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The A-Team

An open letter to Geocaching.com

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   On 5/3/2019 at 9:35 AM,  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.

 

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Don't ask me how my last response got botched up ... I have no clue ... but the message from a previous poster still stands and has much merit.

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17 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

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 would.  I did.  I still remember my first time looking at the map when I started.  I located the cache closest to me, then zoomed out and saw how many were within about 20 miles of where I was.  Then I zoomed out more to see caches where I lived, about 100 miles south of where I was at the time.  Imagine my surprise when I saw the central section of Indiana covered with caches.  I didn't need to do anything other than zoom out and I was shown all the caches in the area I had zoomed out to.  While it was overwhelming initially, it was also simple and easy.  

 

Why would you willingly limit the caches viewable to what is initially displayed?  Someone new comes on the first time, their inclination is to see just how many caches there are, rather than just the ones in their immediate area.  Great, you show them the caches in their immediate area.  Then they zoom out and get....nothing new shown. The map moves just like all maps move but it's not populated with any more caches beyond what was initially shown.  Yes, the "search this area" is obvious across the top, but again, if the map is zoomed out far enough, it will only return caches available in that particular area, leaving a large chunk unpopulated.  If they want to see caches in other areas where they plan to visit (family, vacation, whatever), they have to click on that button once again.  They realize they have to click EVERY time they move to a new area.  Instead, the browse map would show them everything they needed to see, without any extra steps required.  Unless you haven't noticed, people don't typically like things that are unnecessarily more complicated than they need to be.  Rather than have to "search this area" repeatedly, why not make it a one stop shopping trip as the starting point and then move to the filters map, once they figure things out a bit?  

 

Speaking of filters, someone new to geocaching has NO idea what traditional, multi, earth, virtual, etc... caches are, what the D/T stands for, the size, the status, what corrected coordinates means, hidden by, or not found by means.  All they know is whatever they have been told, be it someone else who thought they'd be interested or, if they're lucky, by another geocacher they can refer to for help.  Instead, the map they get shows them ways to filter caches in a manner they know nothing about.  Again, providing a means for making things more complicated than most first timers are able to comprehend. Why does someone who has never cached before have initial access to filters that they most likely know nothing about?

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Screen Shot 2019-05-07 at 8.00.33 AM.png

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, coachstahly said:

I would.  I did.  I still remember my first time looking at the map when I started.  I located the cache closest to me, then zoomed out and saw how many were within about 20 miles of where I was.

 

My point was that your action of zooming out defined what you would expect from the map. As soon as you zoomed out and saw everything, you expected from then on that everything would be shown.  If your first action was to zoom out and you only saw the results as defined by the link you clicked (such as "View map of all caches 20km to home") then that would set the expectation. If you clicked that same link and you were auto-zoomed to a 20km diameter, and you zoomed out and saw more, that would set the expectation of seeing everything. If you clicked a link that said simply "View Map", the result of your first action with the map set your expectation (which, afaik, would depend on what you first see on viewing the map - and in my opinion, a plain "View Map" link (if those words are even kept) should go to the BROWSE MAP, not the Search map, because there's no implied search from the link). Additionally, if 'view' is a vague term, that first link will set the expectation of what experience the website means by "View" (in this case Browse, not Search)

 

What I'm arguing for is a connection between the link text and the interface. What you see when you visit the link should be reasonably associated with what you would expect from what the link implies.

 

 

From a design standpoint developers have to find a balance between designing to natural language expectations, and understanding that websites are unique in and of themselves and set their own internal precedents. Consistency is key across the entire brand (website, apps, advertising, etc) because the first impressions are always a balance between the uninfluenced expectations and internal precedents.

 

For example: I don't expect one website's interface to work and behave precisely the same as another. Menus will be different, link colours, icons, layouts, all unique to its brand, and the first experience sets that expectation (same with, say video game UI designs).  BUT, I would expect a "Contact Us" page to provide an email address or a contact form - a direct means of contacting someone relevant. And that page wouldn't be labeled "Directions", because that implies very different content merely by language.

