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Code Of Caching Ethics


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There is no formal "Code of Ethics" for geocachers, although as the sport continues to grow, perhaps that issue can be revisited. As a listing site, Geocaching.com focuses on the rules and ethics for placing a geocache and using the website. There is some overlap and certainly good rules of conduct that can be derived from the materials published here on Geocaching.com, including:

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Geocaching

Guide to Creating and Hiding a Cache and

Cache Listing Requirements/Guidelines

 

The ethics for the geocacher are hashed out here in the forums as much as anyplace else. By reading the forums, you'll learn principles like trading even or leaving the cache better than you found it, logging and moving travel bugs promptly, and cache-in, trash-out.

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and moving travel bugs promptly

I have a problem myself regarding moving TB's. I picked up a TB about 2 weeks ago with the intent of taking it to Oregon, which was relatively close to being near the intended destination. However, a recent family emergency has cancelled my trip to Oregon, now I am stuck with the TB, I was trying to move along. Should I just stick it back in the same cache I took it from, or move it to one in the general area??? Not sure what to do with it now that our plans fell through. :)

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If you cannot assist the bug to it's goal, then replacing it in the same cache or a relatively close one is acceptable. Sometimes helping one 1 mile closer to it's destination is the best someone can do.

 

Placing a bug in a high traffic cache 20 miles in the opposite direction can sometimes be better then the direction it needs to go. As long as you are not blantly taking it off-track, don't worry about it.

Edited by TeamX40
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Suggestions in response to your question about code of ethics:

 

(1) pay careful attention to the rules about hiding caches on the GC.com site

 

(2) do not give away the location of a person's cache to non geocachers, even if it means having to come back to get the find another time because there are persons standing too close for a safe approach

 

(3) don't take good items and leave junk in return -- try to do even trades, and if you cannot, just don't do a trade

 

(4) do not take a travel bug from a cache unless you understand clearly how they work, and have read the web page for the bug you are looking at and know its travel plans -- the idea is to help these bugs along their planned route, not get them just to score more travel bug finds on your profile page

 

(5) give consideration to how the natural ecosystem might be impacted by heavy traffic near your cache, should it become popular

 

(6) post known hazards regarding the cache location on the cache's page

 

(7) use the help tool on the GC.com site to assign an appropriate level of difficulty and terrain -- don't just guess

 

That's about all I can think of for now.

 

Hope this helps.

 

:)

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Here is something I put together a while ago. It's not really a code of ethics, but if more people would follow these, it certainly wouldn't hurt our sport (this is geared

towards those searching, rather than cache owners):

 

Do not:

Do not mark the location of the cache with stones, flagging tape, arrows, cairns, etc... You found it without the extra help, so can everyone else.

 

Do not leave the cache exposed, unless you are absolutely sure that is the way the owner wants it.

 

Do not leave food in the caches. This includes dog biscuts, gum, Pez and cans of soda. It doesn't matter how well sealed the food item is. Just don't do it.

 

Do not leave heavily scented items like soap, candles, incense, pot-pourri, etc... The scents may be as interesting to animals as food.

 

Do not turn over, or move every rock and down tree in the area during your search. When you leave the area, it should not look like a cyclone went through. Besides, it isn't necessary and may tick off land managers.

 

Do not log it as a find if you didn't find it. It will confuse the cache owner and subsequent searchers.

 

Do's:

Do re-hide the cache well. Use the difficulty rating as a guide if you are unsure how well to hide it.

 

Do make sure you re-seal the lid. Many caches are ruined because someone failed to close the lid properly.

 

Do log your find on this website. It's a courtesy to the cache owner. It lets them know the cache has been found and their effort is appreciated.

 

Do let the owner know of any problems with the cache. You can do this via your log or an e-mail.

 

Do log a "not found", if you didn't find it. It alerts the owner and other cachers that there could be a problem, or that the cache might be more difficult than the published difficulty rating. A "not found" is nothing to be ashamed of. We all have our share.

 

Do try to leave the area around the cache as undisturbed as possible.

 

Do try to trade evenly. Don't take that Leatherman tool if all you are going to leave is a state quarter, or an acorn.

 

Do follow the trail where possible. Often a trail will turn away from the cache, then loop back in its direction. Resist the urge to bushwack. It won't save you much time and more often than not, you'll just run into the trail again.

 

Do try to make sure you aren't being watched. In high traffic areas, its a good idea to take the cache and move to another spot to make your trade and log in. Then return the cache to its hiding place when you are sure nobody's looking.

Edited by briansnat
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Thank you BrianSnat for resurfacing that excellent list of do's and dont's from an old post. Thanks, too, to Hikemeister and others who have offered constructive suggestions.

 

I would like to keep this topic pinned at the top of the forum for awhile since we will hopefully be welcoming a bumper crop of new geocachers who receive GPSr's as holiday gifts in the coming weeks. These tips are helpful reading for newcomers.

