Jump to content

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


Followers 32

Recommended Posts

7 hours ago, aycira said:

Instead of calling the lacking user engagement the reason for hard quitting this segment, the question could have been: How many users would like to engage in benchmarking if the UX was more user friendly? 

 

In Australia, there's an alternative site that lists a lot of trig stations and survey markers as virtuals. Last December, one of my friends created a new listing at a survey marker on a headland near here and posted about it on one of the local FB caching groups. I went across and claimed FTF but, nearly a year later, I'm still the only finder.

 

Even looking at one in a popular tourist spot on Sydney Harbour at Mrs Macquarie's Point, it's only had two logs this year, none last year and two in 2020. By contrast, the Virtual Rewards 3.0 cache at almost the same spot that was published in March has had 134 finds.

  • Upvote 4
  • Helpful 1
Link to comment

I was told many years ago, speaking with a lackey, that benchmarks were going away.  It was before it was relegated to the bottom of the page, where it is now.  There were far too few people using it then.  The cost to rewrite the code was far higher than the member fees of the people that use that portion of the site.   

It did not go away, they had not needed to touch that code at that time, but it was moved and not made a focus.  So they are finally at a point where the code needs to be updated for future projects.  It can't be left alone because it will impact those projects.  I am thankful for the extra 7-8 years that I had with it, but i understand the sadness of others.  I have a number of caches I found standing on a benchmark, and never logged the benchmarks.  Just like tens of thousands of other cachers.  

  • Upvote 6
  • Funny 1
  • Helpful 1
Link to comment
On 10/18/2022 at 2:53 AM, 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.

 

On 10/18/2022 at 7:19 PM, Bl4ckH4wkGER said:

Scraping the website constitutes a violation of the terms of use...

This is not a law of nature.
GS can allow this, if they don't want to annoy their customers unnecessarily.
If GS no longer wants to play along, it would be appropriate if GS at least did not prevent the others from doing so.

  • Upvote 7
  • Helpful 1
Link to comment

We are so unhappy and disappointed to hear that benchmarks will no longer be on geocaching.  It is part of geocaching to us and we enjoy finding them and have put in a photo for every one we have found.  It is fun to find benchmarks and even exciting if they are old or haven't been found in a long time.   We had a goal of finding 1,000 and now our count is 947 benchmarks.  So now there is not enough time to find 53 more.   Of course, after we had reached our goal, we planned on continuing hunting for benchmarks.  

 

It takes extra effort and research to find a benchmark.  First you have to find ones in the area you are going.  We used the  link to nearby benchmarks on a cache page to find ones where we would be geocaching.  Then sifted through them to find ones we thought we could find.  We printed photos, if available, of the ones we were going to try to find because sometimes the cords were not exactly right and we had to "hunt" for them.   After we found one, then we took a photo and posted it and our find log on geocaching.  It was very satisfying to find them.  

 

Beside not having benchmarks to find anymore, it doesn't seem right that our benchmark statistics, photos and logs will just be gone.  

With benchmarks gone from Geocaching, if we try to find them on Waypoints, how will we know which ones we have found?  

We know if geocaching has decided to get rid of benchmarks, they will.  It won't matter that some geocachers love finding them and will be quite sad.  It won't matter that to some an important part of the game is gone.  It seems that benchmarks just don't matter anymore. That's too bad.

 

 

 

  • Upvote 7
  • Love 2
Link to comment
On 10/31/2022 at 1:03 PM, niraD said:

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.

It's easy to see how people can be puzzled by this since the benchmarking interface is almost exactly like it was when I started geocaching in 2010 except for occasionally removing features. Geocaches, on the other hand, have changed a great deal both in user interface and database capabilities. Benchmarking seems entirely distinct. Naturally I have no idea what's going on under the covers, but it's hard to understand how two features that are so different could share a lot of infrastructure. And notice they didn't say it would be hard to make benchmarking independent, just that it would be more effort than killing it off. That's their choice, of course.

