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Ad Lab timings


Mickymoose
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The recent format changes to the Ad-Labs generally seem to be quite acceptable with the exception to those 'suggested timings' which have been published but which can prove quite misleading, though sometimes we seem to get changes just for the sake of change!

Looking at my own Ad-Labs the suggested times are certainly some 30 minutes less than those experienced by the 30 or so cachers who have attempted them thus far! As far as I'm aware I've never been canvassed in my role as CO with regard to my take on how long a series may take. Further to that we can only really get a good impression by taking a sample of say the first 10/12 to attempt a series and ask them how long they took.

There are so many factors which influence the time taken:- terrain, condition of footpaths, weather conditions, mode of transport, facilities en-route etc. Again to take examples:- one of my series can be undertaken by walking or by bicycle over a distance of around 5 miles. Very few have completed in less than 2 hours and yet 61 to 90 minutes has been suggested on the app. Also additional physical caches on the same journey can influence timings.

My other series is linear and is around 2.5 miles in length but then the question is how do you get back to the start and how long will that take. Again many walk it as a round trip so 2 hours but others cycle and there again parts of it can be staged using a cache-mobile. If families are unfamiliar with an area they really need to know reasonably accurately how long the COMPLETED ROUND TRIP is likely to involve.

In looking at other series which I've completed within a 50 mile radius of home I would say that a significant number paint an inaccurate picture of the length of undertaking and bear little resemblance to the time it took me.

 I'd suggest asking CO or simply leaving it to the judgement of any likely participants by not suggesting times at all.

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I agree that some of them are questionable and perhaps best left to the AL Owner to determine the elapsed time. I'm sure they created some sort of algorithm to calculate those suggested times, but I don't think the times are something you can really count on. I've placed three ALs so far, two under my account and one for a statewide organization.

 

Both of mine are rated at 120+ min. One is spread out over 6 miles from one side of town to the other. All stages offer easy parking and fairly easy questions. A few seekers have reported struggling with one stage and have returned to it the following day after getting a hint; I wonder if that has skewed the timing? The other one is set up all in downtown and shouldn't take more than 60 minutes. It too has a 120+ minute rating. It highlights some of the top sweet treat businesses here, perhaps people are stopping to enjoy the offerings along the way and that's adding to the elapsed times?

 

But the really crazy time is the one on the one I helped set up for the state organization. There are two five stop sets in towns that are over 100 miles apart, yet it has a rating of 0-30 minutes. That is simply impossible.

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3 hours ago, wimseyguy said:

I agree that some of them are questionable and perhaps best left to the AL Owner to determine the elapsed time. I'm sure they created some sort of algorithm to calculate those suggested times, but I don't think the times are something you can really count on. I've placed three ALs so far, two under my account and one for a statewide organization.

 

It's not an algorithm, per se; it is simply looking at the median completion time among all accounts that have successfully completed the Adventure. In other words, half of the users have completed the Adventure in less than the time indicated and half in more than the time indicated. The completion time is measured by the difference in time between the successful logging of the first location in the Adventure and the last one. (Granted, this ignores the time taken to travel to the first location and back from the last one, but as you might imagine that is nearly impossible to accurately gauge.)

 

3 hours ago, wimseyguy said:

But the really crazy time is the one on the one I helped set up for the state organization. There are two five stop sets in towns that are over 100 miles apart, yet it has a rating of 0-30 minutes. That is simply impossible.

 

There are currently some errors in displaying the time when there are less than 5 completions of the Adventure or when the median time is especially long.

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14 hours ago, Mickymoose said:

Very few have completed in less than 2 hours and yet 61 to 90 minutes has been suggested on the app.

 

Looking at this Adventure, I actually see a median of 1 hour and 8 minutes. Here are the completion times that have been reported:

 

2021-11-27_16-59-51.jpg

 

As you can see, only 9 of the 40 participants have taken more than 2 hours to complete it.

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51 minutes ago, Max and 99 said:

Just curious how you know this? Are all the times available on the leaderboard? Statistics?

 

The times shown on the leaderboard are the elapsed times since the first finder went through, both at each location and for the complete adventure. The owners don't get to see anything more detailed.

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16 hours ago, Mickymoose said:

Again to take examples:- one of my series can be undertaken by walking or by bicycle over a distance of around 5 miles. Very few have completed in less than 2 hours

 

3 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

 

The times shown on the leaderboard are the elapsed times since the first finder went through, both at each location and for the complete adventure. The owners don't get to see anything more detailed.

