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Article On Geocaching And Groundspeak


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<_< interesting article on jeremy:


The History of Geocaching

GPS, or Global Positioning System, was developed by the US Department of Defense. This satellite navigation system was intended for military use and therefore the signals were scrambled, limiting accuracy for civilian use to about 100 meters. On May 1, 2000, President Clinton announced that this scrambling, known as Selective Availability (SA), would be turned off. Civilians were then able to enjoy accuracy on the order of 10 meters.


On May 3, 2000, Dave Ulmer proposed a way to celebrate the demise of SA. He hid a bucket of trinkets in the woods outside Portland, Oregon and announced its location in a posting made to the USENET newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav. This announcement is remarkable for laying out the essence of the hobby that is still in place today. It's all there. The container. The trinkets. The log book. The rule of take something, leave something, sign the logbook. Dave Ulmer invented geocaching in one fell swoop in that newsgroup posting.


Within a day, the original stash had been found. Within days, more stashes had been hidden in California, Kansas, and Illinois. Within a month, a stash had been hidden as far away as Australia. The hobby was fast on its way to being a worldwide phenomenon.


On May 8, Mike Teague announced a Web site for collecting the locations of caches. The original Web page is gone, but thanks to the Wayback Machine, a copy of the GPS Stash Hunt Homepage still exists.


On May 15, James Coburn set up a mailing list on eGroups (now Yahoo!) for discussion of geocaching. The list is still in existence. Its archives contain the best record of the early days of the hobby.


On May 30, a new name was coined for the hobby. Matt Stum suggested "geocaching" to avoid the negative connotations of the word "stash".


So, within a month, the hobby had in place the rules, its first hides and finds, a mailing list and a home page. And the number of caches was growing fast.


On September 2, 2000, Jeremy Irish emailed the gpsstash mailing list that he had registered the domain name geocaching.com and had setup his own Web site. He copied the caches from Mike Teague's database into his own. On September 6, Mike Teague announced that Jeremy Irish was taking over cache listings.


From the outset, Jeremy Irish considered ways to make money from geocaching. Geocaching.com was setup as a .com site, not .org. He sold banner ads to GPS manufacturers and retailers. He soon gave up on banner ads, which he discovered did not make that much in revenue. He accepted direct donations via PayPal and arranged commissions from GPS retailers through Web site referrals. He also turned to clothing sales. He claimed to have coined the word geocaching and applied for a trademark on the word, despite it being in common use as descriptive of the hobby since the month geocaching was invented. He incorporated as Grounded, Inc.


Some moves were immediately controversial. Early on, when geocaching was still smaller than the older hobby of Letterboxing, Irish made an attempt to absorb Letterboxing into the geocaching.com Web site. The move was resisted by other members of the gpsstash mailing list. Eventually, Irish gave up trying to take over Web services for Letterboxing.


Another controversial move was the monopoly control Irish unilaterally imposed over the database of cache locations, refusing to provide the full list to anyone. Criticisms of his actions on the original gpsstash mailing list were met with the establishment of his own mailing list hosted on his own geocaching.com site. Ironically, Irish cited "moderation" of his own posts as a reason why he would no longer participate in geocaching discussions on the only geocaching mailing list at that time. Censorship of posts would soon become a controversial matter on Irish's own Web site.


In the meantime, of course, geocachers were busy hiding and finding geocaches in an ever growing number of countries. That brings us to the end of 2000, just a short 8 months after the invention of the hobby. The great controversies still lay in the future: pin maps and copyright and the Planet of the Apes commercial caches and censorship of the Creator of Geocaching and pay-to-play members-only caches. And how Dave Ulmer and Navicache and Robin Lovelock became words that you dare not utter on geocaching.com.


The first recorded instance of a geocaching get-together (now known as an event cache) was held in Austin, Texas, on March 24, 2001. It was hosted by Eoghan and Pumpkin Princess. The "hide" date was set as the actual date of the event (which became standard practice) and the meeting location coordinates were used for the "cache coordinates".


About this time, a geocacher in New York state using an alias of Quinn set up a regional geocaching Web site named Navicache. Reportedly, Jeremy Irish threatened a lawsuit unless Quinn's site delete use of the word geocaching, presumably because of Irish's trademark application. Quinn resisted and instead turned Navicache.com into a full-fledged geocaching resource, adding cache listings. Today, Navicache.com is the largest alternative database of cache listings.


