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The A-Team

An open letter to Geocaching.com

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No offense, but when folks say "give up some tools", that usually means things most can do without.  

"Most" are using phones, so anything that "isn't needed" I'd think would probably come from the website/GPSr end..

 - That affects people like me, who prefer to keep everything simple.  

I only look at a map from a cache page after filtering a search by terrain. 

 - I asked for someone to help me understand if I'd be affected on the release notes page, but got no takers...

IIRC,   doing away with things some believe unnecessary is why I lost "Newest ..." from my profile that's now a "dashboard".

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13 hours ago, The A-Team said:

Is it your communication style? The official policy seems to be a general "don't communicate with the public", with exceptions to this rule being made only on rare occasions. You have many experienced and knowledgeable users that provide excellent feedback and suggestions for free here in the forums, but that feedback is often directed into a black hole where no discussion or response occurs and no action is taken. If you collaborated with your users in a transparent fashion where you make your limitations known, maybe you and the users could reach a design that could meet the needs and abilities of both sides?

I'm addressing this to Groundspeak/Geocaching.com, I included a portion of what The A-Team stated because I want to expand on it.

 

To me, communications is the biggest issue. And, I think that a little effort in this direction would go a long way. To me, collaboration does not mean including everyone on the forums in on your internal discussions. Collaboration can mean some simple (at least to me) changes.

 

A survey on how important various new features are to the geocaching community is a form of collaboration. Doing that, once a year or so, would give us an idea of your direction, and allow the community to feel they are part of the direction of geocaching. We understand that some are more difficult to implement that others, just include a general idea of how complex a feature is. This allows us to balance our answers. Let me let you know if I would I rather you work on a number of lower priority issues of mine, or one higher priority one that will take the same amount of time as all of the lower ones.

 

There are lots of feature requests made through the forums. For a large number of them, the community will vote them down. But, for those that keep re-occurring or there is a lot of discussion regarding them, for those it would be nice to get some kind of acknowledgement that you have at least taken note of it. Maybe invite select forum users to a more detailed, controlled discussion on a topic. Let the forum know that you are exploring this off-line.

 

And, acknowledge ALL bugs. Maybe it isn't a bug (its a feature). But, acknowledge all of them, and let us know if you agree or not. I submitted a great circle distance bug, turned out that it wasn't a bug, but instead a design choice on how the map is presented, and I mis-interpreted it as a bug. I never got an explanation, so I went around for a couple of years erroneously assuming (and telling others) there was a bug.

 

Similar to what The A-Team stated, this is not meant to be bashing. I'm trying to be constructive, and I am here to help.

 

Thanks,

 

Skye Hagen (Wet Pancake Touring Club)

Northern Idaho, USA

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I don't have much to add to this, other than the new map update is 100% legit terrible in my opinion.

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4 minutes ago, fizzymagic said:

Look how long it took to get the puzzle checker on the cache page to a minimally acceptable state of usability.

 

The native puzzle checker is intented to check that you have got correct final coordinates from a friend. For a hardcore geocacher this is the only function you need and want. I wouldn't use this project as an example of unfinished development. There is an endless list of features that could be added but not really needed for the intented purpose.

 

17 minutes ago, fizzymagic said:

That might explain why so many long-time geocachers are feeling betrayed by the new maps

 

I do not feel betrayed. I understand challenges behind curtains. Old map was not as perfect as you may remember. Repeating and continuous unfixable problems with cache links.

 

31 minutes ago, fizzymagic said:

Groundspeak has made a conscious decision to favor features for new users over features that would retain existing users.

 

This is so obvious. There was a time period when new features were introduced to existing users. Personal cache notes and corrrected coordinates were tools from this era. Current development is trying to forget these features. Coordinates forcefully reverted to the posted ones and no filter for personal notes.

 

For existing users there are alternative solutions like GSAK which seems to be popular among the top-ranking users.

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21 minutes ago, arisoft said:

The native puzzle checker is intented to check that you have got correct final coordinates from a friend.

I admit I do not understand. What do you mean? If available, I always use puzzle checker, the one provided by Groundspeak or third party ones, to verify if my calculations are correct. Even when I know the method and have the right data to start with, there always can be a stupid mistake leading to coordinates far from the cache final.

