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Geocache Quality

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1 minute ago, Pontiac_CZ said:

communicate with reviewers and try to shorten the Disabled states to 1 month. OK, no problem with 3 months. But 8? Both caches were disabled due to a lack of the owner's maintenance.

 

If the cache is disabled it is not a quality problem at all. Missing but still enabled cache is a quality problem.

 

For me, the allowed time for maintenance of missing cache is only 5 to 10  minutes. It the maintenance takes longer, I will continue to the next cache and post a DNF. I am never going to wait for a one month or longer at GZ. When the cache is disabled I can wait as long as it takes because I have not found all other caches yet.

 

If I want to make a new cache too near a disabled cache, I open a new description ready and wait until the place is free. This way I am quite sure that the place is free for my new cache. Meantime I can make other new caches because I have not filled every other gap yet.

 

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  • In your mind, what is a high quality geocache?

It can be seen from above there's a large diversity of opinion.  Quality = cool containers or cool locations, good coordinates, creative  etc.   But if you are going for 100 finds in a day (enough thought Groundspeak doesn't encourage such things) then a bunch of guardrail caches would seem like "quality".  

  • In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?

One I can't find!  Either missing, bad coordinates, nano in the woods, poor difficulty rating.

  • What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?

Obviously, more NM, NA logs.  And participate actively in a rating system listed below.

  • What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?

The best thing would be to set up a community rating system.   You have "favorites" which is good - how about "thumbs down"  too?   Or a 1-5 scale rating system.   Also allow the users to rate the difficultly and terrain is they wish.  Would force "truth in advertising".  The CO would set the active,true D/T, but if other users could rate as well, then the next finder would know this is really a D5 and maybe choose not to do it.  Maybe if enough users voted one way the CO might even change it.

 

Your virtual rewards could improve cache quality - if you actively advertised it that way.  It is pretty clear to us observers that a vast majority of "awardees"  were people who had high "fav" point to logs ratios.   Even when they had only a few hides!   Consider though, myself.  I have a large number of perhaps "lower quality" hides - power trails on lakes, hiking, biking trails.  BUT I also have the highest number of favorite points in all of OHIO.  So who has done more for the community me or the guy who hid 3 caches and got a lot of favorite points on just those 3???

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14 hours ago, fizzymagic said:

Likewise, most power-trail  caches fall into my personal "low-quality" bin because they represent little thought or effort on the part of the hider.

 

That is actually a misconception. My dad has a 50 caches power trail. By far the most visited caches we have combined, which mean they are the most maintenance heavy caches we have combined. It has been 2½ years since they were published, and we have changed logs 5 or 6 times by now, in comparison our first cache has 4½ years, and only 2 maintenances I can think of.

 

Also the effort to go into planning that many caches at once is no small feat either.

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On 24/6/2018 at 12:56 AM, Keystone said:

As a reminder, please stick to replying to the User Insights questions in the first post.  It's quite normal to want to start a discussion about interesting points raised in the replies here, but those should be posted in the other thread.  Someone can also start a new thread about, for example, "playground caches."

 

Ahh, sorry. I missed that part in the original post entirely, and thought we were meant to discuss here, and the last few days have only been reacting to my notifications. Now that I had some time to read through the forum, I saw your post, and will move it over to the other thread. My apologies! :)

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  • In your mind, what is a high quality geocache?

I am a simple man with simple desires. Give me a log that I don't need a toolkit to extract from the cache, and which is dry enough to sign, and I'm happy.

  • In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?

Any cache that lets water in. Particularly if it has no container at all - but I don't encounter those very often. It's hard to generalize though: probably my favourite cache I have found, also happens to be probably the worst container I have ever seen (apart from the one that was literally in an unsealed plastic sandwich bag, which got an NA), but it's sheltered from the elements in a very appealing location. So a lot depends on context. I do wish people wouldn't squander good spots on magnetic micros, but that's a minor issue.

  • What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?

Don't be shy about posting NM and NA logs.

  • What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?

I really don't know. There's a fairly small pool of cachers and an even smaller pool of COs in my area, and we don't tend to see the problems with esquivalient owners that I read about on the fora. And when we do (e.g. the sandwich bag cache) they get reported and acted upon. So from my point of view, the system's working fine as it is.

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Another answer to the questions, what steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality. Because quality is subjective, IMO, the answer is tools. Make it easy for a cacher to search based on their definition of a quality cache, and make it easy for CO's to manage their caches.

 

I am not a CO, so I don't know if this feature exists or not. Based on some other forum posts, I don't think so. Provide a dashboard for a CO. Something that shows them a quick synopsis of their caches. Number of caches with unacknowledged NM's. Number of caches with a recent reviewer note. Have a drill down capability. Have a full table version (code, name, last found date, last log date, etc), along with a graphical representation of the last 4 (or 9) log entries. (Similar to what GSAK has.) Maybe purple for DNF, green for found it, yellow for regular notes, red for NM, NA and reviewer notes. 

 

Allow for user submitted attribute suggestions. Show how many other cachers agree (or disagree) with an attribute. If more than three agree, set or unset the attribute.

 

Allow a cacher to define their own default search criteria. That way, the person that never wants to see micro's does not have to remember to scroll down and check/uncheck the appropriate boxes.

 

Revisit the list of attributes. There are some that really don't belong. Does anyone search for camping nearby? Or picnic tables? I would think that most of the time, its the other way around. I am camping, what are the nearby caches. I'm going on a family picnic at a park, what caches are nearby. In other words, I already know where I am going to be, so I am not going to search for an attribute.

 

While writing the above paragraph, I had a crazy thought. When searching for caches, have the ability to highlight caches that match certain attributes. As an example, say I'm going to be doing a GeoTour, and am planning out my route. Searching for a GeoTour is easy, but if the search results highlighted caches with picnic tables, that would allow me to plan where to stop for a picnic lunch.

 

So, maybe what I'm saying is look at the existing attributes, and analyze how they would be used. Either get rid of them, or build tools that allow them to be used in a more meaningful manner.

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On 6/25/2018 at 6:12 PM, MAS83 said:

 

 

But then again, if a bad owner can bypass that rule by simply disabling the cache that needs maintenance, nothing is gained by that rule.

By CO disabling it is  a sign that the CO personally recognizes the caches needs to be taken care of compared to a Reviewer having to take action. Second, it also now identifies the cache in a manner that in PQs that the cache is not viable.

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48 minutes ago, Wet Pancake Touring Club said:

Make it easy for a cacher to search based on their definition of a quality cache

 

+1

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  • In your mind, what is a high quality geocache? - I personally think that any cache is fun.  I do like to see strong containers that are waterproof.
  • In your mind, what is a low quality geocache? - a painted mayo jar with no waterproof lid
  • What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality? - allow people that hide caches to receive some type of credit (IE finds count but hides don't)
  • What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality? Make sure the app is updated and tested!  

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On 6/27/2018 at 7:20 AM, cache_n_out said:
  • In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?

One I can't find!  Either missing, bad coordinates, nano in the woods, poor difficulty rating.

 

This is important to me also.  

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8 hours ago, Elektrazz said:
  • In your mind, what is a high quality geocache? - I personally think that any cache is fun.  I do like to see strong containers that are waterproof.
  • In your mind, what is a low quality geocache? - a painted mayo jar with no waterproof lid
  • What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality? - allow people that hide caches to receive some type of credit (IE finds count but hides don't)
  • What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality? Make sure the app is updated and tested!  

Being a cacher that loves to hide caches I put a great deal of effort into purchasing, preparing, submitting and maintaining (other people's and my own) caches.  To think that I may have to see negative feedback regarding my caches from the community would make me STOP hiding caches.  Just saying I love to watch my caches get discovered so to think I am going to have to live up to what I consider a facebook mentality would just be too much for me.  Please don't permit this!

 

However - I do understand the idea of QA and believe the main goal would be to stop the "mayo jars with no waterproofing"  from entering the caching system to begin with.  Perhaps when SUBMITTING the cache a picture of the container could be appropriate.

