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Geocaching HQ

Introducing Virtual Rewards 2.0!

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(This information is repeated from a just-published Geocaching Blog post.)

 

Geocaching HQ is excited to announce Virtual Rewards 2.0 to introduce another limited number of new Virtual Caches for the geocaching community.

 

Beginning today, an opt-in web page is available for cachers to apply for a Virtual Reward. The page is open until June 1, 2019.

 

  • Approximately 50,000 geocachers around the world meet the criteria to apply for a Virtual Reward. 
  • Those who previously received a Virtual Reward are not eligible to participate in Virtual Rewards 2.0.
  • From all applicants, Geocaching HQ will randomly select up to 4,000 geocachers on June 4, 2019 to receive one Virtual Cache. 
  • Approximately 30 active community volunteers are receiving a Virtual Reward, as a thanks for giving their time to support the geocaching community.
  • Winners will have one year to create their Virtual Cache. The caches must comply with specific guidelines.

 

The first round of Virtual Rewards resulted in 2,668 new Virtual caches created between August 2017 and August 2018. Those new caches are generally very popular by several measures, including total Favorite points, Favorite point percentage, log length, and find frequency. In addition, the review process did not create any undue burden on community volunteer reviewers. However, the community voiced some frustration with the algorithm used to distribute those Virtual Rewards. With that feedback in mind, we devised this new process for Virtual Rewards 2.0.

 

Learn more about Virtual Rewards 2.0 in this new episode of the Inside Geocaching HQ podcast.

 

Here are answers to some common questions:

 

Yay, Virtuals are back!
Not exactly. Yes, we’re hoping to see up to 4,000 new Virtual Caches in the next year. But we want to make it clear that Virtuals remain a grandfathered cache type.

 

Are Virtual Rewards distributed evenly among countries?
No, but they will be more evenly distributed among countries than during Virtual Rewards 1.0 in 2017, when some more active countries received a large number. We will randomly select geocachers within each country, with a set number per country. The number was established by Geocaching HQ, with the intention of favoring countries less established with geocaching. We set the qualifying criteria for cacher hiders as low as possible, in order to achieve better geographic distribution. The approximately 50,000 cache hiders who meet the Virtual Reward 2.0 criteria represent 89 countries. During the 2017 launch, they were from 63 countries.

 

Can I apply with more than one account that I own?
If you own more than one Geocaching account, please apply only with one account. If we discover abuse, we reserve the right to remove a Virtual Reward.

 

Could an account receive more than one Virtual Reward?
No, an account can receive only one Virtual Reward, from either the 2017 or 2019 launches.

 

Can a Virtual Reward recipient give their reward to someone else?
No, Virtuals are still a grandfathered cache type. Therefore, adoptions are not possible.

 

How do I find out when new Virtual Rewards are published?
Premium members can set up Instant notifications to be aware when new Virtual Rewards are published. Also, use the Search tool to conduct a worldwide search for Virtuals.

 

Will there be more Virtual Rewards in the future?
Assuming Virtual Rewards 2.0 goes smoothly, we will consider launching a similar set of Virtuals in the future. But we would likely make changes to the selection process to encourage a new set of participants.

 

Why not just make Virtual Caches available for everyone to hide?
Because today’s Virtual Caches are rare, and because the remaining Virtuals tend to be well-liked, people often forget (or maybe never knew) that many problems led to the grandfathering of Virtuals in 2005.

 

The Virtual Cache type was originally created so people could place hides where physical caches were not permitted, or where muggles were so heavy that a physical cache was not practical. While the intent of this cache type was positive, it created significant problems for reviewers and often led to poor cache quality. Some people used Virtual Caches as a shortcut to create basic caches that did not require maintenance. Guidelines were eventually updated to require Virtuals to have special qualities to set them apart from other caches. However, that introduced so much subjectivity that the review process became difficult for both reviewers and cachers. The decision was finally made to grandfather Virtual Caches and no longer permit this type of cache unless we could find a way to avoid the aforementioned issues.

 

We’re hoping this limited Virtual Rewards release will help minimize the previous problems with Virtuals, while delivering more opportunities for the community to enjoy this beloved cache type. Most importantly, it’s a fun reward for cache owners who have contributed so much to the game.