 

 

So, what should "View Map", strictly linked, send the user to?  In the case of us having two functional and fundamentally different map interfaces, since the link doesn't imply any limitations on content, I say the Browse Map, and that sets the precedent and distinction that Browse != Search.  Likewise, a link saying "View map of Traditional caches within 10km of home" would push me to the either A] the Search map with a limited result set that would not change merely by adjusting the map (or have a toggle to do so, which is still unlikely given the backend complexity and weight of such querying functionality), or B] the Browse map in this case, with only Trads toggled, and zoomed to 10km diameter.

IMO, either destination would be fine that particular link, but the use of those two maps are dramatically different, being browsing vs searching. Thus I'd recommend the distinction be added in the link text, to be listed as either "Search map of..." or "Browse map of..." (eg).

 

 

But stepping back to the grand scheme of the site design strategy per the OP, the underlying issue is consistency in design and terminology, and reasonable expectations from the user experience end, limited as necessary by server capability (in the mapping context, I would never expect the Search map to auto-requery a complex search with every single pan of the map, and I'm firmly in support of the Search map not having the ability, especially if search boundary definition is a filter option - realizing that a first-time user might not understand why that's not feasible, the UI should either explain that, or provide a use that counters that desire with added value)

Edited by thebruce0
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I think it's an interesting question as to what a new user would expect from the geocaching map, and what assumptions a person would make regarding map behavior if they had only been exposed to maps outside of the geocaching world.  When I look at the maps on both Yelp and Air Bnb's sites, for example, I find maps that behave just as the new geocaching search map does, compete with 'redo search map' and 'redo search here' buttons, respectively, as one zooms out or scrolls around the map.  There is also filters for 'price range' and 'rating' and 'type'. It seems like this is actually pretty common behavior outside the caching world and it could be argued would be within a newbie's expectation of behavior.  When I am searching for a restaurant review or an accommodation, to be able to search in this manner, is actually what I want.  I generally don't just want to see 'everything'.  After all, I'm only likely picking one (or maybe a small number) from the list.  I want something specific.

 

I think that part of the problem may be that an assumption has been made that people who search a map for geocaches do so in the same manner as people who would search a map for accommodations or restaurants, but that is not usually how it's done (or at least not how I do it).  After all, I'm picking, not just one geocache, but a whole bunch.  If I pick a restaurant from a map, I really don't care that it is 2 blocks away from another restaurant that didn't quite meet my search criteria, but if I choose a geocache from a map, I am really interested in what is in the immediate vicinity, even if it wasn't specifically what I was looking for to begin with.     

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Posted (edited)

And whether there's enough case for alternate uses, to have the ability to toggle certain functionalities, and if it's even feasible.  Should there be only 1 way? Should there be 2+ ways? Should there be a generic entrance with default way (and which should be default) or should there only be direct references to each way individually?  All of these are questions to consider in the UI design. We've been given two ways - browse and search - which a generic entrance and direct references to each, both having vastly different technical limitations on the back end, and vastly different use contexts on the user end. The tool is a common one with recognizable content (maps and tiles; common implementations of google/bing/osm/apple/etc). Expectations for use range from first-time users to veterans, across websites, countries and cultures and abilities... one thing's for sure, I don't envy the design team.

Edited by thebruce0

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So it seems the website is being converted to act just like the Official App. Ugh!

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1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

My point was that your action of zooming out defined what you would expect from the map. As soon as you zoomed out and saw everything, you expected from then on that everything would be shown.

 

I expected to see all the caches available when I first visited the map because I wanted to know if there were enough for me to conceivably find if I were to take up geocaching.  Imagine my surprise when I saw I had thousands to choose from, especially close to where I lived, not where I found my first cache, where the caches were more limited in numbers.  That was the selling point for me.

 

View map implies, to me, that I'm going to see a map that shows all the geocaches available, not just the ones in my immediate area.  It seems we agree, based on the wording, on that point.  I wouldn't expect, as a first time visitor,  to actually have to manipulate the map (buttons, filters, etc..) in order to see all the caches available, other than to pan and zoom and voila, there are all the caches.

 

1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

So, what should "View Map", strictly linked, send the user to?  In the case of us having two functional and fundamentally different map interfaces, since the link doesn't imply any limitations on content, I say the Browse Map, and that sets the precedent and distinction that Browse != Search.

