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DNF Etiquette


itsonlybarney
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I'm curious as to what everyone's etiquette is when it comes to logging DNFs as they cache:

  • Search <10 min and did not find the physical cache;
  • Search 10-20 min and did not find the physical cache;
  • Search >20 min and did not find the physical cache;
  • Search was interrupted by a muggle;
  • Something else

I am aware that everyone plays the "game" differently but curious what you do.

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17 minutes ago, Touchstone said:

My criteria is pretty simple.  If I arrive at GZ and can't find it, it's a DNF for me.   I don't usually put any sort of time limit on the search, but my average is probably ~15 minutes.

I handle it pretty much the same way. If I arrive at GZ and search for the cache, then I log either a Find or a DNF.

And if I DNF and later return and try again, then that's either a Find or another DNF. My record so far is 6 DNFs before finally finding the (well-camouflaged) cache on the 7th visit.

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My statistics show that iI have about 12% DNFs when compared to finds. Some geocachers are so good that they never post a DNF.

As you can see, the DNF etiquette is a very subjective matter. I am not hunting for statistics. For me it is an experience among others. In many times you will remember you DNF experiences much better than finds.

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To me, a DNF has always meant "the cache defeated me". That can mean I reached GZ but, in my Blind Freddy impersonation, couldn't spot it, or sometimes, especially for high T-rated caches, I was defeated by the terrain between me and the cache, even if I could see it just out of reach. No signature in log, it's a DNF.

But some have argued here that you shouldn't log a DNF unless there's a chance the cache is missing. I had an interesting one a couple of weeks ago when I went searching for a new puzzle cache about half an hour's drive from here. I calculated a set of coordinates from the field puzzle element at the last waypoint, which led me to a spot where I was in full view of motorists queued at traffic lights, so after searching for a bit and only finding a large huntsman spider that didn't appreciate being disturbed, I decided to call it quits and return home to recheck my coordinates and log a DNF.

As I was typing my DNF, someone else logged a find on the cache, with his timing suggesting he'd arrived at GZ only minutes after I'd left. He mentioned the spider but said his young son, who'd been searching from a different angle, made the find. So, the cache definitely wasn't missing at the time I'd been searching.

The Help Centre says:

Quote

DNF logs are an important log type — they inform cache owners and other finders that a cache may be extra difficult to find or possibly missing.

This cache was neither extra difficult to find (a child found it) nor possibly missing, so was my DNF on this really a proper DNF?

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1 hour ago, barefootjeff said:

The Help Centre says:

Quote

DNF logs are an important log type — they inform cache owners and other finders that a cache may be extra difficult to find or possibly missing.

This cache was neither extra difficult to find (a child found it) nor possibly missing, so was my DNF on this really a proper DNF?

Note the difference between "may be extra difficult to find or possibly missing" and "is extra difficult to find or missing".

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It's very simple: if my searches started but I failed to find the cache I log DNF.

I can see only one acceptable situation when this rule may be interpreted differently: if a visitor replaces the missing cache (on behalf and with prior approval from the CO). Physically this visitor hasn't found the original cache but they did much more important job and probably deserves something more than previous users who were not cafeful at all and made the cache vulnerable to muggles but got their smileys. I don't write "found it" logs myself when I replace someone's cache - but I really don't care about smileys :)

1 hour ago, barefootjeff said:

But some have argued here that you shouldn't log a DNF unless there's a chance the cache is missing

This arguement sounds pointless because there is always chance that the cache is missing if I cannot find it.  

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32 minutes ago, -CJ- said:
2 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

But some have argued here that you shouldn't log a DNF unless there's a chance the cache is missing

This arguement sounds pointless because there is always chance that the cache is missing if I cannot find it.

As I said, there are circumstances when I've logged a DNF but knew for certain the cache wasn't missing, like the one I described where someone else had found it between when I'd searched and got home to log my DNF, or ones where I've been able to see the cache but the terrain was beyond my ability to reach it.

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22 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

As I said, there are circumstances when I've logged a DNF but knew for certain the cache wasn't missing, like the one I described where someone else had found it between when I'd searched and got home to log my DNF, or ones where I've been able to see the cache but the terrain was beyond my ability to reach it.