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Nice that you're trying this again.   :)

 

I expect to see a bunch of folks hitting up their friends for FPs though, as again "quality" is seen as having 25 total.

This (to me) sorta fits with that one cache has to have been placed between May 14, 2015 to May 14, 2019 thing.

We see guard rail n lamp post hides accumulate many FPs.  Quality...   :D

 - So much for folks who are still maintaining distant, or higher D/T older caches (that existed long-before FPs came out).  

Those caches I head to now...  

 

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2 minutes ago, gmarkusic said:
To be eligible to apply, you must meet the following criteria:
Virtual Reward: You did not receive a previous Virtual Reward.
Ownership: You must own at least two active non-event geocaches.
Hidden: You must own at least one geocache published within the past four years (May 14, 2015 to May 14, 2019).
Activity: You must have posted a log on a geocache within the past four months.
Quality: Your owned geocaches must have at least 25 total Favorite points.
 
For the last point "Quality".  Does that mean that each owned cache has to have 25 favorite points or over all owned caches you have at least 25 total favorite points?

The way I read it, it's the latter.

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2 hours ago, cerberus1 said:

I expect to see a bunch of folks hitting up their friends for FPs though, as again "quality" is seen as having 25 total.

Hopefully things have already been "frozen", so people can't try to game the system to get their way in. The "must own a cache published before May 14" requirement seems to imply that this is the case.

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Awesome..... form submitted!

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I am actually quite excited to hear this news given that I just met the requirements last week. I will admit that this announcement would've been a crushing blow otherwise, though it will be nice to see some more new virtuals regardless. I am hoping that more people in my area will take advantage of the vast national park spaces that would be otherwise unable to support cache placements (apart from earthcaches). 

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3 hours ago, lee737 said:

Awesome..... form submitted!

Ditto.

After the last Virtual giveaway many (here) thought it would not be repeated but I used the knowledge I gained since to be more aware of my cache conditions and concentrate more on keeping them up to scratch despite health issues and the loss of my life partner last year and her brother this year, a couple of stints in hospital and the last seven weeks recovering from a motorcycle accident (on second day of ten day vacation in New Zealand) when my  foot was fractured in four places and an infected haematoma. I still have one cache container that needs replacing that I can't get to yet but at least I'm off the crutches and can hobble.

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6 hours ago, lee737 said:

Awesome..... form submitted!

 

I've also thrown my hat into the ring since the Central Coast missed out completely in the first round. Mulling over a couple of ideas should the luck of the draw come my way.

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Virtual Rewards 1.0 was given for 1% of the best cache owners.
I respect that, you could argue about algorithms to select that 1%,
but since I have caches that took me weeks to build, I would like to at least have a chance of some sort of reward that would say that my ammo box gadget caches are better than 99 PET containers hanged on branches around my caches..
But now those virtuals are just given to anybody by random chance..
The only reason why I respected Virtual caches is because it ment that this cache owner was rewarded as a top hider, but now then anybody will be able to hide virtuals this type of cache will be junk for me,
since the point of this game is to find a physical container and virtual cache is literally NOTHING

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2 hours ago, ashtri_ said:

The only reason why I respected Virtual caches is because it ment that this cache owner was rewarded as a top hider, but now then anybody will be able to hide virtuals this type of cache will be junk for me, since the point of this game is to find a physical container and virtual cache is literally NOTHING

 

Well no, it's not anybody, they said only about 50,000 cachers worldwide meet the qualification requirements for this round. The here-today-gone-tomorrow cacher who throws down a few rubbish hides then vanishes is unlikely to qualify unless their community is very generous with FPs. I think the opt-in system this time around is also a good move as, last time, only about two thirds of those offered were taken up, so I'm hoping this time around the percentage that become actual caches will be a lot higher.

 

My own region has no virtual caches, either old or from the first lot of rewards. It looks like there might be about ten active cachers here who would qualify this time (all of whom have produced some good hides) so there's a chance this region might actually get one. With much of our hinterland comprising national parks where physical caches are heavily restricted, there's plenty of scope for some great virtuals and I doubt any that we do get will be junk.

