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New England n00b

Communicating With Approvers, 101.

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Recently, there have been a spate of posts regarding 'disappointment' with approvers in regards to cache rejections. It seems to me, regardless of the validity of the cache passing muster, that a big problem lies in the way we as cachers communicate with approvers. I have been stunned at some of the posts/emails published in the forum - it seems that the maxim "you catch more flies with honey" is, shall we say, underutilized. In some cases more severly than others. Again, this is not about the validity of a particular cache, but about the communication from us to approvers. Please feel free to start another thread if you wish to have a discussion about the approvers communicating to us. This is just one piece of a puzzle. Let's keep it that way, okay? ^_^ Thank you.

 

To the point:

 

I would like to invite approvers, who intimately know the workload they have and the frustrations they face, to come in and drop us some hints as to how we cachers can address rejection issues in a manner that promotes both the submitter & approvers goals: approving a cache. I'd also like to pull insight from cache submitters as well, and let the approvers tell us what they think of those ideas.

 

So... for example, I often see that e-mails should include the GC.com waypoint to help speed up the process. Another thing I notice is the (highly paraphrased) approach of "just shut up and approve it already". This angle certainly would tweak *me*, and I think it would anyone else in the position of working for free to benefit others. What is a better/more effective approach, approvers? We all know by now that the written word rarely expresses our emotional intent, and that intent can be misconstrued...

 

Again, as I have to get back to work and cannot sit and watch this thread closely, I'd really like to ask that people keep this topic on track. PLEASE start a different topic if you feel the need to discuss the other side of the coin. Thanks! I really do hope this will (help) smooth things over so that we all can get to the business of caching. Well, at least those of you who don't have to work... :P

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Thanks for starting this topic.

 

Things I wish folks would do, or keep in mind when writing:

 

1. Tell the reviewer what cache you are writing about -- either its name, GC number, or easiest of all, a link to the cache page for me to click on.

 

2. Follow the method of contact specified by the volunteer in their note to you. Some prefer e-mail, while others prefer that you leave a note on your cache page. Do NOT reply directly to the notification you receive from the GC.com mail bot. It goes into bot wasteland.

 

3. Read the guidelines that are cited in the reviewer's note to you. Compose your response in terms of how your cache meets the guidelines.

 

4. Include any relevant facts that aren't evident from the cache page. Ideally, these should be put in a "Note to Reviewer" so that the volunteer sees the extra facts BEFORE making an adverse decision about your cache. Don't worry -- reviewer notes are deleted in the process of listing your cache for public viewing.

 

5. Don't cite 8 examples of other caches "just like yours" that were listed. The guidelines state that one cache doesn't serve as a precedent for a future one. In many instances, the other examples turn out to be old, old caches that predated the current guidelines. For example, if your historical marker virtual is archived, it serves no purpose to link to other nearby caches of that type that were listed two years ago. If you want to debate the *merits* of a listing guideline, or whether caches should be "grandfathered," there are plenty of forum threads on those subjects.

 

6. Please remember that I have a life, and I do not work full time for Groundspeak. If you send me an e-mail on Tuesday morning at 9:00, I'm at my office by then and I do not check my reviewer e-mail account during the day. Complaining that you don't have an answer by 5 p.m. is not productive. Complaining that you don't have an answer in 72 hours is far more understandable! Even then, I could be on vacation, or out enjoying a day of geocaching, or busy at work. Sometimes I will write a quick note back saying that a full response will be delayed. I need to do that more often in order to do a better job.

 

Well, that is a start. I will let some of my colleagues chime in with other thoughts and suggestions.

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I think my esteemed collegue and friend KA has summed it up perfectly. I can't tell you how many emails are sitting in my inbox right now with no way for me to know what cache to look at. Even if you are 100% sure I know what cache you are contacting me about at the very least include the GC# just in case.

 

New England n00b also has a very good point about the honey. It is human nature to get defensive when you feel you are being attacked or threatened. An email that starts off "How dare you not approve my cache" will not necessarily be the first email I take care of that day. I will get to it, but it might be after I've cleared my box of other issues. Many times, I'll put off replying to such an email for a time so I can compose my thoughts and present a calm and unemotional answer rather than a knee-jerk reaction.