 

As for the topic itself, I am only a basic member but I do not like the new map 'priorities', too. Mostly because searching is so limited for me that I do not use it at all, browsing I do very often. If this step was meant to engage more beginners in the game until they become premium members, I doubt it is the right choice.

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I do not like the new mapping.  Someone decided change was good ... but made a bad decision.

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I read somewhere in one of the threads related to this topic that we could chose the type of map we wanted.  Where is that magic button to turn off the recent garbage dump that I seem to be locked into?

 

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3 minutes ago, edscott said:

I read somewhere in one of the threads related to this topic that we could chose the type of map we wanted.  Where is that magic button to turn off the recent garbage dump that I seem to be locked into?

 

Click this button in the upper right of the new map. Just below your geocaching name. That should revert the map back to the old version.

 

Clipboard011.jpg

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54 minutes ago, *GeoPunx* said:

Click this button in the upper right of the new map.

But it's not persistant, you would have to do it every time you open the map to change from the new back to the old.

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1 minute ago, MartyBartfast said:

But it's not persistant, you would have to do it every time you open the map to change from the new back to the old.

Oh yeah. That's true. And seriously aggravating to say the least. But, it's at least there at all.

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Just now, MartyBartfast said:

But it's not persistant, you would have to do it every time you open the map to change from the new back to the old.

 

It is persistent if you make a bookmark for browse map. I have used a bookmark (actually a shortcut) to the map as long as I remember.

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1 minute ago, arisoft said:

It is persistent if you make a bookmark for browse map. 

You can't(*) bookmark the result  of "Map this list", "View Larger Map", or the "Geocaching.com" map link on the cache pages; which is how I suspect most people who use the "browse map" are getting to it.

 

(*), well technically you could but you'd have to create a bookmark for every use case, which would be V.V. tedious.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, MartyBartfast said:

You can't(*) bookmark the result  of "Map this list", "View Larger Map", or the "Geocaching.com" map link on the cache pages; which is how I suspect most people who use the "browse map" are getting to it.

 

When you are looking an area around a cache the search map is ok and propably consumes system resources less than the browse map. This is a special case where browsing is not necessary. I am used to browse map always from a single shortcut (bookmark) and I recommend this method for you if you find current options not suitable for your needs.

Edited by arisoft

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1 hour ago, *GeoPunx* said:

Click this button in the upper right of the new map. Just below your geocaching name. That should revert the map back to the old version.

 

Clipboard011.jpg

All well and good if I could get there.  All the new "maps" offer me is a bank screen.  I can manually delete the "play/" in the URL and get a map, but it is centered on my home coordinates not the cache I'm attempting to study or map.  I'm basically mapless which for me means no longer geocaching.

 

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34 minutes ago, arisoft said:

When you are looking an area around a cache the search map is ok

That's your opinion, and you're welcome to it. I disagree.

 

 

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33 minutes ago, edscott said:

All well and good if I could get there.  All the new "maps" offer me is a bank screen.  I can manually delete the "play/" in the URL and get a map, but it is centered on my home coordinates not the cache I'm attempting to study or map.  I'm basically mapless which for me means no longer geocaching.

 

I have adjusted my user script to replace /play/map with /map, both in the menu and on the "View large map" link on cache pages. This hides the new map completely for me, and might be useful for you as well: https://thomfre.net/en/tech/adjusting-the-new-experience/

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, MartyBartfast said:

That's your opinion, and you're welcome to it. I disagree.

 

In this case you may try the solution thomfre announced in the previous message.

Edited by arisoft

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59 minutes ago, arisoft said:

 

In this case you may try the solution thomfre announced in the previous message.

I'm not looking for a solution, I can work out my own ways to get round things that don't work properly thanks.

 

The point at issue here is  Groundspeak shouldn't be making changes which are reducing functionality and thereby forcing us to "work around" it, particularly when there's been plenty of feedback given on this particular release which seems to have been ignored.

 

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I SO hate the new maps. That's why I came to the forums today.

 

I Just REALLY SO hate the new maps.

 

This is not just a matter of me not liking change and something I'll get used to.

 

These simply are NOT functional for me when searching for caches.

