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# There has to be an easier way/Mystery & Multi

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The problem with a YES/NO answer to a saturation check is that, in an area where there's only one unknown mystery/multi final, you only need to identify two points on its 161 metre circle to then be able to pinpoint where the cache is. Finding those two points on the boundary also wouldn't require many attempts if you're methodical and halve the distance you move on each attempt depending on the response to the previous attempt. For example, if you get a NO response:

• Move 80 metres west. If the answer's still no, move 40 metres further west, otherwise move 40 metres east. Try again.
• If the answer's still no, move 20 metres further west, otherwise move 20 metres east.
• If the answer's still no, move 10 metres further west, otherwise move 10 metres east.

It would only take a few more moves to identify the boundary to within a few metres. Then just repeat the process going north-south until you have another point on the boundary. The cache will then be at a place that's 161 metres from each of those boundary points in their respective NO directions.

The operators of puzzle solution websites would think all their Christmases had come at once.

Edited by barefootjeff
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8 minutes ago, MNTA said:

Yes my current area is very much saturated with caches, not just traditional but all types. So some peoples argument is well then my area does not need any more.

Absolutely. If an area is saturated, then it has enough caches by definition.

The point of the saturation guideline is to encourage caches in new places, and to limit the number of caches in any given area. Mission accomplished.

8 minutes ago, MNTA said:

I do enjoy giving back

There are ways to give back to the community other than by hiding caches.

11 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

The problem with a YES/NO answer to a saturation check is that, in an area where there's only one unknown mystery/multi final, you only need to identify two points on its 161 metre circle to then be able to pinpoint where the cache is.

At some saturated places in my local area, just one point may be enough.  Or none at all if there's a void surrounded by caches, in which case, it's right in the center of that.  Then there's a large area of a circle that is the lawn, or at least where the cache likely isn't.  Yeah, a couple of tries might just do it.  So the site "improves" the ability to battleship a cache that otherwise would remain a challenging puzzle, AND folks get to absolutely pack any place with caches (now presenting that void for an easy find).  To some, that's a win-win.

Edited by kunarion

10 hours ago, Cali9-1-1 said:

I'm not saying get rid of the Mystery or Multi caches at all. Just make it easier to avoid them than an endless guessing game.

One easy way is to ask at an Event.  I've been given hints when I mention my intention to place a cache into a spot that I thought would was empty (veteran cachers knowing where the icon and the Final are).  And I've found some by riding along with a group, where they stop at a Final or two, when I had fully intended to keep puzzling over that one.  Guess I don't have to work that puzzle anymore...

But if an amazing cache spot is suspiciously available in an otherwise saturated place, there are more important considerations than just saturation.  You need more than new script features.

I just point out to those that frequently suggest GSAK as the solution for anything geocaching related, that it's not an easy solution for those that don't use a windows PC.

The effect of these frequent posts is (1) to take threads off-topic, as is happening here, and (2) to make people feel reluctant to post about GSAK as a possible answer to a user question.  In the case of this thread, I posted a conditional suggestion ("if you are a GSAK user...").  Once the OP said she didn't use GSAK, the conversation is over.

Let's try this:  don't point this out anymore in future threads where people ask for a solution that GSAK can provide.

I now return the discussion to the original topic.  EDIT: To be super clear, further discussion of GSAK in this thread is off topic, unless the OP asks for advice about how it can help with her issue.

Edited by Keystone

3 hours ago, P4nD0r4 said:

So now I gotta go retrieve the container and I'm gonna try to find the mystery cache without solving it since now I have an idea of where it is.

This is why the system isn't going to make it easier to battleship final locations.

6 hours ago, Cali9-1-1 said:

So basically everyone is saying "Cheaters" is why we can't have nice things? I still don't see the value in cheating.

The distinguishing factor is that you are asking for an automated solution provided by the website, which would be exploited by cheaters.  That is different than other forms of cheating, including "phone a friend," puzzle spoiler sites, and exploitation of unintended site security gaps.  Geocaching HQ has made a decision not to share information about the location of hidden waypoints in an automated way.  It is not because it isn't possible.  The Reviewer toolset used for this purpose is pretty cool.