So how does the OP know this?

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It was interesting to read those median completion times but a significant number are absolute implausible nonsense. If a series can ONLY be either walked or cycled then a distance of 5 miles cannot be covered in less than 10 minutes as indicated in quite a number of cases. I would suggest that given the (off-road) state of the paths and time taken to answer the Ad-Lab questions even 30 minutes would take some doing! Clearly there is some problem regarding the validity of these numbers given the % which are less than 30 minutes.

Further to the debate, a completion time on a LINEAR route probably only tells just over half of the story since many cachers then have to get back to a car which is parked at the start of the adventure!

It is also clear from some of these responses that a) there are a number of participants who don't log their adventures and presumably may not be geocachers and b) we appear to be starved of much of this type of data as CO's

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1 minute ago, Mickymoose said:

Clearly there is some problem regarding the validity of these numbers given the % which are less than 30 minutes.

 

This is the reason why median is used instead of average. Median effectively filters out extreme results. The problem you noticed has already been addressed.

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My quotes regarding a time of 2 hours comes from knowing and speaking to a number of local cachers who have spoken to me personally about their adventures when meeting them at events or via the messaging service. Completing the 5 stages of an adventure doesn't mean that the overall journey is complete! Again shouldn't we be trying to convey just what total level of time commitment is presented by an Ad-Lab series? If anyone asked me about my series, as indeed they do, I would tell them that it would take 'about' 2 hours to finish by foot though there are other caches available en-route and clearly it would be quicker by bike.

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5 hours ago, Mickymoose said:

It is also clear from some of these responses that a) there are a number of participants who don't log their adventures and presumably may not be geocachers

Can you explain?

5 hours ago, Mickymoose said:

Where do those 8 times of around 10  minutes or less come from? Impossible!

I've done an adventure lab with someone where my phone was with me and them the entire time, but I was in charge of taking pictures and writing down information. When we got back to the car I entered all the answers into the AL app which took just a few minutes. 

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7 hours ago, HHL said:

Personally, I'd prefer a number showing the track length from S1 to S5. Advantage: Everyone knows how much time it personally took to go a mile.

 

Superficially that sounds okay, but it gets complicated when the path between locations isn't a straight line or along well-defined roads. Take my latest one 5 Lands Walk for example:

 

5LandsWalkALMap.jpg.149c24804ed7caccc5863607f56899ec.jpg

 

There's no direct road access between some of the locations so doing it by car involves a lot of back-tracking to the road junctions near Kincumber. On foot, the signposted route is shown on this map I included on the bonus cache page:

 

630d01e6-5396-4251-965c-d7d0d78c2f87.jpg

 

Some of it is along beachfronts, some along roads and some along twisting trails, with a total walking distance of about 10km compared to the straight line distance of a bit over 6km. I've included the 10km distance in the description but to date everyone who's completed it has done it by car. The app currently shows the time range as 61-90 minutes, which is probably an over-estimate of the driving time (some who have done it have split it over a couple of days or done other things along the way) but is a gross under-estimate of how long it would take to do it as recommended on foot.

 

For me, the better solution would be to just put a scale on the AL app's map so as to get a rough feel of how far it might be and decide whether to walk or drive and whether to take a packed lunch. Better still would be to use a map in the AL that shows walking tracks as well as roads, such as the one used in the geocaching app, as the AL's map is pretty useless for any off-road Adventures.

 

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1 hour ago, HHL said:

It's not rocket science to automatically create a reliable track with OSMRoute service.

Here is an example on an AdventureLab near me:

 

add538aa280dfb873029a6694c0a67e2.png

 

I let a GSAK macro do that heavy lifting for me. Groundspeak may use the OSMR API to update their AdLab database with track length data. Simple as that.

 

Hans

 

That's fine when the route is along well-defined roads or paths, but I still think it would struggle with the 5 Lands Walk example I showed where some of the route is along beaches.