 

:D

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  • In your mind, what is a high quality geocache?

Any cache where the CO:

  1. Has a specific reason for placing the cache where they did that goes beyond "Hey, there aren't any caches within 528 feet so I can squeeze one in here";
  2. Uses a reliable, quality, water-proof container; and
  3. Actively monitors the cache for DNFs / NM logs and pro-actively performs maintenance without being prodded repeatedly.
  • In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?
  1. Caches that are placed for the sole reason of placing a cache.
  2. Caches that are placed and then never maintained.
  3. Caches that use cheap/low-quality containers.
  4. Caches that encourage people to take things apart (e.g., fake sprinkler heads, fake electrical boxes, etc.).
  5. Caches in high traffic locations.
  • What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?
  1. Actively log DNFs, NMs and NAs when appropriate.
  2. Encourage high quality hides with FPs.
  3. Be more open to constructive criticism.
  • What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?
  1. Be more aggressive with Cache Health Score - Since being implemented I've seen many many local caches with long strings of DNFs on easy caches, with no CO response, but Reviewers still take no action until a user has flagged the cache.
  2. Limit the ability of unresponsive CO's to place new caches.  There are several CO's in my area who are known to not maintain their hides, and they regularly have their caches archived for non-responsiveness, yet they continue to place new caches which very frequently suffer the same fate.
  3. Reviewers need to more closely scrutinize newly placed cache listings, especially by new cachers.  I don't necessarily think there should be a minimum find count required before somebody can place a cache, but there have been many situations where a new cacher will place their first hide or second hide, and it is immediately obvious from the description and coordinates that there is a major error, but the cache gets published anyway (e.g., map pin is located on the roof of a residential house; on the middle of an active highway; or in a large body of water; etc).
  4. Ease up on the souvenirs that are based on cache volume.  Without fail, every time one of these new souvenir promotions is announced, local CO's scramble to place a bunch of new hides that exist for the sole purpose of scoring additional points in whatever is the newest promotion.  These caches serve no other purpose and are very often archived or abandoned shortly after the promotion has ended.  Caches hidden for the sole purpose of building find stats are very often the worst quality hides of all.  The recent glut of souvenirs has made them feel essentially meaningless and has started to turn me off of the game as a whole.
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I've seen a number of posts that suggest including a photo of the container. My question is, what is the reviewer supposed to do with the picture? Can the reviewer require a change of container, or is the reviewer required to approve the container? To me, that adds another layer of responsibility on the reviewer, and opens up another avenue for appeals, etc., which is something I would not like to see. In thinking about this, I came up with a crazy idea.

 

This forum has a number of discussions on the quality of various kinds of containers. Can we get those into the Help Center in some manner? So, what if portions of the Help Center were 'user manageable'? What if the section on cache containers had a link to a wiki site devoted to pros and cons of cache containers. HQ would be the initial contributors, but could designate others to be able to create and edit content.

 

During cache creation, add a check box (and a link to the wiki), that confirms that the CO has verified the cache container will be viable for at least a year. This offloads the responsibility from the reviewer, and might encourage the CO to think about the viability of the container. Yes, some will just automatically check the box, but maybe we get a few to change their container to something that will last longer.

 

If the above check box is added, and a photo of the container is required (with no added responsibility on the reviewer), it may cause more to think about their choice of container.

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1 hour ago, Wet Pancake Touring Club said:

I've seen a number of posts that suggest including a photo of the container. My question is, what is the reviewer supposed to do with the picture? Can the reviewer require a change of container, or is the reviewer required to approve the container?

 

OT from the OP, but I remember at least one Reviewer saying they don't "approve" caches. They're simply published if they've met guidelines.  :)

I'm sure most have seen "knock offs" of quality containers.  A photo might not show whether it's a Lock n Lock or a cheap variant (and many have seen the difference just a short time after placed). 

We know of one who glues a seal on peanut butter jars.  We haven't seen one without that didn't leak.  A photo won't show the difference.

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My 2 cents:

     The qualities of the cache consist of the container, the placement, the location, the route to the container, and the cache page.  To my mind, a high quality container is waterproof and sturdy and large enough to hold a sign in sheet.  Low quality is tiny, fragile (o-rings) and leaky.  A high quality placement is secure, easy to remove, fits in the environment and is accessible.   A low quality placement is in an obvious spot and/or "requires stealth".  A high quality location is one that is interesting in some way "on it's own":  places with a view, terrain, history, beauty.  A low quality location is one you would never seek out on it's own:  parking lots, guard rails, sidewalks, billboards, dumpsters...A high quality cache requires some minimal effort to reach it's location and the route to it should have as many of these as possible:  An interesting hike, with some elevation changes, some water views, an interesting or beautiful setting, a physical challenge.  A low quality route is boring or non-existent (20 feet from the car).  Finally a high quality cache page should be interesting on it's own, accurately describe the cache, the area the cache is placed in, the route to the cache and have accurate d/t ratings, photos of the area and provide enough information to find the cache including where to park at the start, trailheads and any reference points.  Some of the best cache pages spin a narrative about the cache adding another dimension to the search.  A low quality cache page has the coords, and little other information about the cache. 

For an example of a very  high quality cache see The Copper Scroll:    GC5F9TA   

For an example of a low quality cache pick anyone of several hundred roadside power trail micos:  hundred of identical caches, identically placed, within 50 feet of the rural highway (and of course feel free to leave a throwdown if you can't find it...)

     What the community can do is place quality caches and maintain them:  Have a personal standard of quality and meet or exceed it when placing a cache.  If you find a "good" cache that needs some work help out and/or report it.  As for low quality caches:  avoid them, don't leave throwdowns (log a dnf), report maintenance issues and give feedback in your logs.  

     As for what GCHQ can do:  well, imagining that there is a real difference between quality caches and "number caches" is a start.  Fav Pts help some.  I think a rating scale similar to the attributes list would be helpful.   Imagine a 0-3 rating scale on the 5 qualities above:  the container, the placement, the location, the route, and the cache page.   The Copper Scroll rates a 15;

Roadside Power Trail Micro #215 gets maybe a 2.  Sure would simplify finding a quality cache...

edexter

Edited by edexter
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3 hours ago, Wet Pancake Touring Club said:

I've seen a number of posts that suggest including a photo of the container. My question is, what is the reviewer supposed to do with the picture?

 

For obvious violations, they could deny the submission.

Example:

  • The container is a water spigot screwed into a trail post would get denied instead of being published. 
  • The container is a logsheet in a baggie, the baggie is the container
  • The cache is a CD disc, the owner wants people to scratch their name into the disc, there is no outer container
  • The cache is a magnetic sign, the owner wants people to sign the back, there is no logsheet

Glass containers should be denied for submission.

 

If the CO posts the cache size as Small but it's obvious the cache is a film canister, the reviewer can cite the size guidelines and ask the owner to change the size. I think the reviewer should be allowed to insist on the size change, and explain to the owner that many people filter out micros and would prefer not to find them. 

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58 minutes ago, L0ne.R said:

 

For obvious violations, they could deny the submission.

Example:

  • The container is a water spigot screwed into a trail post would get denied instead of being published. 
  • The container is a logsheet in a baggie, the baggie is the container
  • The cache is a CD disc, the owner wants people to scratch their name into the disc, there is no outer container
  • The cache is a magnetic sign, the owner wants people to sign the back, there is no logsheet

Glass containers should be denied for submission.

If the CO posts the cache size as Small but it's obvious the cache is a film canister, the reviewer can cite the size guidelines and ask the owner to change the size. I think the reviewer should be allowed to insist on the size change, and explain to the owner that many people filter out micros and would prefer not to find them. 

 

OT to the OP, but I don't feel anyone could possibly believe that someone who's planning to bypass guidelines would actually show their indiscretion to a Reviewer...

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Q: In your mind, what is a high quality geocache?

