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Extraordinary Number of Bogus Finds?


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2 hours ago, Isonzo Karst said:

@ecanderson I see you have 7 caches that will show in the free app for basic members (ie, Trads at D/T 2 or less, Events, and GeoTours)  If it gets too bad, you can PMO them for a while. 

 

Definitely a thing this summer.

As I say, I don't really care so much if people are claiming bogus finds on caches that aren't issues ... there will always be armchair loggers out there ... it's the finds on problem caches that are the larger issue.  The bogus finds will also throw off the algorithm that flags the local admins that there may be a problem with a cache.

 

When you say "Definitely a thing this summer", I assume you're saying that you've been seeing this in your area as well?

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4 hours ago, Isonzo Karst said:

 

Read that thread and noted the "20" issue might be the root cause, but I'm seeing counts all over the map for these sorts of things.  One finder with 61, another stuck somewhere around 10.  So not sure if the "20" is playing into it here or not, but doesn't seem to be.  Those who do achieve 20 don't seem to be hiding anything.  More like kids playing with phone apps.  And as I say, they never have validated email accounts, which is something else that has been beaten to death, but that I find a big problem with the gc.com approach, especially with the advent of the app.

 

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51 minutes ago, ecanderson said:

I assume you're saying that you've been seeing this in your area as well?

 

Yep it's definitely a thing.  None on my owned  -  or at least no logs that seem real unlikely ;-) 

 

 I'm seeing 20 or more  finds all over the world, one day, logged as  tpff or equivalent.  A bunch south of me as, "test log". 

 

Take an exotic place, say Greenland, ask for trads at D/T 2 and lower.  Rank on recently found.  Eyeball those finds. Simply amazing.

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On 8/18/2022 at 5:54 AM, ecanderson said:

Hate to get into 'cache police' mode, but all of these finds on caches that aren't there to be found is getting pretty annoying.  I really don't care if they claim ones that ARE there to be found but that they never visited.  Time to start going back to the old practice of comparing online logs to those in the cache, I guess.  I'm going to start doing it, and it would be good if my fellow COs would consider doing this, too.

 

The process isn't very hard since once you see that the first half dozen you check have no signatures, or they've been logging caches that are disabled and truly MIA, you just delete all of the logs for your caches by those folks to clear things out.

If the problem is that people are armchair-logging caches that are missing (and I agree that is a problem, even though this is rather easy to spot when it's a low-count basic member logging with "lol"), then I don't see how your suggestion would help. For there to be a logstrip to compare to the online logs the cache can not be missing.

 

Or do you mean that if you find armchair loggers on one of your caches that is not missing, you would remove those users' online logs from another of your caches that is missing? Wouldn't it be better to replace that cache then?

 

I checked on one of my caches recently. More than half the online logs since last I replaced the logstrip had no matching signature there. Yet I'm reluctant to remove any logs. Some of them were from several users logging at the same date, obviously friends that were actually there on that date even though I can't know if they found the cache. One such group had posted a photo of the logstrip but for unknown reasons not signed it. No pen? And you never know, someone that gets upset by the removal of the log might start removing the cache as revenge. I don't want that. 

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No matching signature, I send a message asking for other proof, and the photograph of the log asking them to please point out their signature. No answer or proof within a week, I delete. If someone never replied to a query about a past non-signed log, any future logs that they failed to sign, I just delete without bothering to contact them. I used to give longer, but got over that when I got too many false logs at one stage. Only a week now. It could be up to a couple of years between checks of the log though.

If I check the other logs by this person, whereas once I would have sent a message to them, if I find they "forget their pen" with every cache they have found, and not all on the same day, I am now likely to just delete without the bother of contacting them. If I forget my pen (very, very rarely) I give the CO the curtesy of contacting them first with a photographic proof of find and ask and say it's up to them whether I have permission to log. Of those who have replied, none have refused me permission to log, as those with proof who contact me, none I have refused permission to log. If the CO isn't polite enough to get back to me, eventually I will log that find.

"Forgot a pen" and continuing to log this day after day. Go and BUY a new one is my answer. I was on a day trip to shore from a cruise ship and both my pens ran out of ink. Stopped caching and went in search of where I could buy a new pen. Another occasion I used charcoal from bushfire remains and photographed that signature to include in the log, as charcoal tends to rub off, but I signed.