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Not bad, folks. Two things -

 

(4) do not take a travel bug from a cache unless you . . . have read the web page for the bug you are looking at and know its travel plans --

 

That's tough to do if there's no info card attached to the bug when you find it. Better yet, if you can't help the bug on it's way after reading it's page, put it into another cache soon. Return it to the one you got it from if you have to. Just don't hold onto it for months and months.

 

Do log your find on this website. It's a courtesy to the cache owner. It lets them know the cache has been found and their effort is appreciated.

 

Stealthy cachers, such as myself, email the cache owners but don't log caches on line all the time. That has the same results.

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Do log your find on this website. It's a courtesy to the cache owner. It lets them know the cache has been found and their effort is appreciated.

 

Stealthy cachers, such as myself, email the cache owners but don't log caches on line all the time. That has the same results.

Not quite. Online loggings could possibly help also other future hunters of the same cache. Not to mention the fun when reading other people's experiences after you've found the cache.

 

I appreciate your habit to email the cache owners about your hunt, though, and finding caches without logging them online is a perfectly acceptable way to play this game. Just why not share the fun with others?

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Stealthy cachers, such as myself, email the cache owners but don't log caches on line all the time. That has the same results.

SSHHHH!!! When I said I was going to start doing that, boy, did I ever get slammed... ;)

Actually, the slamming comes from comments like the one below:

 

I am an Underground Geocacher, I don't log my finds online, and I make my own rules. And my #1 rule is: no rules apply to me. See how easy that is? 

 

One could infer from this statement that rules, such as no NPS caches, near military installations/bridges/nuclear power plants, burying caches, trespassing and other more minor 'infractions' do not apply. The only method of thinking that seems to fit this is anarchy, which by all historical accounts, doesn't work...

 

In all honesty, it's attitudes like this that give a black eye to all Geocachers, and also aids in the further restricting of the activity...anywhere.

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As someone just learning about this sport may I add another item to the code of ethics?

 

Do get permission from the land manager before placing a cache. There might be very valid reasons that the land manager does not want a cache in a particular spot - without asking you do not know.

 

And as a consequence of the above item:

 

If you are in a position to approve a cache, do not do so unless you are assured that the land manager has given approval. Blanket approval by some land managers may be possible but in other cases some specific correspondence/e-mail should be required.

 

Thanks,

 

Les.

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A hearty "hear, hear" to the first part of lessenergy's post, regarding permission. Obtaining permission is squarely addressed in the Requirements/Guidelines for Placing a Cache. Thank you for reinforcing one of the fundamental principles of geocaching.

 

As for the second part, as a cache reviewer I am assuming that the owner of the cache has obtained permission. Geocaching.com is just a listing service; the site does not guarantee or vouch for the legality of any cache placement. A bit of an exception is made for property known to be managed by an agency that either prohibits geocaching or which has a published permit policy. In the first case, if geocaching is prohibited (e.g. national parks) the cache is archived with a note to contact the reviewer if permission has been obtained (sometimes exceptions are made, such as a joint hide between a geocacher and a county preserve manager). In the second case, the reviewer notes the permit requirement and asks the cache owner to post their permit information on the cache page, or to obtain a permit if not done previously. The cache is not approved until a response is received. But for the remaining parks, forests, etc., if there is no known policy then the reviewer has little choice but to assume that geocaching is permitted and that the owner has obtained permission.

 

If the volunteer cache reviewers were to verify permission for each of the hundreds of geocaches hidden each week, either we would need ten times the number of reviewers, or approval time would drag to a standstill.

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I thought you were supposed to be underground somewhere, doing you're own thing.  :ph34r:

I am an Underground Geocacher, I don't log my finds online, and I make my own rules. And my #1 rule is: no rules apply to me. See how easy that is? :D

This doesn't help anything, posting this kind of rebellious comment. Rules are there for a reason.
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Rick5, thank you for your willingness to allow geocaches on your property AFTER the owner contacts you, and for contributing to this discussion. Once you establish a policy, geocachers will know to follow it. If you have not already done so, please get in touch with Crow T. Robot, the volunteer who reviews cache submissions for the State of Florida, so that he is aware of your rules.

Edited by Keystone Approver
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Geocaching is an enjoyable game for participants of all ages. I have enjoyed games, mental and physical, strategic and tactical, for nearly seven decades. All games have rules and most have a code of ethics, written or understood. I learned long ago that it is more fun for me if I play by the rules, and I avoid others who can't. I was introduced to this game/sport just last spring and I am still learning the rules. I think a written code of ethics is a great idea. There are those who will flaunt it but that's OK, I'll just add them to my list of those to be ignored.

