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


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A very disappointing decision that has been made the Geocaching HQ.  I've enjoyed the challenge of Benchmarking when I visit the U.S.  Why has there not been any discussion with the geocaching community regarding this topic?  Geocaching is supposed to be a personal experience and each individual can decide on how they are going to play the game!  Yes, it's unfortunate that many benchmarks have been removed or destroyed over time by progress or erosion or vandalism, but those of us that enjoy this part of the hunt expect that we aren't going to find them all - just like geocaches.

 

Why not let the geocaching community decide this issue instead of unilaterally deciding for us?

 

Liz

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9 minutes ago, Indigo Parrish said:

Transition Benchmarking to a sister site ala Waymarking or Adventure Labs or Wherigo.

 

As noted in the opening post, benchmarking enthusiasts can continue that activity on Waymarking.com.  Unlike the 20+ year old code for the benchmark functionality on Geocaching.com, nothing on Waymarking.com is blocking the efficient development and improvement of Geocaching.com.

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I am very dissapointed also that benchmarking will be eliminated! I have since looked up where to log them on other sites seeing as how they will no longer be available in geocaching and there is no other site to be able to log, this is so sad. In my research I have found that other countries do have benchmarks, a lot of other countries so saying they are not global isn't quite right. Now wether they can be logged on geocaching or not I have no idea. And also a "destroyed" benchmark really is kind of like an archived cache right...the game still goes on and is a fun experience. You say to look at Waymarking.com to find and log benchmarks, well that database has not got nearly the benchmarks that the site geocaching uses. I checked some of the ones I have and they weren't on Waymarking. The ones I checked out were the benchmarks on Mormon Mesa near Mesquite Nevada, not a one of them was on Waymarking. And the other thing about Waymarking is that it doesn't leave a count on your geocaching page. I know it wont count as a cache like the benchmarks don't count but it does show how many benchmarks you have found, Waymarking, nope. I am just very sad and dissapointed benchmarking will be no longer available on geocaching, it was a super fun thing to log them and find out some history about them.

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We have always enjoyed finding benchmarks. It adds a different layer to the game. It is so fun to locate one that someone else hasn't found, that you need to follow directions on the website to figure out where it is. Some of them are very old, and to me they are so interesting. They are located in so many different spots. We have found some of the discs in dirt and found one not that long ago on an old building.

 

Yes, some don't like this aspect of the game and I respect that. But, for us we enjoy the challenge of finding them. We also have done some mystery caches that use a benchmark as a way to solve the puzzle.

 

I understand they are not available to everyone in different countries but they do not count toward our total finds, so what difference does it make if we in the United States play that part of the game.

 

I hope geocaching will leave benchmarking on the site!

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I'm very disappointed !  Finding  a benchmark is always is a additional bonus to geocaching.   Benchmarks are there and a part of history!  It's always fun to find them and take note of the dates. Many of us are in the midst of working on challenges involving benchmarks.  IF they are no longer supported, then what happens to our challenges?  What happens to all of us enjoying finding benchmarks along with geocaches.  I think Headquarters should rethink this one!

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42 minutes ago, mineral54 said:

You say to look at Waymarking.com to find and log benchmarks, well that database has not got nearly the benchmarks that the site geocaching uses. I checked some of the ones I have and they weren't on Waymarking. The ones I checked out were the benchmarks on Mormon Mesa near Mesquite Nevada, not a one of them was on Waymarking.

 

So go enter them as new waymarks.  That's how Waymarking works!  If you're unfamiliar with the process, the participants in the Waymarking forum would be glad to help you.

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33 minutes ago, Linda#1 said:

Many of us are in the midst of working on challenges involving benchmarks.  IF they are no longer supported, then what happens to our challenges?

 

The opening post in this thread lays out the timetable for challenge caches based wholly or in part on finding benchmarks.  They will be archived on January 2, 2023.

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I find this really disappointing. I disagree that they are not relevant to caching today. How are you defining relevant? And what criteria are you using. I feel that just because they are only in the US, it shouldn't negate the challenge and fun of finding them. The Original Stash is only in the US, and that doesn't discourage others from making it a point to find it. Finding a benchmark isn't actually different than all the souvenir challenges that you, HQ, keep putting on - including the current one.

