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Release notes (Website: Upload image to cache & trackable description; hosted images going forward) - September 15, 2020

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(Note: this was originally a pre-release thread. We have updated this original post now that the website release is complete.)

 

Pre-Release notes (Website: Upload image to cache & trackable description; hosted images going forward)


On 09/16/2020, we have implemented the following changes for cache and trackable pages:

 

We have added the ability to upload images to your cache descriptions and trackable pages via the user-friendly WYSIWYG editor. This functionality was previously introduced on the profile edit page.
 

 

wysiwyg.png

 

 

Going forward, all new cache and trackable pages can only contain images that are hosted on Geocaching.com or one of the approved domains. See the full approved list in our Help Center. This list is subject to change. Periodically, we will reassess removal or addition of domains, with the first assessment 2 weeks after this release. Adding images hosted on third-party servers that are not on the approved list will prevent any new cache or trackable page from saving.


This change will only apply to new cache and trackable pages. You can continue editing existing cache and trackable pages as before, even if they contain images that are hosted on third-party servers. However, please consider moving all images to Geocaching.com. Depending on the third-party hosting service you are using, the images on your pages may be responsible for placing advertising-related tracking technology, called cookies, on the browsers of other users. Moving your images to Geocaching.com will ensure the integrity of your image links and help us to avoid the need to take further action. 

 

Nicole (nykkole) is watching this thread to answer questions whenever possible.
 
Any posts in this thread should relate to features in this release. Comments unrelated to the release may be removed. Please direct unrelated comments to other appropriate threads. Thanks!

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Will this affect any content hidden in images for puzzles? I know the current image proxy prevents certain details working, such as URLs or file names hiding coords.

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Where is the approved list of image hosting websites? Does this mean we can no longer have animated gif images on our cache pages?

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It's good to hear that this won't retroactively affect existing pages, but this will effectively kill off some puzzle concepts from being created in the future. Some concepts rely on technologies or techniques that simply don't work with geocaching.com-hosted images.

 

26 minutes ago, Pesh said:

Will this affect any content hidden in images for puzzles? I know the current image proxy prevents certain details working, such as URLs or file names hiding coords.

 

Yes, it will affect puzzles where there's content hidden in metadata, the URL, the file format (currently, files are being transcoded to jpeg), and probably many other techniques.

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Currently, all images uploaded to geocaching.com have their EXIF data stripped and PNG images are transcoded into JPEG even though they retain the .png suffix. This move would seem to wipe out a whole class of puzzle caches that hide information in images.

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40 minutes ago, Geocaching HQ said:

Images for all new cache and trackable pages must be hosted on Geocaching.com or one of the approved domains.

Is Waymarking.com one of the approved domains? I sometimes use it for my geocaching puzzle cache images. I'm pretty sure!

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@HQ: I think this type of change might be better accepted by the general membership if you made it clear why this is happening. My assumption is that this is another byproduct of the CCPA and is being done in an abundance of caution in attempting to comply. If you let the members know that you're basically being forced to do this, they might complain less (though they'll still complain, of course).

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3 minutes ago, Max and 99 said:

Is Waymarking.com one of the approved domains?

Which part of

Quote

We will publish the approved list in our Help Center.

do you not understand?

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51 minutes ago, Geocaching HQ said:

Nicole (nykkole) is watching this thread to answer questions whenever possible.

 

5 minutes ago, HHL said:

Which part of

do you not understand?

 

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I was planning to submit an Adventure Lab bonus cache tomorrow (the 17th) in which I have one of the Adventure Lab logos on the cache page, however I see that these logos are hosted on images.squarespace-cdn.com. Not sure whether this is one of the approved domains, I guess I'll find out when the reviewer rejects my cache.

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I don't understand why you are not publishing the approved list in this release note.

 

Another project that seems to be rushed.

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7 hours ago, Pesh said:

Will this affect any content hidden in images for puzzles? I know the current image proxy prevents certain details working, such as URLs or file names hiding coords.

This will affect content hidden in images for puzzles going forward. Any existing puzzles will not be impacted and COs will continue to be able to edit them as necessary without running into issues.

 

 

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We will publish the list of approved domains with the release. We have taken the most commonly used URLs into account - but we will continue to consider feedback on domains we might have missed and adjust the approved list as necessary. 