  • Upvote 2
  • Love 1
Link to comment

Keystone, I have tried to add waymarks to Waymarking.com and it is a super difficult process for me. I have added historical markers to the HMDB website and their form is really easy to understand and fill out. Waymarking not so easy to understand, and no one to help with figuring it out.

  • Upvote 3
  • Surprised 1
Link to comment

I'm sorry to see benchmarks are going to be removed. I enjoy looking for them and logging them for challenges. I my opinion I think the database for benchmarks should be updated. There are so many newer benchmarks that aren't loggable on geocaching because of an outdated database. If the database were updated more cachers would look for them. Right now if you stumble across a benchmark and try to log it it probably isn't listed on the geocaching site. Gone are the days of long hikes and ammo-cans. I'm glad I got to experience geocaching as it was original setup to be.

  • Upvote 8
Link to comment
20 hours ago, mineral54 said:

Keystone, I have tried to add waymarks to Waymarking.com and it is a super difficult process for me. I have added historical markers to the HMDB website and their form is really easy to understand and fill out. Waymarking not so easy to understand, and no one to help with figuring it out.

There most certainly is someone to help you figure it out. I have found the officers quite helpful any time I had questions about a benchmark waymark. 

  • Upvote 2
Link to comment

Sorry to hear this, just as I was sorry when they stopped allowing new Virtual Cache placements, ( in the old style).   I don't often search for Benchmarks, but do occasionally when Caches are not in an area, or I have found all the current caches there. I was thrilled to have discovered one as FTF since it was put out around 1935 . Please reconsider re-establishing Benchmarks, and adding to the list, since many were not included in the original list.

  • Upvote 5
  • Love 1
Link to comment

I think the main reason benchmarks were not more popular is because they do not show up on the smartphone geocaching apps.  You could be standing on top of one and not know it.   I did enjoy doing them because they were harder to find.   As someone pointed out in remote rural areas benchmarks can be the only thing there to hunt .  They are still there untouched by development.

 

 

  • Upvote 4
Link to comment
On 11/7/2022 at 5:17 PM, The Snowdog said:

Don't know when it actually happened, but "Find nearby benchmarks" finally dropped off the (old view) page. I never opted in to the "new" page so no idea what it even looked like there. So sad to see it go. But I could still see my old benchmark logs.

 

On the cache pages, it is still there (website) - 

image.png.157d411a78ce6bb64814779d37dbd1d0.png

  • Upvote 3
Link to comment
12 hours ago, The Snowdog said:

Hmmm, I could swear it was gone for a while. Are they having second thoughts? Is there a chance?

 

I certainly hope so.  There's so much interesting history behind those benchmarks and it's invaluable what people could learn from them.  In fact, there were a couple of benchmarks that I found, not too far from where I live, and the datasheet described the roads that the benchmark was near as "a dirt road".  Of course, that was over 50 years ago and the roads are now paved.  I found another one that was embedded near the steps of what used to be a high school.  It's now a cultural center and there's even a nearby plaque describing the change.  What's also interesting are the posted coordinates and what they are today.  I found one that was 185' off.  There was additional information on the datasheet to help pinpoint the benchmark, similar to landmarks on finding a letterbox cache.  It amazes me how coordinate accuracy has improved. 

 

HQ wants to move benchmarking over to their Waymarking site, but I find that website to be old and outdated.   I used it for a short-time in 2008 when Virtuals were retired and looked again recently, and my opinion hasn't changed.  There are certainly a lot of Waymarks listed but I don't see a lot of logged finds.  I don't know about other people but I'm not in favor of using several websites to log finds.  That would be the equivalent of going to several grocery stores to purchase groceries instead of going to one.