My DNF is about what happened earlier at some particular moment - when I was in field and tried to find a cache and made my decision to stop searching. At that moment I didn't knew that there (maybe) were other visitors around at the same time.

Anyway, DNF stands for "Did Not Find". I tried to find this cache but did not find it. So DNF. The cache could be muggled, or I could use wrong GPS coordinates, or some previous visitor put the container in a wrong place, or local guards appeared and questioned me, in any case it's DNF.

I agree with you that there may be no need to log a DNF if there's a cache with terrain beyond my ability to reach container but I saw the container clearly (e.g. hanging on a tree) and identified it as a geocache without any hesitations. Then it could be a "Write note" log - just to tell others about my adventures, address the owner with "thanks for taking me here" and let them know that the cache was OK.

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10 hours ago, itsonlybarney said:

I'm curious as to what everyone's etiquette is when it comes to logging DNFs as they cache:

  • Search <10 min and did not find the physical cache;
  • Search 10-20 min and did not find the physical cache;
  • Search >20 min and did not find the physical cache;
  • Search was interrupted by a muggle;
  • Something else

 

In my players view: That's all a DNF. You searched for the cache and didn't find it -> DNF is the logtype to share your story.

A lot of geocachers think, that DNFs implies something like a minimum search time, a thorough search, a cache most likely missing, etc. I see none of these implications. It's plain simple: you searched for the cache and didn't find it. No "ifs".

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25 minutes ago, eigengott said:

A lot of geocachers think, that DNFs implies something like a minimum search time, a thorough search, a cache most likely missing, etc. I see none of these implications. It's plain simple: you searched for the cache and didn't find it. No "ifs".

Many times I have seen DNF logs posted retroactively after someone has verified that the cache is missing. Very funny :)

Edited by arisoft
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Instead of looking at what a DNF is to me, I often consider what the DNF means to others, what does the log imply to people who read the listing, cachers and COs?  That helps define some of the more iffy ones related to the "my search starts when I start my gps" ethic. My DNF implies that either it is there and I didn't find it, or it's not there and I didn't find it. If I know it's not there, then a DNF can mislead people to try a search [fruitlessly] anyway. If I didn't even get there to confidently say one or the other then a DNF could imply it's much harder than it really is (that I searched and failed, which I didn't) or that it's not there, so I'd instead write a note in that case - like not even searching for a guardrail because it's under snow; or if flooding blocked my route to gz, etc.

DNFs imply things. It's not just a record of my non-find visit to a cache site.  And that's I think in line with the Help Centre wording - "they inform cache owners and other finders that a cache may be extra difficult to find or possibly missing."

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Simple:  If I am at the posted coordinates and do not find a cache, I log a DNF.  

If I am not at the posted coordinates (like right now, I'm at a computer), I would NOT post a DNF because, of course, I am not actually looking in an area where a cache was hidden.  Sure, I could go to my phone and press a 'GO' button and some people at that point would log a DNF...but that's silly and unnecessary.  

And yes, I admit there are times when I look for a cache, am unable to find it, and either forget to log it because I'm in a hurry or perhaps it was the third or fourth time I looked and didn't feel the need to log every single attempt.  I know, shame...SHAME!...shame on me.  I'll get someone to slap me on my wrists.  

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I see all my logs posted to cache listings serving two purposes: My own caching history, and public information for others.
If it were just for my own purposes, the logs would be private. Since they're public and informative, I keep that in mind so that my logs are also relevant both to other finders and the CO.   DNFs have a meaning and purpose beyond my own records; thus if I didn't actually get to my understanding of the cache zone (based on the listing), and if I didn't execute what I felt was a relevant search for the cache (based on the listing), then I won't log it as a DNF.

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First, it's not a question of etiquette. Do whatever you want; no option is rude. You don't have to answer to anyone else's feelings, you just have to ask yourself what you want to accomplish.

Second, it's popular to try to pin down the answer to something concrete, like time searching or proximity to GZ, but don't find that useful. I measure it based on information: does my DNF say anything interesting or tell a good story? For most cases, that question generates the same answer, since "I looked hard but didn't find it" is interesting as is "looked for a second, but decided to move on". "Didn't feel like crossing the street" likely isn't interesting, although "huge crowd at GZ, so didn't cross the street" is.