 

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7 hours ago, The A-Team said:

@HQ: I think this type of change might be better accepted by the general membership if you made it clear why this is happening. My assumption is that this is another byproduct of the CCPA and is being done in an abundance of caution in attempting to comply. If you let the members know that you're basically being forced to do this, they might complain less (though they'll still complain, of course).

 

Privacy laws are cited in the opening post as a driving force for this change, as was the case for previous releases affecting images.  And, it's not just the California Consumer Privacy Act.

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Would the following construction still be allowed for new caches?

  • The image shown in the listing is hosting on geocaching.com.
  • The image has an underlying link to an externally hosted image (as in <a href="(external link)"><img src="(link to image on GS server)" /></a>).
  • There is the usual disclaimer in the listing, like "You have to download a file which is necessary to find the cache. Etc."
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2 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't understand why privacy laws require EXIF data to be stripped

You'd be surprised how much information you sometimes can learn about someone using metadata.
Like paths c:\users\John\Pictures\image.jpg (so now you know that  the CO's first name is probably John)
Computer OS, Coordinates, Camera/Phone model

If you want an example of how seemingly little information is needed to track someone down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGqEBvlmFAQ


------------------------------------------------
 

Won't transcoding PNG to JPEG strip any transparency from the image?

I'm not a big fan of the new system at the moment but I get why it has to happen.
I'm just hoping that once the transition to the new system is done, improvements can be made in the future adding back some functionality that will be stripped with the introduction of the new system.

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11 minutes ago, ardila.nl said:

Won't transcoding PNG to JPEG strip any transparency from the image?

Yes, JPG doesn't support transparency. And JPG also introduced compression artifacts. PNG on the other hand is a "lossless" compression, which means that the image you see on your screen is exactly the original one, pixel by pixel. All puzzles, which rely e.g. on the exact RGB values of individual pixels, can never work with a JPG compression.

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1 hour ago, ardila.nl said:

You'd be surprised how much information you sometimes can learn about someone using metadata.
Like paths c:\users\John\Pictures\image.jpg (so now you know that  the CO's first name is probably John)
Computer OS, Coordinates, Camera/Phone model

 

I thought the privacy laws in question were about protecting the privacy of content users, not content creators. How does me putting all that stuff in my image metadata impact the privacy of the person viewing it?

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1 minute ago, barefootjeff said:

I thought the privacy laws in question were about protecting the privacy of content users, not content creators. How does me putting all that stuff in my image metadata impact the privacy of the person viewing it?

 

I don't know the wording of the mentioned law or it's intent.
So I'm also unsure if GC is liable if something would happen to it's users because of misuse of the metadata regardless if you're a creator (CO) or not.
I just wanted to give a example of possible information that could be learned from the metadata ;)

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6 hours ago, on4bam said:

The equivalent of removing all this info from images is a bit like removing a post where someone posts his/her own home address.

I think  changing a CO's (or logger's) own content might even be a problem in it's own as in copyright laws.

OTOH, self-hosted images/files give the owner the opportunity to log info about anyone displaying/downloading these files.

 

If GS is really serious about taking away all possibilities of tracking and protecting privacy then a good start would be to remove trackers (google analytics/ads) from their sites. :ph34r:

 

Totally agree with your last statement. GS- plz clean up your own frontyard first

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Ok, I'll use only GC.com, but you stop transcoding PNG to JPEG. I have images on my website only due to this, because I use transparency on edited images in my listings.

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19 minutes ago, Geocaching HQ said:

The website release is complete. The original post is updated accordingly.

So the Waymarking.com site is not approved?

 

Edited by Max and 99

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12 minutes ago, KulisekW said:

Ok, I'll use only GC.com, but you stop transcoding PNG to JPEG. I have images on my website only due to this, because I use transparency on edited images in my listings.

 

1 minute ago, Geocaching HQ said:

The website release is complete. The original post is updated accordingly.

 

The PNG images used for Puzzle caches that rely on the RGB values in the image are destroyed by the transcoding to JPEG.

I REALLY want to host my caches images on GC.com but the transcoding of PNG to JPEG _forces_ me to put those images on f.ex. Google Drive.