  • Upvote 5
  • Funny 1
  • Surprised 1
  • Helpful 1
Link to comment

I was shocked when I recently heard the news.  I am deeply disappointed!  It is such a thrill to find a Benchmark that has been listed as Missing or Destroyed or has not been found in simply ages.  Benchmarking is a great addition to my travels.  I pay more attention to the countryside as well as state and government buildings, water tanks with names of towns and cities painted on the side, smokestacks near famous sites (i.e. where the ammunition train was destroyed in Atlanta during the War Between the States), churches and cathedrals, bridges (some quite famous), etc. when searching for Benchmarks.

  • Upvote 3
  • Surprised 1
  • Love 3
Link to comment
On 11/11/2022 at 5:06 AM, JL_HSTRE said:

 

They will be available. Geocachers had to submit a separate log via the NGS website for it to appear in the datasheet and that option isn't going away.

 

While we can still submit logs to the NGS, all of the previous data from the benchmarks people have logged on the geocaching website will be lost to time.

  • Upvote 5
Link to comment
5 hours ago, BubbaJuice said:

 

While we can still submit logs to the NGS, all of the previous data from the benchmarks people have logged on the geocaching website will be lost to time.

It is called Complete Deletion of anything benchmark on GC. It was like when people had and found Locationless Caches = Delete. Simple. I still think that the Geocachers should get to vote on whether or not that complete sections of GC be deleted. But, I have been proven wrong on the LC's and now the Benchmarking.

 

It was glorious while both of those lasted. Just saying.

  • Upvote 4
  • Helpful 1
Link to comment
On 11/9/2022 at 10:42 PM, Keystone said:

As a reminder, stories and photos about individual benchmarking adventures can still be posted to the Benchmarking Forum section.  A number of off topic posts have been hidden from view.

U.S. Benchmarks leader over at Waymarking here again - so what happens to all the www.geocaching.com/mark links in the forums AND on the existing waymarks that reference them as well? I'd hazard a guess that 70% of the submissions on WM link back to the BMs on GC...

  • Upvote 4
Link to comment
34 minutes ago, Ernmark said:

U.S. Benchmarks leader over at Waymarking here again - so what happens to all the www.geocaching.com/mark links in the forums AND on the existing waymarks that reference them as well? I'd hazard a guess that 70% of the submissions on WM link back to the BMs on GC...

 

By Jove, My Dear Watson, you have hit the nail on the head. If we were to transfer the info from our benchmarking finds onto Waymarking, they will probably be non-functional due to the links to Benchmark hunting being deleted. So it would be a waste of time for each of us to try to save that info by just transferring by clicking and moving it. So, if we were to want to try to save any of our logs, we would have to retype each and every one and upload new pictures also. With so many logs that, my dear Watson, would be undo-able in the amount of time they have given us. That is why it seems that was just thrown out to the benchmark crowd to seem like there was a solution. But if it was that easy, the powers that be could have just transferred all of data over to Waymarking themselves. Just saying... 

 

It is just another feature of GC that will be deleted like Locationless Caches, and others that they just decide for whatever reasons to delete without the members getting to vote on the matter. 

 

Plain and simple.  

  • Upvote 7
  • Funny 1
Link to comment

Since my response is to the moderators of the site and Groundspeak et al., I will post this here weeks after the main discussion has passed. Like all of my logs, this is mostly just a rant.

 

I... support the decision! The sport/game/hobby of geocaching has existed for so long, its long term survival outweighs what some users think about the more antiquated elements of it. I would argue benchmarking is not a priority for many users, only partially because Groundspeak has relegated it to obscurity on the website for years.
 

Beginners, who are important customers to expand the product, don't seem to be flocking toward benchmarks. My area has been dominated by loop-holers focused more on statistics than unique hunts and only seem to log benchmarks when they can get a challenge cache out of it. The 0.13% statistic that was paraded around is probably an understatement, but I do not see the logic of paying to support something so little of the general population cares about. A majority of my gripes are not with Groundspeak's decision but the rotten system of global capitalism and the myth of unlimited business growth. Low interest, sadly, equals low profitability and thus elimination.