A: A high quality cache is well maintained with the log and contents intact in an accessible location.

 

Q: In your mind, what is a low quality geocache? 

A: A low quality geocache has damaged contents and a full or ruined log. 

 

Q: What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?

A: Regular maintenance. The community should report damages and try to fix what they can. 

 

Q: What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?

A: Reminding people about the importance of maintenance, making sure caches are in a good area before they are approved.

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Here are some proposals to improve the quality of caches (sorry for my English):

 

  • Set up a system for rating caches (on 5 stars)

Open to all players and not reserved for Premium, with the possibility of putting 1 star for a bad cache and 5 for exceptional caches, it allows a better understanding & visibility of the quality of a cache, and it avoids having to make strange weightings by taking the percentage of PF on the number of premium logs by taking into account the age of the cache to know if this cache is worth it or not.
As a CO, if I have caches with 1 or 2 stars, maybe I will question myself to try to do better for the next ones.
The current system of PFs is too limited, at best allows only 10% of the best caches to emerge... but could be in addition to the rating, like a reward.
 

  • To have the possibility to create real series of caches (and to give them a note too) and to see it like a type of caches, filter on it, see it on the map...

In the same way a series of caches can be noted/favoured (in addition to notes for individual caches)
 

  • A complete WYSIWYG editor including on the cache edit page (with integrated image upload)

To promote the quality of cache descriptions, the WYSIWYG description editor should also be present on the cache modification page, it is totally incomprehensible that when you edit a cache listing you have to type raw HTML !!! It always seems to me that it's a bug from a lazy developer at HQ but it is still not fixed !
Another problem: when you create a cache, you don't have the possibility to upload an image, you have to upload on another page (not accessible from the creation page), copy the link of the page address, and then insert this information in the WYSIWYG editor. This is not practical at all and unusable for non-techy user.
 

  • Have the cache edit page accessible on mobile (responsive design)

When we do a maintenance on a cache, if I have to change the index or description, I have to go from my mobile on the geocaching website and the page is not in responsive design, everything is written in small, we are obliged to zoom in/out permanently.
If we want to promote the quality and freshness of the descriptions, we must facilitate the work of cache owners.
 

  • Add "nano" size to cache descriptions

Many urban caches are not of micro size, but nano or the site does not propose this size. Even if I agree that one should not encourage the installation of too many nano-caches, if it allows to discover an atypical place / very frequented / out of the common, where the installation of a big box is not possible then it is justified, and in fact it already exists.
 

  • Remove the limitation for non-premium members from difficulty levels >1.5

This may seem off-topic, but it's not: many cache owners (me first) have modified to 1.5 the difficulty rating of all their caches that had a difficulty of 2, 2.5, or even 3, so that their caches continue to be accessible to beginners.
This makes you lose the quality of the cache record and it does not reflect the D/T difficulty reality of the cache, but to choose between slightly false information and cutting yourself off from a majority of players, the choice is quickly made.
I understand the need for Geocaching HQ to push towards premium regular players, but I think it would be better to put a limit on the number of difficult caches per day, this would avoid owners having to underrate the rating.

 

 

  • Provide a dashboard of his owned caches to cache owners in order to facilitate maintenance

Here's what could be useful to help maintaining cache:

- Number of days since the last maintenance performed (with the possibility to sort the list to have the caches not checked for a long time),

- Number of Found-it logs since the last maintenance performed (same for sorting) if I put a logbook with 50 spaces, It helps to know if 50 people actually already did their found-it.

- Number of DNF/Need maintenance/Archive among the last 5 logs

- If the 5 star rating system is selected, Average rating since the cache was placed and rating during the last 3 months (to see if there is a degradation of the ratings what is possible when the cache becomes old)

- To be able to see on a map the caches placed with the filters on the note and the days/found-it since the last maintenance, so that the installers can establish a "course" of maintenance (useful when one has many caches not always at the same place)

- Giving a "good health" rating only visible by their owner for each cache that could be 100% when you just did a maintenance, and that could drop by 0.5% every day, -10% in case of maintenance needs, -20% in case of archive needs, it's just a tool that could allow installers to know which caches to focus their efforts on first.

 

  • Give souvenirs or a way to thanks cache owners of great quality caches

Based on their ratings if the 5 star rating system is selected, or the number of PFs/FP ratio to try to motivate the posers to work a little more on their boxes.
 

  • Find a solution so that a cache owner can automatically know if he can place a cache at a location (taking into account the mystery or multi finals)

If the risk is to cheat, find a way so that some do not abuse the system (5 maximum validation requests per day blocked because of the presence of a mystery for example, beyond contact a reviewer).

 

  • When a user posts a log of 1 or 2 characters, display a confirmation request in the official app + website explaining why writing a short thank you message is useful

Cache owners are really the ones who make the game live and the only benefit they get from their work are the logs received. Displaying a small message at each log of 1 or 2 characters to remind players of the interest of logs would, I think, improve the quality of logs and therefore motivate installers to make quality caches.
When you're a beginner, you don't know what to put as a message and you don't know that owners receive an email for each log, it would make it possible to raise their awareness right from the start.

 

 

Final word : a big thank you to Geocaching HQ for this consultation, I hope it will help to allow the emergence of more and more beautiful caches :-)

 

Edited by @rthur
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On 2018-06-23 at 12:20 PM, Brad&Janet said:

One question at a time. This may take a while :D

 

What is a high quality geocache?

 

Some like to chase total numbers – the more finds the better.

 

I absolutely agree that people are different and the variety is a great asset to the hobby. But that is where power trailing, quantity caching and multiple "filler" caches cause a problem: They fill all available space with same-same-same, they block many great locations with a film canister in a roadsign. And, maybe worst of all, they give a clear signal to beginners that the hobby is really all about the quantity!

 

So, should we really promote lack of variety in the name of variety? I have no problem at all with simple caches, as long as they are not same-same-same space fillers, packing identical caches all along all possible routes in an area.

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OK, you asked, so here goes...

 

1) What is a high quality geocache?

 

A solid container is a must. Pill bottles go bad very quickly in the desert, as do thin plastic food-ware. Even Lok-N-Lok-type containers degrade quickly in the heat. I'm sure that those who live in areas that get snow have similar issues with other container types. Another aspect of high quality is a location that offers me something: a view, some interesting history, geology, etc, or even a unique store. Lastly, a well-designed puzzle or multi-cache is always appreciated.

 

2) What is a low quality geocache?

 

As already noted, a cheap container is always going to be a cheap container, and it will degrade quickly. A log in a cheap ZipLok baggie is also going to degrade quickly. Another aspect of low quality is a cache hidden for no reason other than because the spot was a hole on a road. Granted, many power trails serve a purpose for local economies, but the hides on these are, in general, nothing much. What is annoying is when hides on trails are just as cheap and ill-considered. 

 

3) What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?

 

We need to be more active in reporting caches that are not only suffering from container degradation, but also from poor locations, as well as coordinates that are off by more than 30 feet (call it 8 meters) or so. Bad coordinates should generate a Needs Maintenance every time, to force the CO to take another look. There also needs to be a return to the attitude that was more prevalent back in The Early Days (roughly the first 5-6 years of this game) when all of us were newbies, in a sense, so we all helped each other a lot more to "up our game". Maybe some sort of mentoring program would work, especially for a new cacher's first couple of hides.

 

4) What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?

 

Require (let me stress that: REQUIRE) that all new players read at least a short list of DOs and DON'Ts before they can sign up through ANY method: desktop, smart phone, whatever. Far too many new players have not one single clue about how this game has developed over time, and what some of the basic protocols are. One way to accomplish this is to not only have the required reading, but then have a short quiz after that, so that each player *must* read the document in order to get the answers. IOW, no scroll-down, click the button, I'm done nonsense.  GCHQ can require that a cacher have at least 50 Finds, with at least 2 of them being non-traditional, before they are allowed to hide a cache. I like the idea that someone else posted about requiring newbies to submit a photo of the location of a cache. If nothing else, that could help spot obvious major disconnects between cache location and published/final coordinates. Maybe make the mentoring I mentioned above be required for the first couple of hides. Others have posted some really good ideas which I hope GC HQ will take under serious consideration.