 

Absolutely agree and in point with my initial expectation of what I expected to see when I first clicked the link way back in 2010.

 

For me, the analogy between restaurants and other specific items one might be looking for on other maps doesn't work.  You're looking for a specific restaurant amongst all the restaurants (in most cases) because you or your family have specific tastes.  If you were to use the analogy that you wanted to look at ALL the restaurants in any area, and as you zoomed out, they filled the map, then it would be much more similar.  I wouldn't expect to have to change my map somehow to display more restaurants.  Newbies don't know, typically, what type of cache each is, what the D/T means, anything about the status, corrected coordinates, etc...  They're curious enough to want to visit the site and then the map to see what caches they can find.  

 

The initial view map page does that

 

1039637503_ScreenShot2019-05-07at11_53_35AM.thumb.png.c9266fc3c47148adc99b5fd4000888c8.png

 

but if you zoom out one step, suddenly they're presented with a map that is larger in scope with no new caches added.  That just doesn't make sense to me, if I want to see all of them.

 

 

192030003_ScreenShot2019-05-07at11_56_06AM.thumb.png.6884bce00efac2caa9c1b4c4fc7b2d9c.png

 

 

Ideally, what they should see, when clicking on "view map" is all the caches, as Bruce has pointed out, there is no implied limitation on viewable caches. They should see this when zooming out one level.

 

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Along with many others, I believe the default map when clicking "view map" should be the browse map.  Rather than limiting the scope of the caches presented with a first timer's visit to only those within a designated area, it would behoove them to go directly to the map that shows all the caches and then let them know they can then limit their choices by selecting a different map.  If they're gung-ho on keeping it the way it is, they should add some wording to let first time visitors know that this is a limited map and that you can adjust it to show more caches.

 

 

Screen Shot 2019-05-07 at 8.00.33 AM.png

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I opened the map to find caches in a new area today (that I'll be geocaching in for the first time).

 

The search went right to the correct area and showed me the immediate area. I then widened my search to find hiking trails in the area. I can no longer get an overview of all the hiking trails in the area.

So I focused in on one area and hit "show caches in this area" (or whatever) ... and waited.  Okay. Caches loaded. Moved to another area hit "show caches in this area" and waited. Waiting. Loading still. Okay. Now look at another nearby area... wait. Forget it. Frustrating. Takes too long. I just had a few moments to have a break with some fun. I can't turn this into a 20 minute exercise of checking how long it takes my internet connection to load, again and again and again.

Frustrated enough that this does hamper my caching.

 

The maps aren't great, but that is the worst part. Everything else I can adjust to, deal with. That I can't.

 

I geocache for fun and to get away from the frustrations and trials of life. If it adds to them I won't do it.

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2 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

My point was that your action of zooming out defined what you would expect from the map. As soon as you zoomed out and saw everything, you expected from then on that everything would be shown

No, he expected zooming out to show him all the geocaches in the zoomed out area before he zoomed out. That's the point.

 

1 hour ago, m0bean said:

I think it's an interesting question as to what a new user would expect from the geocaching map, and what assumptions a person would make regarding map behavior if they had only been exposed to maps outside of the geocaching world.  When I look at the maps on both Yelp and Air Bnb's sites, for example, I find maps that behave just as the new geocaching search map does, compete with 'redo search map' and 'redo search here' buttons, respectively, as one zooms out or scrolls around the map.  There is also filters for 'price range' and 'rating' and 'type'. It seems like this is actually pretty common behavior outside the caching world and it could be argued would be within a newbie's expectation of behavior.  When I am searching for a restaurant review or an accommodation, to be able to search in this manner, is actually what I want.  I generally don't just want to see 'everything'.  After all, I'm only likely picking one (or maybe a small number) from the list.  I want something specific.

I have to admit, I rarely use the various service specific maps like that, but I do search for things like restaurants and hotels using google maps. Google maps shows me the answers in the map area, then as soon as I zoom or pan, it makes the perfectly logical deduction that I'm changing the area I'm interested in, and it updates the search real time and shows me all the answers on the area I currently have displayed in the map. (Of course the results are modified based on who pays google how much, but let's hope GS doesn't think of that source of revenue.)