 

The point of the geocaching website is to be able to search for caches. The new map greatly restricts that.

 

I love searching out new hiking trails especially ones that have rows of caches down them. It's just not possible to do that well on this new map.

 

Hate it. Hate it. Hate it.

 

Thanks for listening.

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When they changed the Dashboard page they left us with the option to remain with the original page.  Why not allow the same choice with the map page?

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At least name the way back to the old map something a tad more intuitive instead of:  "Browse Geocaches"  How about" Old Map For Old Folks"

 

Tongue was in cheek sooooo let me get the Nomex on before flames.

 

Seriously  "Old Maps" would beat the trousers off the current "Browse Geocaches"

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9 hours ago, arisoft said:

When you are looking an area around a cache the search map is ok and propably consumes system resources less than the browse map. This is a special case where browsing is not necessary. I am used to browse map always from a single shortcut (bookmark) and I recommend this method for you if you find current options not suitable for your needs.

That only works if I'm browsing around my home coordinates. 9 times out of 10, I'm browsing the area around some cache I'm looking at. I used to be able to do this from the cache description. You're suggesting that instead of open the map around my home area and scroll it how ever many miles away to look at the area I'm interested in? That or install a hack to correct GS's mistake? I mean, thanks for the advice and all, but it would be easier if the system just did what we all want.

 

15 minutes ago, humboldt flier said:

At least name the way back to the old map something a tad more intuitive instead of:  "Browse Geocaches"  How about" Old Map For Old Folks"

Just to remind everyone, there's an "old search map" that I rarely found myself looking at and have no particular feelings about whether it was better or worse than the new search map. There's also the browse map, which hasn't changed (much). The button you talk about takes you to the browse map, not the old search map. Although the new search map replaced the old search map as part of the recent release, the much more sweeping change that I think most if not all of us are complaining about was changing all the pointers to the browse map so they now point to the search map.

 

Interesting point about "Browse Geocaches" being unintuitive. I hadn't thought of that because I've been reading the forums where "browse map" has become a common term to distinguish the two maps. But now that you mention it, "browse geocaches" makes no sense to someone looking at the maps because maps are inherently used to browse. "End Search" might make more sense, although only if the user got to the map by starting a search.

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I discovered the new map on my smart phone. It sucks big time! When I did figure out how to use it. It fought with me, It also tried to force me into a new and different

log system. Also not to my liking. What is wrong with the statement if it ain't broke then don't fix it. An improvement is only good if it makes things better.

If it does not then it is a detriment. Groundspeak needs to test things better before making these changes.

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5 hours ago, dprovan said:

That only works if I'm browsing around my home coordinates. 9 times out of 10, I'm browsing the area around some cache I'm looking at. I used to be able to do this from the cache description. You're suggesting that instead of open the map around my home area and scroll it how ever many miles away to look at the area I'm interested in? That or install a hack to correct GS's mistake? I mean, thanks for the advice and all, but it would be easier if the system just did what we all want.

 

Yes... this is the way I have done it years. When I am looking caches around some cache I am most propably checking only the close area.  My problem is wrong position of found caches on the map. This issue has not been addressed with this upgrade as I anticipated earlier. I am going to solve this problem myself as it seems to be intented even it is one of the most requested feature.

 

 

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So 5 days with no response from HQ.  Apparently having a functional mapping option is not a priority.

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Hey A Team:   <<<<<<<< "Danger Will Robinson" >>>>>>  My comments were less edgy a couple of years ago and I got a reprimand.  I have appreciated your postings through the years and would hate to see you fall off the radar.   Former posters whose insights I miss "Dog Who Wears Glasses", The White Urkle" to name two.

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14 hours ago, humboldt flier said:

Hey A Team:   <<<<<<<< "Danger Will Robinson" >>>>>>  My comments were less edgy a couple of years ago and I got a reprimand.  I have appreciated your postings through the years and would hate to see you fall off the radar.   Former posters whose insights I miss "Dog Who Wears Glasses", The White Urkle" to name two.

I hear ya. I was given a temporary timeout a few years ago, so I've tried to be more careful with my wording since then. I carefully chose my wording in the posts above to make sure I wasn't attacking anyone, but rather pointing out issues that I perceived and offering possible solutions. Based on the reactions to my posts, it seems that there are many others who hold similar opinions and I was just the one who spoke out publicly.