 

Thank you for asking!

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On 6/29/2018 at 4:38 AM, @rthur said:

This may seem off-topic, but it's not: many cache owners (me first) have modified to 1.5 the difficulty rating of all their caches that had a difficulty of 2, 2.5, or even 3, so that their caches continue to be accessible to beginners.
This makes you lose the quality of the cache record and it does not reflect the D/T difficulty reality of the cache, but to choose between slightly false information and cutting yourself off from a majority of players, the choice is quickly made.

 

That's terrible behavior on your part. An accurate listing that gets few finds is better than an inaccurate listing that gets many finds.

 

One of the things about a higher Difficulty rating is that they usually are not appropriate for beginners. There have been several of my hides when the I was on the fence about D1.5 vs D2, but went with the higher rating specifically because I thought it wasn't good for beginners.

Edited by JL_HSTRE
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In your mind, what is a high quality geocache?

  • Location and a container which is suited to it and preferably dry are the main things I hope to see. A suitably sized container for the location would be nice as well - urban micros are suitable in many cases, but in rural areas I filter on size first. Ultimately a cache that takes me to a cool place and, if possible, tells a story of some kind is excellent.
  • A well thought out and well written listing is usually a good sign (although I've seen a good geocache without any text at all other than the cache title).
  • A proper log book rather than a scroll usually indicates care and attention.

Other than that, a high quality geocache is not a low quality geocache - it's easier to define what a low quality cache is I think.

 

In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?

  • Poor container, not sized correctly, wet inside. The number of totally unsuitable containers I find has increased dramatically.
  • A horrid location full of junk, badly overlooked, most that require stealth and aren't in city centres. Or just somewhere where a cache is placed simply because it can be. 
  • A poor listing which is badly written and might be simply a copy and paste is often a bad sign and indicates a lack of care.
  • Increasingly anything that is part of a trail that is placed because it can be rather than for a clear reason, particularly if everything along it uses a 35mm container.

What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?

  • Hide better caches - ones which are there for a reason and use high quality containers which are sized correctly. Lead by example.
  • Don't saturate areas.
  • Write better logs - both physical and online. Again, lead by example.
  • Log DNF every time - or a note at least if you arrived, saw the area and left disgusted.
  • Log honestly - and log NM and NA when required.

What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?

Honestly, I'm not sure you can. I have a feeling that the tipping point has been reached in many areas - poor containers, awful interpretation of sizes, even with the new cache creation page - which is a good thing by the way.

It might be worth trying:

  • possibly require random cache submissions to have container photos uploaded for the reviewer to see - this might be tied in to a method of reporting that containers are clearly the wrong size
  • consider adding to the NM drop down that the container is obviously the wrong size - you will know better than us whether the drop downs in NMs are helping to improve quality or not. This could trigger the requirement above that photos need uploading for review - but I am well aware that reviewers are volunteers
  • change saturation distances to be higher - there are too many caches being placed too close to one another in many cases. Increase saturation levels to 500 metres as a guideline and allow reviewers plenty of lee-way (which I believe they already have)
  • consider an upper limit on the number of caches an owner can set as a guideline - over and above a certain level it might be appropriate to ask for a more thorough maintenance plan in a cache submission, for example

But, honestly, I think things may have gone too far just now.

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48 minutes ago, Blue Square Thing said:

Hide better caches - ones which are there for a reason and use high quality containers which are sized correctly.

 

The ‘hide for a reason’ suggestion is coming up a lot. And I agree.

What GCHQ can do:

Add a field on the submission form for the cache owner to explain the reason s/he placed the cache. Finders can then have one more tool for deciding whether they would like to visit the cache. 

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On 28/06/2018 at 5:49 PM, Wet Pancake Touring Club said:

I've seen a number of posts that suggest including a photo of the container. My question is, what is the reviewer supposed to do with the picture? Can the reviewer require a change of container, or is the reviewer required to approve the container? To me, that adds another layer of responsibility on the reviewer, and opens up another avenue for appeals, etc., which is something I would not like to see.

 

I agree - I think people are wildly overestimating how useful such a picture would actually be. On the plus side, I don't own a camera, so the fact that there are multiple people in this thread offering to buy me one, is obviously a good thing and I look forward to taking them up on that offer.

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28 minutes ago, coocootoo said:

 

I agree - I think people are wildly overestimating how useful such a picture would actually be. On the plus side, I don't own a camera, so the fact that there are multiple people in this thread offering to buy me one, is obviously a good thing and I look forward to taking them up on that offer.

 

If not a photo of the container, at least a description should be mandatory when submitting a cache. 

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4 hours ago, L0ne.R said:

 

If not a photo of the container, at least a description should be mandatory when submitting a cache. 

 

The current cache form encourages a container description in the Reviewer Note.

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  • In your mind, what is a high quality geocache?

I like gadget caches, and caches in wonderful locations. I also like interesting and creative caches; caches that the owner has put a lot of thought and time into.

 

  • In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?

Broken container, bad location (like next to a dumpster), one that has a high difficulty rating for bad coords, or high difficultly rating for a really dumb find, like "needle in a haystack" hides.

 

  • What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?

Participating in favorite point system. FINDING favorite point caches (which inspires great caches). Holding events that help people create good cache containers. Having events where people find high point caches (yeah, I know, I know).

 

  • What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?

The favorite point system was a really fantastic start. Now we need to take that to the next steps.

1. Make high favorite point caches easier to search for on the app and on the website. On the website I need to be able to easily search for favorite point caches withing a small area. Are we able to find the on Pocket Queries yet? That's a good start. But we also need to do easy searches on our phones for them. Make the searches easy and prominent and applicable for small areas. When I search on the website I often get the entire state's highest favorite point caches, when I just want to cache in some local area, such as find all the best caches on Whidbey Island today, not find all the best caches in the state of WA today.

 

2. More "cache of the month" recognition. We have local (Washington State) cache of the month awards. It would be good to have that all over and offer more recognition for those caches, perhaps on the blog and forums, but also perhaps as a pop-up on the app.

 

3. Earning souvenirs for the favorite pointed caches worked really well. I went on some outings to just find favorited caches with a new cacher. She had been planning on places some caches. Now she wants to place GOOD caches. Big improvement and difference.I had been trying to convince her before to not do boring caches. Now she really gets it.

This is one way to showcase those caches. It did work well before. It also brought someone back to caching who hadn't been involved in years. He bought a membership for the first time in 8 years. It works.

 

4. Perhaps the person who earns top cache of the month gets a free membership for 3, 6 months or a year.

 

5 the Gadget cache, Cache Maker events a while ago were a good start. More of that and expand on that. Encourage local maker cache events, offering a special icon for participants, like for some of the past events. People love icons. Make sure the events are at least an hour long and must incorporate learning about making better caches. Perhaps the event owner needs to submit a plan of action to do this, and the event form has possibilities, such as having a woodworker come and show how to make bird house caches, log caches, etc. Having a gadget cache maker come show how it's done. Have everyone bring their best cache ideas to show and tell. Have a slide show of exceptional cache containers (if it can be done without creating spoilers). Brain storm on ideas in Groundspeak and see what else you can come up with.

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  • In your mind, what is a high quality geocache? 

A high quality geocache is one that is thought out.  The cache has been placed appropriately for the location. i.e. a small sneaky hide in a high muggle location or a larger container in the middle of a forest.  There is nothing worse then trying to hunt for a micro when a larger container could easily been hidden instead.  Quality containers which do not leak.  A reason/history or theme behind placing the cache (rather then plunking in a pill container just because)

  • In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?

A cheap and easy container.  A geocache that is placed just because there was no cache in this location but has no relevance to the site.  The same thoughtless caches placed along a power trail.