 

The archivist aspect is the main element that is tragic in all this, for me. But this is a symptom of the internet at large- huge portions of the web are just being lost to the wind and almost no one seems to care. Geocaching has now outlasted web 1.0, 2.0 and if the impending demise of twitter is any indication, 3.0 as well. One of its most valuable elements then are the logs from a pre-cell phone age. There are inactive users who commented on benchmarks and their logs will be lost forever. That sucks. While scraping page by page through The Internet Archive is a great idea, it's not practical. I'll try anyway. It's not a defense of the decision, but reality.

Burying the lede here, but Benchmarking is/was one my favorite elements of Geocaching. I think it is profoundly interesting from a historical aspect, and many of my most memorable experiences with caching overall have been hunting remote benchmarks. I was annoyed with how old the datasheet was and just how many of the marks were actually destroyed. Especially living in an urban area, where mindless sprawl and that myth of unlimited growth have destroyed many of these disks. But the ones I did find were fun, even if it was impossible to combine that experience into any sort of phone application.

 

Of the 84 I found so far, 56 (66%) have been radio/water towers, cupolas, domes, flagpoles, or just tall buildings. These are a majority of the benchmarks I've noticed other users have logged. Which is logical- they are the most easily accessible. But I would also argue, not entirely worth it. For those above me who complain about lamp post hides, these categories of benchmarking are very much in the same vein. I do not want to gatekeep against either as that would be hypocritical. I strive to give my logs as much depth and information as possible, but it's pretty obvious that a State Capitol dome is "in good shape".

 

Which leaves the other 32 (34%) of my finds- bench mark discs themselves. This is what I'll- and others here- will truly miss. I think that the amount of marks logged as missing or never logged at all are vast. That sort of eliminates the ease of accessibility. Of those 32 disks, a third of them have been found less than five times. I am the most recent finder on all of those for the past eighteen months. I was happy to recognize one of those other finders in these comments, and empathize with their disappointment, but this doesn't eliminate benchmarking. It just pushes it to a much less popular website. This is by no means the end of my benchmarking. It's just the end of me keeping track of my benchmarking online- my disapointments with Waymarking are a separate rant entirely.

Talk all you want about how the best things in life are worth the challenge, but from a business model perspective it's not marketable. Which goes back to my hatred of the "game" (capitalism) not the "player" (Groundspeak) trying to promote and protect Geocaching.

 

So in summary, while I love benchmarking, I can understand why Groundspeak would phase it out. Because it's a niche, mostly unrelated element to geocaching at large.

  • Upvote 4
  • Surprised 2
Link to comment
12 hours ago, Gabrielol said:

The sport/game/hobby of geocaching has existed for so long, its long term survival outweighs what some users think about the more antiquated elements of it.

I have a hard time believing geocaching's longterm survival depends on eliminating benchmarking.

 

Other than that, I think your points are reasonable. I can't say I support the decision, but for the reasons you cite, I agree it's GS's decision to make.

  • Upvote 3
  • Funny 1
Link to comment
On 11/14/2022 at 12:01 PM, 2oldfarts (the rockhounders) said:

It is just another feature of GC that will be deleted like Locationless Caches, and others that they just decide for whatever reasons to delete without the members getting to vote on the matter. 

 

Locationless caches weren't deleted, just locked.

 

While I want Groundspeak to be more transparent and less abrupt in their decision making, they are a business not a democracy.

 

Next person to start a GPS game as a nonprofit organization with voting membership will be the first, AFAIK.

 

On 11/12/2022 at 11:22 AM, BubbaJuice said:

While we can still submit logs to the NGS, all of the previous data from the benchmarks people have logged on the geocaching website will be lost to time.

 

I was replying to someone who lamented the logs here would no longer be available to surveyors.

 

Surveyors and any other professionals are only going to check the NGS database. They don't check the benchmark logs here or on Waymarking; that's purely for hobbyists.