 

1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

We've been given two ways - browse and search - which a generic entrance and direct references to each, both having vastly different technical limitations on the back end, and vastly different use contexts on the user end.

Have I've missed something? As far as I know, there's no direct reference to the browse map. You can only get to it through the search map or through a link such as a bookmark that's outside geocaching.com. As I've said many times, I don't mind the search map behavior that much when I'm actually doing a search, I only object when I'm doing a browse and the UI have every reason to be browsing. Instead I get the search features. (Except the filters, I don't really find the search features all that interesting, but I'm willing to concede that some people might find them really useful, so I'll go along with them when I'm searching. How knows? Maybe I'll even come to appreciate them.)

 

1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

...one thing's for sure, I don't envy the design team.

My whole career has been about making software design decisions, often involving user interfaces, so I certainly sympathize and even understand a lot of the trade offs they're facing. The problem with the current GS development is that a lot of the old stuff was brilliantly designed to begin with. In my opinion, it typically had just the right amount of compromise to make it easy to use while still being logical and predictable. When you redesign something like that, you should have specific goals that are obvious improvements while retaining all the good parts of the original as much as possible. That doesn't mean old stuff can't change or even disappear, but it does mean that there's either a good reason to claim the old feature is obsolete or a different approach to the same problem that's at least as good. What's particularly frustrating is that these new designs stomp all over some of the best features of the old stuff with no apparent appreciation for how good those earlier design decisions were.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, coachstahly said:
3 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

My point was that your action of zooming out defined what you would expect from the map. As soon as you zoomed out and saw everything, you expected from then on that everything would be shown.

 

I expected to see all the caches available when I first visited the map because I wanted to know if there were enough for me to conceivably find if I were to take up geocaching.  Imagine my surprise when I saw I had thousands to choose from, especially close to where I lived, not where I found my first cache, where the caches were more limited in numbers.  That was the selling point for me. 

 

View map implies, to me, that I'm going to see a map that shows all the geocaches available, not just the ones in my immediate area.

 

1. "View map" implies to me I'm going to view a map. I might see a map with nothing on it but the world. View Map doesn't even imply a location. We assume it might show it because we provided a home location. "View map" is intuitively just viewing a map. We add our own expectations on top of that. For you that expectation might be to see some arbitrary location with a certain amount of geocaches shown. For me it wouldn't be (as explained above). The problem for Groundspeak is to determine which assumption makes sense, in the context of "View map" (as opposed to more information in the initial link, which I expound above).

2. If I come to the website for the first time, the map I, as a brand new user, on which I would expect to see how many geocaches are everywhere would be labeled something like "See all the geocaches worldwide" or (assuming I provided a home location) "See all the geocaches near my home".  I would have zero expectations if I clicked a linked labeled "View map". That link effectively means nothing to me - my expectations would be set by what happens as soon as I interact with that map. As many websites do.  And that may not be your expectations, but that's mine.  So Groundspeak has to determine which direction is more feasible for their web user demographic.

 

1 hour ago, coachstahly said:

but if you zoom out one step, suddenly they're presented with a map that is larger in scope with no new caches added.  That just doesn't make sense to me, if I want to see all of them.

 

Right, "if you want to see all of them". How does the website know? It can make it clear if the terms Browse and Search are clarified and implied through their use in the UI. "View" is vague.  Thus, I advocate for better labeling of any link opening maps.

 

 

1 hour ago, Sol seaker said:

I opened the map to find caches in a new area today (that I'll be geocaching in for the first time).

 

The search went right to the correct area and showed me the immediate area. I then widened my search to find hiking trails in the area. I can no longer get an overview of all the hiking trails in the area.

So I focused in on one area and hit "show caches in this area" (or whatever) ... and waited.  Okay. Caches loaded. Moved to another area hit "show caches in this area" and waited. Waiting. Loading still. Okay. Now look at another nearby area... wait. Forget it. Frustrating.