 

Thank you to the mods for recognizing my intent and allowing this discussion to stand. I know this can be a touchy subject, but it's also one that needs to be discussed sometimes.

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I'm surprised people are actually using the Geocaching.com map. I've been using the Project GC map for ages now, and gc.com's map doesn't come close to it. So now gc.com has become even worse? That, on the other hand, is not surprising.

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10 minutes ago, Vooruit! said:

I'm surprised people are actually using the Geocaching.com map. I've been using the Project GC map for ages now, and gc.com's map doesn't come close to it. So now gc.com has become even worse? That, on the other hand, is not surprising.

 

I have understood that lackeys are using GSAK. This may be a fake news but it would explain quite a lot.

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Been on a break for a while but I am shocked at how very little has changed in the last 3 years. I would have thought site changes would be massive.

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1 hour ago, StarBrand said:

Been on a break for a while but I am shocked at how very little has changed in the last 3 years. I would have thought site changes would be massive.

 

You see .. and plenty of other users are complaining that "they change all the things all the time".

 

This thread is highlighting some very good points about unfinished product. But don''t lose perspective - this is kind of a bubble of unhappy customers.

We don't know. Maybe 95% of users ARE happy with new tool. They're not going to come here and express their satisfaction with Search map.

Forums are visited mostly by people struggling, or discontented. (Or curious, like me now:)

 

Frankly, this strong criticism has surprised me:

 

On 4/26/2019 at 5:17 AM, The A-Team said:

Today, you made a change where you made the new "search map" the default map across the site, relegating the other "browse map" to a status of second-class citizen by making it accessible only via a button on the search map.

 

Not true.

 

Disclaimer:

I'm unhappy too with the Search map:

  • it is slllllowww,
  • missing VITAL leaflet maps,
  • returns only 500 (!) caches in area
  • shows found caches at starting coords, not at solved, real coords
  • etc, etc

I provided them this feedback several times.

 

BUT it is still very easy to use old, Browse map instead - just bookmark https://www.geocaching.com/map/ and scroll where you want to go. 

I'm doing it this way for many years and this service was not eliminated from my toolset.

Search map is now as kind of bonus to me, used when looking for special caches - oldest, most FP, rare, by name, by owner, or unfound by group, etc.

 

Maybe you can now better imagine there can be good % of users outside of this "unhappy bubble" and HQ will most likely analyse the general feedback from all the users to allocate their resources for next projects. HQ have tens, maybe hundreds of thousands users - realisticaly it is not possible to satisfy needs of every single one.

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6 hours ago, Rikitan said:

But don''t lose perspective - this is kind of a bubble of unhappy customers.

We don't know. Maybe 95% of users ARE happy with new tool. They're not going to come here and express their satisfaction with Search map.

Forums are visited mostly by people struggling, or discontented. (Or curious, like me now:)

But similarly there are a lot of people who don't know about/use the forums. I've seen far more complaints about the new maps on Facebook than I have on the forums.

 

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7 hours ago, MartyBartfast said:

But similarly there are a lot of people who don't know about/use the forums. I've seen far more complaints about the new maps on Facebook than I have on the forums.

 

I don't do faceboook, but through others I understand that's true.     :)  

We have members around longer than us who've never even entered the forums to lurk

By the most basic questions by long-time players ("how do I get 'send to gps' now?" ) asked at events, I find that a shame.

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6 minutes ago, cerberus1 said:

 

I don't do faceboook, but through others I understand that's true.     :)  

We have members around longer than us who've never even entered the forums to lurk

By the most basic questions by long-time players ("how do I get 'send to gps' now?" ) asked at events, I find that a shame.

 

I have seen a few complaints about the new search maps on the r/geocaching subredit on  reddit as well.   From what I've seen of geocaching related FB groups is that they tend to be focused on relatively small geographical areas.   There are a couple that cover my area.  One is named for the town and posts to it are very rare (last posts was in January).  The other covers a bigger area and has members from all over the state of NY (and beyond),  but 90% of the traffic is from cachers in the Syracuse area and issues of interest primarily for those that live there.   There have been complaints about the new browse map there.    Various complaints about the site seem to be a bit behind the forums and a lot that gets mentioned here never gets talked about in the FB group.   I would imaging that the general tone of FB groups varies a lot from region to region.  