But the important thing is to log whatever DNFs you want to log. Don't let any of the people here tell you one way or another, 'cuz they don't know what you want to accomplish. Some people here will tell you not to log marginal DNFs because of some GS practices that leads to caches getting archived when they shouldn't, but that's GS's problem, not yours.

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20 minutes ago, dprovan said:

First, it's not a question of etiquette. Do whatever you want; no option is rude. You don't have to answer to anyone else's feelings, you just have to ask yourself what you want to accomplish.

You don't have to, no, but I'm not a fan of this sentiment; it had and does lead to some people doing whatever they want and having no care for how their actions affect others.  So yes, know that you don't have to do what anyone else says, within the guidelines, but it is better to set an example and consider others for the betterment of the community (however anyone may decide to do that).

 

22 minutes ago, dprovan said:

Some people here will tell you not to log marginal DNFs because of some GS practices that leads to caches getting archived when they shouldn't, but that's GS's problem, not yours.

Indeed, that's the pushback from community against GS for the cache health score stuff, and that pushback has a collateral effect on community. Stickin' it to GS by making log history less relevant for everyone =/  Yep, if you think a DNF is appropriate, then log the DNF.

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I log DNF whenever I have been at GZ with the intention to find the cache, but couldn't retrieve the log. I say "retrieve" the log, not "sign" it, because if I find a cache with a completely wet an unusable log, I still log a find (+ an NM).

I usually mention in my DNF log how long I searched, and other circumstances which might have impeded my chances to find the cache (e.g. muggles, ground covered in snow, etc.). This should give the owner some indications whether the cache could be missing, and future cachers a hint that it may not an easy grab. No more, no less. As for any negative impact on the "Cache Health Score", I simply don't care. As drpovan has saif above, that's not my problem ;) .

Anyway, do what you like ... but don't log a find when you didn't find the cache :rolleyes:.

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2 hours ago, thebruce0 said:
2 hours ago, dprovan said:

First, it's not a question of etiquette. Do whatever you want; no option is rude. You don't have to answer to anyone else's feelings, you just have to ask yourself what you want to accomplish.

You don't have to, no, but I'm not a fan of this sentiment; it had and does lead to some people doing whatever they want and having no care for how their actions affect others.

The question was whether a DNF should be filed, and I claim filing a DNF is never rude. It goes without saying that one should never be rude, so it would be ridiculous to think I'm suggesting that someone writing a DNF has carte blanche to be rude in what they put in the DNF text.

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Thanks all for the interesting conversation points.

Based on the discussion, I think I'm going to start adopting the position that if I turn up at what is GZ (or what I believe to be GZ for a Puzzle Cache) and I do actually start looking for it & don't find it, I will log a DNF with some form of description to go with it.

I just don't want some CO to go checking on their cache if I logged a DNF when I was interrupted by a muggle or my lack of searching skills.

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45 minutes ago, itsonlybarney said:

I just don't want some CO to go checking on their cache if I logged a DNF when I was interrupted by a muggle or my lack of searching skills.

How do you know if the problem was a lack of searching skills? And if you think you lack searching skills and you consider sufficient searching skills a requirement, should you ever log a DNF?

Anyway, sounds fine, no big deal to not log DNFs you don't want to log. Although it would be just as good to simply explain you were interrupted by muggles. Sometimes knowing how often searches are aborted because of muggles is important information for the CO, too.

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30 minutes ago, itsonlybarney said:

Thanks all for the interesting conversation points.

Based on the discussion, I think I'm going to start adopting the position that if I turn up at what is GZ (or what I believe to be GZ for a Puzzle Cache) and I do actually start looking for it & don't find it, I will log a DNF with some form of description to go with it.

I just don't want some CO to go checking on their cache if I logged a DNF when I was interrupted by a muggle or my lack of searching skills.

And this is why we should log the DNF, any log for that matter, with additional details. A person should take the time to at least briefly tell the circumstances surrounding their DNF. That blue sad face is pretty much worthless by itself..

Arrived at ground zero but there were too many muggles, couldn't get the container open, couldn't reach the cache, searched but didn't find the cache, left glasses at home and wasn't able to make the find by feel,,, all give an idea of why the DNF was logged. Anyone interested in the cache can read those logs and determine a course of action.