 

I say keep them as they are. Those that find them know and understand that the data was a one time shot, and we know that some of them are not there anymore. Rather than get rid of them, maybe create a feature where we can recommend a particular one be removed from the list if it is gone? Similar to a cache that is missing.

 

I say they are relevant and just as fun and challenging to find as you would a D4 or D5 cache.

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I love benchmarking and collect them as I cache, and when I am out and about.  Please keep the benchmarks and associated logging page on the caches pages!  Even though they do not count toward my cache count, I still go out of my way to find them, photograph them and log them.  Unless you are going to replace the benchmarking site for a better benchmarking format, please keep the link.  

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I thought the point of geocaching was to find things with your GPS. If anything, HQ should expand benchmarking. They're still another GPS-based part of the game. If you can have virtuals, earthcaches, and adventure labs, then why not benchmarks? Now I personally don't find them very interesting, but when you've run out of caches to look for in your area, at least they're something. I actually got a FTF on one once.

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Wow, this is a sad update.  I have personally spent hundreds of hours researching and finding over 200 benchmarks.  I like the activity so much that I have one of my GPS units loaded and designated just for finding benchmarks.  While finding benchmarks I have experienced meteor craters, beautiful open deserts, breath-taking mountain tops, secluded water falls and hidden rain forests - all places where placing a Geocache would not be appropriate and didn’t exist.   

 

It’s been a shame watching this part of Geocaching being neglected as the years have gone by.  I would have loved benchmarking to be grown and maintained by Geocaching  COs on the site in some way. I have always wondered why COs couldn’t adopt benchmarks and maintain the listings to keep them in play?  Similar to Earthcaching, why not allow the benchmarking community to unite to maintain them like Earthcaches?   

 

To see the benchmarking challenges being archived is beyond sad for all of us that enjoy doing them.  While on hikes up  various mountains for numerous challenges, I have really enjoyed sharing benchmarks to new cachers and muggles.  People like hearing about them and some have taken up Geocaching for just that reason.  I will mourn the days where we can share the history of surveying to local scouts and then take them to a variety of benchmarks on mountains and desert areas nearby.  

 

I’m not sure what harm it does to leave them in our stats or why there is a move to remove the challenges associated with them. As a premium member, I can’t remember being surveyed or asked about a move in this direction.  I’m thankful for the ping from another cacher concerning this specific update.  If this is around the cost of ownership of the data or database size costs are an issue, maybe offer benchmarking as an add-on option to our memberships.   So many of us have great ideas.  Please re-think this update.  Offer premium benchmarking members alternate options vs removing the fun options that exist today.   

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1 hour ago, Skyhawker said:

2.    The cost to accommodate benchmarking far exceeded the cost of retiring it and so after reviewing usage data and ongoing maintenance costs, the respective decision was made.  The fact that the usage is low should come as no surprise. Most cachers don’t know about it because GS never promotes it. (See #1 above)

 

     * * *

 

4.    “contact the NGS directly. They'll also be able to provide you with a much more up-to-date file. The geocaching benchmarks database hasn't been updated for quite some time.  Uhhh? If the geocaching benchmarks database hasn't been updated for quite some time, and NGS can provide you with a much more up-to-date file, then why hasn’t GS done a one-time update? Cost?

 

     * * *

 

re: item no. 2 — Unlike Geocaching.com, the NGS has a link right on its home page to their benchmark section: "Looking for Bench Marks."

re: item no. 4 — NGS continually updates the benchmark Datasheets and they can be downloaded (in .zip format) here.

 

Artman

Edited by ArtMan
typo
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To be clear, our logs & photos will be removed, correct? Our number of finds will show only on our public profile & not on our statistics GC page (since they are not there now).  And the link to the NGS page will be gone, correct? As soon as Tuesday? 

Thank you for the clarity. 
 