Please, can you give us some means of uploading cleverly crafted PNG images to GC.com for use in Puzzle Caches?

A special image upload solution perhaps? Only for those "special images" that do not suffer from being transcoded to JPEG.

 

While I really do appreciate the "solution" of hosting my special images on other approved hosting sites, I really want GC.com to host those images.

Please make that possible.

 

Thanks for the post. I thought I would have to scrap the Puzzle Cache that I had been working on for a week now.

Now at least I have a solution that will work (for now).

 

If you find a solution for hosting PNG images on GC.com without transcoding and breaking image information that is highly appreciated. 

 

Eskil...
:-)

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I see images.squarespace-cdn.com isn't on the list of approved hosts. This is where you are hosting the Adventure Lab logos, so does this mean we can no longer use those logos on AL bonus cache listings?

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Currently, Waymarking.com and images.squarespace-cdn.com are not on the approved list. Within the next 2 weeks we will assess if/which domains we add to the approved list, and we'll continue to periodically revisit that list.

 

In the meantime, you have some options:

  • If you have created your cache page before today's release, you can continue making changes to the cache page even if these domains are in the description.
  • If you create a new cache page and use an image that is currently hosted on a non-approved domain, you can download the image and
    • Upload it to your cache description via the user-friendly editor
    • Upload the image to a domain that is on the approved list.
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Does any of the approved sites allow images to be available without recoding them? If the image data itself is unchanged, that would help a lot. You may need to kill the EXIF infomation for privacy reasons, but do you need to ruin the raw image data? Mysteries sometimes rely on information i the lowest bits. Why do you need to change them?

Maybe transcoding to lossless JPEG would help a bit? I am not sure how far, though.

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2 hours ago, Ragnemalm said:

Does any of the approved sites allow images to be available without recoding them?

 

Google Drive, I believe. I moved a PNG over there recently, with no ill effects. 

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On 9/16/2020 at 2:28 AM, barefootjeff said:

I was planning to submit an Adventure Lab bonus cache tomorrow (the 17th) in which I have one of the Adventure Lab logos on the cache page, however I see that these logos are hosted on images.squarespace-cdn.com. Not sure whether this is one of the approved domains, I guess I'll find out when the reviewer rejects my cache.

 

I don't think it's the reviewer who will reject it, you simply won't be able to save a NEW cache listing.

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2 hours ago, Ragnemalm said:

Does any of the approved sites allow images to be available without recoding them? If the image data itself is unchanged, that would help a lot. You may need to kill the EXIF infomation for privacy reasons, but do you need to ruin the raw image data? Mysteries sometimes rely on information i the lowest bits. Why do you need to change them?

Maybe transcoding to lossless JPEG would help a bit? I am not sure how far, though.

 

Dropbox gives your opportunity to share untouched images. For example, this animated GIF  is directly served from dropbox


rain.gif?dl=1

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So is this intended to end time varying content going forward?  Some puzzles change the image as a function of time. Some did time of day. Also some other features as well took advantage of this.

 

Or is there another approach for dynamic content?

 

This seems the end of an era that proxies did not help with.

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45 minutes ago, sloth96 said:

So is this intended to end time varying content going forward?

The intent seems to be legal compliance. Breaking varying content was just a side effect.

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8 minutes ago, niraD said:

The intent seems to be legal compliance. Breaking varying content was just a side effect.

 

As for privacy people are better off with images/files hosted on my own domain than on any Google (or similar) service as there is no tracking, no ads, no 3rd party, only standard server logs.

 

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On 9/15/2020 at 4:47 PM, The A-Team said:

It's good to hear that this won't retroactively affect existing pages, but this will effectively kill off some puzzle concepts from being created in the future. Some concepts rely on technologies or techniques that simply don't work with geocaching.com-hosted images.

 

 

Yes, it will affect puzzles where there's content hidden in metadata, the URL, the file format (currently, files are being transcoded to jpeg), and probably many other techniques.

 

 

It also affects caches that have dynamically built images. I love you Groundspeak but at the risk of getting in trouble, this change seriously stinks and needs to be reconsidered. Or find a way around dynamic images.

 

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Could you please add geocache.fi to the list?