 

As a final note, be prepared. When you place a cache make sure all the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted. Make sure you have read and understand the guidelines and that your cache submission meets these guidelines. If you think there may be a question post additional info in the note to reviewer section. The more complete your cache submission is the quicker the review process will be for both of us.

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That's the one thing that always amazes me when I see the posts from people who don't get their caches approved.

 

I think that every single time, when it comes right down to it, you can always see that they act quite rude to the approver during the process.

 

Don't bite the hand that feeds you! ^_^

 

Why would anyone want tho approve a cache, when they are working so hard, and are so overloaded, when the person is attacking them right from the get-go?

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Ambrosia, you ask a good question, although it is certainly not a universal truth that the cache owner is always the person being rude.

 

I may not *want* to list a cache when someone treats me rudely. I may not *want* to list a cache which meets my own personal definition of being "lame." And so on and so forth. But I *have* to list a cache if it meets the listing guidelines. Sometimes the challenge is being fair and objective in reaching that determination, when the cache owner has a "history" or is being argumentative in response to questions, or is upset about a delay, etc. One answer to that challenge is to let the matter sit for six hours while I calm down and put on my "objectivity hat" like Team Misguided describes above. Some days, it is not easy. But it is a job that I gladly volunteer to do, just the same, because I feel I'm helping the community and the website.

 

Edited to properly reference my esteemed colleague to the Northwest, and recent hotel hosts.

Edited by Keystone Approver

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I realized that when I made that comment, that I didn't say the whole point. :P

 

You may not want to, but it is your job. I was saying it that way to make a point, even though I know that your personal opinions are not supposed to cloud your judgment when approving caches.

 

I've been tempted to think that it would be fun to be an approver, just because I would love to be involved in every aspect of this sport. But I realize that it must be very hard and I don't think that I could handle it.

 

I am very glad that y'all can manage to put up with some of us. B)^_^

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here's a handy tip or two:

 

always be polite. assume your approver might be busy. if your cache might raise an doubts, include appropriate explanations on your submission. it's much, much easier to ask the approver about anything doubtful BEFORE you go to the trouble of placing a cache.

 

did i mention be polite? and tell the truth. if you screw up on this one, all of your future caches will go into the "slow approval due to careful scrutiny" queue.

 

uh, and be polite.

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<<SNIP>>

 

uh, and be polite.

Unfortunately, society in general has forgotten this. Rude, demanding and nasty has become the norm.

 

And yes, It's getting old.

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Another way to assure that your communication with your approver goes smoothly, is to make sure you read and understand the guidelines of placing a cache BEFORE you send your communications.

If you try to get something approved that you would have learned it not allowed beforehand, you will save yourself alot of grief. By the same token, if you try to get approval by covering over certain facts, you will most likely be risking dissapointment.

Very often that type of behaviour is what brings cachers into the forums to complain in the first place, and it always comes out that major information was withheld either in the approval process for placing of the cache, or in what is being told to the forum peer group about what actually took place in the communication process.

Edited by woof n lulu

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You don't have to agree with or even like your approver to be courtious and professional. There is no situation where doing these things will hurt your communications. There are a thousand ways to blow it if you respond in haste and frustration. The same rule applies in the forums. ^_^

 

If a cache is borderline in some area and the approver can make a case for either approving the cache or rejecting it, the decision will be skewed by the cache owners attitude. If the cache is not approvable but a small change can make it happen, will the nasty SOB get the email that says "your cache can't be approved as it is because of.... but I there is a way..."?

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I find correspondance with approvers goes much more smoothly when they include their Paypal account info in their original e-mail. If I have to ask for it, it causes delays in getting their money.

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I find correspondance with approvers goes much more smoothly when they include their Paypal account info in their original e-mail.  If I have to ask for it, it causes delays in getting their money.

