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WiFi902

The "Available in Winter" attribute icon

27 posts in this topic

Edit:  I originally posted this in my local geocaching forums and was encouraged to post it here.   This is my exact post and I didn't change anything when posting it here. Here goes:

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From now on I will discontinue the use of the attribute with the picture of a snowflake on all of my future hides. I am tired of it being misinterpreted. On a recent hide of mine a new scenario has developed in regards to the interpretation of the snowflake icon.

Here are the three scenarios, with the first being the original meaning, the second being the most common use, and number three being the newest interpretation.

1. A hide which doesn't have to be put away in the winter and disabled due to it being fragile or undesirable to find in winter time.
2. A hide that is usually hanging and is found above the snow line so that it can most often be easily found in winter without digging down into the snow.
3. A hide which is above the snow line and won't be unsafe at GZ where your footing on ice or snow is concerned.

Geocaching dot com could easily fix the problem. There has always been confusion between number one and number two.

They don't have time to fix easy things like this because they're always working on things that will encourage new members to join instead of working on things that will keep current members happy and satisfied.

On a side note, just so it doesn't seem like I'm always complaining, I really like how you don't have to adjust the country and province settings when setting up a new geocache. Great addition.

Cheers and happy new year!

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What puzzles me is the use of that attribute in a subtropical region where it never snows and winter is often the best time for geocaching. Something like 16 percent of caches here have that attribute but I have no idea what makes them different to the other 84 percent that don't.

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The attribute's wording is so poor -- "Available in Winter". To so many cache owners in areas in sub-zero areas, it means 'I don't retrieve it and take it home for the winter, so it's available.' or 'The park is not closed in the winter, so it's available.' Yet the cache on the ground is covered in 2 feet of snow, or the cache in the tree nook is encased in a thick later of ice. 

The attribute should say: Ice and Snow Friendly (or some phrase that indicates it can be reached and retrieved in areas that get snow and ice). 

 

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Funny how you mentioned this just when I was thinking about looking for caches that are "Winter Friendly".  Where we live in Canada, we just got 6 to 8 inches of fresh snow this morning that is in addition to the already 2 feet previously accumulated.  I contacted the cache owners (other possibilities) about three days ago asking if their caches are available during winter with no response and no attributes.  I started looking again today. 

Looking at the snowflake icon on the attributes list it indicates "Available during winter" I always understood this to mean that it can be found during winter months. Nothing more, nothing less. I suppose one could say that a desert cache is available during the winter. :D

I think we found a winner or three and will see how it goes over the next day or two. At least with fresh snow and if previously found we can follow the foot steps leading to the cache. 

3 hours ago, WiFi902 said:

They don't have time to fix easy things like this because they're always working on things that will encourage new members to join instead of working on things that will keep current members happy and satisfied.

Huh, we have the same concerns with Waymarking. Except the most common comments are we (Groundspeak) are moving resources to Geocaching. This gives us a different perspective on how our (BK-Hunters) premium membership is being used. 

Edited by BK-Hunters
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3 hours ago, WiFi902 said:

Geocaching dot com could easily fix the problem. There has always been confusion between number one and number two.

Here in Finland we have no problems how to interpret the snowflake symbol. There are three options:

Available in Winter: Cache is easy to find when the ground is covered with snow.
No attribute: Cache may be easy or difficult to find when the ground is covered with snow. May depend on amount of snow or not.
Not available in Winter: Cache is difficult to find when the ground is covered with snow.

If the cache is temporarily removed during the winter time then it is disabled and enabled again when it is available.

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Arisoft's explanation matches my own experience with this attribute. I've never heard of it being interpreted as described in point #1 in the OP.

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Seems a lot of people want to read more into things than need be. Maybe i'm wrong but i thought it simply meant that the cache can be found in winter months. Sure, it might be freezing outside, slippery in the area, or under snow, but it can be found it a person wants to go for it.

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I think it's that word "available". If the attribute means "available", then logically no attribute would mean maybe, and the not attribute would be "not available".  If it's "not available", that implies it's not there; effectively the same as disabling. But no one I know actually interprets it that way.  Likewise here in Canada, most everyone I know interprets "Available in winter" to mean "Winter friendly".  Such caches are always "available" to be found (otherwise seasonal access, or not available 24/7 would be more appropriate).