 

For me, the point of caching isn't the container and logbook, it's the adventure the CO has set out for me to attempt and hopefully complete. Last Saturday I spent 7 hours hiking through rugged terrain to get to a single cache and for me that adventure would have been just as awesome and rewarding had it been a virtual rather than a container and logbook at GZ.

 

Edited by barefootjeff
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15 hours ago, The A-Team said:

Hopefully things have already been "frozen", so people can't try to game the system to get their way in. The "must own a cache published before May 14" requirement seems to imply that this is the case.

 

I don't qualify because although I own several active caches published as far back as 2007 I haven't placed any new caches in the past four years.  I haven't placed any caches in the past four years, mostly because I don't spend time searching for caches in my hiding area.  I have recently, however, considered hiding a cache or two near the house we bought in the catskills in September.  It's a little less than 2 hours from our primary home, and we go there about every other weekend.  There are only 2 caches in town so it could use a few more.   I was thinking of putting one in this spot (our backyard is in the photo).

 

3xeD4wJ.jpg

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2 hours ago, NYPaddleCacher said:

I was thinking of putting one in this spot (our backyard is in the photo).

 

On the island?

 

As to the topic raised here, while I was one of the fortunate ones to receive one in the first evolution, I wish they would have included the opt in there as well, seeing as how many of the rewards weren't used.  Once the opt in period passed, they could have back filled the open slots with those that just missed out.  I think "springing" this on us like this was a good way to prevent anyone from gaming the system in a possible lead up to the actual announcement.  This way, those that focused on keeping their caches up to date as well as creating caches that garner FPs are done, not with the intent to get one of the rewards, but to generate better caches for finders to find.

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2 hours ago, coachstahly said:
4 hours ago, NYPaddleCacher said:

I was thinking of putting one in this spot (our backyard is in the photo).

 

On the island?

 

I've considered it, but I was talking about the spot from which I took that picture.   I was standing a couple of feet from a guard rail.  I saw some people on the island a couple of weeks ago.  A drift boat (for flyfishing) had stopped at the island to fish a hole at the end of the island.   I don't think the island is accessible except by boat, and once you're on it, it's mostly chocked with japanese knot weed most of the year.   The part of the island that is closest is partially flooded after heavy rains.

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I went ahead and applied for this round. Not sure where or how I would place it if I manage to snag one, but I figure I have a year to worry about that if I do get selected.

 

Either way, hopefully this roll-out goes smoother than the last!

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35 minutes ago, STNolan said:

I went ahead and applied for this round. Not sure where or how I would place it if I manage to snag one, but I figure I have a year to worry about that if I do get selected.

 

Either way, hopefully this roll-out goes smoother than the last!

 

Yes.  I am contemplating where I would put a Virtual.

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Just now, Harry Dolphin said:

 

Yes.  I am contemplating where I would put a Virtual.

 

I think for me it's about weighing competing demands. Do I want to place it somewhere that I couldn't place a physical cache because of a high muggle factor, or because physical caches aren't allowed (city center or perhaps a national park)? Somewhere closer or farther from home?

Again, trying not to put the cart before the horse, but it's an interesting quandary to ponder.

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19 minutes ago, SwineFlew said:

Is geocaching becoming a joke?

What is the actual problem you have with this? You could probably just open with that instead of this non-sentence. 

 

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17 minutes ago, Corp Of Discovery said:

Do events count for the caches hidden part?

"Ownership: You must own at least two active non-event geocaches."

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2 hours ago, STNolan said:

 

I think for me it's about weighing competing demands. Do I want to place it somewhere that I couldn't place a physical cache because of a high muggle factor, or because physical caches aren't allowed (city center or perhaps a national park)? Somewhere closer or farther from home?

Again, trying not to put the cart before the horse, but it's an interesting quandary to ponder.

 

In thinking about what I'd do if I were to score one, it'd definitely be somewhere I couldn't put a physical cache or work into a virtual waypoint of a multi or an EC, otherwise I'd just do that. I'd want it to be something special, too, somewhere that I'd hope people would say wow, thanks for bringing me here!

 

This is one place that's already on my hastily-compiled back-of-an-envelope short list. I'd wanted to put a physical cache here but the national park ranger knocked it back, not because of the location itself but because the track out there was "unofficial" and, while they didn't mind people walking it, they couldn't formally approve a physical cache there. Since their geocache policy specifically states that no formal approval is needed for virtual caches in their parks, it should work as a virtual.