  • What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?

I'm not really sure about this.  My response involves more thought.  Our local geocaching association is quite active with increasing education about geocaching.

  • What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?

I think that there should be a minimum number of finds ~at least 20 before someone should be able to place a hide.  I have met so many people with one or two finds that want to place a hide and 3 months later they are not involved with the game and there is no maintenance being done on their cache.  I also think that there could be a review or complaint process if there are enough complaints about a geocache without a response from a cache owner, being disabled and/or deleted.  This would allow for someone to place a thoughtful high quality cache.  

 

For me,  the game is not about numbers and I cannot stress how much dislike I have for geocaches that are placed along a beautiful trail solely for the purpose of collecting a large number of finds in one day.  The best part about geocaching is discovering a location that you never knew existed before.

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I'm going to chime in again.  Regarding,  urban caches.  High Traffic, Tourist Spot Caches Etc.

Here is how you can make geocaching more enjoyable and higher quality:
 

Geocaching itself is a lot of fun.  DNF's though are really not enjoyable. They make the sport/hobby miserable.  Life is short and precious.  Who wants to spend time noting that they didn't find a treasure.  I'm not saying all caches should be dead easy. However:
 

  1. Traditional caches in very public famous places like plazas,  main train stations or scenic tourist spots should NOT be allowed to have a difficulty rating above a 2. 
  2. Also those caches must be militantly maintained. There needs to be a way of demoting or invalidating caches with many DNFs.
  3. The more famous/special the place, the more special, well thought-out and crafted the geocache must be. You fly around the world to visit the Eiffel Tower or  the Grand Palace in Bangkok... and you have to root around for a dirty matchbook sized magnetic keybox?  -That's not enjoyable.  That's not a hobby.  Thats a nerdy punishment fetish.  Even if the cache is micro, in the aforementioned places the cache needs to match the quality of the place it represents.
  4. Scenic public places like Niagara Falls,  Grand Canyon,   Mount Fuji.   Should not be allowed to have traditional caches; -they should only be allowed to have virtual caches or earth caches.  People should enjoy that place; it's beauty or specialness..   They shouldn't spend that time in that special place hunting around for a rusty mint tin. 
     
  5. Caches in the aforementioned areas should be required to have a decent hint. Finding the cache is what is enjoyable. Not finding it is equally unpleasant.  Its even worse when you go to a special place.  A nice geocache would be the icing on the cake of that place.  A DNF just makes for a less memorable adventure.  Difficult and frustrating caches have their place... but it should NOT be in public, high tourist, traffic areas.  Let those caches be out in the woods or places where people can really gnaw on them.

    OR

    If that is too tall an order those difficult caches in public places should have a requirement that the cache owner be available for assistance.  Maybe make it where  those hard caches in tourist areas get a special reward if you can find it w/o assistance .but make it accessible for those of us that may be a bit more casual to the hobby. 
     

The reasoning for 1-4 is this:  The novelty of having a GPS is gone.  Everybody has one on their smartphone, etc.   When a geocacher has traveled many hours by car, boat, train or plane its not considerate in this day and age to have them rooting around under mailboxes or lampskirts,  support columns etc to find some  pathetic keybox.  Not every part of the world is as racially/ethnically diverse as some areas.  Foreigners can stand out like a sore thumb and be seen as suspicious.  How is geocaching supposed to be enjoyable if you're stressed out about being accosted by  local law enforcement?  

 

I realize this post is a tall order and maybe even a rant.  However Geocaching HQ  and all of us Geocachers  we need to figure out a way to make this hobby have a value that is self-evident even to outsiders.  I bristle at the term "muggles" for people who don't geocache.  Muggle implies that they don't see this hidden special thing (Harry Potter Books and Movies) . -there isn't much special anymore about finding a soggy container full of crap in a dirty crevice -even if it's a regulated coordinated hobby. 


 

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2 hours ago, NativeBergen said:

I'm going to chime in again.  Regarding,  urban caches.  High Traffic, Tourist Spot Caches Etc.

Here is how you can make geocaching more enjoyable and higher quality:
 

Geocaching itself is a lot of fun.  DNF's though are really not enjoyable. They make the sport/hobby miserable.  Life is short and precious.  Who wants to spend time noting that they didn't find a treasure.  I'm not saying all caches should be dead easy. However:
 

  1. Traditional caches in very public famous places like plazas,  main train stations or scenic tourist spots should NOT be allowed to have a difficulty rating above a 2. 
  2. Also those caches must be militantly maintained. There needs to be a way of demoting or invalidating caches with many DNFs.
  3. The more famous/special the place, the more special, well thought-out and crafted the geocache must be. You fly around the world to visit the Eiffel Tower or  the Grand Palace in Bangkok... and you have to root around for a dirty matchbook sized magnetic keybox?  -That's not enjoyable.  That's not a hobby.  Thats a nerdy punishment fetish.  Even if the cache is micro, in the aforementioned places the cache needs to match the quality of the place it represents.
  4. Scenic public places like Niagara Falls,  Grand Canyon,   Mount Fuji.   Should not be allowed to have traditional caches; -they should only be allowed to have virtual caches or earth caches.  People should enjoy that place; it's beauty or specialness..   They shouldn't spend that time in that special place hunting around for a rusty mint tin. 
     
  5. Caches in the aforementioned areas should be required to have a decent hint. Finding the cache is what is enjoyable. Not finding it is equally unpleasant.  Its even worse when you go to a special place.  A nice geocache would be the icing on the cake of that place.  A DNF just makes for a less memorable adventure.  Difficult and frustrating caches have their place... but it should NOT be in public, high tourist, traffic areas.  Let those caches be out in the woods or places where people can really gnaw on them.

    OR

    If that is too tall an order those difficult caches in public places should have a requirement that the cache owner be available for assistance.  Maybe make it where  those hard caches in tourist areas get a special reward if you can find it w/o assistance .but make it accessible for those of us that may be a bit more casual to the hobby. 
     

The reasoning for 1-4 is this:  The novelty of having a GPS is gone.  Everybody has one on their smartphone, etc.   When a geocacher has traveled many hours by car, boat, train or plane its not considerate in this day and age to have them rooting around under mailboxes or lampskirts,  support columns etc to find some  pathetic keybox.  Not every part of the world is as racially/ethnically diverse as some areas.  Foreigners can stand out like a sore thumb and be seen as suspicious.  How is geocaching supposed to be enjoyable if you're stressed out about being accosted by  local law enforcement?  

 

I realize this post is a tall order and maybe even a rant.  However Geocaching HQ  and all of us Geocachers  we need to figure out a way to make this hobby have a value that is self-evident even to outsiders.  I bristle at the term "muggles" for people who don't geocache.  Muggle implies that they don't see this hidden special thing (Harry Potter Books and Movies) . -there isn't much special anymore about finding a soggy container full of crap in a dirty crevice -even if it's a regulated coordinated hobby. 

For the record, almost all of this is about personal preference, not cache quality.

 

But if geocaching.com made it easier for people with preferences similar to NativeBergen's preferences to search for the caches they enjoy, and to avoid the caches they do not enjoy, then their perception of cache quality might increase because they would find caches they enjoy, rather than caches that they do not enjoy.

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On 01/07/2018 at 2:55 PM, JL_HSTRE said:

 

The current cache form encourages a container description in the Reviewer Note.

 

It needs to be mandatory. 

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In your mind, what is a high quality geocache?

  • Dry logsheet
  • Container in sound condition
  • Water-proof/weather-proof container
  • Accurate coordinates
  • CO maintenance so that the above is met

In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?

  • Leaking container
  • Unsignable logsheets
  • Absence of maintenance by CO

What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?

  • Post NM logs, as appropriate
  • Post NA logs, as appropriate
  • COs need to act when logs indicate problems – wet logsheets, missing logsheets, leaking containers

What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?

