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Team Microdot

Google - friend or foe?

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As someone with a great love of Earthcaching - both as a finder and an owner - I find myself wrestling with something of a dichotomy - is Google and its various tools, my friend or my foe?

 

Before I head out for an Earthcache I try to bolster my chances not only of success but of the fullest learning experience possible by doing my homework - using Google.

 

There have been plenty of times when I've managed to formulate correct answers before leaving the house, but I believe that only enhances the learning experience because when I arrive at GZ I am fully aware of and equipped for what I should be looking for, what I should expect to see and, in the spirit of official scientific method, I can look for evidence which counters my predictions also and hopefully provide nicely detailed answers which demonstrate the learnings I've gained.

 

I might also use Google Earth and Google Maps to locate best parking options and to get an idea of the lay of the land generally.

 

When putting a new Earthcache together myself I rely on Google quite heavily - doing my best to sort 'fact' from 'fiction' and to identify the most up-to-date information.

 

So in that regard, Google is my friend - yay! :D

 

On the other hand though...

 

The reviewing process for EC's seems to have got tougher - which isn't a bad thing if it consistently drives up quality in terms of the information provided and the learning experience given.

 

The problem comes in putting together an Earth Science Lesson which assumes no prior knowledge and for which answers can't just found on Google or by looking at a location on Streetview.

 

I've identified a number of locations / features / rock types that I think would make great Earthcache subjects but am thwarted from doing so because, thanks to the power of Google and its various tools, the most logical Logging Tasks are deemed unacceptable on the basis that anybody who can use Google can come up with plausible answers before leaving the house - just like I often do...

 

In this regard, Google is my foe - boo! :(

 

And the way I see it, Google isn't going anywhere, it's only going to improve and everyone has it - so it's only going to get more and more difficult to put together an EC - especially in an urban setting - that jumps through all the hoops :unsure:

 

What to do?

 

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6 hours ago, Team Microdot said:

What to do?

 

I don't think there is much we can do other than to try to focus on tasks based on observation or interpretation -- "what do you think" type tasks.

 

We've gotten answers that are terse, but so far I haven't spotted any that appear to be clearly just relying on Google results. 

 

I actually designed one question for one of our earthcaches to try and ferret out people who were relying on old photos of Fort Jefferson -- there used to be an open channel of water between the fort and the key to the east, but it has filled in over time.

 

But for the most part, we try to stay away from trick questions and just hope that most cachers have the integrity to actually show up and go through the lesson.

 

One of ours that is becoming more popular is in Mesa Verde National Park, and you could probably answer some of it based on internet photos or old vacation photos.  Thankfully, I was able to add in a lesson based on concretions in the sandstone.  I remember idly wondering about what they were on my first visit there, but I bet most folks overlook them if they're just taking in the view of the alcove and the ruins.  So discussing them and asking about them is a good way to ensure that folks have actually done some due diligence.

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18 minutes ago, hzoi said:

I don't think there is much we can do other than to try to focus on tasks based on observation or interpretation -- "what do you think" type tasks.

 

I always include at least one task that's based on observation and correctly identifying / interpreting what's there based on the ESL provided.

 

One of the problems that Google has given me though is that roadside / urban locations with features that would make good / interesting / novel EC's can't be used - because either the location can be seen on Streetview or there's stuff there which can't be taught because it would enable people to use Google to get to the answers without visiting the location.

 

I'm probably explaining it badly so let me try to clarify a bit...

 

I have a book at home which was written in 1983. In that book there's a really interesting and relatively rare feature that would make an excellent EC and give people an opportunity to see something they might never have seen before or see again. Chances are nobody would ever find it just from Google alone. Once I provide coordinates though, because it's roadside and can be seen on Google Streetview, it's virtually impossible to come up with logging tasks that can only be completed on site.

 

Another example - a beautiful and pretty rare rock type in an urban setting. I can't use that for two reasons:

 

1) It can be seen on Google Streetview - so it would be rejected at review stage.

 

2) There's little point showing someone the rock but not naming it, so they know what they are looking at and would know what to call it if they saw it again, because then they could Google it and see it online and thus not need to visit GZ - so it would be rejected at the review stage.

 

So, in a way, there's great EC locations out there going to waste thanks to Google.

 

 

Edited by Team Microdot
missed a word!

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40 minutes ago, Team Microdot said:

I'm probably explaining it badly

 

I think you explained it just fine.  And while I haven't memorized your earthcaches, I recall that your logging questions are based on observation. Rather than using the "we" of the earthcache owners community, perhaps I should just say that I personally am more focused on building my questions based on what I see, and what I hope others notice, rather than worrying about what Google Street View might reveal.

 

Most of our earthcaches are not roadside, so this has yet to be a big concern.  Even with one that's located at an interstate rest area, the rocks that are the basis of the lesson are far enough from the road that, at least at present, the street view camera images have not captured the details of the rocks sufficiently to let folks get by with a Google "visit."

