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niraD

Geocaching Etiquette 201: Finding and Logging

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Groundspeak recently posted the blog post Geocaching Etiquette 201: Finding and Logging. I thought it was good to see a list of conditions under which one should NOT log a Find:

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  • You did not visit the coordinates. (Example: a group of cachers splits up to find caches on their own, signs a team name to the logs, and then each person logs them all as “Found,” even if they did not personally visit all of the caches.)
  • You see a cache, but did not obtain it and sign the logbook.
  • You find what may be an attachment for the cache, but the container and logbook are gone. In this case, post a “Needs Maintenance” log, not a “Found It.”
  • You couldn’t find anything, so you install a new container and logbook without the owner’s permission, and then log your find. In this case, log a DNF, or if you’re certain the cache is missing, log a “Needs Maintenance.”

 

What are your thoughts about this post?

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Received it too, I see it as "preaching to the choir".  Those who play by guidelines and stay informed already knew all that...

The few in our area who receive notifications and read them, it might help some.   :)

Most times at events, we'll ask about a few subjects and most don't know what the heck we're talking about. 

It took me years to get folks to finally realize they can't delete my "Attended"  just because I said I wouldn't sign the logbook.  :D

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I thought it was just about spot on and very good, and that it should be required reading.

 

However, my one minor quibble is the part about not logging an NA if you haven't been to the coordinates. I understand their intention, but there are exceptions to that rule.

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My main thought is that the current logging interface makes it difficult (unless you're a veteran who knows how) to log NM or NA without logging a DNF.   

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11 minutes ago, TriciaG said:

However, my one minor quibble is the part about not logging an NA if you haven't been to the coordinates. I understand their intention, but there are exceptions to that rule.

 

Yes, one that immediately comes to mind is where the problem is with the cache page, not the cache itself, such as a puzzle that's become unsolvable because a link no longer works.

 

Also interesting that a little further down it says "Don’t trespass to find a cache. If you find that a cache is on private property without permission, then post a “Needs Archived” log", but how can you get to the coordinates to log your NA if doing so requires you to trespass?

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I also appreciated the comment in the "Other things to remember" section about having the original finder (in a group) be the one to replace the cache.

 

Although, when I cache in a group, we usually cache "huckle buckle beanstalk" style, to allow everyone who wants to the opportunity to spot the cache without the hide being spoiled by those in the group who found it before them. In that case, it isn't "the original finder" who replaces the cache, but the person who retrieved the cache who replaces it. Often, this is the LAST person to spot the cache.

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Does " Before retrieving a trackable from a cache, be sure to confirm that you can help with its mission/destination. This information is available on the trackable page " mean that geocachers not using a cellphone with data access to the trackables' pages are forbidden from retrieving trackable items?

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2 hours ago, tyke said:

Does " Before retrieving a trackable from a cache, be sure to confirm that you can help with its mission/destination. This information is available on the trackable page " mean that geocachers not using a cellphone with data access to the trackables' pages are forbidden from retrieving trackable items?

 

Good question, and one I'd like to see a Lackey explain.   Seems (to me) like one of those "in a perfect world..." things.   :)

For years we didn't have phones to cache with, and it seems we had less problems than we see today, with all that information available instantly.

Doing caches singly means I can look at everything on the cache page, including trackables that might be in it.

 - But with so many inaccurate (we see more not listed in cache inventories now), I don't see how that's practical.

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3 hours ago, tyke said:

Does " Before retrieving a trackable from a cache, be sure to confirm that you can help with its mission/destination. This information is available on the trackable page " mean that geocachers not using a cellphone with data access to the trackables' pages are forbidden from retrieving trackable items?

No, that's not what it means.  PLEASE, take trackables and move them!  If you get home and discover you can't help with the mission, whatever it is, just place it as soon as you can and let someone else move it.  Log it, take photos, keep it moving!

 

I try to attach a tag (laminated) with the mission to every TB that comes through my hands - someone can quickly see if they can help or not.  Most cache owners (myself included) are happy to see it moving and in play!  Even if you can't help it along on its mission, you CAN move it to another cache where it can be picked up by someone who CAN!

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5 hours ago, TriciaG said:

However, my one minor quibble is the part about not logging an NA if you haven't been to the coordinates. I understand their intention, but there are exceptions to that rule.

 

I agree - a needs archived log is really just asking a reviewer to assess the situation with a cache. If a cache has had 6 DNFs, and a NM or two, why not add a NA, especially if you are a local cacher, and know that CO hasn't cached for years etc.... I think adding a NA then is the responsible thing to do. Maybe NA should be renamed - 'Could reviewer please check'?

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  • Don’t share answers to puzzles, Adventure Labs, Virtual Caches, or EarthCaches in spoiler groups. By doing so without the owner’s permission, you are ruining their efforts. You also risk losing your access to Geocaching.com.

That is an out-of-character 'big-stick' being waved by HQ.....