Most people I know would have zero problem if the attribute were named Winter Friendly. That makes much more sense, especially for the way it's almost universally applied, by my experience.

 

1 hour ago, BK-Hunters said:

Looking at the snowflake icon on the attributes list it indicates "Available during winter" I always understood this to mean that it can be found during winter months. Nothing more, nothing less. I suppose one could say that a desert cache is available during the winter. :D

Exactly, what cache isn't available to found in winter (which doesn't use other attributes)? There are better attributes to denote that. Every cache I've seen using the attribute is always available to be found, year round, but may/may not be easier to be found in winter.

Edited by thebruce0
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I agree with Arisoft and Moun10Bike above; it matches how I think people understand it in my own area.

Attributes are a low-precision thing at the best of times.  Like, what's this supposed to mean?  phone-yes.gif

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1 hour ago, arisoft said:

Here in Finland we have no problems how to interpret the snowflake symbol. There are three options:

Available in Winter: Cache is easy to find when the ground is covered with snow.
No attribute: Cache may be easy or difficult to find when the ground is covered with snow. May depend on amount of snow or not.
Not available in Winter: Cache is difficult to find when the ground is covered with snow.

If the cache is temporarily removed during the winter time then it is disabled and enabled again when it is available.

This.

And to the OP

Why stop using the attribute just because others decide to put their own interpretation on it.

Forget that! If your cache(s) are available in winter, let people know. You'll never please everyone anyway.

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Another problem is cache owners must not only understand what an attribute means, they first must understand that they should actually consider each and select them.  Many seem to bypass this, only selecting one attribute (perhaps in a time-saving effort?)

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What I do with our caches is use the 'NOT available in the winter' attribute for ground caches, or nook caches where water potentially accumulates, so that:

1. finders don't waste their time and gas money

2. finders don't break the cache while trying to find it or get it out of it's hiding spot

We will also disable if the cache is encased in ice or under feet of snow and expected to be inaccessible for weeks/months. (I add monthly notes to let the reviewer know I'm monitoring the situation). 

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6 hours ago, WiFi902 said:

Here are the three scenarios, with the first being the original meaning, the second being the most common use, and number three being the newest interpretation.

1. A hide which doesn't have to be put away in the winter and disabled due to it being fragile or undesirable to find in winter time.
2. A hide that is usually hanging and is found above the snow line so that it can most often be easily found in winter without digging down into the snow.
3. A hide which is above the snow line and won't be unsafe at GZ where your footing on ice or snow is concerned.

OK, so I admit to having almost no experience with "Available in Winter", but #2 seems to be a subset of #1. I.e., One specific reason a hide might not need to be put away in winter is that it's hanging above the snow line. I'm not too concerned about people that think that's the only reasons it's available in winter.

#3 is just someone reading too much into it.

6 hours ago, WiFi902 said:

Geocaching dot com could easily fix the problem. There has always been confusion between number one and number two.

I think it would help if you said specifically what "the problem" is and what Groundspeak should do to fix it. I admit I don't know what kind of grief you're experiencing, but it seems as if "No, I'm afraid you're wrong: available in winter does not imply it's easy or you don't have to be careful. Sorry you misunderstood!" should be as good a fix as anything GS could do.

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Then again, my cache does not have that attribute, but I got this log today:  

after some digging through snow and ample use of my ice axe to pry the cover away I made the find.

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I agree that the intent by most geocachers is the second one listed in the OP ("A hide that is usually hanging and is found above the snow line so that it can most often be easily found in winter without digging down into the snow.")  Moun10bike and arisoft's comments above support this.

In Iowa, we have some winters with little snow.  I'm sure that Florida and Texas have nearly every winter without snow.  Winter time alone does not make a cache harder to find, but snow cover most certainly does.  In fact, most caches are actually easier to find in the winter time with no snow cover on the ground as vegetation obscuring it is at its minimum that time of year.  

PLAIN AND SIMPLE:  The snowflake icon should be renamed on the geocaching website from "Available in Winter" to "Snow (and Ice) Friendly".  That would make it match the most commonly understood meaning in words that actually match that meaning.