 

We do have one that's right at a roadside pullout and could potentially be rife for abuse.  It's in a rural enough area that I have yet to see it abused.  (It helps that the street view is mostly in shadow and doesn't really show off some of the things that would be potential answers.)  Hopefully this remains the case.

Edited by hzoi

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1 minute ago, hzoi said:

What I meant by my comment is that I am more focused on building my questions based on what I see, and what I hope others notice, rather than worrying about what Google Street View might reveal

 

That's a luxury I don't have - our Geoaware rejects anything where answers can be derived using Streetview.

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11 hours ago, Team Microdot said:

 

That's a luxury I don't have - our Geoaware rejects anything where answers can be derived using Streetview.

 

I've come across this before myself, in a way.  Annoyingly after spending a lot of time putting together, what I thought was, a very interesting and fairly unique earthcache, at a pretty cool location, because some of the answers that were to be identified at the site could also be found by doing some google searches, the whole thing was rejected.  I felt this was sad as it was basically another way of saying that because there might be a few cheaters out there, all the genuine earthcache enthusiasts had to miss out.

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9 minutes ago, funkymunkyzone said:

 

I've come across this before myself, in a way.  Annoyingly after spending a lot of time putting together, what I thought was, a very interesting and fairly unique earthcache, at a pretty cool location, because some of the answers that were to be identified at the site could also be found by doing some google searches, the whole thing was rejected.  I felt this was sad as it was basically another way of saying that because there might be a few cheaters out there, all the genuine earthcache enthusiasts had to miss out.

 

I think often the Earth Science Lesson suffers BECAUSE we are constantly forced to heavily filter what we can actually include.

 

For example - you couldn't introduce someone to a pair of rocks by name and allow them to compare / contrast and familiarise themselves so that they could recognise and correctly identify those rocks in future purely because given the name they could just rely on Google.

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3 minutes ago, Team Microdot said:

 

I think often the Earth Science Lesson suffers BECAUSE we are constantly forced to heavily filter what we can actually include.

 

For example - you couldn't introduce someone to a pair of rocks by name and allow them to compare / contrast and familiarise themselves so that they could recognise and correctly identify those rocks in future purely because given the name they could just rely on Google.

 

Precisely.  And every day there is more and more information that can be found on the internet...

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7 minutes ago, funkymunkyzone said:

 

Precisely.  And every day there is more and more information that can be found on the internet...

 

Which is why I think it will only get worse as time goes on and the supply of new Earthcaches will quickly dry up.

 

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1 minute ago, Team Microdot said:

 

Which is why I think it will only get worse as time goes on and the supply of new Earthcaches will quickly dry up.

 

 

Luckily not all earthcache reviewers are as pedantic.  I have had plenty of earthcaches published where some of the answers could inadvertently be found on the internet.

 

The one that comes to my mind that wasn't - the one I was referring to above - was extremely disappointing though, due to just how awesome the location was, and the effort that went into the listing, all wasted effort.  But I digress as that's heading off topic, and I don't want to dredge up bad memories...

 

I expect there will need to be a shift in attitude towards this though.  You can already find almost everything on the internet.  Even remote locations are becoming more and more available as 360 panoramas etc, particularly interesting locations, where earthcaches are predominantly located.  Otherwise the earthcache game will unavoidably degenerate to taking people to pretty boring nondescript locations where only pretty uninteresting geological features can be observed - locations overlooked by those looking for great spots to photograph or otherwise document.

 

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I will continue to try to develop creative and interesting Earthcaches - despite the increasingly severe restrictions that seem to make it more difficult to do so on an almost daily basis.

 

It will still pain me though that there's some really good stuff out there that I can't show people just because a few people might 'cheat' - if that's even the reasoning behind such restrictions?

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14 hours ago, Team Microdot said:

It will still pain me though that there's some really good stuff out there that I can't show people just because a few people might 'cheat' - if that's even the reasoning behind such restrictions?

 

I think that earthcaching, of all the geocaching subcultures; is most affected by cheaters.

 

If someone cheats and signs a log without permission then the CO is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the log. That being said there is not a PREVENTATIVE measure required to stop cachers from cheating. 

 

In ECs however, the preponderance of the responsibility falls on the EC CO to prevent cheating PRIOR to cache publication. This would be akin to a traditional cache CO having to prove that their cache has a built in pen/pencil to prevent people from cheating. 

 

Perhaps ECs are held to a higher standard because they originated at GSA. I still feel however that the onus of preventing cheating should be on the cache FINDER, not the hider.

 

 

All that being said, I’m fortunate that my Geoaware is also my local reviewer and I’ve been able to develop a raport with him and I think that has definitely helped speed along cache submissions at times.

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14 hours ago, STNolan said:

In ECs however, the preponderance of the responsibility falls on the EC CO to prevent cheating PRIOR to cache publication. This would be akin to a traditional cache CO having to prove that their cache has a built in pen/pencil to prevent people from cheating. 