I wish more people would delete non-signed logs, after giving people the chance of reply and to give other proof. Then there would be less bogus logs. It's because they can mostly get away with it.

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I saw a fair few bored-teenager type short-term newbies during our COVID lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 (nearly all had premium membership before they found their first cache but had never visited the website) who had no understanding of the basic concepts of the game, but this year has been deathly quiet around here. About a third of my hides have had no finds this year and the rest have just been the odd one now and then, usually by someone from outside the region passing through. All my caches have pencils in them so I'm mostly spared the "didn't have a pen" logs, but trying to compare the logbook with the online logs can be an exercise in futility with confused dates and (particularly new) cachers signing the logbook with a different name to what they use online.

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I've read reports from other cachers that some folks on certain social media platforms with large followings of young people have been doing geocaching recently.  This has led to an influx of newbies downloading the app and giving it a try, sometimes without reading up on the do-s and dont-s of the game.

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I still fail to see how weeding out online logs that are missing from the logbook can adress the problem with found logs on missing caches. But this got me into looking at the log history of "my" armchair loggers and found that one of them had also logged an obviously missing cache as one of the three logged that day and in total. Below is the last part of that online log list, indicating member status and find count in parenthesis and including translated logs for the ones that claim to have found it. Last on top.

 

DNF (PM, 647)

Found it (BM, 3) "My 3:rd! Darn this is fun :)"

DNF (BM, 3)

Found it (BM, 1) "Thanks for the cache it was fun to look for"

DNF (PM, 5)

DNF (BM, 26)

DNF (PM, 19172)

DNF (PM, 5324)

 

Obviously it would not be possible for the CO to compare this to the cache log since it's gone (like the CO). But would you go looking for this cache? Maybe you would, but not because you actually think those two finds are legit.

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On 8/19/2022 at 9:27 AM, ChriBli said:

If the problem is that people are armchair-logging caches that are missing (and I agree that is a problem, even though this is rather easy to spot when it's a low-count basic member logging with "lol"), then I don't see how your suggestion would help. For there to be a logstrip to compare to the online logs the cache can not be missing.

They're logging both types.  Logging the unfindable ones are the bigger issue since that's prone to throwing off finders, and also the none too swift gc.com algorithm that alerts reviewers to potential problem caches.

 

If all their logs get deleted, perhaps they'll get tired of the armchair game?

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8 minutes ago, ecanderson said:

If all their logs get deleted, perhaps they'll get tired of the armchair game?

Or they start logging only missing caches, where their cheating can not be detected and the CO is not around to do it anyway? Honestly I think most of these players have moved on and would not give a hoot if their logs were deleted, or even notice it. I realize this means that my fear of retaliation is probably unfounded.

 

That gc.com algorithm seems very human in its erratic behavior. Sometimes it pounces almost immediately on a cache just because someone reported a damp log, in other cases it can leave an obviously missing cache alone for years. I logged a DNF on a cache in January 2017, later the same month I edited the log and made it clear I had visited again equipped with spoiler pics. In 2020 I visited again, searching for an extended time of course, and then posted NM. The cache is still active, no one has found it since 2016.

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4 hours ago, K13 said:

They are more likely logging because they visited the location, and think that constitutes a find. They probably don't know about the container and signing the paper log inside.

Some do. I can think of a geocacher with thousands of finds who will sign the log if they found the cache, but if they don't find the cache they will still log the find. Hey they visited the the place, didn't they :rolleyes: !!

I became aware of what they do after I couldn't find a cache and contacted them for a hint, as they found the cache the day before I did. They replied (which later when I woke up to them, I thought strange) and asked what I wanted to know. Boy were they vague and obtuse, such as 'It's there', and kept replying as though they didn't understand my very clear question. etc.  I went back and managed to find the cache myself and worked out why they were like this. No signature. They had never found it, but still logged the find. Since then, I have deleted a couple of their claims for finds on my caches. Others they did find. Plus while travelling I have seen their logs online, but then when I have found the cache (usually the more tricky ones) their signature is missing.