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36 minutes ago, lee737 said:

That is an out-of-character 'big-stick' being waved by HQ.....

 

And many will say "a good thing".   :)

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8 hours ago, TriciaG said:

However, my one minor quibble is the part about not logging an NA if you haven't been to the coordinates. I understand their intention, but there are exceptions to that rule.

No, sorry, that's not a minor quibble. In fact,  I almost always post an NA because there's no reason to visit GZ. I find their intentions entirely unsupportable. If I've decided there's no reason to visit GZ, and the rule is I can't post an NA unless I visit GZ, the result is that no one posts an NA on a cache for which no one reasonable will ever again visit GZ. Result: broken cache is there forever. (Oh, wait, I forgot: new rules: caches are only archived because a reviewer unilaterally archives them based on the CHS. How convenient this rule makes that a requirement.)

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It is great to have Geocaching Etiquette explained very clearly and quite completely in the single, well structured article. There are more and more players who think it is OK to play the game "their own way", disrespecting basic principles. It's good to have official communication, where we can point them to.

 

Sure, not everything is explained precisely (NA logs are good example), but overall - I'm thankful for this blog post.

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18 hours ago, cerberus1 said:

Received it too, I see it as "preaching to the choir".

 

Well the choir is one group of people in the auditorium, and there are many people not a part of the choir who need to hear this, so as I stand in the choir too, I'm glad to hear it all again ;)

 

14 hours ago, niraD said:

I also appreciated the comment in the "Other things to remember" section about having the original finder (in a group) be the one to replace the cache.

 

Although, when I cache in a group, we usually cache "huckle buckle beanstalk" style, to allow everyone who wants to the opportunity to spot the cache without the hide being spoiled by those in the group who found it before them. In that case, it isn't "the original finder" who replaces the cache, but the person who retrieved the cache who replaces it. Often, this is the LAST person to spot the cache.

 

I like to think this bit is more applicable to the context of say streams of people not caching together (say from events with new caches) where the first arrival finds the cache and signs (or their group signs) then instructs the next people where they found the cache and how to replace it, then moves on. It could become a telephone game depending on how long the stream is before there's a break for it to be re-hidden.  IMO, as long as someone knows how it was hidden properly - that is, anyone in the group that 'found' it (not just the person who physically retrieved it themselves) then it can be hidden properly again. The telephone game is risky.

 

One other point is that I also see these as etiquette and guidelines - in many cases when it comes to the CO, the CO can make the final decision about what logs stand. In particular, if you find what is guaranteed to be the cache (say by attachment mechanism), but the container or just the log is missing, 'good etiquette' may be not to log it found, but if in good conscience you can log it found with the permission of the CO (who should then follow up with maintenance) then I think that's reasonable. Many people won't, many people do. As I've always said elsewhere, as long as the logs reflect the last known state of the cache. A find with a NM indicates to following finders that there is a problem; and as a followup finder I honestly wouldn't care if that cacher posted a find or a dnf, the NM is what I need to know.

 

I'm looking forward to part 2 where they explain cache owner etiquette and how hardline a stance they take on certain ethics...

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I'd like to see a little more elaboration on etiquette for claiming Virtual caches. This article seems to indicate that "visiting the coordinates" is just okay, and I frequently get requests to log finds from people who "visited before starting geocaching" or "didn't realize there was a cache there, but we were in the area".

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5 hours ago, Rikitan said:

It is great to have Geocaching Etiquette explained very clearly and quite completely in the single, well structured article. There are more and more players who think it is OK to play the game "their own way", disrespecting basic principles. It's good to have official communication, where we can point them to.

 

Sure, not everything is explained precisely (NA logs are good example), but overall - I'm thankful for this blog post.

 

I appreciate having an "official" stance on geocaching etiquette put somewhere that can be shown to others.    A couple of others things I'd like to see there.  The last bullet point talks about replacing a container when that cache can't be found but I'd also like to see something about swapping containers, when a cache *is* found, but rather than signing the physical log and replacing the cache as it was found, the container is just swapped with a pre-signed log in a replacement container.   

 

More generally, I'd like to see something about  not ignoring geocaching etiquette and basic principles, just because a cache is part of a power trail.  IMHO, the fact that a cacher is doing a PT, or large series, should not give them an exemption for following basic guidelines.

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25 minutes ago, kablooey said:

I'd like to see a little more elaboration on etiquette for claiming Virtual caches. This article seems to indicate that "visiting the coordinates" is just okay, and I frequently get requests to log finds from people who "visited before starting geocaching" or "didn't realize there was a cache there, but we were in the area".

The do mention the "answers" for a virtual cache, but in the context of not spoiling "puzzles, Adventure Labs, Virtual Caches, or EarthCaches" by sharing the answers. That is some indication that the "answers" are important, even if it isn't spelled out clearly.

 

Although I don't think that's a matter of etiquette, as much as it's a matter of meeting the logging requirements of a non-physical cache.

