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JL_HSTRE

Question For Groundspeak About Number Of Caches Found In 2020

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The recent Groundspeak blog post says that 2.1 million geocaching accounts logged at least 1 Find in 2020, but the average number of Finds per account was only 38.

 

I think it would be informative, and perhaps quite sobering, if Groundspeak would care to share answers to the following:

 

1. How many accounts logged 100 or more Finds in 2020?

2. How many accounts logged 1,000 or more Finds in 2020?

 

My guess is less than 100,000 accounts for the former and less than a 1,000 accounts for the latter.

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Thank you to Moun10Bike for the prompt and detailed response!

 

I am glad that we don't need to be sober, as JL HSTRE had suggested.  :omnomnom:

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12 hours ago, Moun10Bike said:

Looking only at finds in 2020:

  • The average find count was 38
  • The median find count was 4
  • The max find count was 15,297
  • 133k accounts logged 100 or more finds
  • 14k accounts logged 1000 or more finds

 

Thanks!

 

To put this in perspective: less than 7% of people who logged at least one find logged over 100 Finds. Less than 1% logged over 1000.

 

This certainly makes the recently discussed poll question options make a lot of sense.

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Is there anywhere that the numbers for

  • new caches placed, and 
  • old caches archived

can be found? One would assume that the number of new caches was greater than the number of retired old caches, but I ask because at Jabiru (S 12° 40.367 E 132° 50.426) a player recently had to move unexpectedly, archiving 26 caches and leaving the tourist town with just one local cache.

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3 hours ago, Unit473L said:

Is there anywhere that the numbers for

  • new caches placed, and 
  • old caches archived

can be found?

 

The same blog post said 434K new caches published worldwide in 2020.

 

Archival stats were not given.

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21 hours ago, Moun10Bike said:

Looking only at finds in 2020:

  • The median find count was 4

HALF of all accounts found only between 1 and 4 caches during the course of the year?

That's pretty sad, and requires no imagination at all to explain. 

Would be interesting to have that same statistic for the year prior to the 'invention' of the first geocaching phone app.

 

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2 hours ago, ecanderson said:

HALF of all accounts found only between 1 and 4 caches during the course of the year?

That's pretty sad, and requires no imagination at all to explain. 

Why is it sad? If someone finds a couple geocaches a year (e.g., on a summer camping trip, or when visiting friends who geocache), then geocaching is still bringing some enjoyment.

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So far I have 87 finds, since my first find on 6 July last year. That equates to about 3.5 finds per week, but I've had a few surges of finds when on holidays. In late December I had my best single day of 14 finds (plus one DNF).

 

There would also be lots of zero find accounts bringing the average down. As far as I know, most reviewers have a second account for reviewing with no finds or hides on that account. There are a bunch of people with a second account, to see what a basic account sees or for testing purposes and I imagine there are lots of people who create an account because they were out with a friend or a work function, tried GeoCaching for an afternoon but didn't pursue it. There's also the accounts GeoParents have created for their GeoKids who aren't old enough yet, and who knows how many accounts that were made by someone who isn't too tech savvy and then they forgot their password. Plus the thousands of accounts that were created prior to last year and the owner no longer caches due to ill health, death or just disinterest.

 

A more accurate metric might be how many accounts logged in during 2020 and how many finds they logged, rather than just all accounts in the system.

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10 hours ago, Unit473L said:

A more accurate metric might be how many accounts logged in during 2020 and how many finds they logged, rather than just all accounts in the system.

 

I'm pretty sure the numbers Moun10bike gave are only for accounts with at least 1 Find.

 

On 1/6/2021 at 7:27 PM, ecanderson said:

HALF of all accounts found only between 1 and 4 caches during the course of the year?

That's pretty sad, and requires no imagination at all to explain. 

Would be interesting to have that same statistic for the year prior to the 'invention' of the first geocaching phone app.

 

The Groundspeak app came out in 2009 or maybe even 2008. That means geocaching with apps has now been around longer than geocaching without apps.

 

Back then there were no power trails and less than 1 million caches worldwide.

 

The median might have been higher but probably not the average. There were still people finding hundreds of caches in a year early on, at least in some areas, but finding thousands of caches in a year was much rarer than it is now.

 

When the first cacher hit 25,000 lifetime Finds in 2009 it was a big deal. A decade later, Alamogul got nearly that many in a single year.