 

Another cache recently involving a claimed find by another cacher, but no individual information for this log. If I found a cache after several DNFs I would personalise the log to that cache, as I can imagine most would, but they didn't. So cachers with thousands of finds also log caches they didn't find.

 

Needs maintenance Needs maintenance

(6203 finds) This cache needs replacing dahumbug as per logs 😊

 

Didn't find it Didn't find it

(6203 finds) DNF :-( No luck here today, thought it was a case of cache blindness, but bumped into another cacher and the CO confirmed it was indeed missing. I will try another time if I get up this way again.

 

Found it Found it

(8281 finds) Was nearby doing the ad lab. Might as well get a Letterbox!

Thanks for the cache and taking us here dahumbug. Enjoyed the adventure with the Pink Power Ladies! Another 💚 for your collection.

(Plus a local photograph, which does not prove a find; only that they visited the area...maybe)

 

Didn't find it Didn't find it

(14389 finds) One of our few DNF’s for the day. Spent some time looking but no smiley face today.

 

Didn't find it Didn't find it

(75782 finds) No joy here thanks

 

 

Write note Write note

(7317 finds) We’ve come to the hinterland to help PirateLinda get her 2000th find… starting down near Maleny, we’ve moved through Montville and finishing our day around Mapleton taking advantage of the great variety of caches and locations…

Four of us spent awhile here looking into the trees… then we noticed the final… and spent even longer looking into different trees…

We couldn’t even spot the container… 😞 🐼

 

 

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2 hours ago, Deepdiggingmole said:

One reply was "obvious you don’t want people to find your caches if they don’t have any writing implements. shame you’ll miss out many catchers looking for your caches I will delete both and make sure we don’t do any more of yours. Best regards" :o
 

LOL, no one wants them near their caches, so lucky you, they won't bother you again. Sadly though they will other people.

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2 hours ago, Deepdiggingmole said:

I have always advocated the app should have a pop up message for the first 50 finds reminding the person that the logsheet has to be signed and if they haven't done it then they can't log online 

I'm not sure it needs to be for the first 50 finds. That would just annoy new geocachers. After the first find, the new geocacher should be able to dismiss future reminders.

 

But the basic idea of having the app walk new geocachers through things is solid. When I learned, an experienced geocacher explained the rules to me and then accompanied me to my first 4 finds. I've done the same for dozens of other new geocachers. But if newbies just stumbled upon the app, then there isn't anyone to help them understand what geocaching is. Thus, the app has to do that job.

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42 minutes ago, niraD said:

But the basic idea of having the app walk new geocachers through things is solid. When I learned, an experienced geocacher explained the rules to me and then accompanied me to my first 4 finds. I've done the same for dozens of other new geocachers. But if newbies just stumbled upon the app, then there isn't anyone to help them understand what geocaching is. Thus, the app has to do that job.

 

When I started, the website did that with Getting Started and Geocaching101 pages and videos. I read everything I could find to read on the website before venturing out to attempt my first cache, but that probably came from my engineering background where reading the documentation and data sheets is essential to avoid disappoint and the boss's ire. The app has turned all that on its head, with an expectation borne of most other apps that you should be able to just use it without reading anything, indeed anything with more than two or three words in it would probably just be dismissed like agreeing to legalese Terms of Use. A phone screen simply isn't conducive to conveying anything with depth. Caching with all its nuances really isn't amenable to being an app-only game in spite of all the push to do that, with the end result being a bad experience for both the would-be players and COs.

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I've never used the app, so excuse my asking this,

 

Does the app force the first-time user to read those links, before getting into the real stuff, or are these things hidden away until the user decides to read the?

 

If the former, great.  If the latter, not so good.

Edited by Gill & Tony
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1 hour ago, Gill & Tony said:

Does the app force the first-time user to read those links

 

If this was your business and your customers, would you force them to watch a bunch of videos and read documentation before being able to use your app?

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11 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

Caching with all its nuances really isn't amenable to being an app-only game in spite of all the push to do that,

 

Whose push?

Failing to have and support a  free app would simply result in bankruptcy. Which would be, "a bad experience for both the would-be players and COs".