A geocacher in California named Ed Hall (aka Buxley) created online maps showing the locations of geocaches. Rather than welcome Buxley's contribution towards promoting the new sport of geocaching, in May, 2001, Jeremy Irish threatened legal action unless Buxley add a copyright notice to his maps stating "Geocaching Data Copyright 2001 Grounded, Inc." Irish also removed the link to Buxley's Web pages from geocaching.com and announced the release of his own basic mapping capability. The incident received widespread attention when it was reported in a Slashdot article.


In May, 2001, Irish extended geocaching.com's business model more directly into the pay-to-play world, despite a pledge to keep the game "free" and "non-commercial." Besides the banner ads, clothing sales, and sales of geocaching log books, bumper stickers, decals, etc., he now introduced "members-only caches" and fee-based hitchhiker logging. The members-only caches were accessible only to those who paid a $30/year membership fee. Likewise, the ability to track the movements of hitchhikers, aka Travel Bugs , using the site's own logging system, was available only to those who paid Irish $5.95 per hitchhiker (informal, home-grown methods of tracking one's hitchhikers remained free, of course). These moves upset some geocachers, but others defended Irish and the new pay-to-play schemes became firmly established. By mid-2003, geocaching.com had over 150,000 registered users, including an estimated 7,200 paid subscribers at $30 per year.


Besides the earlier established Navicache.com, another full-featured geocaching site emerged in reaction to geocaching.com's increased commercialization and monopolistic control over the hobby. GeocachingWorldwide was developed by an Australian geocacher, Jeremy Hurst, interested in developing a system whereby multiple Web sites would share data about geocache coordinates. Sites would be free to compete on features, not the geocache data contributed by geocachers themselves. Despite a promising beginning, demands on the Webmaster's time by work and family prevented continued development and activity at GeocachingWorldwide dropped to almost nothing in late 2001.


Geocaching.com's reaction to new geocaching Web sites was to censor the mention of their names in the geocaching.com forums. This censorship led to the establishment of a USENET newsgroup, alt.rec.geocaching, a forum uncensorable not only by Irish, but by any geocacher or geocaching organization.


A fourth full-featured geocaching Web site, GeoGamer.com (no longer in existence), emerged from nowhere in June, 2002. Its developers openly presented it as a commercial geocaching site, which ironically triggered critical postings in the geocaching.com forums against commercial geocaching Web sites. However, after a brief spate of messages to the GeoGamer forums, there was no further activity at GeoGamer.com.


Not all the controversies in geocaching were over the monopolistic practices of Irish and Grounded, Inc. Ironically, one of the most bitter dealt with a single geocacher and his use of the hobby to promote his own GPS-related business. Robin Lovelock, of the UK, created many caches near his own home, leaving his business card and a CD-ROM of his software in each. This combination of cache density and personal advertising irritated other geocachers to the point where some of Robin Lovelock's caches were plundered and his name became unmentionable in the UK forums on geocaching.com.


If you have other geocaching history to contribute to this brief history of the hobby, I would be pleased to add it. Email me at Scout@GPSgames.org.


Another reference to the early history of geocaching can be found at Kimbo's Geocache Page


© Scout 2002-2003

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I read that before, I think it was on Navicache. Yeah, the author clearly is against anyone making money on this game, especially the owner of a competing website. However, Jeremy (and his staff) have done a fine job maintaining this website. It isn't easy to code all of this. Sure, not every decision has made me happy, but I know that not everyone wants the same features.

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And once again.... ANOTHER person who can't stand the fact that someone would make more money then themselves.... Smacks of the "I hate M$ people" and yet if THEY came up with some new ideas for anything, they would be the first to collect the accolades and profits from it.

Envy is not flattering.....

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Yes, yes, It reads like a Bill Gates bio.... BUT you know what? The end product is awesome and worth my (voluntary) $30 bucks a year. There's not much I would change. Just a tweak on some rules here and there (allow vacation caches).


I know Irish. He's a good guy. I know nothing and care nothing about business, But I love the site!


I also use Buxley's often and do apprieciate it much.


Market forces and all that. Give people a product that works and they like and they will chose it over another.

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I use many of the sites listed in the article, including navicache.com and buxleys maps, and Jeremy hasn't sent the brown shirts to grab me out of my bed in the dead of night yet.


I voluntarily pay $30 per year for what I think is a great nested set of services, and is still the least expensive part of this hobby (GPSr, gas, band-aids, trade items, etc.), but could choose not to and still access the site. Where's the problem?


Jeremy works at gc.com and makes some (who knows/cares how much) money. I work in a school and make some money. It seems like both of us enjoy what we do, and put in long hours doing. If other people begrudge Jeremy making money doing what he enjoys, it seems like that is their problem, they should find a job they like that will pay them moeny to do something they enjoy.