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14 hours ago, Rikitan said:

This thread is highlighting some very good points about unfinished product. But don''t lose perspective - this is kind of a bubble of unhappy customers.

We don't know. Maybe 95% of users ARE happy with new tool. They're not going to come here and express their satisfaction with Search map.

Forums are visited mostly by people struggling, or discontented. (Or curious, like me now:)

I agree, the forum is a bubble. And, the majority of the respondents on this thread may be skewed to unhappy customers. It is quite conceivable that 95% of users are happy with the new tool. I would like to take the point, "We don't know.", one step further, and say, based on what I have seen, neither does GS. I have not seen or heard of any surveys put out by GS regarding the website. To me, the specific features are the symptom, and more communications is the solution.

 

As for the new map, it works for me. I'm neither happy or unhappy with it. It has good points and bad. But, I'm know I'm skewed on this, as I use GSAK for most of my planning. I use GSAK because it does things that I would rather do on geocaching.com. I hate having to maintain a shadow database. I've been stung a few times because my shadow database was out of date.

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18 hours ago, Rikitan said:

This thread is highlighting some very good points about unfinished product. But don''t lose perspective - this is kind of a bubble of unhappy customers.

We don't know. Maybe 95% of users ARE happy with new tool. They're not going to come here and express their satisfaction with Search map.

Forums are visited mostly by people struggling, or discontented. (Or curious, like me now:)

 

Yes, that's definitely something we need to keep in mind. Human nature is such that people are more likely to publicly complain than praise, and those who use these forums are a relatively small proportion of all Geocaching.com members.

 

That being said, I've seen a few posts here in the forums that implied that a member contacted HQ Support directly due to issues or concerns about the new search map. There may be quite a few members who have done so, and only HQ would know about those. Combined with the anecdotal reports of unhappy users on various social media platforms and those who suffer in silence, I expect the number of unhappy users may be higher than you think. It's also only been a week, so there are probably lots of members who haven't seen the change yet.

 

It should also be noted that there are a number of forum regulars who are very knowledgeable about this site. While a relatively small group, their experience and knowledge means their feedback could be considered more valuable when compared to the average member, who may not be as familiar with the ins-and-outs of the site or the history of why something is the way it is. Basically, if the experienced members here in the forums unanimously agree on something, that's a significant data-point that needs to be noted, not discounted because "it's just a few users".

 

Quote

BUT it is still very easy to use old, Browse map instead - just bookmark https://www.geocaching.com/map/ and scroll where you want to go. 

I'm doing it this way for many years and this service was not eliminated from my toolset.

 

That's a workaround. If many users need to use workarounds, it means there's a flaw in the design.

 

Let's not get too hung up on the new search map issues, though. I only mentioned that as being the most recent change that was representative of other past issues. I'm sure most of us can name a feature on the site that we were promised would be improved, but wasn't or was changed in a way that didn't meet our needs. The intent of my original post was to highlight what I see are systemic issues that affect many different projects and features, not to focus on the one specific project. Discussions of issues specific to the new search map would be more appropriate in the other relevant forum discussions.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Wet Pancake Touring Club said:

I agree, the forum is a bubble. And, the majority of the respondents on this thread may be skewed to unhappy customers. It is quite conceivable that 95% of users are happy with the new tool.

 

It doesn't matter what percentage of all users are happy.  It does matter whether the users who generate revenue are happy.  Newbies who use their phones and find 10 caches and then get bored don't pay the bills.

 

Leaving aside other forms of income, there are 2 kinds of users who generate profits;  new users who convert to memberships and existing members who renew.  It is likely that the majority of the forum participants are in the second group, though we don't know how representative they are of all existing members. New users are not very likely to use the forums.

 

But the notion that the forums are completely disconnected from profits is unproven. 

 

I will grant that unhappy users are more likely to take to the forums than others (I won't name names, but some denizens seem to be perpetually unhappy no matter what).  However, if Groundspeak sees people joining the forums to complain about the new maps, that is a significant result by itself.