 

I can be grumpy about Basic App users, but Geocaching.com has carried the load of maintaining the site  in "old" and "new" forms, while enhancing and altering site functions to make site use more appealing to app users, and supporting and upgrading apps across platforms. Basic Members can come to the site and download the full gpx of any non_PMO cache. That was  a Premium function for years and years.  They get a lot of improved map and search abilities.  Seriously, if you started today  you'd probably never need to pay.  

 

Anyway, thread was started over explosion of false logging.  False logging as error or deliberate has always been part of the game, but something is up this year. 

 

 

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10 hours ago, mustakorppi said:

 

If this was your business and your customers, would you force them to watch a bunch of videos and read documentation before being able to use your app?

 

Perhaps "force" was too strong a word but imagine you were the owner of a bridge club, a chess club or any other business where the behaviour of each of your new, at the moment non-paying, customers has an impact on your paying customers. 

 

Wouldn't you ensure that they had a basic understanding of the rules before you let them play their first game?

 

Or would you let them throw the cards or chess pieces across the room because that was the way they thought the game was played?

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9 hours ago, Isonzo Karst said:
21 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

Caching with all its nuances really isn't amenable to being an app-only game in spite of all the push to do that,

 

Whose push?

Failing to have and support a  free app would simply result in bankruptcy. Which would be, "a bad experience for both the would-be players and COs".

 

I can be grumpy about Basic App users, but Geocaching.com has carried the load of maintaining the site  in "old" and "new" forms, while enhancing and altering site functions to make site use more appealing to app users, and supporting and upgrading apps across platforms. Basic Members can come to the site and download the full gpx of any non_PMO cache. That was  a Premium function for years and years.  They get a lot of improved map and search abilities.  Seriously, if you started today  you'd probably never need to pay.  

 

By app-only I mean the surge of recent players who just download the app as a phone game and have never visited the website, probably not knowing or caring that it even exists. They nearly always start off with a premium membership (I guess that's the way it's promoted in the app store or on social media), so higher D/T, non-traditional or PMO caches are no barrier to them, and leave a trail of fake logs and/or exposed or damaged caches in their wake before they disappear after a month or two. For example, this is recent log on an 11-stage 3.5/3.5 EarthCache spread along 2km of rugged coastline from one such never-visited-the-website PM phone gamer:

 

image.png.021d42490e074944d966188929567d0e.png

 

I don't know for sure, maybe they did meticulously visit all the waypoints and answer each of the questions, but the photo they posted suggests they just got to the starting point, said nice and claimed a find. They did essentially the same thing on a nearby virtual with an almost identical photo that doesn't satisfy the logging requirement.

 

Maybe these short-stay PM phone-gamers are good for HQ's bottom line (more so if they forget to cancel their auto-renew) but they're an increasing source of dismay for COs who have to clean up after them.

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I've been caching since 2006 and I noticed long ago that a lot of bogus finds are by experienced cachers with thousands, or even tens of thousands of "finds".

Some of these high volume cachers just *cannot* let a find go unclaimed, so some of them probably account for hundreds of bogus finds, surpassing the newbies who record one or two and then give up.

There was one notorious team of high volume cachers in NY who would swarm through an area and drop throwdowns on anything they couldn't find quickly.

Often the caches were still there. I personally removed a number of their bogus throwdowns.

One of my favorite all-time logs from an out of state cacher with thousands of finds who couldn't find one in Central Park went "If it had been there I would have found it so I'm claiming the find", It was found several times over the next few days, There were some dnf's but no bogus finds by newbies.

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3 hours ago, hukilaulau said:

I've been caching since 2006 and I noticed long ago that a lot of bogus finds are by experienced cachers with thousands

I haven't been caching this long, but this is how I feel too. They usually write a better log than "found it" and possibly use a GPSr and GSAK so I guess that makes it ok.

 

I don't care about what newbie accounts do as long as they don't actually harm the cache or the environment. Either they stick with the hobby and figure it out, or they move on to something else. If there are a lot of these accounts somewhere, that just means a local newspaper/influencer/whatever covered geocaching.

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Today I found a cache hidden by a CO who had been deployed to Afghanistan, and owned a cache there. Curious I clicked on a few caches there and all the recent finds appear to be bogus. Big surprise. The last finder had finds on Sunday  with caches in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Czechia,  Ghana, Chile, and Argentina. Maybe there is a logical explanation to this. Maybe. New cacher 48 finds first find in Florida back in March. 

