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TheLimeCat

Blackout Challenge Integration

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I was recently discussing the removal of user-defined map challenge caches. A blackout of a local town or park for example. I find these to be the most enjoyable and rewarding type of challenge cache, but I understand that there are issues creating checkers for user-defined areas, especially with the constantly changing state of caches within the borders. I know little about code, but I was wondering if a checker of some sort couldn't be integrated into the geocaching maps function on the site.

 

Let's say a challenge creator wants to create a blackout for some area (I'm using Mount Rainier National Park in this example). The user would define a set of borders when creating the cache by drawing precisely on the map to encompass the single continuous area of their challenge. The caches in this area would then be automatically compiled into a list which could be mapped. Challenge participants could simply click a link on the cache page and be taken to their map with relevant caches in the precise area already prominently displayed. Much like when mapping a pocket query. All other caches would be excluded. The map might display the total number of caches found for each individual in a small counter. If the user has completed the challenge it might display text like [caching name] has completed [X Challenge].

 

This is a simple image to display the idea (too large to attach as a file): https://i.imgur.com/OmDEn57.jpg

 

What I want to discuss is the viability of a program such as this. From a programming standpoint, could something like this be possible? From a reviewing standpoint, could such a program bring blackouts back into the game? from a general geocaching standpoint, would this be a useful tool?

 

 

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I'm not sure what a "blackout" challenge requires, as it's a term I haven't encountered before, but if it means finding all the caches in an area it'd bump up against this guideline as well:

 

Quote

 

Finding all or any percentage of the caches, or of a cache type, rating, or other allowable value within a specified area; e.g. 80% of EarthCaches in France is not publishable.
 

 

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2 hours ago, Keystone said:

As a reviewer, I'd say your initial hurdle is reversing the 2016 post-moratorium restriction against user-defined areas for challenges.  Your best argument is the objectivity provided by the Project-GC challenge checker.  A cache is either inside a polygon or it isn't.  Challenge checkers eliminate so many disputes.  But are the intrepid checker writers willing to take on more work?  I can't speak for them.

 

As a player, I despise blackout challenges.  There is always that annoying 5 terrain tree climb I can't get to, the "guess what I'm thinking" puzzle placed out of spite to frustrate blackout seekers, and that one annoying CO who has lots of caches disabled or missing within the blackout area.  I much prefer a positive challenge like "find 25 caches within Jefferson State Park."  But that's just me.

Yes, I was aware of the moratorium. The more pressing question I guess is: Would a mapping program like this streamline the process in such a way that a blanket ban on blackouts and user-defined maps is no longer necessary? The reasonable objections I can see relate to the ambiguity of these maps as well as their lack of ability to be checked on project gc. My thought is that if a checker/progress tool were available and standardized for this type of cache, these objections wouldn't be as strong. 

 

As for your hatred of blackout caches in general, I can understand that. I feel the same way about streaks and calendar fillers. I quite enjoy the challenge of blackout caches. For me, a lot of these "find X number of caches within X area" challenges are so watered down that they aren't particularly challenging at all. I like the challenges that push me to work hard to complete a difficult task that is satisfying to complete. I feel as though the recent moratorium has moved things in a direction such that new challenges are just markers of progress I've already made or would've made regardless of the challenge's existence. I will say that the majority of blackouts near me don't include mysteries, which I can appreciate because I totally understand the frustration with these non-sequitur puzzles that might happen to fall within a certain boundary. 

 

Regardless, I'd find a mapping tool like this helpful for those positive challenges as well. 

 

PS- I've thought that the guideline about finding a discrete number of caches in a specified area is rather ambiguous. If there are say, 43 caches in a specific park, and I have a challenge that requires 40 finds in said park, would that be valid? 

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24 minutes ago, TheLimeCat said:

PS- I've thought that the guideline about finding a discrete number of caches in a specified area is rather ambiguous. If there are say, 43 caches in a specific park, and I have a challenge that requires 40 finds in said park, would that be valid? 