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2 hours ago, RoxieMama said:

have been geocaching since Jan 2007. I've enjoyed finding geocaches as well as benchmarks. I have numerous fizzy rounds as well as a triple Jasmer. Those are all fun challenges that make you travel, see the world, and work hard -- sometimes challenging what you may not have thought your body could do. But finding a 20, 30, 50, 70 year old benchmark that no one else has logged on the GC site is definitely more fulfilling than finding a 1/1 LPC. It's a sad day to see that Groundspeak has made this decision. Yes, the benchmarks may only be available primarily in the USA, but geocaching friends who have visited the USA have wanted to find them --- one of their goals as well as finding Jasmer caches.

 

My desire would be to keep benchmarks available on the GC Site. If it's a revenue matter, have a charge for the benchmark portion - $5 - $15/year perhaps. Or maybe premium members free, and non-premium with a charge.  Or move them to a new website where all you can log is benchmarks, but keep the database, logs, and photos intact. The Waymarking site is not geared towards benchmarking in the same manner as the current GC site. A number of my geocaching friends who enjoy benchmarking are seriously considering dropping their memberships. That group may not be enough to impact Groundspeak's revenue, but can easily result in negative word of mouth advertising.

 

I hope this decision is reconsidered.

100% agree with this. Taking bm's off the website is a very bad idea imo.

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18 minutes ago, GeoVet91 said:

To be clear, our logs & photos will be removed, correct? Our number of finds will show only on our public profile & not on our statistics GC page (since they are not there now).  And the link to the NGS page will be gone, correct? As soon as Tuesday? 

Thank you for the clarity. 
 

The way I understand it, yes they will go away.  However, not instantly.  Sometime in the next few months when website upgrades are coded, tested and approved.  Those pages will not be updated.  A two-week warning was given because the date may be as early as Tuesday.  Plus, it may not be all at once. 

 

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Having found over 300 benchmarks that I've been able to log, I have enjoyed these in addition to the caches I find. On a rainy day where caching isn't practical, benchmarks of church steeples, water towers etc have been a great backup activity. 

I would have more benchmark "finds" but the database not being updated has meant that many I have found just weren't able to be logged. 

 

If one finds a benchmark, but can't log the find due to the absence of the mark on the site, it isn't lack of activity, it is lack of verifiable activity.

Kind of like the tree falling in the forest that nobody hears? It still fell.

 

I suppose that GS has their mind made up, but I still think it is a bad decision.

Edited by XHawk
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This is very disappointing. Benchmarking is a huge part of my geocaching game and it adds a bonus to log one when I log a cache. Its a side part of the game that I have been enjoying for many years. Just because not everyone does it all of the time is no reason to get rid of it. There are certain caches that I don't get but I don't think you should get rid of them. The great thing about geocaching is there is something for everyone. Not everyone likes geocoins, but I don't think geocaching is going to get rid of them. It's also disappointing that geocaching continues to support Waymarking and I NEVER HEAR ANYONE TALKING ABOUT IT. NEVER HAS IT COME UP IN ANY GEOCACHING CONVERSATION OR LOGS. Get rid of that, I've looked at the website before and there are many many waymarks that I have never been logged. Why not get rid of Waymarking and update the benchmarking database. I'm less than 100 benchmarks away from hitting 1000 and I may now not reach that goal. I have a friend that says Groundspeak is always taking away things we don't want and giving us things we don't want. I'm beginning to believe that more and more everyday. Please reconsider. 

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On the eve of what appears to be the beginning of the end for what has been an association of benchmarking with geocaching, I thought I would take a moment to post a comment for whatever good that might do. I have only recently discovered the greater joys of benchmarking thanks in part to the discovery of some benchmarking challenges adjacent to my usual home caching area and in part to my general apathy toward new additions such as Adventure Labs. I would much rather locate and then document something of significance than answering another question about what the third letter of the fourth word of the sign is from my car. I certainly understand the appeal of Adventure Labs for many people and have used them on days when I need numbers myself, but I am saddened that geocaching has preferred to support them over things like benchmarks. A number of previous comments have already illustrated the historical significance of these marks and I believe that they are much more in line with the original spirit of our game. I am disappointed that were never supported the way they could have been. I am also saddened that the concept could not be extend to other countries around the world. This notion that benchmarks only exist in the United States is silly - extensive databases for survey markers exist in many countries around the world including Canada, Japan, Great Britain, France, Australia, Italy, Germany, South Africa, India Pakistan and New Zealand just to name a few. Geocaching would have been far better served to support these agencies. Offering some kind of credit for finds to geocachers would likely have made the pursuit of these marks very popular. Unfortunately, that boat appears to have sailed in favor of other endeavors and I think the world of geocaching will be missing a part of what actually gives it some credibility. However, I think there is a much greater issue at stake here.

