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Release Notes (Website: Benchmarking retirement) - October 17, 2022


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These pre-release notes give advance notice of an upcoming change to Geocaching.com. Sometime after November 1, 2022 and before the end of the year, we will remove Benchmarking from the Geocaching.com website. (An exact date will be provided when it is known.)

 

We understand this is disappointing to those who enjoy benchmarking. However, benchmarks are only available in the United States, and were added to the website when geocaches were less available. Today, they are not in line with the global game geocaching has become. In addition, because benchmarks are not owned by community members, “maintenance” is not possible like with geocaches. Many benchmark listings refer to marks that were removed or destroyed long ago, which makes for an uneven game experience. Therefore, we have decided to retire them from Geocaching.com.

 

These changes will remove the following pages:

  • mark/default.aspx
  • mark/details.aspx
  • mark/gallery.aspx
  • mark/limage.aspx
  • mark/log.aspx
  • mark/nearest.aspx
  • mark/upload.aspx
  • my/benchmarks.aspx
  • my/logs.aspx?s=3&lt=2
  • my/logs.aspx?s=3

 

These changes will include updates to the following pages:

  • Old dashboard
  • Cache details pages
  • Public profile
  • Help Center
  • Public forums

 

The “NGS Benchmarks” entry and find count on public profiles will be retained to preserve statistics and player accomplishments.

 

image.png

 

Since logging benchmarks on Geocaching.com will no longer be possible, any challenge caches requiring finding and logging benchmarks will be archived on January 2, 2023. We will post this information on challenge caches we have identified which require finding and logging benchmarks.

 

Players who wish to continue finding and logging benchmarks are welcome to do so on Waymarking.com, which offers categories for U.S. benchmarks and Canadian benchmarks.

 

Sven (Bl4ckH4wkGER) is watching this thread to answer questions whenever possible.
 
Any posts in this thread should relate to features in this release. Comments unrelated to the release may be removed. Please direct unrelated comments to other appropriate threads. Thanks!
 

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5 minutes ago, trekkerdmc said:

I am very disappointed by this sudden and seemingly random decision with virtually no warning.

Well, this is the warning. ;)  The change will be coming sometime between Nov 1 and Dec 31, with January 2 being the challenge cache update.  It may not be as early a warning as you'd prefer, but it is a notice. Maybe they should have given a warning about the upcoming warning, so we'd all be prepared to be prepared :omnomnom:

 

 

But seriously... it may be a sad day, but remember, as mentioned, that is only a US-specific side-feature to the geocaching hobby which is a worldwide game. I don't see why it couldn't have been grandfathered in and deactivated, but it's kind of in that area right now as in the grand scheme (worldwide activity) there must be so little activity on that section, that cleaning it up and out is better than keeping it available and locked. 

 

And even other than Waymarking, there are other alternatives now that can be made available worldwide - make Adventures out of benchmarks you find. Or Virtuals. But as I like to say with Adventure Labs, they're not geocache( listing)s. So I'm not opposed to this move, fundamentally speaking. :)

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4 hours ago, trekkerdmc said:

I am very disappointed by this sudden and seemingly random decision with virtually no warning.

I'm also disappointed and consider it random and without any real justification. But I'd feel the same no matter how much warning they gave.

 

4 hours ago, trekkerdmc said:

There are many of us that have worked hard on benchmarking and completing challenges.

I've never encountered a challenge based on benchmarking and would consider such a thing kinda lame. Encouraging people to find benchmarks for any reason other than enjoying finding benchmarks doesn't strike me as a good idea, mainly because benchmarks are often in areas that are, for various good reasons, off limits to geocaching. And I also don't have much patience for "amateurs" filing inaccurate logs. So I wouldn't have a problem with them archiving challenges based on benchmarking even if they weren't getting rid of benchmarks themselves.

 

2 hours ago, Chalupa_Dad said:

Just to illustrate how little the feature is used...

I'd be more interested in how much benchmarking was used if I had a feel that they were saving effort by eliminating them. As far as I can see, they could continue to ignore them just like they've been ignoring them for 20 years without any effort. but they'll have to do a lot of work to wipe them out. But I guess they don't see it that way. :(

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5 hours ago, Forest-Ghost said:

Seriously?! Benchmarks were one of the last things I found interesting in the area since there are rarely any new caches any more. I had ten different benchmark challenges I was working on. What good does it do to get rid of them? I have always found benchmarking interesting, you had to do a little research and sometimes they are hard to find and other times they are really old--this was all part of the fun. I was planning on many happy years of benchmarking but I guess that's gone now.