 

No that woulnd't fly because of the already quoted guideline:

 

3 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

 

Finding all or any percentage of the caches, or of a cache type, rating, or other allowable value within a specified area; e.g. 80% of EarthCaches in France is not publishable

 

There are just 3 types of polygons that might be used for challenges, and that are the borders of countries, states and counties (or their local equivalent).

 

So yes, we would publish a challenge, where you ask for a discret number of finds within a county, as long as there enough caches available, and there are enough locals who already qualify.

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3 minutes ago, GerandKat said:

 

No that woulnd't fly because of the already quoted guideline:

 

 

There are just 3 types of polygons that might be used for challenges, and that are the borders of countries, states and counties (or their local equivalent).

 

So yes, we would publish a challenge, where you ask for a discret number of finds within a county, as long as there enough caches available, and there are enough locals who already qualify.

That was my bad. Keystone mentioned a discrete number in a park so I had parks in mind when responding. I am well aware of this rule.

 

I will say I've never understood the practice of coming up with locals that qualify. Maybe I've missed the point of a challenge cache, but ideally for me, nobody qualifies initially and my challenge pushes people to experience something new. I understand that in an area where people have tens of thousands of finds, people will inevitably qualify, but this builds on my point that challenges have become more about what cachers have already accomplished or would've accomplished anyway, rather than about encouraging them to attempt something new.

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3 minutes ago, TheLimeCat said:

I will say I've never understood the practice of coming up with locals that qualify

 

It makes sure, that this challenge is accomplishable, and not just another "Ooooh look what I'VE done"* challenge!

 

*In Germany we have another slang word for that kind of challenge, but that would fail the family friendly aspects of this board.

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1 hour ago, TheLimeCat said:

I can see relate to the ambiguity of these maps as well as their lack of ability to be checked on project gc. My thought is that if a checker/progress tool were available and standardized for this type of cache, these objections wouldn't be as strong. 

 

There are standardized tools available and no problems if the CO can offer coordinates.

 

1 hour ago, TheLimeCat said:

For me, a lot of these "find X number of caches within X area" challenges are so watered down that they aren't particularly challenging at all.

 

It is very difficult or even impossible to make a really challenging challenge today. The number X is already found by many or it is too large to be interesting. Only small number of players will be really hooked to try.

 

 

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29 minutes ago, arisoft said:

It is very difficult or even impossible to make a really challenging challenge today. The number X is already found by many or it is too large to be interesting. Only small number of players will be really hooked to try.

 

I disagree.  I've seen several very creative and difficult challenges placed since the moratorium.  I'm working on a few.  It just requires thinking outside the boring numbers box.

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Of course one can always undertake to complete a self imposed "challenge" without there actually being a challenge cache at the end of it...

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5 minutes ago, fizzymagic said:

 

I disagree.  I've seen several very creative and difficult challenges placed since the moratorium.  I'm working on a few.  It just requires thinking outside the boring numbers box.

 

I would like to see some references. I know that difficult challenges are possible but challenging...

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14 minutes ago, funkymunkyzone said:

Of course one can always undertake to complete a self imposed "challenge" without there actually being a challenge cache at the end of it... 

 

You can make an "Unchallenge" cache -  a voluntary challenge published as traditional cache. There is no restrictions for them. If your voluntary unchallenge is interesting some will get challenged and enjoy as they enjoy with those self imposed challenges too.

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2 minutes ago, arisoft said:

 

You can make an "Unchallenge" cache -  a voluntary challenge published as traditional cache. There is no restrictions for them. If your voluntary unchallenge is interesting some will get challenged and enjoy as they enjoy with those self imposed challenges too.

 

While I dont see any relation between my post and your response, yes indeed you can create voluntary challenges of any type. Some years ago I placed such a cache which asks finders to choose their own challenge. Refreshingly, so far everyone has taken it seriously, not that it would matter to me if someone found it without any kind of challenge.

