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The thursday after the wednesday before...

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Firstly I apologise in advance for the length of this post. It has taken many hours to put together and covers a number of related topics which have other individual threads running at the moment. In consultation with Tim and June I have decided to start a new thread so as not to be offtopic in any of the other ones. This posting was current as of midnight thursday evening, so any posts subsequent to this time yet timestamped before this post are not condiered (if you get my drift). I had to draw the line at some point and last midnight was it.


Secondly I would like to thank Tim and June for all their efforts in opening diplomatic channels with the people over on TMA site forums. I only read these forums once every 24 hours and all I can say to paraphrase another is 'a day is a long time in the forums.'


I have now read every single wretched posting (**see first paragraph) both on here and on the TMA site about the whole affair of what TMA do as opposed to what we do. I think some of the points they raise over there are misguided, some are intelligent and need airing, (even if they are subsequently successfully laid to rest), and some are downright stupid. Nevertheless, if we expect them to see our point of view, then we also need to see theirs in each case. To take a few one by one...


They make the point that what we do is a silly little hobby full of sad geeks who are full of themselves over their little electronic gizmos. This is of course partly true, in that, to a normal sane member of the public, we *are* fairly weird in some respects, but thats not something to be ashamed of. Lots of other sports and hobbies are populated by equally strange people, and someone made the point over there that the members of the TMA site are themselves just as likely to be thought of as cranks by Joe Public as we are. Both camps have a long way to go to achieve a degree of recognition by the man in the street, if indeed such recognition is wanted. We are only weird in the fact that most people have no idea what we do and can't relate to it. Nothing wrong with that, and so to pillory us for our geekiness is a case of one kitchen utensil darkening the lustre of another. I disagree that we are full of ourselves over our little gizmos though. Sometimes I find myself cursing mine!


The point is suggested that we are not a sport. Well OK, who cares what label we attach to ourselves. The word sport is used, I understand, to signify that we do what we do for pleasure, that it involves some sort of effort and skill, and that there is a degree of competitiveness to it. The competitiveness comes in all of those of us who feel it is about the numbers. And that includes anyone who congratulates anyone for making 100/200/whatever finds. If there was NO competitive spirit *anywhere at all* in the activity, it would more properly be called a pastime. Both sports and pastimes can be hobbies. If anyone doesn't want to call it a sport, then fine. Its only a convenient guideline designed to give some idea of the nature of the beast.


The point is raised that what we do in setting a physical cache is really littering. Well I'm afraid I have to agree that technically they may be right. Tim and June said as much over on the other forum, also making the point that, by the same token, those of our ancestors who placed many of the ancient monuments would have been guilty of the same thing. We, of course, don't consider it littering, but we have to accept that there are going to be others who do, and we are going to have to live with it. We cannot, unfortunately for us, state categorically that they are wrong. Fortunately for us though, they can't state categorically that they are right. The jury will stay out on this one until such time as the whole thing is tested in a court of law, and I don't want to see good money wasted on that!


Then we come to damage. I think I can speak for all here by saying that no cache or cacher should ever be doing any sort of damage to not just ancient monuments, but any sort of public or private property! We don't need to and it's just not something we would even dream of doing. I think some of the posters over at TMA want to point out to everybody (not just us) that it is quite possible to do inadvertant damage to a site without realising it, and that in some cases they were genuinely worried and trying to let us know that there might be things we had not taken into consideration. If that was the case then we should be prepared to listen to them. They may have expertise in this area that we don't.


Buckets: Yes, well. Someone needs to point out that the rules of GC were written in the USA for US cachers (primarily), and some of the exact language may need to be taken with a pinch of salt. What we call a bucket and what they call a bucket are not necessarily quite the same. It needs to be pointed out to TMA that they should read it all with an american accent. They need to realise that there are some parts of the rules which need 'translating' for UK consumption, in terms of exactly what the words mean. Understanding this when quoting chunks of text from a website far from these shores would help both sides. We take american rules written for an american culture and apply then as best-fit to the situation we have over here. The fit isn't always perfect. Maybe the States really do use buckets as we know them...but then they do have vastly bigger land areas and more space to play with so maybe buckets do actually work over there...I don't know for sure.



Lets leave that section and move on to what we might do in future to avoid this sort of affair happening again. I think, if I come across an opportunity such as Dan did when he found he was able to 'spread the word' to a new group of people, what I am going to do is post my thoughts and intentions on here, just to sound people out. From the meet in Winchester it seems we have an impressive array of worldy wisdom available to us on here, and frankly I am inclined to start using it! I mean, its free, its fast, and its probably pretty sound. For the sake of an extra 24 hours, I think I'll post on here before doing anything rash. At least then if it all goes base-over-apex, we can *all* share the blame! icon_biggrin.gif


Another small thing I have noticed on a couple of occasions, and this time it was Dan, but before it has been others, is the issue of taglines and their unfortunate juxtaposition in some posts. In this case I read a post from Dan in the thread that was dealing with caches being litter, and Dan's post was trying to deal with the sensitivies of the TMA people who obviously at that stage considered our plastic boxes to be quite a serious matter (rightly or wrongly). The post, beutifully crafted by Dan, which might have gone some way to allaying those feelings in the other group, then ended with the tagline 'Its just a hunt for a lunchbox, why be so serious?' Normally this is a dadgum good tagline, and I love it, but just this once, it was the very last thing you wanted to say to these chaps. I suggest we all bear in mind our usually excellent taglines can sometimes be automatically added without us realising what the overall tone of the post will then look like. As I said, this is the latest, but I have seen it happen before... Dan I am not blaming you for one minute, but just thinking about what we might do in future. It could so easily have been me.


