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Suggested Change In The Approval Process?


lessenergy
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This is a post I initially put under a different forum and then thought better of it and decided it would be better off here. Here is a slightly modified version of my original post.

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I agree that the workload of the approvers would be too much if they had to confirm approval for every cache from the land managers. Not a great idea on my part.

 

How about, as an alternative, the geocache is not approved unless:

 

1) There is blanket approval by the land manager

 

2) The person placing the geocache gets approval from the land manager and forwards proof of that approval along with his/her request that the geocache be registered. In the vast majority of cases this would take the form of flipping an e-mail that the cacher has recieved which is only marginally more work intensive for the approver.

 

Or - even easier - no approval of a geocache without providing an e-mail address of the land manager (everyone will have an e-mail address). Then the geocache can be approved immediately and the only other thing that needs to be done is send out a very quick form e-mail, something like,

 

"GC.com is confirming your approval of a geocache here - *****. Thank you very much for allowing our members to use your land. Here is a copy of our code of ethics. If you have any questions, please visit our site or e-mail me at...."

 

3) Any other intelligent exception should be considered by the approver. Approvers are committed to the sport and I would be happy to trust their judgement in the few cases that may require an exception.

 

4) Any cacher who has been found to falsely state (s)he had approval when (s)he did not, gets her/his rights to register future caches revoked for some period of time - maybe start with 3 months for the first time and extend it from there. (And of course the geocache is archived.)

 

The plain fact is that, while some cachers ask for permission first, most do not. As the sport becomes more popular and land managers become more aware of it, they are going to come down hard on this sport by simply banning it. From their perspective people have been using the land in a way not anticipated by them and unknown to them and when they are surprised to find this out, they quite naturally react with a hostile attitude toward the sport. (We have seen this happen already.)

 

Would it not be better to be proactive on this and demonstrate in advance of any complaints that we are responsible? Why give them reason to complain? Not asking for permission provides a very short term gain for the geocacher but hurts the sport in the longer term as land managers react poorly.

 

Why shouldn't GC.com be on the leading edge of this issue rather than having to defend what appears to be the illicit use of public land? (From the land manager's point of view).

 

Since the approvers know full well that in the majority of cases permission is not actually granted the credibility of GC.com and the particular rule on getting approval is pretty thin and it makes the approvers, GC.com and the sport look bad. (You pick the % of caches that are placed without approval. I'd guess 80-90% but you have more experience with this than I),

 

 

Les.

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Permission is only required if there is a prohibition. For example, if you go into a park to fly a kite, and there's no mention on the placard saying kite flying is not allowed, do you call the park manager and ask if its OK? Same with dogs. I have one and if there's no prohibition I just take him with me. Same with geocaching.

 

If I was to ask if I could geocache or take my dog, the next thing they'd add these to the list of prohibitions. That's the bureaucratic mentallity. I know because I work for a governmental agency and most bureaucrats don't like to stick their necks out. They'll take the "safe" choice and ban it.

 

Sometimes it's best to let sleeping dogs lie.

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That's a great response Allan. Thanks.

 

And your point has a lot of merit. I think the difference in the activities you have suggested and geocaching is that the land managers know that people walk their dogs and fly kites and you don't leave anything behind (assuming you pick up after your dog and you do because those are the rules.) ;)

 

I think, because geocaching is an activity that land managers did not anticipate and may not be aware of you are just begging for a negative reaction once they find out and they inevitably will. The areas that geocaching is allowed in going to shrink unless those who particpate in the sport take a pro-active and positive approach and convince land managers of the merits of the sport.

 

Hiding geocaches without permission and then trying to justify your sport afterwards when the land manager finds out is the wrong way to do it. I think you're right, it is easier to say no than yes, but it is way easier to say no if the person making the decision thinks that you have been underhanded to that point. Perception is very important and this has to be managed. Create a good impression and not a bad one.

 

Talk to them first, convince them of the merits and then place your geocache. Many geocaches are out there without the land managers being aware of it. That is not going to last and then everyone involved with the sport looks bad and then the people who make decisions will make them at the point that they are already angry with the geocache crowd. That is the wrong time to convince them.

 

Les.

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I have hidden 6 caches on public lands and have not once sought permission from any land manager. If I felt it was legally required to obtain a land managers permission before hiding the cache in a particular location, I simply would not hide it there. It may be good for the sport to get land managers "on side", and seeking their endorsement might perhaps create some goodwill, but I would be very much opposed to any move by this site to have land manager permission as an approval requirement for caches hidden on public lands. Remember, ALL land is managed in some form or another. I believe (hope) that I still have some freedom to use public lands without first having to obtain permission. How long this freedom might last is frighteningly questionable.

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I will repeat my response to lessenergy's suggestion, as originally posted in another topic.

 

Obtaining permission is squarely addressed in the Requirements/Guidelines for Placing a Cache. As stated there, as a cache reviewer I am assuming that the owner of the cache has obtained whatever level of permission that is appropriate. 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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That's a great response Allan. Thanks.