Edited by fizzymagic
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1 hour ago, fizzymagic said:

It doesn't matter what percentage of all users are happy.  It does matter whether the users who generate revenue are happy.  Newbies who use their phones and find 10 caches and then get bored don't pay the bills.

 

Leaving aside other forms of income, there are 2 kinds of users who generate profits;  new users who convert to memberships and existing members who renew.  It is likely that the majority of the forum participants are in the second group, though we don't know how representative they are of all existing members. New users are not very likely to use the forums.

I have a different take on this. How do we get new users? I believe that word of mouth will be one of the primary methods. If the word of mouth is disparaging, then the potential new user won't become one. And they certainly won't be getting a premium membership. Therefore, the reason that people quit can make a difference on future revenue.

   "Hey, have you tried geocaching?"

   "Yes, but it wasn't for me."

is different than;

   "Hey, have you tried geocaching?"

   "Yes, but I quit because the web site was slow, confusing and I couldn't find any help."

Those that give up the hobby, newbie or not, can still influence the future success of GS by their interactions with others. If it were me, in the first scenario, I might give geocaching a try. I'm less likely to try if I get the second response.

 

I still remember an ancient print ad showing a picture of a guy in a Jedi costume in line at the movie theater. "Will wait in line a day and a half for a ticket. Won't wait 8 seconds on hold for an operator." There are times when speed, convenience and/or customer service is a deciding factor in someone's impression of a company or product.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Wet Pancake Touring Club said:

I have a different take on this. How do we get new users? I believe that word of mouth will be one of the primary methods. If the word of mouth is disparaging, then the potential new user won't become one. And they certainly won't be getting a premium membership.

 

>>>>Therefore, the reason that people quit can make a difference on future revenue.<<<<

 

Quote

   

True that, however, those who "trial the experience" of the game may never delve into the forums to discover the angst.

Edited by humboldt flier
expanded thought

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Whilst I am pleased to see new features coming out (for example the puzzle cache solver works really well), I have to say that the new map changes really not work for me. I used the old map to do a high level view of what new series were around (for background, I have found a significant number of the caches in a many multiple mile radius from home). This could mean that I was searching around 50 miles from home in ever widening views, then when I spotted something interesting, I could zoom in closer. The new map is not suitable for doing this at all as it only shows a few caches in a very small area - to give an analogy, it's like trying to map the contents of a large office block by only being able to peek through the occasional letterbox now.

 

It feels like it has been created for Sunday cachers' who may find one or two caches at a weekend within a mile or two from home, but that sort of user probably wouldn't use this map anyway - the number of caches it loads is just far too small to be even half useful. In the more recent past, there seemed to be a lot of research done in the caching community as to what cachers really wanted (e.g. by surveying cachers at mega events, the playtester initiative etc) - is this still being done (and then used to work on the new features)? In my opinion, this research was a really good thing as HQ could determine what people really wanted and then spend the 'new feature dollars' on doing precisely that.

 

I haven't used these forums for quite sometime, but felt I needed to return to give feedback on these maps. I really hope the "old" map is not going to be retired as this would have a serious impact on the way I cache.

 

BTW, I hope this is post is taken in the manner in which it is meant - i.e. constructive feedback

 

 

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2 hours ago, AmayaTom said:

Whilst I am pleased to see new features coming out (for example the puzzle cache solver works really well), I have to say that the new map changes really not work for me. I used the old map to do a high level view of what new series were around...

Please see this release thread about the map update, and how to use the Browse map (the 'old' map) which is not gone, and still in full functioning form; just not the default map.

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On 5/3/2019 at 5:03 PM, Wet Pancake Touring Club said:

Those that give up the hobby, newbie or not, can still influence the future success of GS by their interactions with others. If it were me, in the first scenario, I might give geocaching a try. I'm less likely to try if I get the second response.

You have a point, but how does that apply to this conversation? The search map, for example, strikes me as something that will confuse a newbie. They'll expect the geocaching map to act like any other map they've ever seen and show him where the caches are no matter how they move the map. Instead, they have to notice and understand the "search area" button to reveal the caches in a new area.