 

You want to use the Browse Map, not the Search Map, unless you wanted to filter more more complex cache properties. But browsing a new area for the first time, that's probably not the case, so the Browse Map is your tool -- which is obviously not clear in the UI.

 

55 minutes ago, dprovan said:

I have to admit, I rarely use the various service specific maps like that, but I do search for things like restaurants and hotels using google maps. Google maps shows me the answers in the map area, then as soon as I zoom or pan, it makes the perfectly logical deduction that I'm changing the area I'm interested in, and it updates the search real time and shows me all the answers on the area I currently have displayed in the map. (Of course the results are modified based on who pays google how much, but let's hope GS doesn't think of that source of revenue.)

 

Google makes many many other decisions on what to show - I often don't get ALL the items I want to see when I zoom, they also highlight important/significant ones and sometimes leave others to minor dots, they're also not showing potentially 1000's of waypoints on the map simultaneously -- they are also Google, not Groundspeak :P They have the infrastructure to allow for a much higher level of live updating of search queries - as complex and convoluted as the results sometimes are (and yeah I firmly stand by that opinion: sometimes it's a HUGE frustration to find a fast food restaurant in a city because the results keep changing as I move; or a certain chain of gas station because it sometimes shows what it thinks are best matches for I want, which aren't).

Nope, Google isn't a good analog to the Geocaching map, IMO. And the point here is, people have different desires and expectations; to assume one is more important - without heavy study about your demographic's expectations and desires - is fallacious.

 

Again, Groundspeak has an enormous task of finding a balance of expectation, branding, and their own capabilities. (which again is not a defense of their current UI implementation)

 

55 minutes ago, dprovan said:
3 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

...one thing's for sure, I don't envy the design team.

My whole career has been about making software design decisions, often involving user interfaces, so I certainly sympathize and even understand a lot of the trade offs they're facing.

 

Likewise, for web application development.

 

55 minutes ago, dprovan said:

The problem with the current GS development is that a lot of the old stuff was brilliantly designed to begin with.

 

Agreed. And part of that problem is it was brilliantly designed for desktop. Mobile is a major shift in technology. But, GS has been adopting it far more intensely than desireable for dekstop users, which is still (afawk) a significant geocaching demographic. And that's where much of their criticism is directed.

 

55 minutes ago, dprovan said:

What's particularly frustrating is that these new designs stomp all over some of the best features of the old stuff with no apparent appreciation for how good those earlier design decisions were.

 

Absolutely agreed

Edited by thebruce0

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There is a lot of good critique in this thread and I agree with most of it.  But indeed, what has made using the site and finding caches easier for me has been what arisoft said:

 

On 4/27/2019 at 1:26 AM, arisoft said:

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

 

I love GSAK and have been using it for 14 years.  For 90% of what I do caching related it makes life easier.

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Here's my suggestion - let people choose their default map. :)

A simple check box somewhere in user settings - boom, no more frustration using map that some users don't like much (me included :D).

 

It feels forced to use Search map every time you open the map -  I don't use search function every time I look up my COTD or want to log a find. 

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1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

1. "View map" implies to me I'm going to view a map.

 

View map on the geocaching website implies that you're going to see a map of.....wait for it, geocaches.  Not restaurants, not home improvement locations, not places to buy that hard to find metric bolt, not McDonald's locations, not the local high school, not a park, not trails, not a blank map, but geocaches.  If they want a map, they're going somewhere else.  People come to geocaching.com to learn about geocaching.  If they see a button, tab, or link that says view map on the geocaching.com website, I expect most people would assume they'd see geocaches on that map. They do but when they zoom out, they don't see any more caches added to the map. IMO, that's a problem.

 

1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

2. I would have zero expectations if I clicked a linked labeled "View map".

 

But I'm guessing you're one of the few.  It doesn't matter the site you go to, if you are provided a link to a map, the expectation is that it shows you a map of something related to the site you're visiting.  For almost all the sites of stores, that means locations related to the individual business.  McDonald's doesn't show a map of Burger King locations; they show a map of McDonalds.  If I'm on the geocaching site, I'm going to be shown a map related to geocaching, which most first time visitors would expect to be the locations of geocaches.  That's why they're here.  If they don't get a map of geocaches when you select view map, then why even have that link? I agree with the rest of your premise in this part, but not this one.