 

The ability to log benchmarks has been a great resource. As others have mentioned, geocachers are some of the only people that have provided data points for benchmarks over the past 20 years and their information has been included as updates to benchmark databases have been made. While I understand there are still other ways of recording this information moving forward (albeit in a much more complicated fashion), I am most concerned with the fact that 20 years of data is about to be unceremoniously dropped. I understand geocaching's interest in updating and that the old benchmark site might be holding things back, but why cannot the benchmark site be uncoupled from geocaching yet still be accessible? Is there no way that any part of the benchmarking experience can be salvaged without having to navigate other sites? There is no reason why benchmark logs need to be part of caching. I wouldn't really care if there was no record of how many benchmarks I have found on my profile page and in the interest of moving the game forward I could live with not being to access, compose or edit any logs on the geocaching page, but why can't a link exist that could take you to the old site? It could be uncoupled from geocaching proper, but it would still be available and with the support of the people that enjoy the hobby and possibly in cooperation with appropriate government agencies we could still even log finds and upload photos. This would save all the data that has been uploaded by users over the past 20 years and allow for continued data gathering moving forward. Heck, it could even save benchmark challenge caches!:)

 

I realize that benchmarking is not one of the most popular aspects of our game, but I don't think that it has ever been properly supported or encouraged. Nonetheless, uncoupling it from the regular geocaching site seems inevitable. That said, I would encourage you to consider providing a way for users to access the database and leave notes and logs on these very important historical markers.

 

Happy bugging,

 

Brent

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On 10/30/2022 at 7:23 AM, Keystone said:

As noted in the opening post, benchmarking enthusiasts can continue that activity on Waymarking.com.  Unlike the 20+ year old code for the benchmark functionality on Geocaching.com, nothing on Waymarking.com is blocking the efficient development and improvement of Geocaching.com.

As I've noted before and as seems to be unimaginable to supporters of the decision, the most important part of benchmarking are the logs and pictures already logged. Offering me a new place to log benchmarks while discarding the logs already posted by other people isn't very interesting.

 

But I do find it funny that the 20+ year old code for benchmarking is so much better than the "new" code for Waymarking. As I think about why you say Waymarking isn't blocking efficient development, I realize it's because Waymarking has, from the beginning, been stuffed in an unrelated corner where no one sees it because it has no relation to geocaching.

 

And I'm forced to wonder if the small numbers used to justify eliminating benchmarking are that much smaller than the same statistics for Waymarking. Although I have no interest in Waymarking for other reasons, if I were tempted to switch to Waymarking to log benchmarks, I'd have to consider how long it will be before the same arguments are used to eliminate Waymarking.

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I for one enjoy benchmark hunting and enjoy the diversity and history that they provide. I have a goal to include at least one benchmark in each of my caching trips and as I have cached out the area near my home/work have enjoyed incorporating them into the hunt. I asked the Groundspeak reconsider and allow them to remain as an option for those of us who enjoy this part of the hunt.

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1 hour ago, dprovan said:

But I do find it funny that the 20+ year old code for benchmarking is so much better than the "new" code for Waymarking. As I think about why you say Waymarking isn't blocking efficient development, I realize it's because Waymarking has, from the beginning, been stuffed in an unrelated corner where no one sees it because it has no relation to geocaching.

Yeah, I think the key difference between Waymarking and Benchmarking is that Waymarking is on its own site, independent of the geocaching.com site, where Benchmarking is on the geocaching.com site. Thus, Waymarking doesn't get in the way of updates to the geocaching.com site, whereas Benchmarking shares the infrastructure used by other parts of the geocaching.com site, and gets in the way of updates to that shared infrastructure.

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1 hour ago, dprovan said:

As I've noted before and as seems to be unimaginable to supporters of the decision, the most important part of benchmarking are the logs and pictures already logged. Offering me a new place to log benchmarks while discarding the logs already posted by other people isn't very interesting.