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1 hour ago, arisoft said:

It is very difficult or even impossible to make a really challenging challenge today. The number X is already found by many or it is too large to be interesting. Only small number of players will be really hooked to try

 

The only post-moratorium challenge I've completed is GC6QQPE, which requires finding 24 D2/T4 caches. At the time it was published I only had four qualifying finds, so it was quite an adventure over the next twelve months finding the other twenty I needed. In a similar vein, and by the same CO but a lot tougher, is the pre-moratorium GC5KEY1 Scenic Adventurer Challenge, requiring 40 T4+ finds all having the scenic view, difficult climbing and cliffs attributes. It's had 6 finds to date (and 100% FPs) and would probably be okay post-moratorium depending on how strict the local reviewer is with the number of pre-qualifiers. It'll be quite a while yet before I qualify for that one!

 

My own post-moratorium challenge (GC752YF) is a fair bit easier than those two, requiring 20 finds in Australia with the takes more than an hour attribute. The earlier finders had all pre-qualified (the FTF just scraped in with 21) but some of the later ones have had to work for it. Indeed I had to work for it, as at the time I came up with the idea, I only had 12 qualifying finds and wanted to set the bar a bit higher than that.

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4 hours ago, TheLimeCat said:

Yes, I was aware of the moratorium. The more pressing question I guess is: Would a mapping program like this streamline the process in such a way that a blanket ban on blackouts and user-defined maps is no longer necessary? The reasonable objections I can see relate to the ambiguity of these maps as well as their lack of ability to be checked on project gc. My thought is that if a checker/progress tool were available and standardized for this type of cache, these objections wouldn't be as strong. 

 

As for your hatred of blackout caches in general, I can understand that. I feel the same way about streaks and calendar fillers. I quite enjoy the challenge of blackout caches. For me, a lot of these "find X number of caches within X area" challenges are so watered down that they aren't particularly challenging at all. I like the challenges that push me to work hard to complete a difficult task that is satisfying to complete. I feel as though the recent moratorium has moved things in a direction such that new challenges are just markers of progress I've already made or would've made regardless of the challenge's existence. I will say that the majority of blackouts near me don't include mysteries, which I can appreciate because I totally understand the frustration with these non-sequitur puzzles that might happen to fall within a certain boundary. 

 

Regardless, I'd find a mapping tool like this helpful for those positive challenges as well. 

 

PS- I've thought that the guideline about finding a discrete number of caches in a specified area is rather ambiguous. If there are say, 43 caches in a specific park, and I have a challenge that requires 40 finds in said park, would that be valid? 

 

As Keystone mentioned, a challenge checker could take a user created polygon and check for caches in the specified area.  In order for test if one qualifies for a blackout the checker would have to iterate over cache in the GS database to compile a list of caches which are within the polygon then check a potential qualifiers finds to see if they've found all of them.  

 

With countries and states, a checker doesn't even have to a polygon because geocaches already have a unique identifier for the country/state that it's in.   For counties challenges, the challenge is to only find a finite number within the county (not every cache in the county). 

 

You asked if, from a programming perspective could a challenge checker be written.  As a programmer I get asked if something could be done all the time and I often answer with a question:  *should* it be done.   The arbitrary nature of user created polygons is what would give me pause.  A polygon which defines the area of a park might seem reasonable, but if any user created polygon could be used someone else could create a challenge with a portion of the park, or just some random area drawn on the map.  

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10 hours ago, TheLimeCat said:

 

What I want to discuss is the viability of a program such as this. From a programming standpoint, could something like this be possible? From a reviewing standpoint, could such a program bring blackouts back into the game?

 

From a reviewing standpoint, a black out challenge puts extra pressure on cache owners within the area.  It drives the tendency to NA,  to throwndown, or to just log finds for DNFs.

(This then becomes an issue for the area reviewer who is handling NA logs,  disabled sweeps, and dealing with cache health issues. )

 

 

 

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There is also the issue with the timeliness of it.  I might qualify today, but then tomorrow someone puts out another cache in that area, and I no longer qualify.   How do you capture that the user met the criteria at the time of their logging?