  • Upvote 2
Link to comment
2 hours ago, JL_HSTRE said:

 

Locationless caches weren't deleted, just locked.

 

While I want Groundspeak to be more transparent and less abrupt in their decision making, they are a business not a democracy.

 

Next person to start a GPS game as a nonprofit organization with voting membership will be the first, AFAIK.

 

 

I was replying to someone who lamented the logs here would no longer be available to surveyors.

 

Surveyors and any other professionals are only going to check the NGS database. They don't check the benchmark logs here or on Waymarking; that's purely for hobbyists.

Sooo, if the Locationless caches weren't deleted, where are they? Also, I know it is a business, but businesses need to listen to their customers otherwise they will slowly but surly, not have that business after disappointing said customers being treated wrongly in the eyes of said customers. 

 

Plus, the head NGS Surveyor and others were constantly on the Benchmarking Forums to check on the errors we found (we had Dave D and a couple of others) that would check our logs here on GC and update their existing NGS data without our posting on the NGS ourselves. That happened in many cases. Now, there will no longer be that small back and forth ever again. We felt we had something extra here that in it's small way, was actually doing something good instead of just going out and leaving caches all over the world as a game. So, do not belittle the importance of Benchmark Hunting and our small part with harvesting information.

 

Edited by 2oldfarts (the rockhounders)
Old age is my reason for this edit.
  • Upvote 7
  • Helpful 1
  • Love 1
Link to comment

Locationless caches haven't been "deleted," so let's abandon that inapposite analogy.  For example, here is a link to the locationless caches found by 2oldfarts (the rockhounders).  This can be accessed from the "Geocaches" tab on the user's public profile page, and locationless finds continue to show up in a "All My Finds" pocket query.  There are also three active locationless caches available for logging (though two of them are scheduled to be archived and locked on January 1, 2023, as previously announced).

  • Upvote 3
  • Helpful 2
Link to comment

I doubt it will make in difference but I will put in my two cents worth. I, too, would rather not see benchmarking go away or the challenges that encourage geocachers to seek them out. I live in a very rural area. Apart from a few caches that I am saving for a souvenir or whatever else may pop up, I have to drive over an hour one way to find a geocache. If my dog and I wish  to go hiking closer to home we can search for benchmarks. Adventure Labs are generally placed in locations where a person drives up to them or close. This doesn't encourage hiking or quality time with my dog. I have found numerous benchmarks and enjoyed the challenge and exercise to find them. It has been fun finding benchmark named with unique names like HOCKEY at the Hockey Hall of Fame. I would rather see them handled like the labs. One gets credit for a find but it doesn't affect your D/T rating. 

  • Upvote 6
  • Funny 1
  • Love 1
Link to comment

Incredibly sad to find out that benchmarks on Geocaching are going away. I'd much rather use old datasheets to track down a physical survey disk—a tangible part of history—than answer questions in a virtual Adventure Lab. Maybe more players would use the function if it hadn't been hidden away on the site; I only found out about it myself last year, and though I haven't logged as many as some users here it's always a delight to find benchmarks out in the wild. I understand that there are technological reasons behind the change (to update code/make room for a new project), but given that the latest new feature was ALs I can't say I'm looking forward to whatever is coming next. I wish HQ would reconsider.

  • Upvote 6
  • Surprised 1
  • Helpful 2
  • Love 1
Link to comment

The comment of “iconic benchmarks” and “missed opportunities” started me thinking.  Maybe it isn’t too late for HQ to turn this “retirement” around and make it into a profitable venture.  If HQ just looked at the short list of popular benchmarks below, they can see how many visitors they get per year.  If the benchmarking part of the website was updated and the activity of benchmarking was marketed well (through miniature reproduction landmark trackables, shaped pins, etc.), there would be a potential for a large revenue stream.