 

Perhaps ECs are held to a higher standard because they originated at GSA. I still feel however that the onus of preventing cheating should be on the cache FINDER, not the hider.

 

What's extra frustrating though is seeing new Earthcaches published close to home which fall below the apparently required standards - as if some Earthcaches matter more than others.

 

I don't get how Earthcaches can be rejected on the basis someone like me might do their homework before leaving home and come up with answers for some or even all of the questions - yet clearly, by virtue of the fact I can do that quite regularly, Earthcaches which should in theory have been rejected continue to be published?

 

Colour me confused! 😵

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6 hours ago, Team Microdot said:

 

What's extra frustrating though is seeing new Earthcaches published close to home which fall below the apparently required standards - as if some Earthcaches matter more than others.😵


In this case perhaps your Geoaware is holding YOU to a higher standard; because he knows you can attain it.

Think of it as a backwards compliment :P

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13 hours ago, STNolan said:


In this case perhaps your Geoaware is holding YOU to a higher standard; because he knows you can attain it.

Think of it as a backwards compliment :P

 

I've heard that before, but to be honest, no, I'd rather not have my time wasted for some kind of "backwards compliment". I'd rather be treated the same as others. But sorry that's all heading off topic.

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39 minutes ago, funkymunkyzone said:
13 hours ago, STNolan said:


In this case perhaps your Geoaware is holding YOU to a higher standard; because he knows you can attain it.

Think of it as a backwards compliment :P

 

I've heard that before, but to be honest, no, I'd rather not have my time wasted for some kind of "backwards compliment". I'd rather be treated the same as others. But sorry that's all heading off topic. 

 

If you're suggesting that the bar should be the same height for everyone I'd have to agree.

 

I was delighted yesterday to discover some very cool geological features in an urban setting - one of which I've never seen before and certainly a subject I've never seen an Earthcache based on.

 

Of course I checked and yes, the sites can be seen on Google Streetview 😫

 

The challenge will be to see if I can put an EC together for which Streetview doesn't reveal enough detail to scam the Logging Tasks - given that that seems to be where the bar has been set.

 

It'll be a real shame if I can't. I expect opportunities to see these faetures are incredibly rare for most folk and here they are presented beautifully 😍

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38 minutes ago, Team Microdot said:

 

If you're suggesting that the bar should be the same height for everyone I'd have to agree.

 

I was delighted yesterday to discover some very cool geological features in an urban setting - one of which I've never seen before and certainly a subject I've never seen an Earthcache based on.

 

Of course I checked and yes, the sites can be seen on Google Streetview 😫

 

The challenge will be to see if I can put an EC together for which Streetview doesn't reveal enough detail to scam the Logging Tasks - given that that seems to be where the bar has been set.

 

It'll be a real shame if I can't. I expect opportunities to see these faetures are incredibly rare for most folk and here they are presented beautifully 😍

Good luck. I sure hope you can!

 

I look forward to checking it out (and not logging it from all the way over here in NZ!)

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On a related note, I have an earthcache that appears on TV 6, possibly 7, days a week... on the Aussie soap "Home and Away". :)

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1 minute ago, funkymunkyzone said:

On a related note, I have an earthcache that appears on TV 6, possibly 7, days a week... on the Aussie soap "Home and Away". :)

 

PMSL - I might have seen it were it not for the fact Mrs M is Neighbours rather than Home and Away 😃

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2 minutes ago, Team Microdot said:

 

PMSL - I might have seen it were it not for the fact Mrs M is Neighbours rather than Home and Away 😃

 

She clearly doesnt appreciate a good tombolo based drama.

 

Theres absolutely nothing geology related to learn from Neighbours. Pfft.

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2 minutes ago, funkymunkyzone said:

 

She clearly doesnt appreciate a good tombolo based drama.

 

Theres absolutely nothing geology related to learn from Neighbours. Pfft. 

 

a game in which people pick tickets out of a revolving drum and certain tickets win immediate prizes, typically played at a fete or fair - yes, I can imagine the high drama right now 😆

 

And now you know why I don't watch Neighbours.

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14 hours ago, funkymunkyzone said:

 

I've heard that before, but to be honest, no, I'd rather not have my time wasted for some kind of "backwards compliment". I'd rather be treated the same as others. But sorry that's all heading off topic.

Sorry, I thought the “/s” was implied.

 

I do feel bad about that streetview Moratorium; seems again like the CO is expected to prevent cheating, rather than the cacher being expected to not cheat.

 

That being said if you get that EC published MD, let me know... so I can check it out on streetview! 😂

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13 minutes ago, STNolan said:

That being said if you get that EC published MD, let me know... so I can check it out on streetview! 😂

 

I went back there today to make further observations and take some measurements.

 

I think I can pull it off.

 

Watch this space!

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1 hour ago, Team Microdot said:

 

I went back there today to make further observations and take some measurements.

 

I think I can pull it off.

 

Watch this space!

:shocked: - Watching!

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