.  But assigning blame is often not very helpful.  It is far more effective to design an incentive system in which people are rewarded for doing the right thing. Unfortunately, I believe that at least part of the incentive system as it stands rewards people for doing the wrong thing.

Interestingly, on this topic I think you and I agree.  I am unhappy that I can't use the little red wrenches to filter out bad caches any more.  IMO, we should be thinking about how to design incentives for inactive players or people who won't do maintenance, so that by archiving and removing their own bad caches they would receive some kind of positive reward.

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8 hours ago, The A-Team said:

It's certainly likely that what you say is occurring in some cases, but I suspect there's a simpler and less nefarious cause for the increased misuse of the OM log.

When you go to submit a new log for a cache you own, the new logging page defaults to "Owner Maintenance" as the log type. A CO would have to manually change it to "Write Note" if that would be the most appropriate log type. I suspect it's just a case of laziness and/or a lack of awareness of when to use the different log types.

Edit to add: Maybe this is good evidence for changing the default to "Write Note"?

I think it's an ever better reason to do away with default log types altogether and go back to the old system where you had to pick the log type. For the cost of one extra click it'd save mistakes like this and the increasingly common one of DNFs being logged as finds.

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I am not at all saying that the reason is the default for OM but it could be in some cases.  I have in the past went to log a note on one of my own caches and logged it as found on accident because that was the default.  I usually catch it and once had someone point it out to me.

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10 hours ago, L0ne.R said:

Based on what I've seen I blame the COs. Those I see do this over the years are slack owners who never go back to fix or replace the cache. It's just a delay tactic. I think they're hoping that someone throws down a cache in the time it takes for the next person to start the DNF>NM>NA>Reviewer Disable>Reviewer Archive cycle again. And yes, the tactic is increasing. I think it's because of more vigilant reviewers. 

Does this tactic work? I mean, does the community throw down a new cache or does this non-existent cache just block the release of a new cache in the same place?

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22 hours ago, fizzymagic said:

I've started noticing a new trend since the Cache Health Score (CHS) has come into play. When a Needs Maintenance log appears, the COs now seem to be responding with a Performed Maintenance log that indicates that no maintenance was actually performed.  Something to the effect of "I will check on the cache soon."  And in the case of at least three caches I sought this weekend, no such check ever took place (in the case of a couple of those caches, it has been over a year).

This development comes as no surprise whatsoever, of course.  It's a great example of completely foreseeable unintended consequences of new geocaching policies. What's interesting about this one is that is makes the situation worse than it was before.  Previously, unaddressed Needs Maintenance logs could be used to filter out caches that were likely to have problems; now, with the new perverse incentive, those caches look as if the maintenance issues were resolved when they were not.

It's a great lesson. Making what seem to be obvious changes to improve cache quality can have the exact opposite effect. Changes that have the potential to change the caching culture are especially tricky, because they can be impossible to reverse.

So before the CHS what were these people doing to avoid maintenance?  Answer:   The exact same thing.  Only now they're being forced to do it on a more regular basis.   Shady people are going to do shady things.   Nothing anyone can do will stop them from trying.   The CHS may help reviewers identify these arm chair cache owners and help them decide if they really want to own a cache or not.  

You've possibly identified one of these people yourself.   Why not let your reviewer know what you've seen and let them take it from there? 

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On 12/19/2017 at 4:42 AM, arisoft said:

Does this tactic work? I mean, does the community throw down a new cache or does this non-existent cache just block the release of a new cache in the same place?

If certain cachers go in search of the cache they will leave a throwdown 'as a courtesy to the CO' aka to avoid a DNF. Some such cachers are locals, some aren't.

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1 hour ago, Joshism said:

If certain cachers go in search of the cache they will leave a throwdown 'as a courtesy to the CO' aka to avoid a DNF. Some such cachers are locals, some aren't.

So, the only real problem is that a presumably lost cache is not disabled in the hope that it will come back from itself. This seems to be very clever way to use the system for the good of all number oriented players. Is there any risk that these caches would attract other type of players to find them?

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3 hours ago, arisoft said:

This seems to be very clever way to use the system for the good of all number oriented players.

What's good for numbers-oriented players tends to be bad for geocaching as a whole.

Not to mention encouraging COs to shirk clearly defined responsibility is bad on it's face. 

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40 minutes ago, Joshism said:

What's good for numbers-oriented players tends to be bad for geocaching as a whole.

It seems that majority of players and HQ do not share your vision. It does not mean that I do not share your's but frankly, you have to admit this reality.

41 minutes ago, Joshism said:

Not to mention encouraging COs to shirk clearly defined responsibility is bad on it's face. 

Responsibility is only a merit. You can not demand responsibility without means. HQ has responsibility to keep cache quality high. The idea of reviewing is to keep it high. Practically reviewing focuses to distances between caches, not the quality of any cache. The responsibility chain is rotten from the beginning. It is obvious that a poor quality cache does not deserve maintenance from even its owner. But as long as there is someone who think that this poor cache deserves the opportunity to be discovered it may be worthy of its existence because someone still cares.

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