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4 hours ago, itsonlybarney said:

I just don't want some CO to go checking on their cache if I logged a DNF when I was interrupted by a muggle or my lack of searching skills.

As I see it, a DNF is just a statement of fact (I didn't find it), not a call to action by the CO. For the latter there are NM logs. There shouldn't be any expectation for a CO to dash out and check on a cache if someone logs a DNF saying there were too many muggles at GZ, or if it's a tricky hide and people simply don't find it on their first attempt.

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4 hours ago, Mudfrog said:

And this is why we should log the DNF, any log for that matter, with additional details. A person should take the time to at least briefly tell the circumstances surrounding their DNF. That blue sad face is pretty much worthless by itself..

Right. What should be communicated is to write always meaningful logs. That's primary. It's secondary if you classify this text as a DNF, a note, a NM or (if you want to provoke discussions :unsure:) as a found or NA.

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16 hours ago, thebruce0 said:
16 hours ago, dprovan said:

First, it's not a question of etiquette. Do whatever you want; no option is rude. You don't have to answer to anyone else's feelings, you just have to ask yourself what you want to accomplish.

You don't have to, no, but I'm not a fan of this sentiment; it had and does lead to some people doing whatever they want and having no care for how their actions affect others.  So yes, know that you don't have to do what anyone else says, within the guidelines, but it is better to set an example and consider others for the betterment of the community (however anyone may decide to do that).

If only more geocachers thought this way, GS wouldn't have to keep coming up with technical solution which are, more often than not, social problems.

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16 hours ago, dprovan said:

The question was whether a DNF should be filed, and I claim filing a DNF is never rude. It goes without saying that one should never be rude, so it would be ridiculous to think I'm suggesting that someone writing a DNF has carte blanche to be rude in what they put in the DNF text.

Likewise, I wasn't referring to the text, I was only referring to the "do whatever you want" sentiment: "Do whatever you want; no option is rude." I may have taken that to a broader context than you intended, so yes, I agree with your quote above. Filing a DNF is never rude.

 

9 hours ago, itsonlybarney said:

I just don't want some CO to go checking on their cache if I logged a DNF when I was interrupted by a muggle or my lack of searching skills.

Arguably, I doubt most COs would go to check on their cache based on the existence of a DNF (notwithstanding the concern with the health score recently) - I'd trust the CO to make a judgement call based on what content you put in your DNF log. Just be honest. Let them decide :)

The DNF isn't only for your record keeping, it's informational to the community. On the surface it's common blue frowny, but anyone considering acting on the log will (and should) consider the content of the log - whether finding or owning.

 

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2 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

Likewise, I wasn't referring to the text, I was only referring to the "do whatever you want" sentiment: "Do whatever you want; no option is rude." I may have taken that to a broader context than you intended, so yes, I agree with your quote above. Filing a DNF is never rude.

Thank you. I appreciate you clearing this up. I have to admit, I never for a second thought anyone could possibly take my post as saying, "Be as rude as you want whenever you want." I always assume "don't be rude" is a given, but I guess I need to start thinking like a modern american nowadays.

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Considering the fact that - within the context of geocaching (not generic modern america) - "do whatever you want" is very common in my experience, I think it's reasonable to push back a bit on that sentiment, even though I inferred a wider context than you intended. I also think "don't be rude" is a given. Who wants to be rude? I believe that some people think things they do aren't rude, but that it's rude of others to tell them off for it.  One person's "don't be rude" is another person's "you're the one being rude."

Anyway.

Log your DNFs. And understand that they are informative to other people than just yourself. That's all I gotta say about that. :P

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On ‎1‎/‎30‎/‎2018 at 6:03 PM, itsonlybarney said:

I'm curious as to what everyone's etiquette is when it comes to logging DNFs as they cache:

  • Search <10 min and did not find the physical cache;
  • Search 10-20 min and did not find the physical cache;
  • Search >20 min and did not find the physical cache;
  • Search was interrupted by a muggle;
  • Something else

I am aware that everyone plays the "game" differently but curious what you do.

I don't actually put a time limit on it.  I usually search until I'm satisfied it's missing or I'm just not going to find it.  At this point I'll log a dnf.    If for whatever reason I can't search as long as I want to or can't search at all,  I'll post a note.