 

I'm certainly not advocating for "view map" as the language used.  Search and browse don't particularly work well either.  However, starting off with a default map that only shows caches in a designated parameter and then doesn't display more as users zoom out is a sure drawback to attracting new members.  A large majority of new cachers leave after 10-30 finds, never to come back, but if the map that they're shown isn't easy to navigate, especially when you know NOTHING about geocaching, then it seems they might not even get cachers to try it out.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, coachstahly said:

View map on the geocaching website implies that you're going to see a map of...

 

I'm not saying you're wrong for expecting that. And I'm not saying I'm not expecting to see a map of geocaches. That map can take numerous forms on implementation.

I'm saying you have your expectations. I have mine. Others have theirs.  Groundspeak should have the studies. I'm advocating for a solution that addresses both of our expectations instead of assuming one is more important that the other.

 

8 minutes ago, coachstahly said:
2 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

2. I would have zero expectations if I clicked a linked labeled "View map".

 

But I'm guessing you're one of the few.  It doesn't matter the site you go to, if you are provided a link to a map, the expectation is that it shows you a map of something related to the site you're visiting.

 

Absolutely. I expect to see map that allows me to view the content I want to view on the map I'm providedHow that happens is up to the website and the developers on creating the interface TO the map.

 

8 minutes ago, coachstahly said:

I'm certainly not advocating for "view map" as the language used.

 

Good, we're on the same page then :)

 

8 minutes ago, coachstahly said:

starting off with a default map that only shows caches in a designated parameter and then doesn't display more as users zoom out is a sure drawback to attracting new members.

 

The mobile app doesn't do this. The mobile app is entirely search-based.

(I'm not saying that's the model that should be followed everywhere, only that the mobile app counters that statement - they do it there, without a browse map at all, and there's no issue; at least not like this one on the website)

 

8 minutes ago, coachstahly said:

A large majority of new cachers leave after 10-30 finds

 

I'm guessing that "a large majority of new cachers" to Groundspeak are mobile users, so that may not be an effective argument...

 

 

15 minutes ago, EggsTheBest said:

Here's my suggestion - let people choose their default map. :)

 

Yep, I don't think anyone's against having a default map option.  In instances where the implied mapped results can work on the Browse or Search maps (ie, if there's no boundary condition and filter toggles are as basic as Found/DNF/Owner and cache type).

Prior to the update, links implying more detailed searches went to the search result list - and still do.

The biggest issues were the destinations of "View map" in the menu, and "View Larger map" above the cache listing map embed.

 

All I'm advocating for are:

1. Default map option

2. More descriptive link text

Edited by thebruce0

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1 hour ago, EggsTheBest said:

Here's my suggestion - let people choose their default map. :)

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: the only reason for making it an option is if you find anyone that wants the other map. Not only has everyone here said they want the browse map except when they're searching, lots of good reasons have been provided for why the browse map makes sense when the user has entered the map with no expectations beyond "show me geocaches". In other words, I claim the problem here is that the links are wrong, not that some people would like them to be different.

 

(My use of the term "wrong" only applies to the design criteria I know about. It seems pretty clear to me that there are GS internal reasons why they're forcing this, but I can't take those into consideration as long as they're secret. This is relevant because if I'm right and they have their reasons for forcing everything to the search map, those reasons will almost certainly also mean we won't be able to control whether we're forced to the map.)

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Ill add to the growing list of people annoyed by the new maps.  I hardly ever use these forums, but the new maps are frustrating me to the point I actually came on to the forums for the first time in quite a while to see if others were having the same problems.  Looks like they are.  This needs to be fixed ASAP, these maps are terrible.

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1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

'm saying you have your expectations. I have mine. Others have theirs.  Groundspeak should have the studies. I'm advocating for a solution that addresses both of our expectations instead of assuming one is more important that the other.

My problem is that I can't imagine any set of expectations that would make the current behavior seem logical. As I recently mentioned, it would be like having a set of expectation that made me think that whenever I opened a google map, I was "searching for roads" so I wouldn't expect to see any roads if I panned the map away from where I started.