 

 

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5 hours ago, funkymunkyzone said:

Of course one can always undertake to complete a self imposed "challenge" without there actually being a challenge cache at the end of it...

 

Why would you do anything if there isn't a cache at the end of it?  :)

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I suppose another dilemma would be a Mystery Cache with the bogus coordinates outside the blackout area, but the actual cache inside the blackout area.

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4 hours ago, Joe_L said:

I suppose another dilemma would be a Mystery Cache with the bogus coordinates outside the blackout area, but the actual cache inside the blackout area.

Not at all, you can only go by published coords.

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On 12/20/2018 at 6:11 AM, fuzziebear3 said:

There is also the issue with the timeliness of it.  I might qualify today, but then tomorrow someone puts out another cache in that area, and I no longer qualify.   How do you capture that the user met the criteria at the time of their logging?

 

 

We already have that issue with other challenges, such as the Jasmer challenge. You have to keep re-qualifying for it every month.

 

(I did it as a personal challenge, then had to re-qualify to actually log the local Jasmer challenge cache.)

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On 12/20/2018 at 10:29 AM, Joe_L said:

I suppose another dilemma would be a Mystery Cache with the bogus coordinates outside the blackout area, but the actual cache inside the blackout area.

Or a town boundary.  They are constantly changing in some areas.

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On 12/20/2018 at 9:11 AM, fuzziebear3 said:

There is also the issue with the timeliness of it.  I might qualify today, but then tomorrow someone puts out another cache in that area, and I no longer qualify.   How do you capture that the user met the criteria at the time of their logging?

 

Also, the "difficulty" of a blackout cache can vary wildly, depending upon the difficulty of the caches within the blackout zone.

 

I was visiting the Atlanta area a number of years ago (note: before the changes to the rules on challenge caches) and had some time to do some caching nearby, thanks to the wonderful public transit system in the Atlanta area.   A local suburb had a blackout challenge cache in place, which had been logged by a large number of people.   And then someone placed a new challenge cache within the zone which required that the finder log finds on two caches on the same day separated by 4000 miles.   Not "difficult" if you're an international traveler (like the CO), making a westbound trans-Atlantic hop, but practically impossible for anyone else.   Unsurprisingly, that pretty much killed the blackout challenge cache, as nobody else in the area could qualify after that.

 

 

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On 12/20/2018 at 4:20 AM, arisoft said:

I would like to see some references. I know that difficult challenges are possible but challenging...

 

I have a bookmark list of all post-moratorium challenges published in Ontario. There's a good start. Many are quite difficult.

 

On 12/20/2018 at 4:13 AM, fizzymagic said:

I disagree.  I've seen several very creative and difficult challenges placed since the moratorium.  I'm working on a few.  It just requires thinking outside the boring numbers box.

 

Or if you can't think outside the box for whatever reason, you could just take a higher difficulty standard/numbers challenge and bound it to within a county or two (predicated of course on the fact that it can be qualified in those boundaries and the requirement for existing qualified geocachers is satisfied)

 

On 12/20/2018 at 9:11 AM, fuzziebear3 said:

There is also the issue with the timeliness of it.  I might qualify today, but then tomorrow someone puts out another cache in that area, and I no longer qualify.   How do you capture that the user met the criteria at the time of their logging?

 

Yes, the aspect of "unqualification" is a very significant one. If a challenge concept isn't entirely 'additive', then it may well be possible to unqualify through no action of your own, and that's not good. Those used to exist aplenty. Now they're disallowed.

For those you'd have to remember to post a note with your qualifications when you qualified (if before finding the cache), just in case something changed and the owner decided to verify after the fact. Granted that can still happen with cache properties like fizzy grids if DTs change, or attributes...

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3 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

 

I have a bookmark list of all post-moratorium challenges published in Ontario. There's a good start. Many are quite difficult.

 

 

436 new challenge wow that's nice. You are lucky.

 

That would even be nicer if Groundspeak decide to finally add a cache type for them.