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1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

Considering the fact that - within the context of geocaching (not generic modern america) - "do whatever you want" is very common in my experience, I think it's reasonable to push back a bit on that sentiment, even though I inferred a wider context than you intended. I also think "don't be rude" is a given. Who wants to be rude? I believe that some people think things they do aren't rude, but that it's rude of others to tell them off for it.  One person's "don't be rude" is another person's "you're the one being rude."

OK. Sounds like a discussion for another place. My thinking is if "don't be rude" is a given, I don't have to explicitly say "do whatever you want as long as you aren't rude." Yes, explaining to someone why they're being rude is tricky, but I don't see how that's relevant to the decision about posting DNFs.

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9 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

As I see it, a DNF is just a statement of fact (I didn't find it), not a call to action by the CO. For the latter there are NM logs. There shouldn't be any expectation for a CO to dash out and check on a cache if someone logs a DNF saying there were too many muggles at GZ, or if it's a tricky hide and people simply don't find it on their first attempt.

We placed and submitted a new hide on January 26.  It was published late that evening, about 10 pm.  FTF went to three cachers who met at GZ at 5 am on Jan. 27.  No activity till a DNF on Jan. 30, with comments that led us to believe it had already been muggled.  So yeah, I did "dash out" on Jan. 31 to check.  I was relieved to see the cache was still exactly where it should be, undisturbed.  I wrote a note on the cache page to that effect, since it's a brand new cache.  Guess it's hidden well; the container was one we picked up at an event, crafted by the same cacher who reported the DNF!!

Anyway, as a CO, I want to know about DNF's. for whatever reason, and decide for myself if I need to make a visit.  As a cacher, I like to give helpful info to other CO's, and track my DNF's for future reference.  As a beginning cacher, I didn't log DNF's, figuring I'd remember if I'd looked for something or not... I wish now I had, because it ISN'T easy to remember once you get a lot of finds - I now log my DNF's and tell about the search... for myself as much as for the CO, and other seekers after me.

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37 minutes ago, CAVinoGal said:

As a CO, I want to know about DNF's. for whatever reason, and decide for myself if I need to make a visit.  As a cacher, I like to give helpful info to other CO's, and track my DNF's for future reference.  As a beginning cacher, I didn't log DNF's, figuring I'd remember if I'd looked for something or not... I wish now I had, because it ISN'T easy to remember once you get a lot of finds - I now log my DNF's and tell about the search... for myself as much as for the CO, and other seekers after me.

This

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I usually log a DNF when I felt I've searched enough to say that I effectively searched for it and couldn't find it. When that is depends on the cache, environment, weather, muggle situation, time of day, my mood, alignment of the planets, phase of the moon, etc. Regardless of the reason, I always describe my experience so that anyone reading my log can tell what happened. Sometimes I may log a DNF if there was something that prevented me from searching effectively and that information could be useful to future finders or myself. Examples of this could include ocean tides (e.g. "I'll have to come back when the tide is lower than 7 feet") or muggles (e.g. "I tried to look for this, but the Sunday farmer's market was going on").

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I log DNF after I came to the GZ and failed finding the cache.

That includes the case when I couldn't actually start searching because there were muggles around and they didn't leave so I gave up. That is useful feedback for the CO and other cachers as well. Some use WN for this and  fully accept it but for me it is: I was there and I Did Not Find it so let's turn the icon on the map to a frowny face so I know in the future when browsing the map that I was already here and something failed.

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Logged a DNF last night. Got too dark to continue looking. DNF's only add to my sense of accomplishment when I finally do log it as found. If you've looked once or twice before and then finally got it, it like defeating your arch-nemesis or something. Perfect records are noteworthy, yet often boring. It's the ups and downs that make things memorable.

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16 hours ago, The A-Team said:

Sometimes I may log a DNF if there was something that prevented me from searching effectively and that information could be useful to future finders or myself. Examples of this could include ocean tides (e.g. "I'll have to come back when the tide is lower than 7 feet") or muggles (e.g. "I tried to look for this, but the Sunday farmer's market was going on").