 

This news is extremely disappointing to me and I know many players who will find it disappointing as well. I find less and less desire to contribute to a game where the rules and setup of the game are constantly being shifted and changed. If the reasoning is because benchmarks aren't global, then that should have been thought through before they were added to the website in the first place. It's not fair to keep changing the game after the fact. 

 

Since most players don't even use the website to geocache, does it really make a difference to get rid of them? I have spent many hours benchmarking and I know some players who have spent HUNDREDS of hours benchmarking. It seems all the news we ever hear from HQ is stuff going away or being retired. I wish this was the opposite. But it seems that as geocaching "progresses" it only become less and less enjoyable.

Existing software still requires maintenance over time. I'm sure that this was a calculated move from a numbers and funding perspective. Anecdotally I only know a single cacher who will actively search for them and only a handful that will log them even if there is a geocache placed on top of one. 

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One of my favorite challenge caches required finding benchmarks. In meeting the challenge, I found out how much fun the benchmarks were - no moldy logs, no cracking plastic, and in some cool places. I hope GCHQ will reconsider both the benchmark removal and the challenge cache archival.
 

I'm also wondering how we will find the benchmarks associated with numerous puzzle caches if the "find closest benchmark" feature is gone.

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3 minutes ago, Jffok said:

Will our previous found challenge caches that involved bench marks be deleted from our found caches?  That would not be fair at all.  

 

No, the caches will just be archived.  So your finds will still be there. 

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I have found a number of benchmarks, and recovered some buried and hidden.  They were treasure hunts.  However, as a player I know that it does not warrant work when no one is using it, there is no owner to check logs, and it is decades out of date.   I do not know this for sure, as I have heard no discussions, but eventually you have to put work into it or it breaks as you update the rest of the site.  Your coding is decades out of date and will require a major overhaul.  And it is for the 75 people that used it in a summer month to log 200 of them.   One of those people was myself, finding a half dozen.  Sad to see, but I could see it coming  years ago, just sad we finally got there.

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32 minutes ago, BlueRajah said:

I do not know this for sure, as I have heard no discussions, but eventually you have to put work into it or it breaks as you update the rest of the site.  Your coding is decades out of date and will require a major overhaul.  And it is for the 75 people that used it in a summer month to log 200 of them.

That was my thought when I read the announcement. Groundspeak has been working to refactor the ancient code from the early days of the site. Once that ancient legacy code is gone, it will be easier for them to move forward with future improvements to the site. And the benchmark code has to be some of the oldest code, and it has some of the least return on the effort to refactor it.

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5 hours ago, gumshoeDOTus said:

I wonder if they will get rid of the cache types

Geocaching HQ Geocache, Geocaching HQ Celebration, & Geocaching HQ Block Party

 since the rest of the world can not experience it. The interesting thing is, the rest of the world can experience it when they visit the US... just like the benchmarks.

I have logged HQ Geocache and I'm not American. Lots of non-Americans have logged it. The others I just think of them as meet and greets, and I bet lots of non-Americans have logged them too. Many people do travel.

Edited by Goldenwattle
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What is a benchmark? Is it just a trig, or any survey mark?

 

I log trigs in Australia and NZ on another site. Only trigs; survey marks are not counted for this. I have logged 857 trigs.

 

4 hours ago, The Snowdog said:

I imagine there are countless benchmarks out there for which the only photos in existence are on our logs. That is a national treasure, right there.

If a benchmark is a trig, here in the ACT (the Territory surrounding and including Canberra) trigs are considered heritage. I was told that the local authorities find the logged trigs a useful site because they check the photographs to see what condition the trigs are in, and if they see one needing maintenance, they send out a crew to fix the problem.

Edited by Goldenwattle
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2 hours ago, BlueRajah said:

Your coding is decades out of date and will require a major overhaul.  And it is for the 75 people that used it in a summer month to log 200 of them.  

 

The very same thing can be said for the Waymarking site, which hasn't had a major overhaul in years. And many bugs have appeared and were left unfixed for months, sometimes years. There's probably less than 75 active users per month and I'm one of them. I understand the benchmark feature is widely underused. But that should not be a reason to discontinue and remove them entirely from the site. Maybe create or move the database to a separate website, as what occurred with locationless caches to Waymarking in 2005/06. 

 

For the same reasons, people years later wanted to log/find locationless caches. Groundspeak listened. Two new ones were added, with a third several months ago. I am positive benchmarks will follow the same route. 

 

All we (the community) are asking is not to remove them entirely. At least keep the database accessible to view with the option to log them if others plan to in the future. Like others have mentioned, for the majority of benchmarks, the geocaching site is the only place to view photos of them. We shouldn't destroy and loose historical documentation because of this. I really hate to beg here, but please save this important data.