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Just as a gentle reminder, this discussion isn't about the new search map (I'm regretting highlighting that in my OP, because people seem to be target-fixated on that now). Discussions of the new search map's design or ways to improve it should be in the relevant discussion threads. This discussion is about the general methodologies used by HQ and how we can help them improve their processes for the betterment of everyone.

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8 hours ago, coachstahly said:

I'm not asking you to provide a detailed breakdown of your financial statements, your future business model, or anything of that sort.

Welllll, I wish I didn't have to worry about their business model, but more and more it seems like a silly attempt to follow the obsolete, 10-year-old idea of cashing in on the world wide web by exponentially growing your customer base with new users that don't know any better at the expense of keeping satisfied your oldest users that know the most about what makes geocaching great.

 

8 hours ago, coachstahly said:

You did a decent job with explaining the rationale behind why challenges underwent the moratorium and their "new" requirements.  While I personally disagreed, you at least explained the reasoning behind why you did what you did and I can live with the changes. You provided the what and the why so that we were given the nuts and bolts as well as the reasoning behind the actions that were taken.  That seems to be lacking these past couple years and that's a shame.

I actually disagree with you completely on this. So much about the "justifications" for the changes in challenge caches made no sense under a little scrutiny, so it was pretty clear the whole thing was based on quiet murmurs of "I don't like challenges of type X", so challenges of type X were eliminated under the guise of "too much effort". The stark example is spelling challenges which are trivial to confirm using Project-GC macros, are completely immune from arguments, and require no special reviewer effort, yet they were summarily banned for no particular reason under the umbrella complaint of "challenge caches taking too much reviewer time". (Never mind that all they did with that reviewer time was put them in charge of monitoring cache quality instead of waiting in the background for NAs to be posted.)

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40 minutes ago, dprovan said:

So much about the "justifications" for the changes in challenge caches made no sense under a little scrutiny, so it was pretty clear the whole thing was based on quiet murmurs of "I don't like challenges of type X", so challenges of type X were eliminated under the guise of "too much effort".

Yowza. To so much of this. The reasons GS provided for the moratorium and resulting guidelines seem to me entirely consistent with chats I've had with reviewers about challenges and issues with them. While I wish the old way was still here because there was much more room for creativity, Charging Groundspeak with effectively lying about why they brought them back in the form they did?  .... :blink::ph34r: Nope, not getting behind that.

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15 hours ago, dprovan said:

I actually disagree with you completely on this.

 

Your point is that you disagree with the why they provided, not that they didn't provide a reason behind the changes.  That wasn't my point in the post quoted.  They provided their input as to why they opted to do what they did. I also disagreed with their reasoning but that's a completely different topic that's been hashed out elsewhere.  The point I was raising was that a change was made and they provided their reasoning as to why they felt the  change was needed.  There's no why behind their inability to add a power trail attribute that most seem to endorse.  There's no why behind the map change, only the basics of what they did and what it will do.    Now that they've done so and their customers seem to be in a state of general agreement that there are multiple issues with doing so across a variety of fronts, we get.....silence.  Again, it's only been two weeks but the silence is deafening, especially considering the rare occurrence of a general consensus that this needs to be addressed in some manner (change the wording, revert to browse maps as the default, provide the option to set browse as default, etc...). 

 

I don't want to know the why behind every change.  I don't need to know some small minor functionality changes were made due to code obsolescence, or server load issues, or ... whatever.  However, when something comes along that affects things on a much larger scale (challenges, maps, profile pages, message center), then a short little blurb about why they think these changes are needed would at least help clear up some things.  Many of us might not agree that the changes are warranted, or even wanted, but at least we'll see through the other side of the veil and get that perspective to add to the information at hand.  If they're going to ask for our opinions on a variety of matters, via a survey or some other type of format, then I hope they get back to us with the results and possible directions they might head.  Asking us for our thoughts and suggestions and then not replying once those thoughts and suggestions have been gathered and analyzed isn't true communication between members and leadership.  It should be a two way street.  We offer up whatever it is you ask of us (fill out this survey on maintenance) and then we hear back from you about what you learned from us and where that might take you in the future.  Instead, we get very little in return for our input.