 

I do suspect that some of the recent changes are made by people thinking about newbies and perhaps even along these lines, of worrying about those bad reports by people that dropped out. But I think most of those changes are overthought and at least as likely to make newbie failure more common, and the given reasons more often about poor design than taste.

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51 minutes ago, dprovan said:

The search map, for example, strikes me as something that will confuse a newbie. They'll expect the geocaching map to act like any other map they've ever seen and show him where the caches are no matter how they move the map. Instead, they have to notice and understand the "search area" button to reveal the caches in a new area.

 

Not that I'm defending the implementation of the search map, but I think you might be underestimating the effect that living with the Browse map for so many years has had on our map expectations compared to newbies. That said, it may be confusing in itself, but I wouldn't go so far as to think that the default expectation from someone who's never used the map would be to see every public geocache listing on the worldwide map, live and scrollable.  I think the existence of the search filters prompts a different kind of 'search' experience, whereas our default assumption is map=caches.

Again, that said, I'm still not a big fan of the implementation in general :laughing:

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51 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Not that I'm defending the implementation of the search map, but I think you might be underestimating the effect that living with the Browse map for so many years has had on our map expectations compared to newbies. That said, it may be confusing in itself, but I wouldn't go so far as to think that the default expectation from someone who's never used the map would be to see every public geocache listing on the worldwide map, live and scrollable.  I think the existence of the search filters prompts a different kind of 'search' experience, whereas our default assumption is map=caches.

Again, that said, I'm still not a big fan of the implementation in general :laughing:

First, let me acknowledge that you aren't defending the map, but I'm interested in exploring your idea about the expectations of someone using the map for the first time.

 

I was thinking about how maps work in the rest of the universe, not having anything to do with what geocaching.com has done in the past. I've never encountered this kind of search function overlayed on a map before. Plenty of maps have filters, but once a filter is set, the map continues to show what's been asked even when the map is repositioned. I've never seen a filter used to select a set of items to display that continues to be the entire list even when limits of the original target area have been forgotten by zooming or scrolling. That kind of counterintuitive behavior is what I think will be even more confusing to someone that knows little or nothing about geocaching. At least I, as an experience geocacher, understand why I'd want to set a filter to begin with. The newbie won't yet understand why there's such a think as a search filter, so he'll have no chance of understanding that a filter has secretly been applied to gather a specific set of caches which will then be fixed no matter how he moves the map around. Sure, if he explicitly does a search first and then maps the results, it might make sense to him, but when he just clicks on the "show bigger map" button, there's no reason for him to think the map isn't showing him all the geocaches in whatever area he displays.

 

The part that kinda makes me sad is that geocaching.com has faced this problem for years, and they made a very simple and natural compromise that essential transitioned from a map showing search results to a general purpose map when the user started using the map like a map. I'm being vague because it was so subtle, I don't even remember exactly how it worked, I just know that operationally it was almost always exactly what the user wanted, and it was only because people thought about it carefully are realized it wasn't quite doing what they expected it to do that anyone ever noticed it. That's the kind of brilliance that made me sing GS's praises in their web design. But more and more, they're trying to take a strictly regimented approach that might make sense logically, but doesn't really work very well in practice. It reminds me of the difference between my old PN-60 which was often illogical in ways that were way more practical than I would have expected and my new 66st that follows all kinds of logical rules that are easy to understand but a real pain to deal with.

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4 minutes ago, dprovan said:

I was thinking about how maps work in the rest of the universe, not having anything to do with what geocaching.com has done in the past. I've never encountered this kind of search function overlayed on a map before. Plenty of maps have filters, but once a filter is set, the map continues to show what's been asked even when the map is repositioned. I've never seen a filter used to select a set of items to display that continues to be the entire list even when limits of the original target area have been forgotten by zooming or scrolling.

 

I'd consider that part of ongoing UI interaction, and how the designers choose to present the interface and its functionality. I think it's perfectly feasible to have a static list that needs to be updated plotted on a map, and have it intuitive as to why it needs to be manually updated. Did this map accomplish that? Hard to tell, because most people at least who are complaining are used to the Browse map.