 

Geocache.fi is your API partner and their geochecker is used on probably thousands of mystery caches in Finland, e.g. https://coord.info/GC8BW0D

 

Edit. As it’s a checker image that shows previous results, uploading it to another domain is obviously not an option.

 

 

Edited by mustakorppi
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I have almost 200 puzzle caches in the Essex, UK  area. 

A lot of my caches use Javascript which is stored on a third party server.

Can I no longer run my own html ?
 I have a banner at the top of all my caches showing who is top of my  puzzle solving charts.

It is a simple .php file running a few lines of Javascript. 

I'm gutted none of this will work in the future . I have taken 5 years to build up such a  challenging selection of puzzles.

 

Totally gutted ..
John Edmonds aka Startoman

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5 hours ago, StratOman said:

A lot of my caches use Javascript which is stored on a third party server.

Can I no longer run my own html ?

 

If you've got static HTML/CSS/JavaScript files being served by a third-party server, then those won't be altered. You may need to modify the relevant description(s) to link to this content, though.

 

5 hours ago, StratOman said:

I have a banner at the top of all my caches showing who is top of my  puzzle solving charts.

 

Unfortunately, this will not longer be possible. This banner will continue to display at the top of your existing listings, though.

Edited by Hügh

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6 hours ago, StratOman said:

 I have a banner at the top of all my caches showing who is top of my  puzzle solving charts.

It is a simple .php file running a few lines of Javascript. 

 

Your existing caches should work as usually but new caches need another strategy. When the content in the banner changes, you shoud update the new banner content to one of the approved third party servers. For example, Dropbox content can be updated without changing the download link.

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5 hours ago, Hügh said:

Unfortunately, this will not longer be possible. This banner will continue to display at the top of your existing listings, though.

Just to clarify, my current puzzle caches running html/CSS/Javascipt will still work fine.
However future puzzle caches using html/CSS/Javascript will not work as they are on a third party server.
In future all my puzzle are limited to simple text and photos ?
John
 

Edited by StratOman

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9 minutes ago, StratOman said:

In future all my puzzle are limited to simple text and photos ?

I don’t see anything in this news about overruling sections 6.9 and 6.10 of cache hiding rules.

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1 hour ago, StratOman said:

However future puzzle caches using html/CSS/Javascript will not work as they are on a third party server.
In future all my puzzle are limited to simple text and photos ?

 

In the future, you will provide a link (not an image) to your own server where you will store everything about your puzzle.
Practically, this gives you more ways to collect data than ever before.

Edited by arisoft
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11 minutes ago, arisoft said:

Practically, this gives you more ways to collect data than ever before.

The hopefully meaningful difference is that now the user gets to decide if they want interact with your server.

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4 hours ago, StratOman said:

Just to clarify, my current puzzle caches running html/CSS/Javascipt will still work fine.
However future puzzle caches using html/CSS/Javascript will not work as they are on a third party server.
In future all my puzzle are limited to simple text and photos ?


If you can share the GC code of an existing puzzle of yours, we can tell you if that “type” of puzzle will work in future. 

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1 hour ago, Hügh said:


If you can share the GC code of an existing puzzle of yours, we can tell you if that “type” of puzzle will work in future. 

Here are a few of my caches all using HTML/CSS/Javascript, all being hosted on my server.

GC8TR4X
GC82AJP
GC87M62
GC8AB1A 


Many Thanks
John

 

 

Edited by StratOman

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11 minutes ago, StratOman said:

Here are a few of my caches all using HTML/CSS/Javascript, all being hosted on my server.

GC8TR4X
GC82AJP
GC87M62
GC8AB1A 


Many Thanks
John

 

 


Those should be fine, because the HTML is on your own personal server, and is being linked to in the description. You can keep making those and you will be just fine. 
 

The only thing that HQ is changing is that they don’t want third-party images embedded directly in the cache description. 

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2 hours ago, Hügh said:


Those should be fine, because the HTML is on your own personal server, and is being linked to in the description. You can keep making those and you will be just fine. 
 

The only thing that HQ is changing is that they don’t want third-party images embedded directly in the cache description. 

Just one more thing.

If I cannot host an image from my server and the description is in HTML, how do I add an image to the cache page ?

 

I did have this , which no longer works.

 

<img src="http://mattsphotobooks.com/john/victoria.png" />

 

John
 

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