+w1qa Posted November 29, 2003 Share Posted November 29, 2003 There's been a lot of discussion on the forums regarding the logging of benchmarks. This post may be a bit lengthy - but I feel its worthy of discussion. The Geocaching web site provides the following types of logs: found it couldn't find it destroyed post a note Whereas NOAA's NGS mark recovery form provides for these conditions: good not recovered, not found poor, disturbed, mutilated, requires maintenance destroyed The discussion: SYNC TERMS BETWEEN GEOCACHING AND NGS I would like to lobby for the synchronization of the terms between the Geocaching site and the NGS mark recovery entry form. Not only would this allow for easier posting of mark recovery and information between the two sites but would help with the interpretation of what log/condition should be selected. My recommendation would be to change the Geocaching log types as follows: found it ==> good couldn't find it ==> not recovered, not found N/A ==> poor, disturbed, mutilated, requires maintenance destroyed ==> destroyed post a note ==> N/A DEFINITION OF LOG / CONDITIONS I will list these out of the aforementioned order as it may make more sense to present it this way. POST A NOTE Only applies to the Geocaching web site. Useful for notes, an entry to log photographs with, etc. FOUND IT or GOOD The status when one has successfully recovered a station. One of my pet peeves is that I find a lot of geocachers are logging benchmarks found when they really are not finding them! In many cases, I see found logs for station reference mark disks when the geocacher has NOT found the actual station. I believe this is due, in part, to the fact that many people don't understand the concept of a station and reference marks! Even the default Geocaching benchmark page notes that one must find the station and not its reference marks. Worse yet - many people are logging found on station's geocaching page when they should really be logging not found, not recovered. This seems to be especially true for landmark stations. If counts are going to be at all meaningful we all have to have the same denotation as to what these status mean. A better definition of what to call each status would go a long way in accomplishing this! DESTROYED The NGS is pretty specific in the handling of the destroyed status. For NGS submissions, they suggest you either post a not recovered, not found condition with text comments indicating evidence of the mark's possible destruction. Alternatively, if you actually find a marker separated from its setting you can report it as destroyed - but can only do so by reporting this (via email) to Deb Brown at the National Geodetic Survey in Silver Spring, Maryland. (There is NO way to submit a destroyed status on the NGS site.) Deb and I have exchanged a number of emails on this and related subjects. Here is an excerpt of her guidelines from 24 July 2003: For disks: I need a photo of the remnants of the setting or the actual disk as well as the PID and designation. For landmark stations that are no longer there: please submit to me via email, a photo of the area and include the PID and designation. If no photos are available for either of the above then I cannot submit a destroyed report for you so please use the online form to submit a NOT FOUND report and in the text portion of the form indicate your suspicions of the destruction. In subsequent correspondence from Deb on 27 Oct 2003 it was clarified that for stations that should have discs, that unless there is a photo of the actual disk available (to prove that the setting wasn't misidentified) the mark should be submitted as NOT FOUND or POOR with an appropriate note in the text portion of the form to indicate our findings. To summarize: for stations involving benchmark disks, etc. the destroyed status should only be used when recovery attempts results in finding the disc but separated from its setting. Otherwise it should be logged as not found or poor, which will help the responsible organisation in possibly resetting the station in the future. For landmark stations (like churches, towers, buildings, etc.) if they are not found or have had changes that effects the accuracy of their use (like a church tower burns down and is rebuilt but is not exactly the same) a station can be logged as destroyed, but only with photo evidence that it is either no longer there or has materially changed. POOR, DISTURBED, MUTILATED, REQUIRES MAINTENANCE This should be the category for stations where the mark is not found as described. Examples include: disc missing but with stem or drill hole evident, concrete or stone marker damaged, bolts, pins, etc. removed and so on. NOT RECOVERED, NOT FOUND This should be the catch-all for logging of a station that doesn't fit into any other category. In many cases I've spent an hour, two or even three looking for an old benchmark and come up empty handed. I log this as not found. In cases where I've found a station where I've recovered one or more reference marks but have not found the actual station I also log this as not found. This approach seems to follow the NGS standard - and it is also what you're instructed to do on the Geocaching default benchmark page GEOCACHING STATUS I would like to see the User Stats page of our Geocaching profiles updated. Currently it shows the number of NGS Benchmarks found. For those of us who put a lot of effort into benchmark hunting I believe it would be better to actually provide the rundown of each of the benchmark statuses above: if you spend the time to go to a benchmark location and search it out whatever the mark's situation it should count; there's really no guarantee whether a station exists or not, or what condition it may be in. Its not a cache... Providing only the found status on the stats page may be motivation for many people to treat logging benchmarks as the do caches (you either find it or your don't) - resulting in more inaccurate benchmark "finds" when the status or condition logged would have been more appropriately something else. To further the thought - I would propose changes to the User Stats page ... actually separating the benchmarks from the List of Items Found. Personally, I'd like to see this page broken in sections with totals underneath: List of caches found Traditional Multi Virtual Event Webcam Etc Total caches found List of items found Travel bug dog tags USA Geocoins Etc Total items found Benchmarks Good Not recovered, not found Poor, disturbed, multilated, requires maintenance Destroyed Total benchmarks List of Items Owned Etc Total items owned BETTER BENCHMARK INFORMATION ON GEOCACHING It took me quite some time and research to understand the whole benchmark thing on Geocaching. Most of what I've gleaned has been from other off-site resources (including the NGS) as well as in these discussion groups. But I fear that many people who have ventured into the benchmark hunting aspect have not been brought up to speed as well as they have been for the cache side of life. One resource that I feel is invaluable is the "original datasheet". Each Geocaching benchmark page has a link to it - but its obscured hiding in a small font at the top of the page. Many benchmarks have simple descriptions - and as such, the Geocaching page for the PID ("Official History") is sufficient. But in many cases, the loss of formatting on Geocaching's page is a run-on mess. To wit, take a look at PID MZ1557: I always print out the NGS datasheet, three hole punch it, and bring that with me. Not only is the information formatted a lot better - it contains other, valuable information that can aid in the recovery of a benchmark! But in speaking with other local Geocachers who also do benchmark hunting, none were aware of these NGS datasheets! On the NGS datasheet I usually draw a layout of the station showing the physical relation of the station to any of its reference marks as well as any azimuth points. This aids in quick recovery of the station and RM's. Additionally - I'll also often draw out the instructions on finding the station, whether it be by road or other indicated references. In the future, if it is at all possible, I would advocate some kind of linking of the Geocaching site to the NGS datasheets - if there's some facility that would easily allow supplying a PID to the NGS search engine and retrieving the most current datasheet for that PID. And although there is a wealth of information presented on the default Geocaching benchmark page maybe we can generate some additional or rewritten information to assist in improving this part of the Geocaching site - especially along the lines of benchmark logging as noted above?! What do you think? Best regards, Bob W1QA Quote Link to comment
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