ROFLMAO! I nearly spewed Dr Pepper on my screen. Luckily I fell out of my chair and merely sprayed the cat. I hope he's not thinking of payback.....

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ROFLMAO!  I nearly spewed Dr Pepper on my screen. Luckily I fell out of my chair and merely sprayed the cat. I hope he's not thinking of payback.....

You sprayed your cat! And you hope he's not thinking of payback! Oh good luck to you! :o

Edited by harleycache

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I find correspondance with approvers goes much more smoothly when they include their Paypal account info in their original e-mail.  If I have to ask for it, it causes delays in getting their money.

ROFLMAO! I nearly spewed Dr Pepper on my screen. Luckily I fell out of my chair and merely sprayed the cat. I hope he's not thinking of payback.....

You spayed you cat with Dr Pepper!?!? Oh nevermind.

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here's a handy tip or two:

 

always be polite. assume your approver might be busy. if your cache might raise an doubts, include appropriate explanations on your submission. it's much, much easier to ask the approver about anything doubtful BEFORE you go to the trouble of placing a cache.

 

did i mention be polite? and tell the truth. if you screw up on this one, all of your future caches will go into the "slow approval due to careful scrutiny" queue.

 

uh, and be polite.

 

the HR lady where I work likes to say -

.

If they are younger than at least 35 they don't know what manners are. They just don't teach manners any more.

 

And I gotta tell you I have to agree!

Edited by CompuCash

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You spayed you cat with Dr Pepper!?!? Oh nevermind.

His normal veterinarian, Mr. Pibb, was out that day..so his assistant John Pepper did the work. (Don't worry, that's how I read it at first, too).

 

Sugar > Horse doo.

 

Another thing that I'm sure the approvers could use is for you to address every point in the guidelines that might be questionable given your hide. In other words, if it's in a gated community, then a copy of your permission e-mail from the homeowners' group would be good to have already included in your notes to reviewers. That sort of thing. Get your ducks in a line and *then* present everything the first time, rather than requiring them to chase you down. (the reverse is also true, approvers...if they violated multiple guidelines, please point *all* of them out and type a small explanation to go with the quoted rules as to how their specific cache failed that rule....nothing some people hate more than fixing something about their cache, and then finding out it wasn't the only reason they were declined).

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Another thing that I'm sure the approvers could use is for you to address every point in the guidelines that might be questionable given your hide. In other words, if it's in a gated community, then a copy of your permission e-mail from the homeowners' group would be good to have already included in your notes to reviewers. That sort of thing. Get your ducks in a line and *then* present everything the first time, rather than requiring them to chase you down. (the reverse is also true, approvers...if they violated multiple guidelines, please point *all* of them out and type a small explanation to go with the quoted rules as to how their specific cache failed that rule....nothing some people hate more than fixing something about their cache, and then finding out it wasn't the only reason they were declined).

 

 

Thants a very good point. You don't serve hotdogs that are hot on the outside and frozed in the middle.

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the HR lady where I work likes to say -

.

If they are younger than at least 35 they don't know what manners are. They just don't teach manners any more.

 

And I gotta tell you I have to agree!

i have to say that's an unfair categorization. i know plenty of under 35's who are plenty polite, and plenty of over-35 boors.

 

i does nobody any service to make assumptions.

 

and if we don't like the manners of our young people, we have to teach them. not just their parents; ALL of us. nobody is off the hook. if you have a criticism af generational behavior, congratulations you've just volunteered to be an educator.

 

it is not fair to deprive a young person of this education because of absent or stupid parents. but one tip for teaching them: be polite when you do it. be respectful of them, or they will not learn the lesson.

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the HR lady where I work likes to say -

.

If they are younger than at least 35 they don't know what manners are. They just don't teach manners any more.

 

And I gotta tell you I have to agree!

i have to say that's an unfair categorization. i know plenty of under 35's who are plenty polite, and plenty of over-35 boors.

 

i does nobody any service to make assumptions.

 

and if we don't like the manners of our young people, we have to teach them. not just their parents; ALL of us. nobody is off the hook. if you have a criticism af generational behavior, congratulations you've just volunteered to be an educator.