 

Maybe GS could help by identifying questionable behavior. Challenge caches make this difficult but not impossible. They could also probably archive caches with poor finding behavior or request CO attention. 

To me though it is pretty obvious that some of the relatively new cachers who've found my caches may not have visited. Is it worth calling them out and maybe disinsentivise them from joining the game properly in the future. As several posts have pointed out wish GS would do a little more, but I'm not going to loose sleep over it.

Best part of my day today was finding a cache on a lonely country road just before sunset.  

Edited by MNTA
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If the game were just stats, then people's bogus logging behaviour would have zero consequence to others. But log history is public and can cause people to take real world action or not - and these days that action can be super expensive. SO, accurate logging history, as much as it can be, is paramount to a happy community and successful hobby on the large scale.

Apply that thought however, just felt the need to re-emphasize the importance of accuracy of a cache's log history.

Edited by thebruce0
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On 8/22/2022 at 11:53 PM, niraD said:

I'm not sure it needs to be for the first 50 finds. That would just annoy new geocachers. After the first find, the new geocacher should be able to dismiss future reminders.

 

But the basic idea of having the app walk new geocachers through things is solid. When I learned, an experienced geocacher explained the rules to me and then accompanied me to my first 4 finds. I've done the same for dozens of other new geocachers. But if newbies just stumbled upon the app, then there isn't anyone to help them understand what geocaching is. Thus, the app has to do that job.

50 is an arbitary figure - it could be 20 - but yes the app has to do the job - currently it clearly is not 

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I just received a rather suspicious log on a 2.5/4 4-stage multi:

 

image.png.cc2b45dac4a2a0c90a60ba52de3d1b90.png

 

The photo attached to the log is a selfie at a location that's unrelated to any of the multi's waypoints however is close to another cache (a 2/1 traditional) that they logged at around the same time. The multi's listed coordinates are about a kilometre north of there.

 

This particular cacher first appeared during the 2021 COVID lockdown and caused me a lot of grief on one of my other hides, but disappeared soon after only to have now reappeared a couple of weeks ago with premium membership again. I suppose I should go and visit the final to see if they signed the logbook (and if they did, if they rehid the cache properly without damaging it) but it's not an easy one to get to, particularly after all the rain this year. I did a routine visit in July and that was pretty tough going with quite a few cuts and abrasions to show for the experience, so it's not something I really want to do right now. It's times like this I hate being a CO.

Edited by barefootjeff
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21 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

It's times like this I hate being a CO.

 

Here's an update on this. Shortly after my post yesterday afternoon, I sent the "finder" a message pointing out the discrepancy between the cache and their photo and asking if perhaps they'd logged the wrong cache by mistake. When there was no reply by the time I'd had my coffee this morning, I thought I should really go out and check the cache, particularly as today is mild and dry but more rain is expected tomorrow and through most of next week. Getting there is a drive to the nearest railway station, a train trip to Wondabyne, a steep climb of 120 metres up the Great North Walk track to the top of the ridge, then about 400 metres through trackless thick scrub along the ridge to the cache's cliff-top hiding place. The cache was exactly as I'd left it after my check in July (phew, I was half expecting it to have been chucked off the cliff), with the last signature in the logbook dated 2020:

 

20220908_101538.jpg.cf44d16322ae0d0ee306ddea3f42d36c.jpg

 

So back the way I'd come, returning home some four hours after I'd left, but just as I started writing this post I received a reply from the "finder" saying yes, they'd logged it by mistake but couldn't figure out how to delete their log. I suppose in hindsight I should have waited a few more days, and probably would have if not for the forecast rain, but I really wasn't expecting to get a reply. Luckily I only acquired the usual minor cuts and abrasions that are part and parcel of a trip to that cache, so no great harm was done.

 

The thing that annoys me most out of this is the way caching is being promoted now as an app-only game, yet a phone screen really isn't suited to more complex caches like this multi and when these app-only players eventually make mistakes they have no way to correct them because they can't delete their logs in the app. With all of these new-generation cachers starting off with PM before they've even found their first cache, higher D/T or PMO are no barrier to them, so it's fast becoming a real disincentive to hiding and owning caches like this one.

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14 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

yet a phone screen really isn't suited to more complex caches like this

guh?