Exactly.  I don't know why that's so hard for some people to understand.  Switching over to Waymarking doesn't save all the logs and photos that geocachers have posted.  Even if active users save their logs, there will be inactive users from the early days that won't save their logs.  And even if everyone saved their own logs they would no longer be available for others to view, which would make it harder for future benchmarkers to find them.  As some people have pointed out, some of those logs probably contain the only photos in existence of certain benchmarks.

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On 10/30/2022 at 7:23 AM, Keystone said:

 

As noted in the opening post, benchmarking enthusiasts can continue that activity on Waymarking.com.  Unlike the 20+ year old code for the benchmark functionality on Geocaching.com, nothing on Waymarking.com is blocking the efficient development and improvement of Geocaching.com.

 

However, after having spent 10+ years logging 1000+ "found it" benchmark logs and more than twice that number of pictures only to see Groundspeak trash my efforts, it would not be prudent to try to replicate my work on Waymarking.com. Nor would it be an intelligent move to add anything to the Waymarking.com website. 

Groundspeak is making it abundantly clear they will not spend money to keep something active that is not profitable. Unless I am mistaken, NO premium membership is used or needed for Waymarking.com. So, it only makes sense Waymarking.com will also be deleted for financial reasons before too long.

I pretty much quit geocache hunting a couple of years ago. But, I've maintained my Premium membership because I wanted to continue to support Groundspeak,  thanks to their benchmark logging. I no longer see a reason for a Premium membership.

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I am extremely disappointed in the GS decision to eliminate benchmark-finding as a component of our game. I agree with most of the previous concerned comments about the demise, but am EXTREMELY concerned and upset that past benchmark logs and associated photos will be eliminated. Their elimination is of particular impact to me, as I have published about a dozen multi or puzzle caches that depend on BM logs and/or photos for important clues or for actual coordinates of stages. When these notes are eliminated, I will need to archive some wonderful geocaches that took me a long time to create and that have served as marvelous exposure and learning experiences to certain geocaching navigational techniques for other geocachers. It would be an absolute shame for the lessons associated with these caches to go up in smoke, and it would be downright unfair to those who have solved the puzzles or completed the multis to now have their good work eliminated from their active finds of active caches. I cannot understand the rationale for eliminating the past logs and photos—just as they are not eliminated when caches are archived. For those wishing to refer to them, those logs do remain available, even though they are more difficult to view than when the caches were active. PLEASE do not take such an action by eliminating our past BM logs and photos. It hurts everyone who has found and logged benchmarks, and in my case, it will decimate about a dozen of my prized owned caches.

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Add me to the list of geocachers that are hugely disappointed in this decision. I get that they are only available in the US, but everyone that caches understands that. What does it hurt to leave them there? They don't require any effort from HQ to leave them alone. In fact, it takes work to remove the pertinent pages, all of the references to them, and all of the fields in the databases. They can't be taking up too much space on the servers or in the DB schemas. Why? Don't break what isn't broken. Please!!

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I am disappointed with this decision to remove benchmarks from the game because everyone plays the game differently.  Some people will never cache outside of the United States while others may never cache in the United States. Some people prefer a particular type of cache and aren't interested in other types of caches, challenges or events.  Some people like easy park and grab caches while others like high D/T caches. Some people make plans to attend Mega Events while others will never attend a Mega and meet any challenges associated with doing so. Honestly how are benchmarks that different from Adventure Labs, there are some people that have no interest in Adventure Labs while others will likely only complete Adventure Labs and get away from having to find and handle a cache container, let alone sign a moldy logbook.  To me, the "hands-off" feature of Adventure Labs would also make benchmarking popular if they were easier to log.  I personally have a backlog of almost 500 benchmarks that have not been logged because it is time consuming to add multiple pictures and descriptive text in the log (since a cut and paste generic trip log isn't really appropriate). I personally don't care for Waymarking, because there are multiple waymarks of the same thing and it seems that anything from a benchmark to a historical marker/building to the gas station on the corner can be a waymark so I really don't see the point.