 

And your point has a lot of merit. I think the difference in the activities you have suggested and geocaching is that the land managers know that people walk their dogs and fly kites and you don't leave anything behind (assuming you pick up after your dog and you do because those are the rules.) ;)

Les, you fail to realize the distinction that land managers do not want anyone to abandon property on their/(our) land.

 

A geocache is not an abandoned item. It is maintained by the cache owner and each person who finds the cache. Even if a finder doesn't do anything to the cache, they at least report that it is there and what condition it is in when they enter their log.

 

Geocachers leave no more visible trace than your average hiker. You might argue that hikers stay on the trail, but so do most Geocachers. Hikers leave the trail to answer the 'call of nature', Geocachers leave the trail to find the cache.

 

Have you ever seen a deer 'bed down'? They trample an area to soften the ground and make it more comfortable to sleep on. The plants they trample grow back on their own. That's nature at work!

 

It is the Geocacher's responsibility to report in their log if the area is being damaged due to excessive traffic. It is then the cache owner's responsibility to then make a visit and move or remove the cache as appropriate.

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Thanks for the replys.

 

To be clear. I am not argueing against geocaching and am not suggesting that there is a negative impact on the areas where they are placed. You can type all the posts you want addressing those concerns and it will come to nothing. That is not what my original suggestion is about.

 

I am suggesting a method that GC.com can ensure that the geocaches that are registered in accordance with the guidelines set for the sport. It would take almost no additional effort on the approvers part but even if it took just a little shouldn't the approvers want to ensure that geocaches are placed appropriately?

 

I am also suggesting that following those guidelines will be better for those who practice this sport. Not immediately but in the longer term.

 

I know this is not going to be popular to those who have had the freedom to place a cache where ever they want. That each cache placed without permission is in violation of the ethics of geocaching should be of some import however or is it just me that feels this way?

 

As an aside, Seneca. I appreciate your clear honesty about your caches and I love your tag line. I knew I had seen it on this site somewhere. And you are going to loose your freedom to place a cache where ever you want. Now or later areas are going to be closed to you. If you want to minimize the areas that are off limits to you, I believe you should enroll the land managers as allies. They are "The Man" but they have the power to stop you. Why give them an excuse to do so?

 

Les.

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Your thinking implies that of geocaching operating in a vacuum. Geocaching-dot-com and Groundbleet are a listing site. If I want to hide a cache, geo or otherwise, in a National Park, I can. Geocaching-dot-com can refuse to list my cache, and will, unless I think of some way to circumvent their approval checking process. That’s the problem, it isn’t hard to do. You may suggest the most stringent procedure to ensure the cache is “legal” and I can find a way around it. For example:

 

No caches in the National Parks – I hide a multi that starts outside the park and ends inside. Multi’s must provide coordinates for each segment. – I lie about where it is. Eventually this will have to require a spot check by an approver before final approval. – I move it later. It’s a never ending process.

 

There is also the reality that there are other listing sites. I have already been invited to join an underground geocache listing site. The entire game has peaked and will slide slowly into nonexistence. The rate of that slide will depend on the actions of Seattle. Never forget, the first cache was placed without permission at all.

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Lessenergy, your buttery approach to stir up the pot again just keeps leaving a bad taste in my mouth. You stated above that you felt geocaching didn’t have any negative impact to an area, yet your very first post on these forums was about how you didn’t like the idea of caches because they were just “out there”. Not a very consistent thread of thoughts. Now you are back trying to dictate policy about permission. Maybe you should look AT THIS CACHE, or at the BLM MEMO HERE, or maybe at some of the many local cache organization websites and read about how cachers everyday are working with local land management agencies, city parks, county parks, and state parks to set policy about cache placement rules and permission. If you really are interested in cache placement policy or this game at all you would actually go find a few caches and contact some local cachers near you about what you can do in your area to promote the sport and to increase the database of areas where caching is allowed with a permit or where we don’t have to ask for permission at all. Join this community, ask what you can do to help, or shut up. But don’t keep coming here saying what’s wrong with us or the game without actually getting involved. Show us you are real and that you are interested in joining our game.

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And you are going to loose your freedom to place a cache where ever you want. Now or later areas are going to be closed to you. ..

And your solution is to suck up to those who would unreasonably take that freedom away? Strange.... I thought Americans generally took a different approach.

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i have no idea why a person would ask for more rules. i live in nj, we have enough rules already.

I agree, Mike. It's like what someone said way up there near the top of this thread, if dogs are not specifically banned in a certain park, do you have to ask permission to bring your dog? That's what Lessenergy is asking the approvers to do.

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I'm so glad I live in a place where I am free to hide and find caches in provincial and national parks (so far). As others have said, Les, maybe you should find a cache or 10 before trying to amend the rules of a sport you have no comprehension of. I say this because you have logged no hides or finds, so how could you possibly know how things work in the first place? I have been doing this for a year and a half, and have found a paltry 506 caches in Canada and the U.S., so I know a little of what I speak. Your arguments would garner a bit more respect if you actually participated.