 

14 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

With all of these new-generation cachers starting off with PM before they've even found their first cache,

 

Right... the problem isn't the device, the problem you're pointing out is how the hobby is being promoted. There is a difference.

While it's true that if the hobby doesn't attract the types of outdoorsy people who will enjoy and place geocaches like this, eventually they will fade away, ultimately the only reason those will fade away is if people don't place those types of geocaches for more people to find and enjoy and broaden their horizons.

Keep in mind that if the general landscape of device users is leaning more and more towards non-outdoorsy people, then it won't matter how much promotion is done for that type of geocache - the people just aren't there. And that may be an inherent difficulty with the shifting landscape of the demographic as it ages and brings in new generations.

 

Things will have to change; somehow, something will have to attract the new generation to continue in that type of geocaching experience. It just probably won't be the same way as it's been done for the first 20 years.

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5 hours ago, thebruce0 said:
19 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

yet a phone screen really isn't suited to more complex caches like this

guh?

 

 

Maybe I'm just showing my age, but I really think GC6JMDK would be difficult to do using only a phone. My intention when I created it was that searchers should print out the full-size version of the clue sheet (it even says to do that in the footnote at the bottom) so they can write in the numbers they find at each waypoint and perform all the additions and transpositions.

 

Screenshot_20220909-070140_Geocaching.jpg.df7561c7f908af54798a3f451a528e02.jpg

 

But maybe I'm wrong, maybe doing this in your head while flipping back and forth between the cache description and your photos of the signs bearing the numbers is "easy dubs" for this generation of cacher.

 

There are other multis around here (particularly some by Calypso62 like GC6HR8E) where printing out a worksheet beforehand is pretty much essential preparation. Trying to do these sorts of caches using only a geocaching phone app and never visiting the website would be at best tedious. A phone screen just doesn't have the real estate for presenting a large amount of information in a way that can be easily taken in.

 

A phone and the app might be a good substitute for a dedicated GPSr but I don't think it's a good substitute for the website and a good-sized screen when preparing to do caches that are more involved than point-and-go traditionals.

Edited by barefootjeff
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7 hours ago, barefootjeff said:
11 hours ago, thebruce0 said:
On 9/7/2022 at 11:17 PM, barefootjeff said:

yet a phone screen really isn't suited to more complex caches like this

guh?

 

 

Maybe I'm just showing my age, but I really think GC6JMDK would be difficult to do using only a phone

 

There are LOADS of geocaches that can't be done by "using only a phone". That has nothing to do with "a phone screen" being related to the problem you seemed to be referring to... On the contrary, many would consider that as part of the experience, the task. You need to view a web page. You need a special tool. You need to think outside the box.

 

So point being, again the problem isn't the device, the problem you're pointing out is how the hobby is being promoted. There is a difference. We have loads of people in my area who love more extreme physical caches, and caches that require more than "using only a phone". Including some more active youngins. Just got to figure out how to get such people interested in and invested in the hobby more long term.

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On 9/9/2022 at 7:40 AM, barefootjeff said:

My intention when I created it was that searchers should print out the full-size version of the clue sheet (it even says to do that in the footnote at the bottom) so they can write in the numbers they find at each waypoint and perform all the additions and transpositions.

I like to print out multicaches before attempting them. It's good to have paper to work out the numbers on. I can also include any necessary photographs, etc.

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On 8/24/2022 at 10:36 AM, thebruce0 said:

If the game were just stats, then people's bogus logging behaviour would have zero consequence to others. But log history is public and can cause people to take real world action or not - and these days that action can be super expensive. SO, accurate logging history, as much as it can be, is paramount to a happy community and successful hobby on the large scale.

Apply that thought however, just felt the need to re-emphasize the importance of accuracy of a cache's log history.

Well said.  My original point exactly.  Over the last 12 months, it's become difficult to know what logs to trust without first checking find numbers.  That's certainly no guarantee of an accurate result, but I'm having to discount many logs by those with smaller counts this year.  Rather than trusting DNF and found logs as one might expect to do, am having to spend extra time checking up on my own caches, not all of which are easy to access.  Found logs when they're actually MIA doesn't help me or other finders, and may delay my action to correct things.

 

 

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