 

SK.jpg.ea383f78cab820d6ca36020e96be4e02.jpg

 

Another possibility is the site of an historic shipwreck, again in a national park where a physical cache or virtual waypoint in a multi isn't really feasible.

 

Edited by barefootjeff
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16 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

This is one place that's already on my hastily-compiled back-of-an-envelope short list. I'd wanted to put a physical cache here but the national park ranger knocked it back, not because of the location itself but because the track out there was "unofficial" and, while they didn't mind people walking it, they couldn't formally approve a physical cache there. Since their geocache policy specifically states that no formal approval is needed for virtual caches in their parks, it should work as a virtual.

 

SK.jpg.ea383f78cab820d6ca36020e96be4e02.jpg

 

Looks like an amazing spot, although I can't help thinking that if they couldn't formally approve a physical cache at that location and knocked back your application, presumably because they don't want someone to actually be at that spot (danger? fragility of the spot?) then it would be very disingenuous to still get people to visit by listing as a virtual.  I'd suggest that's more likely to get them to change their policy towards virtual caches, and require formal approval for them too!

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1 hour ago, barefootjeff said:

 

In thinking about what I'd do if I were to score one, it'd definitely be somewhere I couldn't put a physical cache or work into a virtual waypoint of a multi or an EC, otherwise I'd just do that. I'd want it to be something special, too, somewhere that I'd hope people would say wow, thanks for bringing me here!

 

This is one place that's already on my hastily-compiled back-of-an-envelope short list. I'd wanted to put a physical cache here but the national park ranger knocked it back, not because of the location itself but because the track out there was "unofficial" and, while they didn't mind people walking it, they couldn't formally approve a physical cache there. Since their geocache policy specifically states that no formal approval is needed for virtual caches in their parks, it should work as a virtual.

 

SK.jpg.ea383f78cab820d6ca36020e96be4e02.jpg

 

Another possibility is the site of an historic shipwreck, again in a national park where a physical cache or virtual waypoint in a multi isn't really feasible.

 

 

I feel you on the “uniqueness” part. I love Earthcaches and they can definitely be a good way to bring people to some awesome places... but they don’t always work. I currently own 23 over a wide swath of US states and a few countries. 

 

Although in this location you might be able to do a pretty neat one on the rock type in conjunction with the neat weathering pattern you have going on. 

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1 hour ago, funkymunkyzone said:

 

Looks like an amazing spot, although I can't help thinking that if they couldn't formally approve a physical cache at that location and knocked back your application, presumably because they don't want someone to actually be at that spot (danger? fragility of the spot?) then it would be very disingenuous to still get people to visit by listing as a virtual.  I'd suggest that's more likely to get them to change their policy towards virtual caches, and require formal approval for them too!

 

The ranger's objection was that the unofficial track out there passed close to some unpublicised Aboriginal engravings and under their regulations they couldn't formally approve a cache that required people to use that route (virtual caches don't need formal approval under their geocaching policy). She also said that people going out there unofficially wasn't a problem, and from what I could see it looks like it's a pretty popular trail for scouting groups. That said, I do have some reservations about the safety aspect of the site and don't want to be encouraging people to do foolish things to get that selfie for the log. I probably need to go for another walk out there.

 

3 minutes ago, STNolan said:

I feel you on the “uniqueness” part. I love Earthcaches and they can definitely be a good way to bring people to some awesome places... but they don’t always work. I currently own 23 over a wide swath of US states and a few countries. 

 

Although in this location you might be able to do a pretty neat one on the rock type in conjunction with the neat weathering pattern you have going on. 

 

I'd actually been thinking about a EC there prior to the virtual rewards announcement. There are other "sandstone weathering" ECs in the area, though, so I'd probably have to focus on something else - I was thinking perhaps something along the lines of the mass of that rock finger and the tensile strength of sandstone, but didn't want to get too mathematical or technical.

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2 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

I'd actually been thinking about a EC there prior to the virtual rewards announcement. There are other "sandstone weathering" ECs in the area, though, so I'd probably have to focus on something else - I was thinking perhaps something along the lines of the mass of that rock finger and the tensile strength of sandstone, but didn't want to get too mathematical or technical.