I'm grateful for the existence of gc.com, as it helps me enjoy my new hobby. I think anybody who has an issue with Jeremy and the way he runs his business should show it by not paying for the service and/or by using another caching site.


You have to choose to visit gc.com, and to pay the $30 per year...if you don't want to...don't.



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I use many of the sites listed in the article, including navicache.com and buxleys maps, and Jeremy hasn't sent the brown shirts to grab me out of my bed in the dead of night yet.


Ummm seems we have a wrong address for you. If you could update us Im sure the Brownshirts will be by soon. :)<_<:mad:

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Jeremy ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously, though.....I think he's done a fantastic job. Who knows, maybe one of those other guys mentioned may have done as well, or better, but in business, you snooze you lose! Obviously, Jeremy isn't a snoozer! It's sad when folks like that are so insecure that they have to bash anyone better then themselves.


Keep it coming, Jeremy......

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It's interesting that there has been no point-by-point debunking of the quoted article. There has only been a marginalization of the person who wrote it.


I'd be interested in learning what, if anything, is untrue in it. Just wanting to hear the other side.

Edited by CoyoteRed
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I don't respond directly to the article because it is beneath me to address it. If I had to respond to all the tripe I read on the 'net in half-truths or lies, I wouldn't get anything done.


Rely on your own judgement and critical thinking. If you can't do that there isn't much I can do to help you.

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By the way, I'm open to direct questions. Vague questions elude me and waste time.

Here's a direct question. Did you really think you could start a For Profit web site, do it really well, and expect to get away with it?


Seriously, good job Jeremy! I just hope someday I'm gutsy enough and talented enough to be as successful as you doing something I love.


(notice how I didn't say lucky, I don't think successful people are lucky, they take risks and work hard)

Edited by Mushtang
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How come I've never seen you and Bill Gates in the same place at the same time!?

How come Bill Gates never takes his glasses off, huh?

How come both you and Bill Gates wear red and blue underware (or so I've been told)?

And then there's that computer thing....

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For the record, I'm evil. However, Scout should join Michael Moore's quest for truth.

Yep, you are so evil and monopolistic to allow criticism of yourself and your site and it's practices on your forum! (Insert tounge in cheek)


Sheesh, why are people so against the guy if he is making money. I thought that was the American dream to be honest.


I think there is more jealousy than anything.


Honestly ask yourselves. If you were in Jeremy's position and had to maintain this huge site that takes up all your time would you do it for free???

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I'd like to know the story, if it's true, behind the censorship of Dave Ulmer and other pioneers of the activity. Why did that come about?


I think I got a handle on the lawsuit against Buxley's, but others might want that cleared up.


What about Quinn's site? Why sue over the word "geocache?"


What was the purpose of limiting access to the database in the early days of the site?

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I'd like to know the story, if it's true, behind the censorship of Dave Ulmer and other pioneers of the activity. Why did that come about?

I'll answer one at a time when I have a moment.


Dave Ulmer, during the Planet of the Apes promotion, posted a topic in the forums which resulted in him being banned. The old timers are aware of this post and can tell you what it said, but in respect to Ulmer who has since mellowed down, I will not repeat it here.


He was never censored on the site but he did remove all the text from his caches and archived them shortly after.


I don't know what other pioneers of the sport you are referencing.

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By the way, I'm open to direct questions. Vague questions elude me and waste time.


What is the 'best/farorite' cache that you have found?


Do you still go caching much? Do you still enjoy the game?


Do you feel "stuck" in your job? Is it boring? Need a vacation?


We live in a 'tourist town' & wish people would just go away...do you ever feel that way?


O.K.......I'm going aaawwwaaaayyyy now.:P



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I think I got a handle on the lawsuit against Buxley's, but others might want that cleared up.

There was no lawsuit. The issue came up when there was a cache listed on geocaching.com by a user, and a land manager asked him to remove the listing from the site.


He archived his listing from our site, but the land manager told him it was on Buxley's site and it had to be removed. When he asked Buxley to remove it, Buxley told him he wasn't going to. Frustrated he contacted me to step in and help.


At the time I was pretty PO'd that Buxley was telling this guy he no longer had control over his own cache information. Since he was taking the data without permission I told him it was a copyright violation to take the data from the site and to remove it from his site. He refused to do so, and refused to give credit for where he was taking the data.


We ended up getting slashdotted about it and, as a result, it introduced a ton of new geocachers to the hobby.

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What is the 'best/favorite' cache that you have found?

Lighthouse Point near Deception Pass is still my favorite. It was Moun10bike's 100th and the ladder made the trip.