Edited by cacherunner
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Lessenergy, Pleas spend more time caching less time trying to complicate our passtime!

 

1) How many people do you have standing by to confirmed park's polciy?(if they bothered to have one)

2) It doesn't look to me that you have much personal experience in actually dealing with approvals. On what do you base the statement: "...forwards proof of that approval along with his/her request that the geocache be registered. In the vast majority of cases this would take the form of flipping an e-mail that the cacher has recieved..."???

3)Yep, the approvers are good people.

4)Even if that was done, how can you keep someone from just creating a new account? or how about just passing the information threw means other than gc.com?

And just archiving the listing doesn't fix much.....

 

Sometimes you just have to take people on good faith. Trust they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Kinda like how I'm beliveing you're not just trying to stir things up.... ;):P

 

.

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Dave, I really am not a sock puppet (learned that term here though).

 

Navdog. I guess my second post here was not clear. My point was that any rebuttal of my suggestion need not include the merits of geocaching itself or it's impact or lack of impact on nature. I have already had that arguement and if you recall, I changed my mind somewhat and agreed at the end that a geocache anywhere on public land was fine with me as long as the land manager OK'd it. (I learned something on this forum and am glad of it.)

 

What I was trying to say was that I was asking for any contrary opinions to address my suggestion and to not bring up issues that were not relevant - i.e. how benign geocaching is compared to other activities. Just address the need or lack of need to get permission from land owners. Anything else does not address the question.

 

I was just hoping that people would consider my suggestion and if they disagreed, explain why it was not a good idea. Lack of a policy prohibiting geocaches is not approval. There are likely many many things that a land manager does not have a policy on because he/she did not know of the need. Come up with your own examples if you want but here's one admitedly extreeme one to prove my point:

 

I doubt any land manager has a policy about the disposal of murder victims on the land they manage. It does not mean they think it is a good idea or would approve of it if you asked. When they find out you are doing it without permission they are going to be very upset and the knee jerk reaction is - No murder victims anywhere and that is final. But maybe if they had a cemetary on the site, they would happily agree to have you put the body there though and then your goal in placing a body and the land managers goal of having the cemetary used coincide.

 

Now replace the word "body" with "geocache" and replace "cemetary" with "area that the land manager wants to get people to visit" and maybe you'll understand the point I am trying to make. Not agree with it obviously but at least understand the logic of it.

 

I have realized though that I am not going to convince anyone that my view on this is right or even convince anyone that maybe my view on this has any merit.

I think you are all living in a pretty insulated world and if you don't do something to promote the merits of the sport to land managers, in advance of them getting pissed at you for doing something they do not approve of, you will very quickly loose any privilege to place a geocache in many of the places you treasure now.

 

I don't geocache. Never have. I look forward to trying it though. May even register my finds and place a few caches. What I won't do is place a cache anywhere without permission.

 

So just forget it. I give up. Post replies if you want but, while I will likely check in to see what, if anything, is said, I won't respond.

 

I want to finish though with a thanks. I know that my views are contrary to your own and in your estimation I am a pantywaste and/or ankle-biter. Given your opinions of me, your responses have almost all been very polite and with multiple heartfelt suggestions that I join you in your sport. That shows remarkable grace. So yes, I do give up but not because I think any less of the people here. You are all honest decent practitioners of your sport. Good for you.

 

Les.

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lessenergy's approach to geocaching -

 

'You and the way you play your game sucks, and I know because I've never tried it. This website and the approvers/moderators suck, and I know because I've just joined. Here's a bunch of ideas on how your game should change, because it sucks, and I know because I've still never tried it.'

 

Can't imagine why anyone would think you are a sock puppet or troll.

 

I may think a lot of things are lame or done poorly, but at least I'd spend some time learning and even trying stuff out before I'd attempt to revamp the entire system. Better yet, I'd realize that not everyone is going to like the same things the same way I do, and I'd try to find room to share.

 

You blaze in here brand new, your profile doesn't even state where you live, and you make a bunch of statements that suggest you consider public lands a monolithic culture. You and a few other malcontents even tried to really screw up Thanksgiving for some of the website's volunteers.

 

You keep claiming to not be trolling. Prove it, or go find some other group that wants an ignorant outsider to tell them that they all suck.

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well it's proabably someone with a duplicate account but I still wonder why anyone requires more and more rules? How do some people manage to walk down a street without strict guidelines on proper sidewalk walking right in front of them?

 

no stepping on cracks

always walk to the right, unless in countires that drive on the left

never run

never stop without first looking over your shoulder.

never turn left or right without signaling your intentions

no spitting

get permission from land manager before using sidewalk

 

:)

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well it's proabably someone with a duplicate account but I still wonder why anyone requires more and more rules? How do some people manage to walk down a street without strict guidelines on proper sidewalk walking right in front of them?

 

no stepping on cracks

always walk to the right, unless in countires that drive on the left

never run

never stop without first looking over your shoulder.

never turn left or right without signaling your intentions

no spitting

get permission from land manager before using sidewalk

 

:)

Don't forget:

 

Don't run with sissors.

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