 

Would you mind sharing the coordinates with me? Depending on the location you might be able to do a watershed as well. 

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9 minutes ago, STNolan said:

 

Would you mind sharing the coordinates with me? Depending on the location you might be able to do a watershed as well. 

 

Sure, I've sent the coordinates via Message Centre.

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11 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

 

Sure, I've sent the coordinates via Message Centre.

Who needs coords.  Found it on the map...  Looks like a pretty decent walk in there :)

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1 minute ago, funkymunkyzone said:

Who needs coords.  Found it on the map...  Looks like a pretty decent walk in there :)

 

Yeah, it'll be a T4 hike out to GZ.

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This is a nice surprise.  It's encouraging to see that some of the feedback from the 1.0 round was addressed.  In particular, the opt-in and recency criteria will hopefully result in a higher percentage of rewards converting into actual publications.  Also, since the cachers that receive the 2.0 rewards are not being labeled as the "top 1%", then they won't have to worry about having other cachers scrutinize whether they are really "worthy enough" when their Virtual is published.

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Disappointed I'm not eligible yet:

Hidden: You must own at least one geocache published within the past four years (May 14, 2015 to May 14, 2019).

I guess being a charter member and maintaining two caches since 2001 doesn't mean anything...are you really forcing me to find a light pole or guard rail or dump another cache "on top" of a concentrated spot.

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25 minutes ago, HopSkipandaJump said:

I guess being a charter member and maintaining two caches since 2001 doesn't mean anything

 

If you are not willing to make new caches why should this concern you at all?

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2 hours ago, HopSkipandaJump said:

Disappointed I'm not eligible yet:

Hidden: You must own at least one geocache published within the past four years (May 14, 2015 to May 14, 2019).

I guess being a charter member and maintaining two caches since 2001 doesn't mean anything...are you really forcing me to find a light pole or guard rail or dump another cache "on top" of a concentrated spot.

 

How well would you maintain it though? You've not even cleared the red wrenches from one of your caches and another one has been archived due to not maintaining it properly. *hides behind sofa*
*pokes head up* I guess the time criterion is there for exactly this reason, to make sure that people who are actively participating will take good care of the new virtuals.

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11 hours ago, Corp Of Discovery said:

Do events count for the caches hidden part?

 

11 hours ago, niraD said:

"Ownership: You must own at least two active non-event geocaches."


Hidden doesn't have the non-event condition (or active either).  My only hides over the specified time period were events and my entry has been accepted.  I gather from elsewhere that I would have got a rejection at this stage if I didn't qualify.

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I like it. Until I don't get drawn and then I will talk mad trash about everyone who got one! ;) Actually, the nice thing about 2.0 is that won't be the case. I will know I didn't randomly get drawn and there isn't anything you can do about it. 

 

However, I would like to see this applied to webcam caches. People with over 25 webcam caches and who opt in get drawn to make a new list of webcam caches. I would love that...because I have found over 25 webcam caches! However, that took a lot of miles and work. It was not easy. I love webcam caches! 

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4 minutes ago, elrojo14 said:

I like it. Until I don't get drawn and then I will talk mad trash about everyone who got one! ;) Actually, the nice thing about 2.0 is that won't be the case. I will know I didn't randomly get drawn and there isn't anything you can do about it. 

 

However, I would like to see this applied to webcam caches. People with over 25 webcam caches and who opt in get drawn to make a new list of webcam caches. I would love that...because I have found over 25 webcam caches! However, that took a lot of miles and work. It was not easy. I love webcam caches! 

 

I love webcam caches too. But I think the threshold should be about 130 webcam cache finds. 😉 in order to qualify.

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1 minute ago, bflentje said:

 

I love webcam caches too. But I think the threshold should be about 130 webcam cache finds. 😉 in order to qualify.

If we are going to make it over 25, let's make it 140! He he he. Which that is super impressive. Nice. 

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3 minutes ago, elrojo14 said:

However, I would like to see this applied to webcam caches. People with over 25 webcam caches and who opt in get drawn to make a new list of webcam caches. I would love that...because I have found over 25 webcam caches! However, that took a lot of miles and work. It was not easy. I love webcam caches! 