 

I wish we had more information about what will be purged from the system/game and what we will see and have access to going forward.  Will benchmarks still be included in our statistics?  Will we be able to see what benchmarks we have logged?  Will we be able to edit or add photos to those benchmarks that we have previously logged?  Will the challenge caches requiring benchmarks be archived and locked so that they can't even be logged or will those of us who have signed the logbook and written a note be allowed to log the smiley if we have met the challenge? I also wish there was a definite date not sometime after/between. Also why can't the date be further into the future, more than just a few weeks, to allow for those that need to log benchmarks and benchmark challenges to do so before it is too late. I may just have to resort to the simple "I found it while in the area caching" without any pictures to have any hope of eliminating my backlog of benchmarks. 

 

As far as missing or destroyed benchmarks, I personally don't see a big difference between hunting for a benchmark and hunting for a cache that has gone missing or not been found in months or years but is still listed in the game when the person that hid it is no longer active or has not been on the geocaching site in years.  But I also don't appreciate when a reviewer archives a cache at the first DNF log or without at least contact the owner via the message center and via email as has happened to me. 

 

Why not have a separate app for logging benchmarks, waymarks, etc. that would simplify the process and allow for a more streamlined database that archives benchmarks that have been destroyed or lost to time but allows for those that want to participate in benchmarking to do so?

 

On a different note - I find that all of the restrictions on new challenge caches make them less appealing and more difficult to find creative challenges.  How many challenges to find the oldest active cache in 5 states do we really need? 

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1 hour ago, CRVonFange said:

I wish we had more information about what will be purged from the system/game and what we will see and have access to

Try reading the opening post of this thread.

The answers to some of your other questions are on page 1 and 2 this thread. Responses by Bl4ckH4wkGER Moun10Bike Frau Potter

identified as admin

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Late to the party, not living in the US so therefore not directly affected, but I still want to toss in my two cents before it's too late. Yes, I know it doesn't matter what is said here, but still.

 

On 10/20/2022 at 5:28 PM, Bl4ckH4wkGER said:

 

I’ll respond to this comment representative for the various comments of “just leave it as is, it shouldn’t be that hard”.

 

I understand that the work and cost needed with maintaining a website and keeping it up and running may not be clear for everyone, so let me give a more tangible examples:

 

Imagine you live on a couple acres of land with a nice 3000 square feet house. It’s pretty old but looks in decent shape. However, it’d really be time for a remodel because the electrical and plumbing are still from when the house was built 70+ years ago. You had three kids and plenty of space and bedrooms to raise them. All your kids have long moved out and so it’s only you and your partner left in the big house on the big property.

 

Even though there are now only 2 people living in the house instead of 5 people, you still have to:

  • Pay the same property tax, maybe even more because it goes up every year
  • Pay the exterminator to keep things pest free
  • Clean the gutters
  • Maintain the yard
  • Keep things heated and dry so there’s no moisture damage
  • Make updates required by law because hypothetically all houses must have solar now
  • Etc etc etc

You can’t just say that you’re not gonna fix the leaky roof because it’s over Billy’s room and Billy moved out so it’s fine. If you do that, you actively risk larger damage to your assets and other parts of the house. Same with not doing the necessary updates to your electrical and plumbing. All it takes is one busted pipe and you're looking at a couple grand in damages.

 

Overall the cost to stay where you are far outweighs the benefit of the large house now that the kids have moved out and their families only all come over all at once for birthdays and holidays.

 

Now, many of you will probably say “well, I’d just downsize and move somewhere else”. Bingo, that’s exactly what Geocaching is doing with benchmarking. We’re moving out into a smaller and more modern house with fewer bedrooms.

 

We understand that selling the house you built and raised your family in can be hard and is an emotional moment, one where you don’t want to hear the numbers. That said, sometimes these tough choices are necessary to make sure that the whole family will be fine years down the road because if you don’t, the debt accrued by staying where you are is just gonna weigh down everyone.

 

I hope you get the picture. 

If this somewhat stumbling analogy is to be drawn to its conclusion, it seems HQ is planning for its own demise. Shutting down services and functions one by one until just a fraction of what it was in its heyday remains. Until someday, when only one member of the family is left, living in a run-down one-room apartment, he also silently passes away without anyone noticing. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

 

It's sad. Geocaching has been an important part of my life for ten years. Around me, players are quitting in droves. If they are quitting because of the changes or if the changes are necessary because they are quitting I don't know. But it is certainly a negative spiral.