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On 12/30/2018 at 7:47 PM, Lynx Humble said:

That would even be nicer if Groundspeak decide to finally add a cache type for them.

That takes us back to the numerous threads discussing how to officially identify challenge caches. I'm not against a new Type, but there are other options. Again, GS is working on it as demonstated by their recent surveying (love it or hate it)

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4 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

Again, GS is working on it as demonstated by their recent surveying (love it or hate it)

Yeah that true but they work really slowly because since they lunched the first survey last June I am still waiting for any results other than a second survey.

 

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On 1/2/2019 at 7:14 AM, thebruce0 said:

That takes us back to the numerous threads discussing how to officially identify challenge caches. I'm not against a new Type, but there are other options. Again, GS is working on it as demonstated by their recent surveying (love it or hate it)

Project GC has done it (unofficially) via crowdsourcing. They started with the mystery caches with the wod "challenge" in the name, and then asked users to identify false negatives (it is a challenge but doesn't have "challenge" in the title) or false positives (the word "challenge" is in the title but it isn't a challenge cache. There are some caches where the decision is fuzzy: they decided that a bonus cache (find N caches, get clues, that tells you where the other cache is) aren't challenge caches, but there were a couple where half the voters say it's a bonus cache and half say it is a challenge cache).

 

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Yes.

But all of that is beside the point. None of that it is an official identifier of challenge caches. It doesn't exist. Crowdsourcing (whether PGC or any other site - and there are plenty of bookmark lists of challenge caches too) are just secondary means to an end. There is no property that defines a challenge cache.  If there were - whatever that property was - then a whole load of new usability features would pop up; official and 3rd party.

Anyway, straying off topic.

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1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

Yes.

But all of that is beside the point. None of that it is an official identifier of challenge caches. It doesn't exist. Crowdsourcing (whether PGC or any other site - and there are plenty of bookmark lists of challenge caches too) are just secondary means to an end. There is no property that defines a challenge cache.  If there were - whatever that property was - then a whole load of new usability features would pop up; official and 3rd party.

Anyway, straying off topic.

Project GC has semi official status as they are the supplier of (now required) challenge checkers, so their list is the best available.

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Yes.

Once again, beside the point. The point is there is no challenge cache property.  None. Zilch. When publishing, reviewers require certain elements if it is considered a challenge cache. But as explained above, you can't search for "Challenge" and get - and only get - challenge caches. You can't search for caches with a checker as that is also not a property but a description content that not every challenge cache has.

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5 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

There is no property that defines a challenge cache.

 

There is also no property which defines elevation but elevation is widely used for challenges. PGC could use the own database for challenges as it is using own database for elevation. Technically it is already possible but Groundspeak must accept it as they have done with the elevation.

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2 hours ago, arisoft said:
8 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

There is no property that defines a challenge cache.

 

There is also no property which defines elevation but elevation is widely used for challenges. PGC could use the own database for challenges as it is using own database for elevation. Technically it is already possible but Groundspeak must accept it as they have done with the elevation.

 

Sure.

Doesn't address what I was saying though. There's no elevation property. There's no challenge cache property. PGC looks up elevation based on coordinates and can be a reference for any coordinate to determine elevation (there are many ways to get this info). PGC has scripts, one of which must be applied (post-moratorium) to any cache a reviewer deems to be a challenge cache. So yes, you can look up whether a cache is a challenge cache based on PGC data, just as you can use PGC to look up the elevation of the cache coordinates.

None of that is an official, universal challenge cache data property. I never said there weren't workarounds.

 

All I said was this:

 

On 1/2/2019 at 10:14 AM, thebruce0 said:
On 12/30/2018 at 7:47 PM, Lynx Humble said:

That would even be nicer if Groundspeak decide to finally add a cache type for them.

That takes us back to the numerous threads discussing how to officially identify challenge caches. I'm not against a new Type, but there are other options. Again, GS is working on it as demonstated by their recent surveying (love it or hate it)

 

Edited by thebruce0

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