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3 hours ago, JL_HSTRE said:

 

I'm pretty sure the numbers Moun10bike gave are only for accounts with at least 1 Find.

 

 

Correct. If I included accounts with no finds, even those only created in the past year, the average and median would plummet.

 

On 1/6/2021 at 4:27 PM, ecanderson said:

HALF of all accounts found only between 1 and 4 caches during the course of the year?

That's pretty sad, and requires no imagination at all to explain. 

Would be interesting to have that same statistic for the year prior to the 'invention' of the first geocaching phone app.

 

 

Perhaps apps are to blame, but I think low numbers are more indicative of a general tendency for people to try something and move on. Only a small percentage become the dedicated enthusiasts. The best year we had in terms of median finds (2011) came in at just 9:

 

 

Median Finds.png

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"The max find count was 15,297"

 

Yikes!  I enjoy caching but that sounds like pure torture to me.

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1 hour ago, icezebra11 said:

"The max find count was 15,297"

 

Yikes!  I enjoy caching but that sounds like pure torture to me.

 

Well, there have been many...reports...on that account. I suspect that many of those logs took place from the comfort of a couch.

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3 minutes ago, Moun10Bike said:

 

Well, there have been many...reports...on that account. I suspect that many of those logs took place from the comfort of a couch.

 

Not surprising.   But I would still feel the same if it was 1500 finds.  B)

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On 1/7/2021 at 12:27 AM, ecanderson said:

HALF of all accounts found only between 1 and 4 caches during the course of the year?

That's pretty sad, and requires no imagination at all to explain. 

Would be interesting to have that same statistic for the year prior to the 'invention' of the first geocaching phone app.

 

Surely the presence of a global pandemic would have been a bigger impact? I know for periods of time I haven't be able to travel further than 2km from my house, which would really limit caching opportunities. Granted, I did get more than four - but I'm sure this would have been a big factor in the amount of caches. I'd be more curious about the comparison between 2020 and 2019

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7 hours ago, Moun10Bike said:

Perhaps apps are to blame, but I think low numbers are more indicative of a general tendency for people to try something and move on.

 

 

Median Finds.png

 

Precisely.  When there's no economic entry barrier at all, the odds of the 'try something and move on' go up very rapidly.  The apps allow for this in a way that didn't used to be possible.

 

All of which would be completely irrelevant, apart from an interest in statistics, except for the CO whose cache is now also subject to that mentality.

 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Moun10Bike said:

Perhaps apps are to blame, but I think low numbers are more indicative of a general tendency for people to try something and move on. Only a small percentage become the dedicated enthusiasts. The best year we had in terms of median finds (2011) came in at just 9

 

I think your conclusion is  good one.  It will always be thus.  I can understand the effort to try to generate new players.  But I have some experience with these distributions that might be helpful.

 

The distribution is probably scale-free (a power-law or Pareto distribution), which is to be expected in any case of preferential attachment (which geocaching definitely is).  This distribution is the source for the famous 80/20 rule.  There are two ways to alter the distribution:  to change the overall scale (which doesn't change the shape and would have no impact on the median number of finds), or to change the exponent (which would change the slope of the curve).

 

IMO, people who think that the median is "sad" don't understand the mathematics here.  Word-of-mouth advertising, for example, will primarily affect the scale, and would be expected to have zero impact on the median or mean.   Souvenir events and the like are primarily intended to improve retention, and thus the exponent.  Those changes would affect the median and mean of the distribution.

 

One counter-intuitive result of the shape of the distribution is that it doesn't matter very much which part you change in trying to improve the exponent. Thus, a promotion aimed primarily at long-term customers can change the exponent of the distribution even though it does not directly affect new users.  An attempt to reach out to longer-term customers will, in fact, result in more new customers.  That's why it is my opinion that a sound business strategy would be to improve retention of premium members, rather than to focus on conversion of non-premium members to premium.

 

But I am hardly a business person, and my advice is likely not all that good.

Edited by fizzymagic
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2 hours ago, fizzymagic said:

 

I think your conclusion is  good one.  It will always be thus.  I can understand the effort to try to generate new players.  But I have some experience with these distributions that might be helpful.

 

The distribution is probably scale-free (a power-law or Pareto distribution), which is to be expected in any case of preferential attachment (which geocaching definitely is).  This distribution is the source for the famous 80/20 rule.  There are two ways to alter the distribution:  to change the overall scale (which doesn't change the shape and would have no impact on the median number of finds), or to change the exponent (which would change the slope of the curve).