26 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

The problem with a YES/NO answer to a saturation check is that, in an area where there's only one unknown mystery/multi final, you only need to identify two points on its 161 metre circle to then be able to pinpoint where the cache is. Finding those two points on the boundary also wouldn't require many attempts if you're methodical and halve the distance you move on each attempt depending on the response to the previous attempt. For example, if you get a NO response:

• Move 80 metres west. If the answer's still no, move 40 metres further west, otherwise move 40 metres east. Try again.
• If the answer's still no, move 20 metres further west, otherwise move 20 metres east.
• If the answer's still no, move 10 metres further west, otherwise move 10 metres east.

It would only take a few more moves to identify the boundary to within a few metres. Then just repeat the process going north-south until you have another point on the boundary. The cache will then be at a place that's 161 metres from each of those boundary points in their respective NO directions.

The operators of puzzle solution websites would think all their Christmases had come at once.

Your argument against improving the system of hiding a cache to preventing people from possibly cheating.

Absolutely. If an area is saturated, then it has enough caches by definition.

The point of the saturation guideline is to encourage caches in new places, and to limit the number of caches in any given area. Mission accomplished.

There are ways to give back to the community other than by hiding caches.

So because a lot of prolific hiders in my area have saturated the place are you saying I should not be able to participate in this activity? Just because they were there first.

So then maybe we need a rule of number of hides a CO can have in a saturated area so that saturation does not become an issue?

30 minutes ago, MNTA said:

Your argument against improving the system of hiding a cache to preventing people from possibly cheating.

The trouble is, it makes obtaining the coordinates that way a lot easier than solving most puzzles, and there are likely a lot of people who wouldn't consider it cheating but just using a facility provided by the system. I've figured out the final of a few multis without visiting all the waypoints where there were other factors I was able to exploit, such as park boundaries or fomulas that only allowed a limited number of solutions, but I don't consider that cheating. There's no requirement in the rules of the game that you have to solve a puzzle or visit all the waypoints, as long as you sign the logbook your find is legit.

Here's my log on a recent puzzle I solved in a way that was different to what the CO intended. Was this cheating?

Quote

I'm about as musical as a lump of wood. As a small child I endured a couple of years of forced piano lessons until all parties agreed I was about as musical as a lump of wood, leaving me free to pursue my chosen career as an electronics engineer. So it's little wonder that I didn't solve the puzzle in the way the checker informed me that the CO would have liked me to have done, instead I noticed certain patterns and repetitions and was able to assign likely digits to all but one of the symbols. The final one was pure guesswork, with the checker giving me the thumbs up after a handful of attempts. Of course in hindsight I can now see how it all fits together, but isn't that always the way?

Edited by barefootjeff

Here's an idea, that's all this is, from someone who has spent a great deal of time designing applications and systems that need to satisfy seemingly conflicting use cases.

For Mystery caches or multi's, you can store 2 coordinates in the database.  1 is the actual location.  The other is called the Display Offset, or "O" in the diagram.  This offset is a random distance and bearing away from the actual cache location.

This offset perimeter can be used to display a circle that is twice the size (or even larger) of the normal circle for traditional caches.  This creates a nice big area where a mystery or multi could be, so it would limit someone's ability to "battleship" the final coordinates to a puzzle.

These larger circles would appear on the map for hiders, and when they choose to place a cache within one of these purple circles, they are given a "warning" not a yes/no.

Something to the affect of... "This final location may not be available for your cache, but you can attempt to submit it anyway."

So somebody like Cali can choose to take the chance, or decide... no it's not worth it, i think i'll just place it outside that giant purple circle to be on the safe side.

There are engineering solutions that can be brainstormed here that would be beneficial to everyone.

A diagram is attached.  Just food for thought.

Edited by HoochDog
Typo
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5 minutes ago, HoochDog said:

Here's an idea, that's all this is, from someone who has spent a great deal of time designing applications and systems that need to satisfy seemingly conflicting use cases.

For Mystery caches or multi's, you can store 2 coordinates in the database.  1 is the actual location.  The other is called the Display Offset, or "O" in the diagram.  This offset is a random position in the 0.1 mile perimeter of the circle.

This offset perimeter can be used to display a circle that is twice the size (or even larger) of the normal circle for traditional caches.  This creates a nice big area where a mystery or multi could be, so it would limit someone's ability to "battleship" the final coordinates to a puzzle.

These larger circles would appear on the map for hiders, and when they choose to place a cache within one of these purple circles, they are given a "warning" not a yes/no.