Except in Germany it's almost impossible to get 25 today.

 

In the latest podcast they said because of privacy issues its highly unlikely they will ever bring them back. I will also add that the WO can't do the maintenance properly on it because they don't own the webcam most of the time.

 

To go back on the subject I prefer how they do it 2.0 even if I found the 2 active cache a little low.

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39 minutes ago, MBFace said:

I gather from elsewhere that I would have got a rejection at this stage if I didn't qualify. 

 

I don't think so.   This account, reviewer, was reading the opt in page, clicked apply, thinking I'd see a form, but instead was told Thanks for applying... or words to that effect.

This account is disqualified on 3 of 5 criterion.

 

I hope they're running a scraping script to dump all the non-compliant applications.  (Apologies to staff if that's not true.) 

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8 minutes ago, palmetto said:

 

 

I don't think so.   This account, reviewer, was reading the opt in page, clicked apply, thinking I'd see a form, but instead was told Thanks for applying... or words to that effect.

This account is disqualified on 3 of 5 criterion.

 

I hope they're running a scraping script to dump all the non-compliant applications.  (Apologies to staff if that's not true.) 

 

At least I was rejected on the criterion of having one received already 

 

Quote
Sorry, you are not eligible yet.
  • Virtual Reward: You received a previous Virtual Reward.
If currently ineligible, you may try to reenter after becoming eligible.

 

Time travel? :lol:

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@terratinInteresting. Well the Virtual reward went to my player account, so palmetto wouldn't disqualify on that, absent a human making the connection. But palmetto only owns 1 cache and it's too old. 

 

Time travel is one of my favorite options. Adore it.  Please let me know when you've got a reliable technique. I haven't been able to get my hands on a  Flux Capacitor  and am stuck.

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@palmetto I'm not sure I'll research time travel just to get another virtual. It was proper drama to find a suitable hiding place. I'd rather not go through that again :laughing:

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I like this second round of virtual rewards.

Many virtual cache are interesting (telling an interesting story, bringing you to an interesting place) but not all.

But those virtuals caches should be reserved for places where it is not allowed or impossible (impossible >< difficult) to place a physical container and not be the virtual equivalent of a "micro at the foot of a tree".

And IMHO, those virtual caches should remains rare, otherwise our game is just going to a "pokemon" direction (more and more virtual and lab caches).  

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5 hours ago, HopSkipandaJump said:

Disappointed I'm not eligible yet:

Hidden: You must own at least one geocache published within the past four years (May 14, 2015 to May 14, 2019).

I guess being a charter member and maintaining two caches since 2001 doesn't mean anything...are you really forcing me to find a light pole or guard rail or dump another cache "on top" of a concentrated spot.

 

Maybe next time...   :)    This does seem a bit different than last "reward" time, so anything's possible . 

Shame you did a write note instead of a Owner Maintenance a few years ago, makes folks have to hide behind couches...

 - The site looks for that stuff with an algorithm thingy when giving these "rewards" out.  

But I agree.  Most people we cache with head for those placed long ago, often "lonely"  hides, , and (to me) keeping a cache maintained well-over 15 years a plus. 

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3 hours ago, Keystone said:

One of the most vocal criticisms of the initial round of Virtual Rewards is that too many of them were awarded via the algorithm to cache hiders who were no longer active, or who were barely active.  Round two attempts to target a different population in addition to a different geographic distribution philosophy.  There are lots of ways to set the eligibility criteria, none of which are perfect.

I realized what they were trying to do, but I still found it amusing when I realized that long time COs with great track records that didn't quite make the grade in the first round might easily be missed in this round, too, because they've spent the last few years maintaining their long standing caches instead of hiding anything new. I'm not complaining, since, as you say, nothing's going to make everyone happy, but it makes me wonder why that clause requiring a hide in the last few years was added. I can't imagine there wasn't a concrete goal, but all I can do is guess that it was trying to make sure no virtual rewards went to the currently popular whipping boy of geocaching: the inactive CO.

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34 minutes ago, dprovan said:

it makes me wonder why that clause requiring a hide in the last few years was added

 

If you really are so busy with your old hides that you can not make any new caches, why would you even think about a new virtual cache? It takes even more time to maintain than a traditional cache.

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