I dunno, for me the former would be a Note - the tide prevented me from even searching at gz. The latter might be a DNF if I couldn't confidently make a search at gz because of activity, but might be a note if I simply couldn't get to gz for whatever traffic/busyness reasons... but that's me :)

As a finder, if there are finds and DNFs but the last log is a Note - that Note is actually more interesting to me than the DNFs.

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2 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

I dunno, for me the former would be a Note - the tide prevented me from even searching at gz. The latter might be a DNF if I couldn't confidently make a search at gz because of activity, but might be a note if I simply couldn't get to gz for whatever traffic/busyness reasons... but that's me :)

Yeah, I use Write Note to post my DNS (Did Not Search) logs. To me, DNF implies that there was a search, otherwise there are millions of caches that I DNF every day.

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5 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

I dunno, for me the former would be a Note - the tide prevented me from even searching at gz. The latter might be a DNF if I couldn't confidently make a search at gz because of activity, but might be a note if I simply couldn't get to gz for whatever traffic/busyness reasons... but that's me :)

As a finder, if there are finds and DNFs but the last log is a Note - that Note is actually more interesting to me than the DNFs.

I'm with you.  Considering the effects a dnf can have on a cache and it's owner, I'll only log one if I felt like I've given the area a reasonable search.   Any other information I feel like I'd like to communicate to the owner or another cacher is done with a note.

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I'm a simple soul.  I log a DNF when I get to GZ, start to search and eventually decide I don't want to search any longer.  How long that is depends on many factors.

I don't log anything if, for some reason unrelated to the cache and its surroundings, I don't reach GZ.  Once, when I was trying to get to GZ, the highway was closed due to a serious accident.  No log from me.  

I will usually log a WN if I can't get to GZ for reasons which may be relevant to others.  If the path was washed away, for example.

 

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10 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

As a finder, if there are finds and DNFs but the last log is a Note - that Note is actually more interesting to me than the DNFs.

Interesting. I tend to ignore notes since, in my experience, they're almost always so unimportant I wonder why anyone would bother to post them.

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13 hours ago, dprovan said:

Interesting. I tend to ignore notes since, in my experience, they're almost always so unimportant I wonder why anyone would bother to post them.

I don't ignore any logs, at least the first few, on caches i'm interested in finding. But like you, i have found that notes are usually not very informative. But at the same time, DNFs are sometimes themselves not very helpful either. They may give a heads up that "something" happened but that's about it when they lack substance. As with all log types, it all comes down to what the poster of those logs includes in them.

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I'd say, the value of a log doesn't depend on its type. It's mostly about the personality of the author of the log. For example, a log could be really interesting if it provides new information about the hiding place and it's surroundings after this cache was announced missing some time ago. I myself have written pretty informative logs about working hours, timetables, access fees, with tips on other great spots nearby or just about my adventures - but for some reason I didn't attempt these caches (e.g. because I saw too many muggles there). 

From my point of view, many logs are poor because they lack any content. 

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19 hours ago, -CJ- said:

I'd say, the value of a log doesn't depend on its type. It's mostly about the personality of the author of the log. For example, a log could be really interesting if it provides new information about the hiding place and it's surroundings after this cache was announced missing some time ago. I myself have written pretty informative logs about working hours, timetables, access fees, with tips on other great spots nearby or just about my adventures - but for some reason I didn't attempt these caches (e.g. because I saw too many muggles there). 

From my point of view, many logs are poor because they lack any content. 

Kudos to those that post logs which provide new information about the area.  I have a cache that is very near a spot where some words are painted on a bridge.  One of the earlier finders posted a log which explained what they meant and why it was changed  every year.  I subsequently included that information in the cache description.  Although I was not familiar with the story behind what just looked like grafitti, the local lore adds to the cache. 

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On 2/3/2018 at 6:55 AM, Mudfrog said:

... As with all log types, it all comes down to what the poster of those logs includes in them.

This.  I usually read logs of recent previous activity (Finds, DNF'd, notes, etc) to help us in deciding to go after that cache or wait till another time.  A string of DNF's won't necessarily deter us, although the content of them might.  Sometimes it's fun to see if we can find one that's been DNF'ed a few times!  There's a sweet satisfaction in finding one like that!  A Write Note may or may not give us relevant information, so I'll read notes too, just in case.

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