I haven't tested, but what is the first thing a new user sees when they go directly to the search map?  Are there any caches shown? Is a search already performed?  My expectation on goign to a map would be

A] An empty map with the default tile set - I would expect any extra content to be shown until I ask for it

B] A pre-populated map with the default tile set with extra content that was implied to be shown on going to it (like a link showing a predefined set of data)

 

I would think, if I'd never used the geocaching map before, that if the map opened up without icons shown, that sets my interaction precedent - I need to perform a search, which then tells me the results on the map (and the location parameters would indicate whether I should pan to see more, or if it's static). ie, if my location parameter is everything in my province, then I'd expect to see everything in my province. If it's 10km from my current location, I'd expect to see a bubble of icons centered on that location, and not auto update as I pan. (this is from my experience with other maps that auto-update additional layered content in a query-form, not like the browse map, with every pan of a map, and I hate that).

 

 

But I think it still all comes down to how the interface and the content is presented to the user. In the case of this GC map, it would be dependent on what a brand new user sees first, dictating their first interaction and first impression. The Browse map shows all the icons right away centered on your home location. There are not search filters, only toggles. It's very easy to get the impression of how that map works and what it shows.

If the search map is empty on a basic first load, then the search function required to show any content implies you have to perform a search so that the results will be plotted. If that's the first interaction, then I wouldn't expect that to auto-update unless informed that it would.

How well does this implementation provide that user experience?  ... ...

 

14 minutes ago, dprovan said:

The newbie won't yet understand why there's such a think as a search filter, so he'll have no chance of understanding that a filter has secretly been applied to gather a specific set of caches which will then be fixed no matter how he moves the map around.

 

Right, if the "Play > Map" simply directs the user to the basic map with an auto-queried set of search parameters, it needs to be clear that what's plotted is a limited set.  Unlike "Play > Map the closest 100 caches to home" which clearly implies the map will only show 100 caches closest to their home coordinate (if provided), and won't auto-update while panning.

 

16 minutes ago, dprovan said:

but when he just clicks on the "show bigger map" button, there's no reason for him to think the map isn't showing him all the geocaches in whatever area he displays. 

 

Completely agreed. Which is why I've advocated for rewording the links to the various maps ;)

 

18 minutes ago, dprovan said:

But more and more, they're trying to take a strictly regimented approach that might make sense logically, but doesn't really work very well in practice.

 

Also agree. The Search Map is an attentive to merge the search result list with a browseable map, but functionally it's not all that feasible.  The uses are so dramatically different that either the server gets hit enormously, or the interface needs to be extremely clear, or people will generally end up either more confused (at how things work), or more annoyed (at all the instructions and fluff for the less advanced users).  It's almost like a no-win scenario.

 

But at this point, the implementation of the new map links caused a whole lot more problems that it needed to, I'd say.

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59 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

I haven't tested, but what is the first thing a new user sees when they go directly to the search map?

Keep in mind that the biggest complaint isn't that there's a search map, it's that the website now takes you to that search map whenever you click on any link that says "show map". The link I'm most focused on is the "show bigger map" link on the cache description page. This takes you to a map that shows all the active geocaches in the area around the geocache you were looking at. The map looks exactly like anyone would guess full of all geocaches of all types. That's OK. The problem is that if you then zoom out or pan the map, the set of geocaches displayed doesn't change. That's what's counterintuitive, and I claim it would be even more counterintuitive to a new user, so more likely to make them give up and more likely for them to describe giving up geocaching as "it was confusing" instead of "it wasn't my cup of tea."

 

I think this feature is confusing even when I get there after explicitly doing a search, but I agree at least in that case we can make up with excuses for it.

 

1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

Completely agreed. Which is why I've advocated for rewording the links to the various maps ;)

Yeah, OK, I get it, but I think your suggested link names don't justify the behavior, they just give the UI developer something to point at to say, "See, I told you that's what it would do," while ignoring the question of whether it makes any sense to do that. We always seem to be looking at new GC features and spending lots of time suggesting improvements to make them not quite as much worse than what was replaced.

 

1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

But at this point, the implementation of the new map links caused a whole lot more problems that it needed to, I'd say.

Yeah, roger that. It's nearly infuriating after they made so much about how this was just the search map, not the browse map, but then they turned around and switched all the links that are for browsing.

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