 

Here are the coordinates of the five locations if you want to have a play with it and see if any of the tools come up with the signposted route shown on the bonus cache page (GC9J0HX):

  • S 33° 30.036 E 151° 25.488
  • S 33° 29.424 E 151° 25.950
  • S 33° 28.235 E 151° 26.197
  • S 33° 27.465 E 151° 26.373
  • S 33° 26.823 E 151° 26.704
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My experience is that cachers GENERALLY have enough common sense to be able to determine for themselves the likely time input for a series, much as they would do when traditional cache placements are made, We tend to wet-nurse too much and surely folk must take responsibility for their own actions based upon all of the factors previously mentioned i.e. mode of transport, accessibility, distance, terrain, weather, extra caches en-route, picnic stops etc., etc

This takes me back to my earlier point :- why bother publishing times at all, it's a move too far and only serves to add to the confusion? 

If folk are unsure then they should take the trouble to seek advice from CO/AO/other cachers in advance or simply not take the risk!

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40 minutes ago, HHL said:

Yes. The automatically built track was the one on roads (25 km). I've tested it with LabCache data beforehand. That's why I used a more common Adventure in my post.

But: The automatically built route can be simply edited with two clicks on the <...> symbol.

25620b63bf60019dd77d533d1e5d35d4.png

 

Interesting. I see it was happy to route along the beaches between locations 1-2 and 3-4, but I'm not sure I'd like to be walking the route it chose between 2 and 3 as that's a fairly busy road with no footpaths and a lot of elevation change. Its route from 4 to 5 also departs from the recommended route and bypasses where I put the bonus - oops! Those changes have shaved 2.7km off the total distance but I think it might be a tougher walk.

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1 hour ago, Mickymoose said:

We tend to wet-nurse too much and surely folk must take responsibility for their own actions based upon all of the factors previously mentioned i.e. mode of transport, accessibility, distance, terrain, weather, extra caches en-route, picnic stops etc., etc

 

Regular caches have terrain ratings and attributes, which help give a sense of what's likely to be encountered in doing them. The maps on the website also have scales, including the small map on each cache page which shows the waypoints for multi-stage caches, giving a sense of the distances involved. We get none of that with ALs.

 

A few times I've been caught out by the scaleless map, either underestimating by a large margin the amount of driving needed or setting off on foot on what looked to be an easy walk only to realise halfway through that I really should have driven it. Then the question is whether to keep walking or turn around and go back the several kilometres to where I parked.

 

Compare these two screenshots from ALs:

 

1532647621_TerrigalvsMaitland.jpg.20dc965cdb7b2a0037ebaf84061cbcf6.jpg

 

Which do you think is the shortest walk? The one on the right? No, that one is five kilometres from start to finish, whereas the one on the left is about a kilometre. I just don't understand why it's now considered best practice to not put scales on maps. It's got to be right up there with those super-helpful error messages that say "something went wrong".

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On 11/27/2021 at 8:10 PM, Moun10Bike said:
On 11/27/2021 at 4:38 PM, wimseyguy said:

But the really crazy time is the one on the one I helped set up for the state organization. There are two five stop sets in towns that are over 100 miles apart, yet it has a rating of 0-30 minutes. That is simply impossible.

 

There are currently some errors in displaying the time when there are less than 5 completions of the Adventure or when the median time is especially long.

 

 

Thanks for the answers. It has to be the latter as there are 18 reviews and 23 ratings of the AL with 30 finds on the bonus cache. Is there anyway to correct this misinformation? We already receive the occasional nastygram due to the distance between the sets. Providing a false completion time is just setting us up for more complaints from dissatisfied customers.

 

 

Edited by wimseyguy
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3 minutes ago, wimseyguy said:

Thanks for the answers. It has to be the latter as there are 18 reviews and 23 ratings of the AL with 30 finds on the bonus cache. Is there anyway to correct this misinformation? We already receive the occasional nastygram due to the distance between the sets. Providing a false completion time is just setting us up for more complaints from dissatisfied customers.

 

The estimate is calculated programmatically. The way to "correct the misinformation" is for HQ to fix the bug in this new feature. I recommend monitoring the release notes thread to see when it is addressed.

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On 11/28/2021 at 6:56 AM, Max and 99 said:

I've done an adventure lab with someone where my phone was with me and them the entire time, but I was in charge of taking pictures and writing down information. When we got back to the car I entered all the answers into the AL app which took just a few minutes.

And sometimes it's not a choice: I've done ALs where there was no signal, so I load the AL before leaving town, get all the answers without being able to send them to the mother ship, then file them all when I'm back in civilization.

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