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2 hours ago, L0ne.R said:

From the Help Center:

https://www.geocaching.com/help/index.php?pg=kb.chapter&id=38&pgid=715

6.18. Seasonal tips for cache owners

Winter

  • Hide your cache above snow level or in a place that’s protected from snow coverage.
  • Add the “Available During Winter” attribute to your cache page.

You omitted the following line which precedes the winter tip in the help center from your post:

"Follow these tips to make sure that your cache is visited all year.

Because these are "tips", it means that you don't HAVE to hide your cache above snow level, but rather it suggests that you should if you expect to experience winter finds regardless of snow cover.  The cache will still be available (as others have mentioned above), but will likely require use of a metal detector to locate and a snow shovel or ice pick to retrieve. 

Sometime it is just more practical to hide the cache on the ground.  With a few exceptions (fake birdhouses), it's pretty difficult to hide regular- or large-sized caches above snow level.

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Arisoft and Moun10bike both  make valid points and perhaps their idea of the attribute is what GS intended. The issue is that it's not explained that way anywhere as far as I can see.  This leaves it open to people's interpretation which is all across the board. The cachers also don't know what my interpretation might be. I think it will be easier for me to avoid the attribute until there is some kind of change made and I will focus on using the hint more effectively by saying hanging, NWF, or WF.

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Similar to airsoft and Moun10Bike, most folks in my area would see it the same.    :)

But lately, few are placing any attributes.  Go figure...  

We usually see the plastic stuff go bye-bye first this time of year,  with a log similar to HD's, and "chop" mentioned somewhere.

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I don't live where it snows.  I will often add that attribute.  I am not sure if I should or not but it is available during winter so I will sometimes hit it.

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10 hours ago, Harry Dolphin said:

and ample use of my ice axe to pry the cover away

Eesh.  I hope the container wasn't damaged.

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16 hours ago, Moun10Bike said:

Arisoft's explanation matches my own experience with this attribute. I've never heard of it being interpreted as described in point #1 in the OP.

Yep. Here in cold and snowy Minnesota, all of us use variations of #2 and #3 for the attribute. Winter friendly means it's either above the snow or easily findable in the snow.

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12 hours ago, WiFi902 said:

Arisoft and Moun10bike both  make valid points and perhaps their idea of the attribute is what GS intended. The issue is that it's not explained that way anywhere as far as I can see.  This leaves it open to people's interpretation which is all across the board. The cachers also don't know what my interpretation might be. I think it will be easier for me to avoid the attribute until there is some kind of change made and I will focus on using the hint more effectively by saying hanging, NWF, or WF.

The "official" use of the "Available in Winter" Attribute, seems to imply the 2nd option in your list is the intended use.  Link for reference:

https://www.geocaching.com/help/index.php?pg=kb.chapter&id=38&pgid=715

Sounds like people in your area have different interpretations in the proper use of this Attribute.  Might be a good topic for an Event to get everyone on the same page.

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On ‎12‎/‎31‎/‎2017 at 7:25 AM, hzoi said:

Eesh.  I hope the container wasn't damaged.

I've broken a few due to an overzealous need to get that smiley.    Happy to report that It's not happened since I've become a cache owner myself.
 

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On ‎12‎/‎30‎/‎2017 at 11:26 AM, WiFi902 said:

 

They don't have time to fix easy things like this because they're always working on things that will encourage new members to join instead of working on things that will keep current members happy and satisfied.

 

How easy would it be to fix that, and what things are they always working on that encourages new members to join that current members do not get access to?

 

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I always thought the snow flake was there to say you have permission to seek. If a park is closed in the winter and gated it still might be allowed to enter on foot! In this case a snow flake would let you know to go find it even if the park is closed. We have many (walk in is OK) parks like this! If winter is a problem for your cache just say so on your cache page. Cliff sides with ice should be a no brainer - but better safe than sorry!

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40 minutes ago, GPS-Hermit said:

I always thought the snow flake was there to say you have permission to seek. If a park is closed in the winter and gated it still might be allowed to enter on foot! In this case a snow flake would let you know to go find it even if the park is closed. 

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There's an attribute for that. The seasonal access attribute https://www.geocaching.com/about/icons.aspx

 

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 6.43.59 PM.png

Edited by L0ne.R
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