  • Continue to promote cache maintenance

 

Joe_L

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I think a lot of the discussion of quality is really about whether or not a cache is interesting. As long as the cache meets certain criteria (legal placement, accurate coordinates, suitable container, correct D/T, size, attributes, and appropriate hint) and is being appropriately maintained then it's fine. This would apply to the vast majority of caches. Whether it's interesting or creative or spelled correctly is irrelevant.

 

A) High cache quality comes when the owner gives the cacher an experience that engages or challenges them in some way. It leaves them with a high sense of satisfaction at finding the cache. This can happen by chance but more often it takes deliberate and thoughtful action on the part of the cache creator. I think it would be very difficult to quantify this, but favourite points are a good marker for quality.

 

) Low cache quality occurs when the basic criteria for a cache are not met. For new caches, that is probably poor coordinates or an unsuitable container. For existing caches, it's caches that aren't been maintained and are turning in garbage. Wet soggy logs and dirty contents detract from a positive geocaching experience.

 

C) The community needs to be less shy about posting Needs Maintenance logs. They are not an insult - you are doing the CO a favour by letting them know there is a problem. I'd rather have that info in a 'needs maintenance' than being buried in a 'found it' because it's so much easier to track.

 

D) Groundspeak could do the following:
-- Rename "Needs Archived" to "Needs Reviewer Attention".

-- Require a minimum number of finds before being allowed to place a cache. This is problematic for low density cache areas, so I make the following proposal: require cachers to have a minimum of X finds prior to placing a cache, where X is proportional to local cache saturation, e.g. 3% of the number of active caches within 2 kms of the proposed cache location (or their home location if that's easier). Their finds don't need to be in that area.

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In considering my answer to the first 2 questions, I had to draw a line somewhere. Really, there are not *only* High Quality and Low Quality caches. There are also great, solid, Quality Caches that are very satisfying to find, - and also Low Quality caches that offer a such great experience in some way that it almost overcomes its lack of quality - so first I thought about quality of *cache* (not experience). A solid Quality Cache meets the guidelines in every way. I think I remember a blog that covered this pretty well, (yes, here it is --> that blog post https://www.geocaching.com/blog/2017/05/3-million-active-geocaches-how-to-make-your-cache-stand-out/ ) so I won't belabor the point. I agree with the article that somehow, some way a cache gives you that oomph (the article didn't say that; I'm paraphrasing). It makes you so glad you found it that ... you'll never forget that feeling ... you'll never regret the effort it took to find it ... you can't wait to tell your friends - even non-cachers - about it. For everybody that's different. For me it's different, too. I love hiking in the woods. I love being challenged, being forced to push myself just a little bit - sometimes a lotta bit - more. I love a beautiful view. I love being so surprised or amused that I gasp in awe or laugh out loud. I love discovering a spot that I pass all the time and never knew was there. I love discovery, in general, whether it's a beautiful hidden place or an interesting bit of history. That's what makes it a high-quality *experience* for me. But you know what? I also appreciate that my definition of high-quality also changes with the type of cache that it is. As many have pointed out, it is usually very obvious that some thought has been put into it. I know a lot of folks get hives just thinking about Power Trails, but believe it or not there are ones that are well-plotted and well-planned, and some that ... well, aren't. (I checked some out; I haven't done them because they're not in my current range.) How much can you do with a lamp post? Turns out, quite a bit. I may even appreciate more finding this sow's ear turned into a silk purse, given the imagination and creativity it requires to make it stand out. I'm not a big fan of micros in the woods, but one of my favorite caches was just that, because I succeeded in a challenge I wasn't exactly sure I could accomplish. (Hey, short person v. tall tree/CO. I win! [:)] ) Summary: Built on top of the basic guidelines, thought, imagination, creativity (this would include the story or puzzle on the cache page), beauty (whether a creation of the cache maker or Mother Nature), challenge.

 

That article politely did not address Low Quality Caches. As requested, I will. First and foremost, they do not meet the guidelines. It spirals down from there: long-term incorrect coordinates, unaddressed need for maintenance, unresponsive CO, unneccessary hazard to finders. I will add that some caches I've found were, in all honesty, low-quality caches but were in such a beautiful place or were so entertaining that I wasn't sorry I spent time hunting them.  It's unusual that I walk away from a cache feeling sorry that I wasted my time on it, wishing I could get that time back; that's going to be the lowest quality of cache available.

 

The first recommendation I have to the community is to BE a community; ACT like a community. (I have to say that I'm very fortunate in this regard. I live in a small town with an aging population, but cachers from nearby towns and cities do not ignore it. In fact, they are supportive, responsive and kind in their recommendations and corrections.) The good that comes of this is that I am able to grow as a cacher and cache maker, and to avail myself of their wisdom and experience. The second is a request that we keep in mind that this is a global community. I have seen this in the treatment of my TBs - or the disappearance of them. Also, what is a really valid idea *for your area or region* may not work at all in different circumstances across the globe ... heck, maybe in your own country. Accept that the issues there, though they may not have bearing on your situation, are equally relevant.

 

For COs: Learn as much as you can before setting a cache in place. That's not just the basics of guidelines: Learn to know your audience. While you're logging caches in your area, notice the logs. Do they keep mentioning awesome SWAG? The view? It helps to determine what *your* community likes to find. Also, as I said, I'm in an aging community, so new cachers are often quite young, and they're definitely going to be using The App. Because I don't use it, I only scanned updates about it. It was not until this discussion that I learned that getting to the cache description required action on the finder's part beyond just loading the page. A light bulb went off: No *wonder* people were saying they had to figure something out although it was mentioned in the description! So knowing how cachers in your area access the info on your cache is important. As suggested by many, definitely go do some caches, especially the type that you want to place. Find several, so you can see many riffs on how to do that, and try to keep in mind what makes you like one cache more than another. And if you can, go to an event, even if you're shy (like me). The wealth of information, the sense of belonging to a community, and - who knows - maybe the identification of a possible mentor to bounce off ideas: these are all probable. Try not to dwell on disappearance of your cache too long; don't let it dishearten you.
To all cache-makers: Be brave; be bold; believe in yourself and your idea...

 

For Newer Finders: Inform yourself.  Learn what constitues a "find" and what does not. Learn about trackable items before you even get out there to find a cache. Don't know what they are/what to do with them/Discover vs. Retrieve and Drop? Find out. Read the cache description. It will help you maintain the quality of the cache by following any explicit instructions from the CO, and may well keep you - and the environment - safer than just arriving at a location and starting to search. Learn what the attributes mean, and use them (ex. don't climb a tree if the attribute means "no tree climbing"; don't log a Needs Maintenance for not being able to access a cache that requires a boat or rock climbing expertise if you don't have it). Assess your SWAG trades accurately. (Possibly picture yourself at a flea market and trying to sell your SWAG item. What would you get for it? What would somebody - *realistically* - be willing to trade for it?)  Recognize that the only "prize" in a cache is for First to Find - not the rest of the stuff in there - and the pride of having found it. Don't be afraid to reach out to the CO or experienced cachers that obviously frequent the area. In my experience, they'll be very nice and helpful ... or they won't respond at all - you'll get a feel for that. Log your DNFs as well as your Found Its... and be truthful as well as informative.

 

For Seasoned Finders: Be mindful of the impact that your experience (hey, everybody can see how many finds you have) gives to your actions and words. Be tolerant. Remember that you were human once, too. [:)] Be truthful  - not brutal - in your logs.  [All the SWAG stuff.] Know yourself: If you continually forget to log trackables; Discover them and leave them there. Know that your experience is easily recognized and and appreciated: be open and responsive to requests for information or assistance when you can.

 

And EVERYBODY: Please stop referring to SWAG as prizes!