Edited by bluesnote
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When visiting the US I enjoyed looking for some benchmarks and if they would be a thing in my home country I probably would be an active benchmarker.

I have no idea about the necessary efford for GS to keep the database active but I somehow understand that benchmarking on the webpage is retired.

But I'm strongly opposing that previous logs and pictures were about to become inaccessible :mad:

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Benchmarks are so historical and so precious. Once lost they are gone forever. Finding them didn't increase your total finds so I don't really understand how it was an unfair advantage with them being US only. I will use Geocaching even less without the ability to keep track of my finds and look for spoiler pics off other's logs. Very disappointed. :(

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11 hours ago, dprovan said:

I've never encountered a challenge based on benchmarking and would consider such a thing kinda lame. Encouraging people to find benchmarks for any reason other than enjoying finding benchmarks doesn't strike me as a good idea, mainly because benchmarks are often in areas that are, for various good reasons, off limits to geocaching. And I also don't have much patience for "amateurs" filing inaccurate logs. So I wouldn't have a problem with them archiving challenges based on benchmarking even if they weren't getting rid of benchmarks themselves.

 

Don't be so quick to judge a benchmarking challenge cache as lame if you've never actually encountered one yourself.

 

The challenge cache that got me interested in benchmark was quite interesting, as it required finding 15 different TYPES of benchmarks.  At the time, I didn't realize benchmarks were anything else than the bronze disk you come across from time to time.  Turns out benchmarks can be signal lights along waterways, marks chiseled into stone, embedded metal rods, church spires, water towers, just to name a few.  It was fun finding these, especially when I had cleared out my area of geocaches.

 

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8 minutes ago, TyroneShoelaces said:

 

Don't be so quick to judge a benchmarking challenge cache as lame if you've never actually encountered one yourself.

 

The challenge cache that got me interested in benchmark was quite interesting, as it required finding 15 different TYPES of benchmarks.  At the time, I didn't realize benchmarks were anything else than the bronze disk you come across from time to time.  Turns out benchmarks can be signal lights along waterways, marks chiseled into stone, embedded metal rods, church spires, water towers, just to name a few.  It was fun finding these, especially when I had cleared out my area of geocaches.

 

The benchmark challenges were fun and I did not just log them to log them. It took some serious work because I take benchmarking seriously. I enjoy logging destroyed more than found it quite often. Here are the best benchmark challenges. 

  1. 250 BMs
  2. 500 BMs
  3. 50 BMs in a Day
  4. 15 Landmark BMs
  5. Five 25 BM Days
  6. 100 Years of BMs
  7. Alphabet BMs
  8. Altitude BMs
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14 hours ago, gumshoeDOTus said:

 

 

I wonder if they will get rid of the cache types

Geocaching HQ Geocache, Geocaching HQ Celebration, & Geocaching HQ Block Party

 since the rest of the world can not experience it. The interesting thing is, the rest of the world can experience it when they visit the US... just like the benchmarks.


You have hit the nail on the head. There are lots of niches in geocaching. That’s what makes it challenging and rewarding. I will have much better luck finding a benchmark than a lot of other special types. This is not motivated by fairness and that is obvious. 

Edited by hrothroc
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18 hours ago, Chalupa_Dad said:

If the market should decide whether Benchmarks should stay or go, then the market seems to be indicating it should go. It's by far the least utilized part of Geocaching. I found over 100 of them for a challenge and almost all of them hadn't been found in years, many hadn't been found for a decade or more. 

The very nature of the things is that they often go for years, even decades, without being found. They are reference points used for various civil purposes; if no one needs one for any such purpose, then it is not surprising that no has found it. And the fact is, the data on GC is very out of date, as far as Recoveries are concerned. This does not invalidate them; it merely recognizes that the Recovery process on the NGS site is different than the Find process on GC.

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13 hours ago, sammydee said:

I guess we have a month to scrape database off the website and host it somewhere else then. Since Groundspeak doesn't care about it and it's public data anyway I'm sure they will have no objection.

We don't need to scrape it off GC; if someone wants to host a website for benchmarking, contacting the NGS for the current file is the way to go. That's how the current info on GC got on it in the first place. 

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1 hour ago, elrojo14 said:

The benchmark challenges were fun and I did not just log them to log them. It took some serious work because I take benchmarking seriously. I enjoy logging destroyed more than found it quite often. Here are the best benchmark challenges. 

  1. 250 BMs
  2. 500 BMs
  3. 50 BMs in a Day
  4. 15 Landmark BMs
  5. Five 25 BM Days
  6. 100 Years of BMs
  7. Alphabet BMs
  8. Altitude BMs

Thank you very much for this list, Wes; much appreciated!

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