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This is a major disappointment. I love to hunt down benchmarks as much as I do caches. As a matter of fact I have logged over 300 benchmarks to date. One big reason why is that I never have to handle  moldy containers, dump water out of them or touch mushy logs. It's really sad that all of the work I put into my logs as well as the hundreds of pictures I have downloaded will just be deleted. Can you please reconsider?

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In all seriousness, what would it take in terms of money, time and resources to set up another site that has all of the geocaching benchmark logs copied over (with Groundspeak's permission of course)?  I'm guessing many cachers who benchmark would be "okay" with the benchmark retirement if all of the logs and photos could be archived or migrated somewhere.  That way cachers who choose to continue to look for benchmarks through other websites would at least have past cachers' logs as helpful references.  I personally don't know what it would take, but I know we have a lot of tech-savvy people in the caching community and several on this forum have said they'd be willing to pay extra to keep this alive, so perhaps with some collaboration we can come to a reasonable compromise: Groundspeak gets to de-couple benchmarking from geocaching.com, and the 20+ years of priceless logs and photos don't get deleted.

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I found only a few benchmarks during my vacation in the US this year. It was a new and interesting experience. On my upcoming trip I wanted to find more. Unfortunately I won't have a chance... Yes, benchmarks isn't/wasn't a big part of worldwide game, but it is/was good benefit for travelers who want to try something new in GC on their journeys.
But actually I'm not much surprised. For example if I want to see list of all my founds geocaches, I have to use my offline database and specialized program, because the website, after update, show maximum 1000. Waymarking? Old web without user-friendly controls, no useable map, no propagation. But yes, when end of benchmarks announced the WM is suddenly mentioned.
If someone wants something to be used, they have to care about it and promote it. I think that my coputer skills are on good level, so I can deal with the lack of a map or old unfriendly website. But I don't have time for all these things and this is reason why I don't use WM. Maybe if you would improve WM and benchmarks, people would come and use more.

 

Goodbye benchmarks. We may haven't had you in Czechia, but you were part of our game.

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On 10/30/2022 at 8:29 AM, VeteranTributes said:

Just make benchmarking a Premium-only feature, and charge $1 more for Premium membership to cover the cost of keeping it.

 

Heck, I'd pay another $10 a year to keep benchmarking and Waymarking going. It's not so much about geocaching as it is about finding unusual things. The Groundspeak crew should be embracing benchmarking, not eliminating it (or, as it happened, do their best to hide it and then complain that not enough people do it).

Edited by The Snowdog
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57 minutes ago, Michaelcycle said:

An open letter to Groundspeak administration:

 

In the early 2000s a fledgling company, looking to expand its product line and thereby increase its customer base, imported a database of benchmarks that its customers could search and log from what is now know as NOAA. Over time the customers provided the necessary additional products (geocaches) to allow the company to survive and grow. To Groundspeak’s administration benchmarks became a forgotten backwater as evidenced by the benign neglect that the platform has endured for many years. Now this same administration wants to remove  benchmarking and its remarkable compendium of logs and photographs, one of the elements that helped the company survive its infancy.

Let’s examine the reasons that they have stated for this wrongheaded decision:

The game is global and benchmarking is a United States pursuit. As others have stated, there are multiple geocaching pursuits that are all or nearly all US based among them the APE cache(s), the original stash plaque and various events limited to HQ and environs. So “globalism” does not make a compelling argument.

Very few people engage in benchmarking so it doesn’t make economic sense to support it. This should be entered in a dictionary of “self fulfilling prophesies” as a quintessential example. I can think of no other segment of the Groundspeak universe that has received as little marketing and promotion as benchmarking. For quite some time you have had to stumble over it to find it compared to everything else. I know some people that primarily looked for benchmarks during the early part of the pandemic before much was known about the virus’s survivability on caches or other surfaces. Imagine what a boost it would have been to the hobby if Groundspeak had actively promoted benchmarking during that time.