 

HQ:
I would like to see much more education rather than more legislation.
I would like to see learning materials produced by research-base methods. And when I say research, I don't mean Marketing; I mean Education. Through all of this discussion, I hear very clearly that ignorance is causing problems. I submit to you that a major threat to the quality of caches - and other peripherals, such as trackables - is directly attributable to ignorance. I further submit that, as major investors, cache makers should expect some protection of their investment to be provided by HQ. A small community may be able to reach out to a few people, but certainly not to the entire global community. HQ can ... and should. Materials should be produced to provide a "Train the Trainer" program, and likely *local* candidate organizations (YMCA, Parks and Rec, for example) should be given these materials, not as a mass mailing which is likely to be "circular filed", but as a follow-up to contact made by [you decide who at] HQ.  

 

Sending ignorant people out without adequate information on how to "play by the rules" and giving them the tool to do so (The App)  is irresponsible. To bury the only way cache makers have of communicating with any finder initially (the cache description) and communicate instructions, hazards, and/or restrictions is sending a clear message that the major investors' interests are not being safe-guarded. Undo that action. Make The App unusable until certain information has been verified as understood (not check-boxed - again, get educators on board here). Please note that I am not anti-The App. I am simply against handing the only key to finding my cache over to some one who has received no instruction whatsoever.

 

I would like to see a separate cache size of nano. This will help in more accurately defining the type of cache a maker has placed, and reinforces realistic expectations for the finders.

 

I would like to go to bed now. Thank you for hearing me out. Good night.

Edited by VAVAPAM
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I'm sorry, just a few items that I neglected to include in my response.

Community:

Do not post photos of caches to social media without permission of the CO. Every single time (and I do mean 100%; it's not an unfortunate coincidence) this has been done with my well-stocked ammo cans and other regular-sized caches, they were immediately either emptied out completely or disappeared (ammo cans).

 

HQ:

I'd like to see some articles on reviving a local community/caches in that community.

I'd also like to see some articles on creative, simple, inexpensive ways to easily alter caches to make them wheelchair accessible.

Perhaps some articles on how a CO can protect their investment (cache) from non-forces of nature, *other* than designating them as PM (which, for my caches anyway, stands for "Preemptive Maneuver" against Quality destruction by cachers lacking requisite information/etiquette).

Find a way to ensure that information on the cacher profiles (specifically - last visited) reflects access via the various apps at their disposal, and also shows up on the audit logs of PM caches.

Edited by VAVAPAM
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On 6/18/2018 at 3:13 PM, Geocaching HQ said:

Please note: These threads are open for 3 weeks, until July 9, 2018.

I guess I'd better provide my answers today if I'm going to do it. I've been following this thread and the thread in the General Geocaching Discussions forum. I've also used Google Translate on a few of the posts in the German and French threads. And I've been considering the questions in light of the answers from others that I've read so far. So with that in mind...

 

  • In your mind, what is a high quality geocache?

A lot of the responses you have received have had little to do with quality. Instead, they have focused on the types of caches preferred by that individual: swag-sized containers, scenic views, easily found, presenting a genuine challenge, traditional caches, multi-stage caches, etc., etc., etc.


A high-quality geocache can be those things. A high-quality geocache can also be many other things. But I think at its heart, a high-quality geocache is created for a purpose, and is implemented so that it can fulfill that purpose for the long term.

 

The purpose of a high-quality geocache is related to the geocache itself. The geocache can also fulfill external purposes (e.g., as part of a series, or meeting requirements for a particular challenge cache), but those are irrelevant to whether the cache itself is a high-quality cache. The guidelines still include the quote from briansnat, "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." That is a simplification, of course. The purpose of a high-quality geocache doesn't have to be "bringing people to that spot"; the purpose can even be something to do with the geocache itself, as with many gadget caches. But apart from any external purposes, there must be a reason to find this particular cache.

 

Implementation for the long term covers issues like choosing an appropriate container and hide style, as well as securing adequate permission and complying with the guidelines. It also covers the owner's maintenance plan, although the details of that depend on the cache. A remote cache with a high-quality container in a sheltered location can go more than a decade without a visit from the CO. A micro-cache in a busy location may need monthly (or even weekly) visits just to replace full log sheets. And both of these can be high-quality caches, if they receive the maintenance they need.

  • In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?

The opposite of a high-quality geocache, of course. ;) Specifically, caches that have no purpose of their own, and that exist only for external reasons; and caches that are not implemented for the long term. That includes caches that were placed solely for some external purpose (e.g., earning a badge, increasing one's "geocaching karma", filling a hole in the saturation map, easily increasing one's find count, meeting the requirements for a particular challenge cache). And that includes caches that won't last for the long term (e.g., poor containers, inappropriate hide style, lack of permission, violating guidelines, unmaintained).

 

And I'll say it: fungible film canisters along the side of a rural highway are low-quality geocaches. They may form an excellent numbers trail, but they are low-quality geocaches. There is no reason to find any of them except that they are part of a numbers trail.

  • What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?

First, there needs to be a community, so promote a community (e.g., organize events, interact online, organize intro geocaching classes, post meaningful logs, encourage others to post meaningful logs).

 

Next, the community needs to promote geocache quality. This can take the form of promoting more best-of-the-best caches (e.g., local geocache of the month competitions). But it also needs to take the form of a rising tide lifting all boats (e.g., geocache workshop events that include help improving solid everyday cache containers as well as help with 4-star camouflage/gadget/whatever caches). And stop promoting an expectation that everyone must hide caches to "give back to the community".

 

And it definitely needs to take the form of recognizing individual caches, rather than treating all caches as merely part of some external goal (e.g., meeting the requirements for a particular challenge cache, or just another of the dozens of caches you found that day). It's okay to mention such external goals as part of your log (when relevant), but be sure to recognize the individual cache.

  • What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?

Avoid promoting numbers over quality.

 

That includes the active marketing promotions, of course. The current Hidden Creatures promotion is all about numbers: 100 smileys in 4 weeks yields all the Souvenirs. Past promotions have focused on finding a specific cache (e.g., a multi-cache for this Souvenir, or a 5-star cache for that Souvenir), which I think is a much better approach.

 

But it also shows up in other ways. My stats list my "Best Day", my "Best Month", and my "Best Year", and those are solely about find count. The day listed as my "Best Day" was a good day: it was an enjoyable hike with good friends. But I don't remember much about the 28 caches I found that day. On the other hand, there have been several days that I would consider among my best geocaching days, and they generally feature spending hours to find a single high-quality cache.

 

Continue to avoid introducing or promoting external reasons to hide geocaches. One of the things I respect about Groundspeak is that you have resisted the push for "seed caches" or "curse of the FTF" caches or challenge caches that require cache ownership. The motivation for hiding a geocache should be the desire to own and maintain a geocache for the long term. It should not be some external factor.

 

But I think it is important to encourage those who hide high-quality caches. Or perhaps it is important to avoid discouraging those who hide high-quality caches. One thing that discourages such cache owners is seeing their high-quality caches treated as just another smiley, or as just another square filled in someone's Jasmer/Fizzy/whatever grid. And that includes numbers-oriented geocachers getting the final coordinates to a high-quality cache, bypassing all the early stages that give the cache its purpose. I'm not sure what Groundspeak can do about this without breaking the simple "sign the log" litmus test though. Maybe this belongs in the "steps the community can take" section.

 

There are myriad specific suggestions in the "Bug Reports and Feature Discussions" forums. Evaluate them from the perspective of whether or not they support geocachers paying attention to individual caches. Then implement those that do.

 

Also, avoid implementing suggestions that will have negative consequences. For example, the idea of requiring 100 (or even 500) finds before someone can list a new hide has been suggested multiple times. That would kill geocaching in areas with very few geocaches, where finding 100 caches requires significant travel. And even in more saturated areas, it would emphasize quantity over quality among newbies.

 

Finally, I'll return to my initial observation. A lot of the responses you have received have focused on the types of caches preferred by that individual. So make it easier for geocachers to identify the types of caches they prefer. This may not do anything to improve actual geocache quality, but it will improve the perceived quality because many people conflate quality with their own preferences. And it will improve the satisfaction levels of your members. So evaluate the existing suggestions from the perspective of whether or not they support geocachers identifying the caches they prefer. That could be something direct (e.g.,  correlating my Favorites with those of others and recommending caches enjoyed by those with similar preferences to my own). That could be something indirect (e.g., adding a new "nano" size to reduce size creep, so those who prefer swag-size containers won't keep encountering micro-caches listed as size small).

