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GCVote – Reading My Mind January 5, 2010

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching, Geocaching.com, Resources, Reviews, Software, Statistics.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s tough to keep up with all the software and tool development in the Geocaching world as it happens so quickly.  I missed out on version 3.0 of CacheStats, for example and who knows how many revs behind I am on GSAK.  Plenty, I suppose.  But that’s not what this note is about.

I’ve been thinking about building a cache rating database to give the new folks something to look at before going out on their second or third search (or first, for that matter).  I was going to start by collating some opinions from like minded folks on their favorite caches and initially publish a list.  Next, after I moved the blog to a proper server I was thinking about firing up a simple database for these sorts of things to give the good local color a little more exposure.

I don’t need to do that now.  It’s already been done, with GCVote.

GCVote is a plugin for your browser that fires up when you’re looking at a cache page or Google Maps cache map.  It adds a little 0-5 star rating bar on your profile and cache description pages, like so:

Your profile logs with GCVote enabled

I haven’t voted on any of these caches yet, but you can see the little spot there marked “Quality” where you can instantly view the votes for how good others thought the cache was.  You can use it another way, too.  Check this out:

How the Geocache description page looks with GCVote enabled

This, of course, is just the top left corner of a sample Geocache description page, but you get the idea.  Here you can see the quality ratings for yourself.

I will go into more detail in a follow-up post but the tool submits and pulls its rating data using a Firefox plugin called GreaseMonkey.  If you use the free Firefox Internet browser you can use this tool.  Here’s the quick and dirty how-to:

  1. Decide whether GCVote is something you are interested in using
  2. Get Firefox
  3. Install GreaseMonkey
  4. Install the GCVote script
  5. Go to Geocaching.com and enjoy.  That’s it!

If you don’t use Firefox, I’m sorry.  IE just won’t work right now but it looks like the author is working on it.  Stay tuned.

There is good and bad about this tool:

The Good

  • The data come from another source and not Geocaching.com.  This is a good thing in my mind.  It’s a little external quality control.
  • The information is presented to you straight away and in places where this information is highly visible
  • All votes are anonymous.  This is a real winner.
  • You can change your vote if you or the cache changes perspectives
  • Cache owners see the ratings next to their caches when they view the “Caches Owned” list.
  • It works with the Google Maps view, too!

The Bad

  • You have to send the author a password through the Geocaching.com website if you want to vote and not just view the votes/scoring.  There is no automated process for this.
  • I can imagine vigilante voting becoming a problem in some places, but how much of a problem?

On balance I think I want this feature enough to put up with the minor inconvenience and risk of a “vote storm of failure” on my caches.  I will be giving it a try.

I was a little shocked by the stats for this tool cited by the author.  “GCVote counts 1350857 individual quality ratings for 281268 individual caches in the world and 6187 registered users.”  That’s roughly 45 unique caches per person on average, or 218 votes/cache logs per person.  So this tool is getting used somewhere, just not here in North San Diego County.

I’m sure you’ll fix that.  Let’s get some recognition for those awesome hides up here and encourage more traffic.



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