 

IMO, people who think that the median is "sad" don't understand the mathematics here.  Word-of-mouth advertising, for example, will primarily affect the scale, and would be expected to have zero impact on the median or mean.   Souvenir events and the like are primarily intended to improve retention, and thus the exponent.  Those changes would affect the median and mean of the distribution.

 

One counter-intuitive result of the shape of the distribution is that it doesn't matter very much which part you change in trying to improve the exponent. Thus, a promotion aimed primarily at long-term customers can change the exponent of the distribution even though it does not directly affect new users.  An attempt to reach out to longer-term customers will, in fact, result in more new customers.  That's why it is my opinion that a sound business strategy would be to improve retention of premium members, rather than to focus on conversion of non-premium members to premium.

 

But I am hardly a business person, and my advice is likely not all that good.

 

Nice way of describing the mathematics in a way I could understand it.

 

This made me think about how I got started.

 

My parents had been caching for about 9 year off and on. They had just moved from the east coast to the west where I live and were visiting my family for a weekend and we went on a hike nearby and did a cache. Kids enjoyed the easy hunt and the walk was fun. About 7 months later we were visiting for Christmas and we went out after the new year and found 3 and I signed up for my account at that time. I did not cache again till the following year again with them but then I was hooked finding 152 for that year. So my first year I found 1, second year found 3, third year 152, ninth year for 1,021.

 

So my experience is start slow and then something clicked and I got hooked, I would not have done it without doing it with my parents over the coarse of a few years. I have a fiend of mine who enjoys going out with me for years but has never been interested in getting his own account despite caching in 12 states with me and maybe 50 finds together on some awesome road trips. 

 

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I'm one of those below-average folks.  My sister got us into geocaching, my brother really got into it. I've got other reasons to get outside, so I don't do a lot of caching myself. But when we get together as a family I'll log a cache or two. We live in 3 different states, and did not get together last year.

 

But in general I would have expected geocaching activity to go up last year, since it's something you can do by yourself and keep social distance. Maybe some publicity articles would help. I remember reading about in the papers in the 2008-2012 time frame, I haven't seen an article in a newspaper/magazine for some time.

Edited by BogWalker

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On 1/8/2021 at 10:06 PM, MNTA said:

 

" I have a fiend of mine who enjoys going out with me for years but has never been interested in getting his own account despite caching in 12 states with me and maybe 50 finds together on some awesome road trips. "

 

LOL.... Freudian slip?

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26 minutes ago, BogWalker said:

But in general I would have expected geocaching activity to go up last year, since it's something you can do by yourself and keep social distance. Maybe some publicity articles would help. I remember reading about in the papers in the 2008-2012 time frame, I haven't seen an article in a newspaper/magazine for some time.

 

I think it depended on location.  We had new caches come out just a couple weeks after "shutdown".  That "exercise n fresh air is good" thing...

Game lands, large parks mostly... no urban/suburban/industrial stuff where numbers of people could show up.

I was a happy camper, seeing even younger folks hitting woods trails again.  Probably the only good thing about this virus.

 - But states surrounding were going through some real hassles with local/state government maybe stepping on more than their authority.   :)

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As an entirely unscientific poll out of curiosity, I asked people in a huge Facebook group what their find count is, and so far the distribution there is favourite mid-high:

1-10 = 14
11-50 = 22
51-100 = 34
101-1000 = 180
1001-10000 = 206
10000+ = 44

Obviously context is a huge factor and these numbers don't reflect any place but this FB group :) But I thought it would be interesting to see the results there with a large input pool, and votes are still coming in.

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On 1/8/2021 at 6:45 PM, icezebra11 said:

But I would still feel the same if it was 1500 finds.  B)

 

1500 Finds is 125/month. If someone  can cache year-round, especially if retired and can afford to travel a lot, it's very feasible without streaking, power trails, shenanigans, or turning it into work.  (If you work full time then it becomes much more difficult or much less picky.)

 

Even under the best of circumstances, anything above about 3000-4000 per year becomes "about the numbers". 15,000 (or higher as has happened in recent years) isn't impossible but really turns it into work, particularly crunching PnG power trails.

 

On 1/8/2021 at 7:50 PM, ecanderson said:

 

Precisely.  When there's no economic entry barrier at all, the odds of the 'try something and move on' go up very rapidly.  The apps allow for this in a way that didn't used to be possible.