 

Empire State Building (N 40° 44.906, W 073° 59.139) – 4 million visitors

Statue of Liberty (N 40° 41.350, W 074° 02.673) – 4 million visitors

Space Needle (N 47° 37.230, W 122° 20.957) – 1.3 million visitors

Washington Monument (N 38° 53.368, W 077° 02.114) – 7 million visitors

Golden Gate Bridge North Pier (N 37° 49.530, W 122° 28.753) & South Pier (N 37° 48.840, W 122° 28.672) – 10 million visitors

Edited by OCamera
  • Upvote 3
  • Funny 2
  • Helpful 2
  • Love 1
Link to comment
On 11/23/2022 at 5:31 PM, BlueMoth said:

And how could GS announce it right before the holidays when most of us are busy with family matters. Were they hoping no one would notice or care? 

 

I believe minimal community input actually was the goal of this abrupt announcement. If that is true, it succeeded. And how many unaware are going to wake up one morning to find nothing left but their find count? 

 

The announcement was made in mid-October. You consider 5 1/2 weeks before Thanksgiving to be "right before the holidays"?

 

Considering the vast majority of geocachers don't visit the forums it certainly did fly under the radar. Was it ever mentioned in the weekly emails from Groundspeak?

 

On 11/23/2022 at 5:31 PM, BlueMoth said:

My friend said in an earlier post on this thread that his friend was always saying that GS is constantly taking away things we want and giving us things we don't want and never asked for. That friend he was talking about is me. 

I've been saying that for 7 yrs, and I'll say this now, that attitude is going to be the eventual death of geocaching because GS is so focused on being the driver they forgot how to be the steward. 

What GS can't see is that in their attempt to attract the inattentive newbie gadfly with all the shiny objects they dangle out there they keep driving away their longtime paying customers because they are doing it at the expense of things that are useful, needful and enjoyable to us as  committed paying geocachers. Some people on this thread have said they have had enough and will not be renewing their pmo. Can GS afford this continuing trend? What will be the next thing to go? Benchmark hunters are angry  and disappointed now. Who will GS anger next? Will the gadflies pony up the $30 a year for their few days or six months of a lark? No, most of them will be on to whatever next catches their attention. 

And here we are. With another soon to be announced trinket for the gadflies. 

 

Groundspeak is a business. Since the vast majority of their perceived customers have less than 100 lifetime Finds their decision-making is aimed primarily at those cachers.

 

If getting rid of benchmarks costs Groundspeak 100 PMs (and I doubt it will), but new feature Groundspeak is going to roll out after getting the old benchmarking code out of the way gets them 200 new PMs that's a win for Groundspeak. And the new feature will be used worldwide instead of only in the US. Unlike most aspects of geocaching.com, Benchmarking could only ever appeal to half the customer base because of its geographical limitations.

 

As long as Groundspeak is a for-profit business it will do what they think is best for business. Trying to keep 1% of geocachers happy isn't important for business.

  • Upvote 2
  • Love 1
Link to comment
On 10/19/2022 at 1:48 AM, Hynz said:

I would be interested to know how much of that information (logs, photos) produced here were accually helpfull for the NGS.

Have they been using this information somehow in the past?

Have they been asked if they are interested in getting the database?

I can answer this, from personal experience. The NGS does not see any of the logs that are posted on the geocaching.com website. However, the NGS is *very* happy to have us submitting Recoveries. Recoveries are done through the NGS' own website. Photos can be added to these Recoveries. I have submitted over 100 Recoveries; I know of at least two other geocachers with over 500 Recoveries. The NGS has given Geocaching its own designation for Recoveries; this is no small thing. As for the database of Marks, it is actually from the NGS.

 

The bottom line here is that, while it is true that we can still log Recoveries with the NGS, having easy access here to Mark info has been wonderful. There is nothing that will replace this: not the NGS website, not Waymarking, because neither of them make it easy to actually see where the things are *before* we come across them. They only work *after* we see them. 

  • Upvote 4
  • Helpful 1
  • Love 1
Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Followers 32
×
×
  • Create New...