Something to the affect of... "This final location may not be available for your cache, but you can attempt to submit it anyway."

So somebody like Cali can choose to take the chance, or decide... no it's not worth it, i think i'll just place it outside that giant purple circle to be on the safe side.

There are engineering solutions that can be brainstormed here that would be beneficial to everyone.

A diagram is attached.  Just food for thought.

Nice suggestion. `

1 hour ago, MNTA said:

So because a lot of prolific hiders in my area have saturated the place are you saying I should not be able to participate in this activity? Just because they were there first.

Exactly.

The distinction between traditional caches and other types of cache is a red herring. Cache placements are first come, first served. If others have saturated an area with caches, then no one else can hide more caches. The goal is to limit the number of caches in an area, and to encourage the placement of caches in new areas that don't already have caches.

7 hours ago, MNTA said:

... the service I choose to pay for could be enhanced to provide a better overall solution for everyone not just GSAK users.

That's one of the explanations that I covered earlier.

I sit here thinking what kind of fun (not) it would be to create an all singing all dancing online SQL front end friendly enough to serve all of these needs of non-computing types against the gc.com database,  not to mention the speedier nature of a local database copy and local computing power to execute it.  gc.com has enough trouble just producing tiles and pocket queries some days.  And here I would sit with n GHz computing power acting as a dumb terminal?  Not a fan of less efficient cloud computing models.

15 hours ago, MNTA said:

So because a lot of prolific hiders in my area have saturated the place are you saying I should not be able to participate in this activity? Just because they were there first.

It's not actually preventing you from participating in the activity of hiding a cache.  It's just preventing you from hiding in an area that's already saturated.  Your only recourse is to wait/hope for the archival of a cache and then make sure to pounce on the spot in order to "hold" that location for your new cache.  I have a friend who has notifications set for any cache within a 25 mile radius of his home coordinates so that he can be aware of any new/old spots as they open up.  I have previously kept watch on a couple caches that occupied spots I thought would be good locations for a potential cache.

16 hours ago, MNTA said:

So then maybe we need a rule of number of hides a CO can have in a saturated area so that saturation does not become an issue?

So that other hiders can then saturate that area, which in turn causes other cachers wishing to hide a cache in that area to have the same issues?

15 hours ago, HoochDog said:

Here's an idea, that's all this is, from someone who has spent a great deal of time designing applications and systems that need to satisfy seemingly conflicting use cases.

For Mystery caches or multi's, you can store 2 coordinates in the database.  1 is the actual location.  The other is called the Display Offset, or "O" in the diagram.  This offset is a random distance and bearing away from the actual cache location.

This offset perimeter can be used to display a circle that is twice the size (or even larger) of the normal circle for traditional caches.  This creates a nice big area where a mystery or multi could be, so it would limit someone's ability to "battleship" the final coordinates to a puzzle.

These larger circles would appear on the map for hiders, and when they choose to place a cache within one of these purple circles, they are given a "warning" not a yes/no.

Something to the affect of... "This final location may not be available for your cache, but you can attempt to submit it anyway."

So somebody like Cali can choose to take the chance, or decide... no it's not worth it, i think i'll just place it outside that giant purple circle to be on the safe side.

There are engineering solutions that can be brainstormed here that would be beneficial to everyone.

A diagram is attached.  Just food for thought.

Puzzles can be within 2 miles of the posted coordinates, not .4 miles, which would render this suggestion as somewhat pointless unless you expanded the circle to the full 2 mile diameter, which would render things pretty much useless.  What about multis that have 3 or more stages outside of the two initial circles?   A random bearing and distance would only be viable if the distance and bearing were both within the confines of what was chosen.  In your second image, what if the actual hidden/final location was on a bearing of 315 and .25 from point C?  It would be outside the purple circle but you still couldn't hide a cache there because of the location of the hidden/final coordinates.

The bolded sentence is what we already have in place, just on a smaller measurement scale than you outline.  It's not going to provide them anything different than what is already in place and will still have the same main complaint that currently exists - you aren't told you're within the limit of an existing hidden stage/final until you hit submit (or ask and wait for a reviewer to get back to you) and the reviewer tells you you can't place it there.

What it appears they're asking for is some kind of automated coordinate check against hidden stages either in the field, when creating a cache page, or once they submit a cache for publication that immediately lets them know they can't place a cache there because of saturation issues.