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I think the best code is basic common sense. Or the Golden Rule. If you think you're doing something wrong or illegal, then you probably are and should ask first. An earlier post mentioned that it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission. My Grandfather used to tell me, "It's only illegal if you get caught." Bad thing about that, Grandad was a County Sheriff. I guess advice is worth every cent you pay for it. I agree with most of the posts here, that in general, the code of caching ethics is already spelled out in many different ways, both on this site and by your own conscience and life experience.

 

Sparky

 

(Try fitting your life experience on the back of a business card!)

 

(When I think about it, I probably could do that.) :D

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A hearty "hear, hear" to the first part of lessenergy's post, regarding permission. Obtaining permission is squarely addressed in the Requirements/Guidelines for Placing a Cache. Thank you for reinforcing one of the fundamental principles of geocaching.

 

Lessenergy as about as much experience with geocaching as I do with brain surgery.

The topic of permission is NOT squarely addressed in the Requirements/Guidelines and we all have seen Criminal's excellent post on this subject in the General forums.

 

I agree with his premise that if a cache is to be placed on private land, ask permission and if you plan to place it on public land, check the regulations. If there are no regulations, then place away!

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The topic of permission is NOT squarely addressed in the Requirements/Guidelines and we all have seen Criminal's excellent post on this subject in the General forums.

Not to re-address that whole issue, but just how would you suggest the geocaching rules need to be worded in order to make it clear one way or another?

 

George

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:mad: I found my first cache today on Christmas and I had a blast. I know that 'common sense' ethics will keep it fun. The majority of geocachers do and will continue to play the game with safety, fun and environment preservation in mind. It is unfortunate that there are those that have not nor will not play games by common sense rules. Fortunately, these idiots are few and far between. Just use common sense and have fun. Read the guide for hidding caches on the website, and lets make sure that everyone has a 'blast' in this new sport of modern day treasure hunting.

cobaltace

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Being new to Geocaching I am curious about how much activity goen on in snowy climates in the winter.

 

If a cache is at ground level it would be routinely obscured by snow.

 

Would there be any ethical restraint against including magnets in the cache to allow for short-range location by compass?

Good idea actually. No reason not to do that!

No reason to do it, either. Unless you're using a honking big magnet, it wouldn't swing a compass needle over more than a few feet.

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Stealthy cachers, such as myself, email the cache owners but don't log caches on line all the time. That has the same results.

SSHHHH!!! When I said I was going to start doing that, boy, did I ever get slammed... :unsure:

Actually, the slamming comes from comments like the one below:

 

I am an Underground Geocacher, I don't log my finds online, and I make my own rules. And my #1 rule is: no rules apply to me. See how easy that is? 

 

One could infer from this statement that rules, such as no NPS caches, near military installations/bridges/nuclear power plants, burying caches, trespassing and other more minor 'infractions' do not apply. The only method of thinking that seems to fit this is anarchy, which by all historical accounts, doesn't work...

 

In all honesty, it's attitudes like this that give a black eye to all Geocachers, and also aids in the further restricting of the activity...anywhere.

The only method of thinking that seems to fit this is anarchy, which by all historical accounts, doesn't work...

 

Actually, this is not anarchy. Anarchy means "no rulers" not "no rules." I am not sure there is any recognized political system with no rules. Most mature people recognize that most rules, under most circumstances, work to their advantage most of the time.

 

In fact, what we have within the geocaching community is anarchy. We have no rulers. There is no way to stop anyone from accessing the Geocaching.com or other geocaching-type pages and searching for caches. No way to stop them from placing or finding caches. The best we can hope to do is to set a good example for others, be good geocaching citizens, and work to keep our part f the universe friendly to geocaching and geocachers.

 

(I know, I'm going to get my *)^#%(@ crunched for saying anything, but, oh well.)

 

The best code of ethics I can think of is "Don't hurt anyone or anything unnecessarily." "Treat another's property as you think they would want you to treat it."

 

I don't normally quote the christian bibble, but that "Do unto others..." seems like pretty good advice in general.

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Actually, this is not anarchy. Anarchy means "no rulers" not "no rules." I am not sure there is any recognized political system with no rules. Most mature people recognize that most rules, under most circumstances, work to their advantage most of the time.

Ooh..a rare chance to go off topic....From Webster's:

 

Main Entry: an·ar·chy

Pronunciation: 'a-n&r-kE, -"när-

Function: noun

Etymology: Medieval Latin anarchia, from Greek, from anarchos having no ruler, from an- + archos ruler -- more at ARCH-

Date: 1539

1 a : absence of government b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority c : a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government

2 a : absence or denial of any authority or established order b : absence of order : DISORDER <not manicured plots but a wild anarchy of nature -- Israel Shenker>

 

So as a political system, it means no rulers, but as a behavioral model, it can mean no rules at all. Of course, the statements that brought it up here don't seem be those of either sort of anarchist, but more closely resemble statements that might be made by an inconsiderate agitator.

Edited by ApK
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