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Just a small point to make, not that anyone necessarily disagrees, but Groundspeak is under obligation to provide the 'why' to any decisions they make.  We're not entitled to that information if they don't want to disclose it.  So to infer anything negative from silence is effectively unfair.

That said, obviously, depending on the concerns or controversy, it could well be in their best interests to provide more detailed explanations to help assuage any negative reactions and sentiments that could blow up into loss of paying customers (on a larger scale than just scattered individuals who may 'take their ball' as it were which we often seein overreactions in the forum).  Especially if 'influencers' in the community begin to spread their opinions to the communities they influence, and especially especially if they're running with inaccurate interpretations and motivations for changes people are vocal about disliking.

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6 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Just a small point to make, not that anyone necessarily disagrees, but Groundspeak is under obligation to provide the 'why' to any decisions they make.  We're not entitled to that information if they don't want to disclose it.  So to infer anything negative from silence is effectively unfair.

That said, obviously, depending on the concerns or controversy, it could well be in their best interests to provide more detailed explanations to help assuage any negative reactions and sentiments that could blow up into loss of paying customers (on a larger scale than just scattered individuals who may 'take their ball' as it were which we often seein overreactions in the forum).  Especially if 'influencers' in the community begin to spread their opinions to the communities they influence, and especially especially if they're running with inaccurate interpretations and motivations for changes people are vocal about disliking.

 

You're approaching this from a private entity/company standpoint and you're entirely correct.  I'm approaching this from the public relations standpoint within that private entity.   "Public relations is a strategic communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics."  Their communication is lacking, even though they're not required to communicate.  It's in their best interest to keep their paying members somewhat informed as to what they're doing.  It doesn't need to be continual; it doesn't need to be frequent; it just needs to be there.  Their reputation goes up, their customer base is happier, and retention and new membership goes up because they feel that they're valued customers rather than just dollar signs to the business.  They've made a change that's pretty much unpopular across the board amongst its paying members, with no reasoning behind the change.  Not only that, but they also didn't do a very good job of clearly communicating what was happening within the change to the maps.  Instead of getting ahead of any potential problems by providing clear and concise information, they're now playing catch up and to date, they've done nothing to let their customers know they're aware of the problem, much less taking steps to address the issues raised by their paying customers.  Inferring negativity from silence is all anyone can do in the absence of any information provided.  While it might be unfair, it's also what  typically takes place when there's no communication of any sort.  

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4 minutes ago, coachstahly said:

You're approaching this from a private entity/company standpoint and you're entirely correct.  I'm approaching this from the public relations standpoint within that private entity.

Yep. Which is the whole point of why I continued after the point about obligation to say "it could well be in their best interests to provide more detailed explanations to help assuage any negative reactions and sentiments that could blow up into loss of paying customers" and so on - ie, PR.  I'm approaching it from that standpoint too, yo.  Just making sure it's clear - we have no right to said information, they have no obligation to provide said information, and phrasing our requests that way won't help the situation (not referencing any comments here directly, just making the point).

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1 hour ago, coachstahly said:

Your point is that you disagree with the why they provided, not that they didn't provide a reason behind the changes.

Not quite. I'm pointing out that their explanations for the changes don't logically matching the actual changes made, thus leading me to conclude that while they've given reasons, they haven't given the actual reasons.

 

1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

Just a small point to make, not that anyone necessarily disagrees, but Groundspeak is under obligation to provide the 'why' to any decisions they make.  We're not entitled to that information if they don't want to disclose it.  So to infer anything negative from silence is effectively unfair.

They don't have to tell us a dadgum thing, of course. But when they don't give us any reasons that make sense, and the change doesn't seem like an improvement, I draw the conclusion that they're doing it for reasons other than the customer's benefit. Obviously they're allowed to do that, too, but by not explaining, the result is exactly the kind of open ended complaining we're seeing. Even fostering that kind of atmosphere is their prerogative, but a customer base that finds itself complaining and not being answered seems contrary to the goal of growing their business.

 

Of course, I don't really think through all that. I just think they're treating us like children, and I find that annoying.

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