31 minutes ago, coachstahly said:

It's not actually preventing you from participating in the activity of hiding a cache.  It's just preventing you from hiding in an area that's already saturated.  Your only recourse is to wait/hope for the archival of a cache and then make sure to pounce on the spot in order to "hold" that location for your new cache.

It may not be even that difficult.  None of my caches were placed to ensure that someone is blocked from placing one.  Several were placed because nobody could keep a cache there... it's a muggly spot where everyone got fed up and left the map empty.  I challenged myself to create something that works fine in that place, planned for months, built it and placed it.  I even used the despised "PMO" setting on one (if it was NOT a "PMO" cache, there wouldn't be a cache at all).  Caches that indeed lasted, at least until Geocachers made a special point to ruin the plan .  One of mine was in the middle of a popular picnic spot, and as far as I can tell, it was never discovered by muggles.

Because none of my caches are intended to block placement of other caches, if you have a terrific idea at an amazing spot and my cache is in the way, run it by me!  Just remember that my cache is where nobody could keep one, and also I probably go check on it a LOT.  It's a cool cache and it endures only because I put work a lot of work into it.  Someone who cannot even be bothered to take the effort to find an available spot as the rest of us do, is that person diligent enough to keep a cache viable?  Just askin .  I might love an amazing place that you discover, not necessarily right next to another cache.

I also happen to know where all the multi and puzzle finals are (I think ) in any park where I place caches.  But one or two are best kept secret.  That is, I wouldn't want to spoil the mystery for the CO (by giving away the CO's secret to everybody) or for other cachers who are working on it, by telling everyone not to put a cache there.  I'd also ask that you don't pack the whole area with caches so the void for that Final is evident, but that's probably for another thread.

Edited by kunarion

1 minute ago, kunarion said:

None of my caches were placed to ensure that someone is blocked from placing one.

By default, once you hide a cache that gets published, you've blocked that particular area from anyone else placing a cache nearby.  You've just chosen a particular location that tends to be more difficult for caches to have an extended listing life.

While that certainly works, it's also certainly not something that many potential COs understand or want to attempt to deal with, as it pertains to the amount of maintenance it probably requires as well as finding out the potential type of container that would allow it to survive for a longer period of time.  The OP has stated that they like to hide caches that provide a 15-30 minute stress free caching experience for finders.  At least to me, I don't know if the hide you describe would be a "stress free" experience.  I hear "stress free" and I think of a quick-ish, easier D/T combination with a more "traditional" style hide and container, which certainly doesn't mesh with what you've described.

38 minutes ago, coachstahly said:

While that certainly works, it's also certainly not something that many potential COs understand or want to attempt to deal with, as it pertains to the amount of maintenance it probably requires as well as finding out the potential type of container that would allow it to survive for a longer period of time.

One pattern I've seen repeatedly in urban/suburban areas is that a small park or other open space will host a series of short-lived caches. Each cache is muggled quickly and then archived, freeing up the spot for another novice CO to place another cache. That cache is quickly muggled and archived, and the cycle repeats. Eventually, someone places a micro/nano size container, perhaps as a puzzle cache. That's what survives.

Lather, rinse, repeat, and eventually the whole area is filled with micro/nano size caches, many of which are puzzle caches. People complain that no one hides larger caches and/or traditional caches in the area, but there is no malicious effort to deprive anyone of traditional caches or swag-size containers. COs are just hiding the kinds of caches that survive.

15 minutes ago, HoochDog said:

So many times I see new users coming on these forums with legitimate gripes and instead of thinking about ways things could be improved the stock mindset is “well that’s just the way it is because yada yada” rather than trying to come up with helpful ideas.

If we're brainstorming, how about a system allows the reviewer to tell a hopeful CO that the area within a 1- or 2-mile radius of their location is n% saturated, which will give the hopeful CO a better idea of the likelihood of finding an available spot.

Maybe the hopeful CO just got unlucky and placed a cache next to one of the 5 caches within a 1-mile radius; a saturation of 5% might encourage them to find another spot in the same general area.

Maybe the hopeful CO placed a cache in an area with only 2 possible locations left; a saturation of 98% might encourage the them to find another area that is less saturated.

My suggestion to this problem: The system should allow placing a cache if at most one cache is closer than 161 m. There could still be say 30 m limit so caches would not be hidden in the same hole. I'm sure this would be easy to implement.