 

Let's imagine a world with no geocaching app. I, for one, would have never joined the hobby because, without knowing that I liked geocaching and would be doing it for years, I never would have bought a Garmin.

 

Even people introduced to geocaching "the right way" (via an existing geoacher rather than the app store) do not have a high retention rate.

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On 1/8/2021 at 1:09 PM, JL_HSTRE said:

The Groundspeak app came out in 2009 or maybe even 2008. That means geocaching with apps has now been around longer than geocaching without apps.

 

Wrong conclusion. Geocaching without apps is still longer around than with apps because geocaching without apps didn't stop when apps became available.

This way of thinking is why "you can prove everything with statistics"

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We  don't consider caching "work". Although we broke our numbers record in 2020 we cached an "average" amount of days (we have 6 years we had more caching days). One of the reasons we have a higher amount of finds is that because of Covid-19 we had a long period we couldn't drive anywhere to do long(er) multi's. We had to stay within biking distance from home and since we normally don't cache close to home (too many traditionals) we had lots of unfound caches nearby. We prefer to have a goal when going outside so we did many of the caches we wouldn't normally have gone for. Add a few geo-arts/mystery trails and our numbers went up quickly.

 

We averaged 4.04 caches/day in 2020 and with the year just starting we're already @ 3.36/day, however we hope that as the pandemic gets under control and more people get vaccinated we will get back to sorta normal. We hope to be able to go on long weekends away from home and find long multi's on our bicycles. That will get our find average down to normal levels. If we can travel (big doubts) we should have 3-4 weeks with only a few 10's of finds.

 

As for accounts with very little finds, I guess lots of coronacachers will disappear (some are already gone of to new toys).

 

 

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On 1/6/2021 at 7:27 PM, ecanderson said:

HALF of all accounts found only between 1 and 4 caches during the course of the year?

That's pretty sad, and requires no imagination at all to explain. 

Would be interesting to have that same statistic for the year prior to the 'invention' of the first geocaching phone app.

 

Noticed that another mentioned apps much later than many folks understand too. Some odd reason thinking it was Groundspeak's app.

The other 2/3rds used an app for geocaching in 2005 for her blackberry through Trimble Outdoors.    

She was the only one in our area, but we met a few others in another state at a Winter event.   :)

 

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3 hours ago, JL_HSTRE said:

Even people introduced to geocaching "the right way" (via an existing geoacher rather than the app store) do not have a high retention rate.

 

Curious where you came to this conclusion.  Thanks.  :)   Haven't seen a thread on it, and even local sites haven't discussed it.

Most of the people we took under wing are not only still playing, but have passed us in numbers.

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2 hours ago, on4bam said:
On 1/8/2021 at 8:09 AM, JL_HSTRE said:

The Groundspeak app came out in 2009 or maybe even 2008. That means geocaching with apps has now been around longer than geocaching without apps.

 

Wrong conclusion. Geocaching without apps is still longer around than with apps because geocaching without apps didn't stop when apps became available.

This way of thinking is why "you can prove everything with statistics"

 

Well, depends how you interpret "geocaching without apps". :P  Geocaching without apps [in the world] has now been overshadowed by geocaching with apps [in the world]. But the ability to geocache without apps has been around the since beginning.  So, methinks the point being made was the former. ;)

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58 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Well, depends how you interpret "geocaching without apps". :P

 

Exactly how it was written. ;)

Geocaching without apps 2000-2021 = 21 years

Geocaching with apps 2008/2009-2021 = 12/13 years

 

Which one is around longer?

 

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16 minutes ago, on4bam said:
1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

Well, depends how you interpret "geocaching without apps". :P

 

Exactly how it was written. ;)

Geocaching without apps 2000-2021 = 21 years

Geocaching with apps 2008/2009-2021 = 12/13 years

 

Which one is around longer?

 

Filtering out the pedantic response:

 

Geocaching had no apps until 2008.  So, May 2000 to around 2008 = about 8 years.

 

Geocaching had apps beginning in 2008 - so you can't say it was "without apps." Maybe one didn't have to use them, but they still existed. So, around 2008 - January 2021 = about 12-13 years.

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6 minutes ago, hzoi said:

Geocaching had no apps until 2008.  So, May 2000 to around 2008 = about 8 years.

 

Geocaching had apps beginning in 2008 - so you can't say it was "without apps." Maybe one didn't have to use them, but they still existed. So, around 2008 - January 2021 = about 12-13 years.