The code is old and upkeep is costly. Who’s fault is that? I am certain that the code running the geocache part of the platform is not from 2002. I’ve lived through outages (that I fully understand) caused by multiple upgrades over the years. The ONLY reason we are at this juncture is because administration decided not to spend the money years ago to do the maintenance needed on the benchmarking side. Now we, the paying customer, will pay the price by losing part of the game. Shame on you, Groundspeak, for failing to spend our money wisely.

Speaking of spending our money wisely, now I turn to the excuse that the benchmarking code is getting in the way of new and exciting projects. I have no idea what those are because no one has shared that information. Unlike some members of this board I have no faith, based on the last decade of “innovations” some of which have gone by the wayside, that I and many like me will find them a good trade for removing benchmarking. Imagine if the money lost on some of those “innovations” had been directed at upgrading the benchmarking code.

 

 

Groundspeak likes to talk about the “Language of Location” The language of location in the United States was established by the survey crews that gradually established the network of horizontal and vertical locations that enabled the building of roads and bridges, homes and factories, canals and railroads, cities and towns that made the USA. This was often backbreaking work in inhospitable conditions. It required axe work and lugging surveying chains as often as using precision instruments like theodolites. These precisely measured locations (whether horizontal, vertical or both) are still used today, even in the era of the Global Positioning System, to make sure that water doesn’t flow in the wrong direction, houses aren’t built on the wrong property and for many other reasons. As benchmarkers we have helped find missing markers and reported those that have been destroyed. As august a presence as Dave Doyle, retired NGS chief geodetic surveyor, recently said in the Benchmarking forum “Many thanks to so many who have posted great pictures and hand-held positions that I've been able to harvest and improve the quality of tens of thousands of stations in the National Spatial Reference System.”

 

Perhaps if Jeremy, Bryan, Elias or one of the more public facing lackeys had ever made the hike to station Buttermilk,  (https://www.geocaching.com/mark/details.aspx?PID=LX4113) the oldest surviving triangulation station in the country, they might have experienced the same sense of awe and history that I did when I visited that site. But none of them did, despite traveling to many parts of the USA to promote Groundspeak and its activities (and, for many of the lackeys, to geocache.) They might have learned with a little research that Ferdinand Hassler, the first superindentent of the US Coast Survey, spent two weeks in June of 1833 with his wagon of instruments and his survey team setting this mark. I’ve been to the Original Stash Plaque and the Tunnel of Light APE cache. They are certainly historical but not remotely in the same class as finding Station Buttermilk. The only things that have come close are finding TU2116 (https://www.geocaching.com/mark/details.aspx?PID=TU2116) a benchmark placed by the Republic of Hawaii (check your history boys and girls) in 1896 and GS0206 (https://www.geocaching.com/mark/details.aspx?PID=GS0206) a gravity station in Death Valley (there are as many types of “benchmarks” as there are geocaches, some as rare as webcams.)

 

None of the solutions that have been proposed on this forum have the same functionality as the current system. Waymaking does not have the database, NGS DataExplorer does not have the photographs and NOAA certaily does not want recovery notes every few months on the more popular and easily found stations.

Finally, eliminating benchmarking from this site would be the equivilant of burning down a unique and valuable library, a library that has played a far more valuable civic role than any other aspect of this hobby.

 

The current situation of low usage and old code is primarliy the result of decisions, conscious or subconscious, made by Groundspeak’s administration over the years. These same people can fix the problem by spending the money to revamp the system and market the activity. To rather spend money to move the hobby further from its roots toward more instant gratification may result in short term gain but long term loss. I urge reconsideration of this decision. Benchmarking is this community’s connection to the history of geolocation. Let’s strengthen that connection, not lose it.

 

Michaelcycle and Susancycle

 

 

 

Beautifully thought out and well-written.

 

I appreciate the time that went into this reply, thank you Michael.

 

I haven't been a heavy user of these myself because I simply don't know how to search for these. I would happily pay an additional small additional amount per year to be able to keep these.

Let's keep them and have a clear place on Geocaching.com to explain how to search and log them.

 

I do like the new type caches, but I'd hate to see the old thrown out for the new. Let's not do something we'd regret in the future.

 

 

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