• This would make placing new caches significantly easier.
• This should seriously complicate battleshipping
• This would still set upper limit for cache density in an area.

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When I open the geocaching map (default to level 14), cache icons are adjacent to each other if the caches are placed at the minimum separation distance. If the proximity were any closer, the map would be a sea of overlapping icons. UGH!

3 hours ago, papu66 said:
• This would make placing new caches significantly easier.

Until owners takes advantage of the new saturation guideline, and then the area is saturated again.

Until owners takes advantage of the new saturation guideline, and then the area is saturated again.

That's a negative view, not of my suggestion but of  the COs.

Sure, if their objective is to pack as many caches as they can to a given space, this scheme will work only for a while.

Since it still limits the cache density, it will eventually saturate if the number of caches keeps increasing.

My experience is that there is typically just one cache preventing me from placing mine and its always a question of a few meters. Then what you do, you find a worse hiding place nearby or place cache somewhere else. Good hiding places are not organized in a perfect grid. I would have to run simulations, but I would expect it would allow about twice as mane caches and saturation conflicts would be rare assuming that owners motivation would still be placing quality caches in good locations.

Forgot to mention the bonus advantage: It would allow much finer detailed geo art.

57 minutes ago, papu66 said:

Forgot to mention the bonus advantage: It would allow much finer detailed geo art.

And Power Trails even more densely packed ... oh, wait ... is that a bonus or not???

9 hours ago, papu66 said:

That's a negative view, not of my suggestion but of  the COs.

Sure, if their objective is to pack as many caches as they can to a given space, this scheme will work only for a while.

Since it still limits the cache density, it will eventually saturate if the number of caches keeps increasing.

You seem to think saturation happens because nefarious types are trying to saturate an area so no one else can hide caches there.

That isn't what happens. One person hides a cache, then another, then another. Then the first CO hides another, and so on. Eventually, the place is saturated and no one (including people like you who came later) can hide caches there.

Relaxing the saturation guideline from 1 cache per 528ft/161m to 2 caches per 528ft/161m doesn't change that dynamic. All it does is move the goalpost. The same process will continue, and eventually the area will be saturated again according to the new guideline.

And someone will come to the forums suggesting that we allow 3 caches per 528ft/161m. Lather, rinse, repeat.

10 hours ago, papu66 said:

My experience is that there is typically just one cache preventing me from placing mine and its always a question of a few meters.

Once upon a time, the saturation guidelines were more flexible. Sometimes the volunteer reviewers would allow a cache that was a few meters too close to an existing cache. Perhaps the other cache was a puzzle final that the CO wouldn't have known about. Perhaps there was a physical barrier like a cliff or an impassable river between the two. Perhaps they were working with a new CO and didn't want to discourage the newbie. Perhaps something else.

And the guidelines included the sentence, "Please don't hide a cache every 600 feet just because you can."

But some people wanted numbers, and they wanted to hide caches every 600ft (or less) just because they could. The volunteer reviewers tried various approaches to distinguish between regular caches and numbers-oriented caches placed every 600ft just. because they could, with limited success.

Eventually, Groundspeak gave up and allowed owners to hide as many caches as they wanted, as closely as they wanted, as long as they were at least 528ft/161m apart. But at the same time, the volunteer reviewers eliminated any flexibility in the saturation guideline.

"We have met the enemy and he is us."

15 hours ago, K13 said:

When I open the geocaching map (default to level 14), cache icons are adjacent to each other if the caches are placed at the minimum separation distance. If the proximity were any closer, the map would be a sea of overlapping icons. UGH!

multiple puzzles (bogus coordinates), events, earthcaches, and even a regular can all have the same posted coordinates.  I have often found multiple caches at the same location on the map, or very similar locations.  The icons do not have to follow the spacing guidelines, only physical stages of physical caches.

1 minute ago, fuzziebear3 said:

multiple puzzles (bogus coordinates), events, earthcaches, and even a regular can all have the same posted coordinates.  I have often found multiple caches at the same location on the map, or very similar locations.  The icons do not have to follow the spacing guidelines, only physical stages of physical caches.

In my area a previous reviewer has asked us to not stack icons/posted coordinates. So puzzle cache icons cannot be on top of each other. I'm sure if the coordinates absolutely had to be there because of the nature of the geocache an exception would be made.

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