 

I'm caching without apps since 2006 = 15 years It's not because they are around I (and many others) use them.

 

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25 minutes ago, on4bam said:
33 minutes ago, hzoi said:

Geocaching had no apps until 2008.  So, May 2000 to around 2008 = about 8 years.

 

Geocaching had apps beginning in 2008 - so you can't say it was "without apps." Maybe one didn't have to use them, but they still existed. So, around 2008 - January 2021 = about 12-13 years.

 

I'm caching without apps since 2006 = 15 years It's not because they are around I (and many others) use them.

 

Yes - but the fact that you have decided not to use geocaching apps has no effect whatsoever on the overall existence of geocaching apps. I think you'll agree the apps still exist.

 

Similarly, I could decide not to pay taxes, but this would have no effect on the existence of income tax laws. (Unlike your decision not to use apps, my decision not to pay taxes would likely invite other collateral consequences as well, but now we're getting off topic.)

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5 hours ago, on4bam said:

This way of thinking is why "you can prove everything with statistics"

 

Statistics can be used prove that the average person has 1 testicle and 1 breast.

I only found 3 caches in 2020. Not because of the pandemic. I just had other things I preferred to do. (Including post here!) 

I'm staying out of the "what your definition of is is" discussion for once.

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6 hours ago, JL_HSTRE said:

Let's imagine a world with no geocaching app. I, for one, would have never joined the hobby because, without knowing that I liked geocaching and would be doing it for years, I never would have bought a Garmin.

 

Even people introduced to geocaching "the right way" (via an existing geoacher rather than the app store) do not have a high retention rate.

 

I discovered caching from an article in a hiking magazine that concluded with the website's URL. Having done a fair bit of orienteering and rogaining, it sounded interesting so I logged in and saw there was a cache a few hundred metres from home. Using just the satellite image and hint, I made the find. A local electronics store at the time was doing a clearance sale on the Garmin 62s so I bought one, thinking if I didn't stick with caching I'd have a good use for it in general hiking. I got off to a slow start, finding just another eight caches in my first month, and It was to be another six months before I met another cacher in the flesh at a newly published cache.

 

My phone at the time was a little Nokia provided by my employer that couldn't do much beyond make phone calls or send SMSs, so an app wasn't an option anyway. Even now I rarely use the app because I find the daylight-readable screen and more consistent behaviour of the Garmin (now an Oregon 700 after I wore out the 62s) suits me better.

 

So I don't know whether my path into caching was the right way, the wrong way or completely out of left field, but I seem to have been retained so it must have worked. What probably helped was that amongst those first dozen or so finds were some excellent bushland hides, most of which are still going strong eight years on and which set the tone for my own hides to come.

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10 hours ago, JL_HSTRE said:

 

1500 Finds is 125/month. If someone  can cache year-round, especially if retired and can afford to travel a lot, it's very feasible without streaking, power trails, shenanigans, or turning it into work.  (If you work full time then it becomes much more difficult or much less picky.)

 

Even under the best of circumstances, anything above about 3000-4000 per year becomes "about the numbers". 15,000 (or higher as has happened in recent years) isn't impossible but really turns it into work, particularly crunching PnG power trails.

 

My comment wasn't questioning whether someone can find 1500 caches in a year, that's most certainly not a rare occurrence.   I was only commenting that finding 1,500 caches in a year, for me and how I like to cache, would be "torture."

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9 hours ago, on4bam said:
10 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

Well, depends how you interpret "geocaching without apps". :P

 

Exactly how it was written. ;)

 

I suppose it also depends on how you selectively quote. :P

Edited by thebruce0

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On 1/10/2021 at 7:17 PM, thebruce0 said:

As an entirely unscientific poll out of curiosity, I asked people in a huge Facebook group what their find count is, and so far the distribution there is favourite mid-high:

1-10 = 14
11-50 = 22
51-100 = 34
101-1000 = 180
1001-10000 = 206
10000+ = 44

Obviously context is a huge factor and these numbers don't reflect any place but this FB group :) But I thought it would be interesting to see the results there with a large input pool, and votes are still coming in.

 

They also don't consider how long someone has been playing.   I'm in the (low end of) the 1001-10000 range but have been playing since 2007.  I recall that when I was at around 1100 finds, 6-7 years ago, I read the log of someone that had found more than that since they had joined a couple of days earlier while spending a weekend in Nevada.  

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