Next: We have to address the fears that these people have about our activity. Fear instils an irrational desire to fight, and we have seen enough of that already. People who are afraid for their whatever-it-is-they-hold-dear are willing to do extraordinary things to protect them. It wouldn't surprise me if we do lose a few caches over this episode, although I think there is a good chance we might not lose any now things are calming down. We have to show TMA that they have far bigger fish to fry than us, including vandals, litterbugs, and overzealous film crews (as already mentioned). Tim and June are already doing sterling work in this department. Lets hope it works. A bit of subtle redirection can do wonders for diplomacy. Lets take the TMA focus off us, and put it where it belongs, on the real villains, people who go around disfiguring, defacing and otherwise spoiling our special places. They are EVERYONE'S special places. Not theirs, not ours, but everyone's.


This leads on to the whole subject of publicity. We have to face facts. If we go on down this road of publicity and promotion, we are going to meet both the 'Inside out' type of response (generally encouraging) and the TMA type (not nice). I think, personally we were dead lucky with the BBC one. I don't think we will be so lucky every time. We now have this one which is pretty bad, and also the BBC radio Scotland one which is not bad, but not good either, and I will come on to that in a moment. Thats 1 out of 3, which could be a warning of things to come. If you want to go down the publicity road, then be aware of the consequences, and I have said as much a while back in another thread. Its gonna be hard, and the result had better be worth it.


Now the Radio Scotland thing. Oh thankyou thankyou Tim and June for rescuing us from another media noose. I often listen to Gary Robertson on BBC Radio 5 overnight and he's certainly capable of much better than that appalling performance on Radio Scotland. If in my radio days I had conducted an interview/feature in that manner I would have been taken off air for a week as punishment. And as for that woman interviewer...I have never heard a more clueless, giggly, and unprofessional piece of radio journalism in my life! Well maybe I have, but it was a long time ago and I was only 15 at the time.... icon_biggrin.gif


Seriously, I listened with dismay to the hatchet job that was done on us by a team who were only interested in one thing: having a private laugh at their guest's expense. If we are going to appear on these things we need to make sure that the inteviewer is briefed beforehand as to what we are going to say and why we are going to say it. Gary should have asked that anyway, and maybe he did, (Tim?), but it certainly didn't seem like it. When I do interviews, I tell the guest what questions I am going to ask, and get them to tell me what they are going to say. Then we do it all again on-air and I can guide the situation properly. But it works both ways. The guest has a responsibility to ensure the interviewer knows where they are coming from and has no excuse for misrepresenting the guest on-air. Politicians are groomed for this sort of thing, and we need to be too!


*If* we are gonna do this sort of publicity thing in future, we have *got* to do it right, leaving no bumbling presenter with any wiggle-room whatsoever. Personally I don't think we should be doing this sort of publicity, but hey, I can't stop the rest of you doing it if thats what you all want. I urge extreme caution, and a low profile. Wronskian and Huga have both said it better than I, in another thread.



I have just looked at the clock and realised I have been writing this post for hours. It has been rewritten at least twice from scratch as I am anxious not to upset anyone. I even sought the guidance of our moderators about the contents before posting, and that is why it has taken so long for me to respond. I know that, by now, much of what I have said has already been said by others, and thankyou to them, but trying to rewrite this every time a new post appears has become a fruitless chase. When I started to write this, little or none of it had been said, and I felt that so many of these points were interlinked that to put them on a thread of their own was the only way to deal with them under one roof.


PS. Do I have the record for the biggest posting?


No trees were harmed during the production of this posting, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced....

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Originally posted by MCL:

Firstly I apologise in advance for the length of this post.




There's often two ways to view publicity. 1. Any publicity is good (but usually said by people who may already have a tarnished reputation) and 2. You have no control over free publicity.


In the second case, you have to accept that the people in the media either have an axe to grind, or don't care if they get it wrong.


I'd certainly agree with the comments about being very careful about introducing Geocaching in other forums or by linking to other websites, without first checking to see if the target audience are likely to welcome the information, or even care.


Even some of the Newsgroups, like the one that Geocaching started on, are likely to give any Geocacher who barges in a tough time. In fact, you might get flamed by the person who started it all off in the 1st place! icon_eek.gif


--... ...--


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Thanks for all the well thought out posts and support.


We have received a reply from Mod Ant which is posted to the end of

"The Plot Thickens" thread.


It would seem that there is little point discussing it further and we would appreciate it if cachers posted no more defense of our pastime on their forum.


Now let's get on with what we do best, discussing and finding boxes.


Tim & June (Winchester)


See June, I told you that sign which said 'Unsuitable for Motor Vehicles' was wrong ! icon_smile.gif

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Good Shepherds said:Thanks MCL - that's by far the best written and well-considered opinion that I've read on this whole situation.


I have to concur. Beautifully written. Not that I agree with everything, it's just beautifully written.


And with that I depart your forums.


"Don't change places, let them change you."


"Go far and leave nothing but footprints"


My two phrases of the week icon_smile.gif

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Hostilities seem to have come to an ending (of sorts) and I would like to salute everyone who tried to put over their point without abuse and hostility. We will probebly never agree on some points, yet for so many others we are on the same side.


In the mean time we should all feel glad that we are able to experience an environment like this.


Do what you think is right to protect it.


Peace, Light & Love.

(From A Particularly Mellow) Chris


Bear rescues a speciality!

London & UK Geocaching Resources: http://www.sheps.clara.net

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