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9 minutes ago, NYPaddleCacher said:

More generally, I'd like to see something about  not ignoring geocaching etiquette and basic principles, just because a cache is part of a power trail.  IMHO, the fact that a cacher is doing a PT, or large series, should not give them an exemption for following basic guidelines.

 

This is off topic for this particular thread but I have a question about this (I have read statements similar to this in other threads as well.)  Do those on power trails actually steal the intended container and replace it with their own in order to reduce the time it takes at each stop?  I am picturing in my mind starting with a container in hand, stopping at point A, replacing container A with my container, signing log A en route to point B, taking container B and replacing it with cache A, signing cache B on the way to point C, etc.  Is that the gist?

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26 minutes ago, RobinsonClan56 said:

Do those on power trails actually steal the intended container and replace it with their own in order to reduce the time it takes at each stop?  I am picturing in my mind starting with a container in hand, stopping at point A, replacing container A with my container, signing log A en route to point B, taking container B and replacing it with cache A, signing cache B on the way to point C, etc.  Is that the gist?

Yes that happens, sometimes called the 3-cache-monte. I woudn't use the term "steal" as I expect the COs who place hundreds of caches every 161m expect this to happen.

 

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8 minutes ago, MartyBartfast said:

Yes that happens, sometimes called the 3-cache-monte. I woudn't use the term "steal" as I expect the COs who place hundreds of caches every 161m expect this to happen.

Exactly. If the three cache monte is done on caches where the owner does not approve of the process, then it is theft/vandalism. If the three cache monte is done on caches where the owner does approve of the process, then there is no theft/vandalism involved.

 

It still isn't geocaching (in the traditional "return the geocache to its original location" sense), but it isn't theft/vandalism.

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4 hours ago, NYPaddleCacher said:

I appreciate having an "official" stance on geocaching etiquette put somewhere that can be shown to others.    A couple of others things I'd like to see there.  The last bullet point talks about replacing a container when that cache can't be found but I'd also like to see something about swapping containers, when a cache *is* found, but rather than signing the physical log and replacing the cache as it was found, the container is just swapped with a pre-signed log in a replacement container.   

 

I would suspect this would be covered in a section I'd like to see about respecting a cache owner's property. HQ can't dictate what can or can't be done with other people's property, only how to handle logging our activities on the website. Ultimately they can indicate good etiquette in how to handle property, but right/wrong would ultimately be up to the CO - swapping a container with owner permission would be allowable; though when it comes to the listing details for other cachers via the website, the CO should then take it upon themselves to verify the cache setup for others, in line with the latest logs.  All of that is CO responsibility.  Swapping containers without permission could certainly be considered theft, but it's not something I'd think HQ would touch or arbitrate in rule enforcement (becoming another he-said-she-said issue).

And this is likely why in practice they leave that 'etiquette' up to the CO to decide if it's allowed on their caches.

 

3 hours ago, RobinsonClan56 said:

This is off topic for this particular thread but I have a question about this (I have read statements similar to this in other threads as well.)  Do those on power trails actually steal the intended container and replace it with their own in order to reduce the time it takes at each stop?  I am picturing in my mind starting with a container in hand, stopping at point A, replacing container A with my container, signing log A en route to point B, taking container B and replacing it with cache A, signing cache B on the way to point C, etc.  Is that the gist?

 

Indeed, cache owners can permit that. But as we know, there are varying opinions about whether that practice as a finder is "true geocaching" (effectively a no-true-scotsman argument).  Since it's allowable, then the judgment is quite subjective depending on who you ask.

 

3 hours ago, niraD said:

It still isn't geocaching (in the traditional "return the geocache to its original location" sense)

 

Case in point.  The counter argument generally is, if what you return to the location is effectively exactly the same for the next person, then it really, truly, doesn't matter, and it becomes a technicality that can't be enforced (basically "I don't like how you're playing"), especially if the cache owner condones the behaviour. So it's really not worth debating.

 

The ET highway series may well be the most widely known case of the monte-style strategy, as an effort to find as many caches as quickly as possible. In effect, every cache gets signed and gets replaced, just one more spot down the line. The cache owners allow it.  Ultimately it's up to the conscience of the cache finders to determine what they want to consider a "find" for their profile.  If every found cache is replaced in a findable way so that every listing remains consistent, geocache findable, and experience identical, then the only contestable issue becomes one like the Ship Of Theseus - are you finding the "true" original geocache container? (no) Or are you finding the "geocache"? (yes)  In the grand scheme as it affects other people in the context of the specific caches (owner-allowed), does that question truly matter?

 

It's really not worth the battle.  And I think HQ knows this: Promote generally accepted geocaching etiquette that's positive to the most people, and negatively affects as few people as possible, and leave it at that, only enforcing what they have direct control over (website content and usage).  And encourage everyone to 'play nice'. :)

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