 

it is not fair to deprive a young person of this education because of absent or stupid parents. but one tip for teaching them: be polite when you do it. be respectful of them, or they will not learn the lesson.

You're absolutly right Flask. I am under 35 and have excelent manners. Sterotyping in itself is a very rude thing.

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Please keep this discussion on-topic to the issue of good communications with the volunteer cache reviewers. A general discussion about manners is beyond the scope of the thread. It's been noted that manners and courtesy are a good thing. Thanks.

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Courtesy will get you a long ways. And when combined with clear and precise information you should have no trouble getting your cache approved. I'll usually send CO Acmin a map of the area, along with the waypoints involved, when I plant one in the hills. And since I'm about the only one who goes up there the 528 foot rule is not a problem.

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With what few caches I've hidden I've always just followed the guidelines to the best of my limited ability & everything seems to click. Never really had much communication with an approver except to send her (Honeychile) a thank you which I'm as guilty as most for not doing often enough.

There was one time I hid a cache on NPS property, thought I was far enough away but obviously not & Mtn-man caught it. I received a polite email informing me of my mistake to which I admittedly told him I hadn't done my homework & apologized for the screw-up. No harm, no foul & I didn't go pull all my caches & commit "Geocide" like so many I see.

Bottom line, try to do it right, accept it if you're wrong & remember, you can't lure many fly's with vinegar. Seems to work in our neck of the woods.

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"I've hidden I've always just followed the guidelines"

What a great concept. Its like my boss often says, "people, lets get back to basics and do the job right"

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<SNIP>

(the reverse is also true, approvers...if they violated multiple guidelines, please point *all* of them out and type a small explanation to go with the quoted rules as to how their specific cache failed that rule....nothing some people hate more than fixing something about their cache, and then finding out it wasn't the only reason they were declined).

I am guilty of this. When staring 100 caches in the que I have a habit of looking at the cache but listing only the major problem. partly because its faster and partly because try not to totally ruin some ones day because they have 5 things wrong with it.

However this is a good suggestion and I shall attempt to list all the problems the first time. Nicely of course.

 

Thanks for the input.

CO admin

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I find correspondance with approvers goes much more smoothly when they include their Paypal account info in their original e-mail.  If I have to ask for it, it causes delays in getting their money.

ROFLMAO! I nearly spewed Dr Pepper on my screen. Luckily I fell out of my chair and merely sprayed the cat. I hope he's not thinking of payback.....

good think you didn't SPAY the cat and it was looking for payback! :o

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QUOTE (ju66l3r @ Jul 23 2004, 11:31 AM)

<SNIP>

(the reverse is also true, approvers...if they violated multiple guidelines, please point *all* of them out and type a small explanation to go with the quoted rules as to how their specific cache failed that rule....nothing some people hate more than fixing something about their cache, and then finding out it wasn't the only reason they were declined).

 

I am guilty of this. When staring 100 caches in the que I have a habit of looking at the cache but listing only the major problem. partly because its faster and partly because try not to totally ruin some ones day because they have 5 things wrong with it.

However this is a good suggestion and I shall attempt to list all the problems the first time. Nicely of course.

This is the health inspector approach. In the restaurant biz, a health inspector has an unlimited supply of violations -honestly- in every restaurant. He will make a small note about the cracked floor tile which can harbor bacteria, but he will be insistant about the uncovered light bulb that a mop handle could smack. Two years later, if he needs it, he will become insistant about fixing the floor tile. He goal is continual improvement. We want to get it right the first time.

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Since Keystone made such a thorough reply I can't add much except minor details. One is to make sure all non-virtual caches have a log book. If you received permission from the land manager, be sure to mention that in the description or in a note to the reviewer. Such a note will go a very long way to getting your cache approved. I also must add that I feel very lucky to work with such a great group of geocachers in Iowa and in surrounding states when I pinch hit for vacationing reviewers. I've heard war stories from other approvers that make me appreciate the fine people I've had the pleasure to work with.

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