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  • In your mind, what is a high quality geocache?

 A high quality geocache is a cache that has a story behind it. Either the cache was placed for a specific reason, is at an interesting location, is a clever hide or has a clever puzzle to solve. High quality caches are memorable caches that you remember long after finding them.

  • In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?

A low quality cache is a cache that was placed for no specific reason other than to add another geocache to the world. These are caches that don't have a story behind why they were placed or what inspired the cache, they aren't placed in unique, special or interesting locations, the container is generic and no thought or effort went into creating a well throughout hide. They are also caches that haven't been maintained in quite some time and have begun to deteriorate.

·         What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?

I believe the community should log all DNFs and report "needs maintenance" whenever the cache needs a little fixing up.

  • What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?

To improve cache quality, I believe that reviewers should have more power and be more involved in the posting of caches. When a cache is submitted the reviewer could examine if the cache meets the definition of a "high quality geocache" as defined by the results of this survey. If not they could decline the cache or begin a conversation with the future CO to find ways to improve the cache.

 

Additionally, I think there should be a process by which users can submit suggestions for virtual caches. These could then be reviewed by reviewers to determine if they meet a certain set of pre-requisites (similar to earth caches).

 

Another step could be somewhat limit the number of caches a person can place. Much as favorite points are acquired every 10 cache finds, the ability to place caches could be limited to one cache per every x number of finds. This could help to cut down on over population of low quality caches.

 

Finally, caches that have not been found for a certain period of time (1-2 years) should be flagged as "needs maintenance" or something similar. This would allow the CO to go out and check on the cache to verify that the container is still there and everything is in good working order. If the cache does not get maintained or CO does not address the maintenance then the cache could be archived to allow other players to place caches in that area. Exception should made through an appeal process for high difficulty/terrain caches that inherently are going to receive less traffic and appeal to a smaller subset of the geocaching community. This implementation may help to address over saturation of geocaches in urban areas however.

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On 6/19/2018 at 12:13 AM, Geocaching HQ said:
  • In your mind, what is a high quality geocache?
  • In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?
  • What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?
  • What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?

 

* This strongly depends on the cache type. Foremost, it should not be piecework in terms of riddle or container. Its rating should reflect its actual difficulty and terrain. There have been some good suggestions when to place a cache in the German thread.

* Caches placed at inferior locations (littered, boring), with inferior container (reuse of food packaging, glass, etc), not tested riddles, virtuals where you could have placed a cache...

* Educate at events what makes a good geocache. Some inferior caches are there because the cachers didn't know better. Write honest logs and make suggestions for improvement in a courteous way.

* (1) Do not issue quantitative challenges/souvenirs if you want to improve quality and not quantity

(2) Introduce likes for logs to honor those that value qualitative feedback to owners as this is an inspiration for quality cache owners

(3) Add a feedback option when logging to give an option about D and T value and make this the displayed value at 10 finds or so.

(4) Ask mystery owners if the cache has been tested before publish, maybe even ask for beta tester accounts (this might be too much effort though)

Edited by famerlor_dragon

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On 6/18/2018 at 4:13 PM, Geocaching HQ said:

In your mind, what is a high quality geocache?

So much has already said on this subjective topic. 

 

On 6/18/2018 at 4:13 PM, Geocaching HQ said:

In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?

Again, so much has already been said.

 

On 6/18/2018 at 4:13 PM, Geocaching HQ said:

What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?

Although, already mentioned these items are worth repeating:

  • Take time to read the guidelines before hiding a cache.
    • If you have questions, ask your local reviewer or other experienced local cachers.
  • Be honest with your logs, 
    • If you didn't find a cache after looking, post a DNF log,
    • Don't post a Found it log if you just found the location or didn't sign the log,
    • Don't post a Found it log if you didn't find the cache but the cache owner wants to reward you for your effort -- it is a Found it log, not a participation point.
    • Never ever place a throwdown under any circumstances, even on a power trail or if you do have prior permission from cache owner to replace cache, don't claim it as a find -- you didn't find anything.
On 6/18/2018 at 4:13 PM, Geocaching HQ said:

What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?

Honestly, you guys are doing great!! I don't think you get near enough credit. It seems that every initiative you come up with, somebody will find something to gripe about.

  • Keep doing what you have been doing!
  • I like prior comments about renaming "Needs maintenance" to "Needs cache owner attention" which could include attention to the cache listing for size, difficulty, terrain, and trackable inventory issues, not just the physical cache.
  • I also like prior comments about renaming "Needs archive" to "Needs reviewer attention."
  • Get rid of the default selection of a Found it log on both the mobile app and the new logging experience -- force the logger to make a selection.
  • Add NM and NA back as selection options in the new logging experience rather than trying to combine everything with another log type. The current format doesn't streamline or make it easier, it only adds confusion and causes additional steps to go back and edit for thorough meaningful comments. 
  • Although I understand the principle and even agree with it somewhat, I do oppose a requirement of finding xx amount of caches before allowing someone to hide a cache -- Dave Ulmer wasn't required to find any before he hid his first cache.
  • Perhaps an alternative to a minimum-cache-find requirement before allowing cache placement, could be an increased on-boarding process with respect to both finding and hiding.
  • Each Help Center description and rule, particularly with respect to size, terrain, and difficulty needs to be more closely aligned and linked in the actual Hide A Geocache process/section of the website.
  • Ignore prior comments about not making promotions about quantity. Every promotion has been different from the one before. The variety and novelty of each is great. Each has been an attempt to appeal to a new cross-section of cachers. Some like out-of-the way mountain hikes, some like urban caches, some like power trails, others like unusual caches such as virtuals, ECs, webcams, and mysteries. I like them all!! Not every promotion is going to appeal to every cacher. Surprisingly, I have read some posters going out of their way to hide their souvenirs earned from the promotions as if they were an embarrassment. To each his own. Contrary to what others have posted, I don't think the current promotion requiring 100 caches to obtain all the souvenirs encourages quantity over quality.

Did I forget to say you guys are doing great? You are. Thanks for this opportunity to discuss.

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"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."

 

When this famous quote could be enforced or at least would be accepted by and large I think this would greatly improve the overall quality of Geocaching.

I even suggest to take it literally since a creative, beautiful or funny box alone is no sign of quality IMHO but I guess that's a minority opinion.

 

Quality (while I don't really like the term here) must lie in the whole experience every single cache provides for the hunter. In general the box itself and it's condition is only a minor part of "the cache"

The more worthwhile experience you get with hunting for as few as possible caches the more quality I will concede to these caches.

 

LOW

If you take two close-by caches and even wordy people have difficulties to write two individual logs, at least one of these caches is a low-quality cache.

If the surrounding of the cache suffers from the visitors or even alone from the existence of the cache, it is a low-quality cache.

If the existence of the cache is getting recognized by non-cacher, it is a low-quality cache.

 

COMMUNITY

As a searcher:

Write "only" individual and honest logs. Never use c&p.

Ignore low-quality caches especially when you know beforehand that you don't have anything to say about the cache.

Respect the environment, leave only footsteps and take garbage out.

 

As a cache owner:

Put effort in selecting the place and selecting an adequate box with logbook.

Be attentive of the received logs and communicate via the listing. Don't be shy to disable a cache.

Perform adequate maintenance.

 

HQ

Don't promote quantity.

Strive for cache owner with few but thoughtfull and maintained caches.

Make it cool to spend caching time with few but enjoyable caches and to write about it in the logs.

Don't make it hard for hider of remote and therefore difficult to maintain caches.

Edited by Hynz

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Thanks to everyone for your participation! After compiling the feedback, we expect to follow up with a survey to gather more information.

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