Do you still go caching much? Do you still enjoy the game?


I just got back into it recently after getting into better shape. I prefer long hikes to drive-by caches so I usually only get 1 or 2 each trip. I'm especially proud of the Melakwa Lake series of caches last weekend. I linked to Moun10bike's photos since they were far better than my rock link.


From my profile you can see I'm not in it for the numbers.


Do you feel "stuck" in your job? Is it boring? Need a vacation?


Thankfully the reviewers have really helped keep the site going. But yeah, if you work for a pizza place you tend to get tired of pizza occasionally. My recent trip to Alaska helped refresh the 'ol spirit.


We live in a 'tourist town' & wish people would just go away...do you ever feel that way?


I'd listen to criticism over crickets any day. Though I do wish some people would go away.

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Jeremy showed up at a long hike threefer we did this past weekend, a more evil man I have never met. He pulled my son's hair and kicked my dog. He stole my lunch too.

Hmm! The way Jeremy told it to me was that your son's hair's too long, your dog's ugly and your too fat! Said he was doin' you a kindness. :P

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Thank you for your continued comittment to the site.

I like your directness.

I have learned more from geocaching and the various functions related that I can not express my grattitude.

If people would only look at the possitive things that you have created,they too would know, they would not have advanced without it either.


Opportunities abound around all the aspects of geocaching.

Thanks again keep up the good work.

I am a slow learner but remember everything I learn.



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as for the evilness of jeremy, oh well...


i've been in spitting contests with peope over various things, but i've yet to be recorded in a public fashion or quoted in the media when i do.


i'm guessing that some mistakes were made, and some items were perfectly just and reasonable.


what i'd REALLY like to comment on is that i don't like jeremy's new avatar. the old one looked much nicer and less, well, let's just say that my sisiter once had a boyfriend who was a three dimensional big time loser super dweeb with zoom attachment and he used to pose like that a LOT.

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Ok Fine! It's back. You guys satisfied? :P


I got a lot of crap for getting rid of my avatar last weekend. It'll be hard to top this one.

I still want to know what kind of ice cream is your favorite. If it's plain vanilla, you're definitely evil...

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Why is/was there animosity between the two sites?


When you answer this one could you please let me know why there is competition between Ford and GM, Coke and Pepsi, Budweiser and Miller, Toyota and Honda, Lowes and Home Depot, Republicans and Democrats, McDonalds and Burger King........... should I continue? how about VHS and Betamax, minidisc and digital audio tape(DAT), windows and IBM OS/2, atari and colecovision....

Edited by bobbyrockstar
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What was the purpose of limiting access to the database in the early days of the site?

The same reason we limit access to the database now.

Protection of user copyright? Correct? A lesson learned from "the letterboxing debacle" I suppose.


You categorically reject this restriction is to prevent a competitive site from coming into existence and using the data?

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On the topic of ice cream - there is a seasonal flavor on the NH seacoast you might like Jeremy:




Not a joke. Some guy really makes it.


Back on topic, why should Jeremy provide the data to other sites? So they can copy his database constructs (the mechanics how the database is formed - dunno proper term) without having to work at it? For free?


People who want their caches posted on different sites are free to submit the caches to each site... Problem solved, IMO.

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People who want their caches posted on different sites are free to submit the caches to each site... Problem solved, IMO.


Other sites have to make people want to post there- they need to compete by differentiating themselves, or providing a superior product, or some other manner. They need to sit down and identify the barriers to entry and formulate a strategy. For more on this read, this article here


I have snipped the following quote:

The management at my last employer, Juno, was unwilling to admit that AOL had already achieved a dominant position. They spoke of the "millions of people not yet online." They said that "in every market, there is room for two players: Time and Newsweek, Coke and Pepsi, etc." The only thing they wouldn't say is "we have to get people to switch away from AOL." I'm not sure what they were afraid of. Perhaps they thought they were afraid to "wake up the sleeping bear". When one of Juno's star programmers (no, not me) had the chutzpah, the unmitigated gall to ask a simple question at a company meeting: "Why aren't we doing more to get AOL users to switch?" they hauled him off, screamed at him for an hour, and denied him a promotion he had been promised.

By Joel Spolsky

Saturday, June 03, 2000.

I'm not of the opinion that anyone should ever be asked to apologize for being successful.

Who is John Galt?


I will apologize for being part of turning this thread a bad direction- we've probably chased Jeremy away now.


Edited to add: I have a very hard time finding Black Raspberry since I moved West, what's up with that?

Edited by bobbyrockstar
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