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Geocaching Manners and Good Taste: Get Some! January 27, 2010

Posted by kinzuakid in Cache Construction, Education, Geocaching, Philosophy.
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2 comments

Folks, there has been a disturbing trend in North San Diego County Geocaches of late: the repeated leave-behinds of inappropriate swag.  It isn’t genocide or anything but it’s still a big problem.  The reasons are several.

  1. If new Geocachers run across this kind of swag and assume it is just an accepted part of the game it may turn them off to playing entirely.
  2. Experienced Geocachers and reviewers are likely to complain and flag the caches for archival as a rules violation.  This is already a risk to some of our most treasured local hides.  Caches with hundreds of finds and on every “must do” bookmark list in the county are starting to see tasteless swag, advertising, vandalized log books and religious tracts deposited.
  3. Cache owners may reconsider the amount of work it takes to maintain a decent hide.  To the hours invested creating a good puzzle or creative hide, additional hours in replacement and checkups, now we add additional hours of “rules policing”.

In all of these cases the number and quality of Geocachers and hides are likely to decline.  We as a community then become marked as just another (well organized) group of professional litterers.  (more…)

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Why Is All the Swag Crap? April 28, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in For the Newbies, Forums, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, In the News/Blogosphere.
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An interesting question has been put to the forums by a new Geocacher:  “What’s the deal with degenerating swag?“.  The responses are right on the money and I think I am in agreement with the masses.  The quality of Geocaching swag is directly related to three things:

  • Difficulty
  • Terrain+Length of approach to GZ
  • Private versus Public cache listing

I’m no Edward Tufte but I think it can be charted:

Geocaching SWAG Quality Factors

Geocaching SWAG Quality Factors

I think the single most important factor in maintaining high quality SWAG is distance from parking.  This of course limits the number of visits to a given Geocache, but it also touches on another fun bit in the thread, the interesting article links:

Most urban / suburban caches go through cache swag degeneration rather quickly. Any cache, easily accessible to all geocachers experiences the “The Tragedy of the Commons.”

One of my all-time favorite essays. I first read it about 35 years ago and was blown away, and still consider it one of the important guides to life. Thanks for posting about it. The original is here.

And the analogy fits perfectly.  I don’t trade SWAG myself, but people tend to get their greed turned on pretty quickly when nobody is looking.  Caches that are only visited infrequently have much higher visibility to each individual visitor (and therefore have a higher shame factor for not contributing).

Enough philosophy.  On to work!

Follow-Up to a Questionable Hide April 27, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Cache Construction, Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Philosophy.
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About a month or two ago a new hide popped up in the area.  It was in a clearly marked “off limits” area but because other caches had been placed in the vicinity I believe the owner was under the impression a new placement would be just fine.  This is unfortunate as in my area we have seen “no trespassing” signs sprout up all around Geocaches.  No matter how off road a cache looks, development tends to encroach.  Such is life in Southern California.

A few folks piped up about this problem location and I was one of them, receiving a memo of irritation from the owner.  I responded rather verbosely and I thought the note important enough to share with you here.  I don’t plan on sharing the original memo from the hider unless that becomes necessary.  Let’s just say the owner was mildly upset with my position, which was “archive this cache”, and he/she was inclined to stop playing.  I respect his/her anger but don’t want the hider to give up on things.

My response, in 4 parts, was intended to help future hides and was a direct response to a comment by the owner concerning the  “I am your worst nightmare” section of my Geocaching profile.  All that, below the fold.  If you find it useful, please copy and use it in your own “counseling sessions”: (more…)

I Need Geocaching Advice April 2, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Geocaching, Philosophy.
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Before you say “Duh!” (I’m looking at you, Doug) I must say I’m serious.  I really need help.

It’s the new “Virtual Caching” phenomenon that has taken hold.  Some people call it “Armchair Caching“, but what I am talking about is taking it to new heights of absurdity.  I mentioned it briefly in my post about log checking.  There are a number of Geocacher(s) in the area who have logged dozens if not hundreds of finds on Geocaching.com that simply never happened.  The finds are provably impossible to have logged, ranging the following scenarios:

  • Caches that were home for maintenance for weeks before and after the find was logged
  • Caches that were completely destroyed months before the find was logged
  • Caches logged from multiple continents on the same day
  • Puzzles and multi-caches whose solutions were impossible to obtain due to errata or missing waypoints
  • Caches that were clearly archived
  • Caches both archived and located in areas clearly off-limits or inaccessible
  • “I was standing here all day and nobody came by” situations

Other than deleting the logs, what can one do?  I have explained the problems with this behavior in my log checking post and I need a solution.  Well, I WANT a solution, mainly because it degrades the quality of caches.  I couldn’t care less about the cachers’ find counts or “cheating”.

Any ideas?  Comment away…

Why You Should Wait Before Placing Your First Hide March 18, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Education, For the Newbies, Geocaching, Philosophy.
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I read in one of the forums and how-to guides on Geocaching way back when that you should wait until you have at least 20 finds before placing your first hide.  This was to give the new player time to experience good and bad techniques, camouflage, locations and terrain.  The thought was (or so I infer) the community will see higher quality caches as a result.

Sadly, that advice is not easy to track down anymore, nor is it widely followed.  At least in the North San Diego County area we have recently seen a rash of new cachers placing their first hides after just a handful of finds, sometimes as little as 1 or none!  They all generally suffer from some of the same problems with location, detail and longevity.  Those are the reasons you should wait a bit before placing your first hide.  Details on that, below the fold.

(more…)

How can this be fun if you’ve seen it all before? March 7, 2009

Posted by kinzuakid in Cache Construction, Geocaching, Recreation, Uncategorized.
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A colleague asked me this not too long ago.  I went into a long dissertation on the game, why I play and blah blah blah…  Then I saw this log from GC13KPZ (sorry, too lazy to link to the thing right now) and wished I could point to it at the time:

December 29, 2008 by stantastic (5443 found)
Down in San Diego visiting friends, my wife stayed at their place while they taught each other Photoshop skills and I went out for a day of caching by myself. I had just met the cache owner at his “No Fires here” cache up the road, and I told him I was looking for the easier urban hides versus those requiring long hikes in parks to reach, so he suggested I go find this one. With my find count and the number of years I’ve been doing this, this was a simple find since I’ve seen it multiple times before. Still, always fun to come up against a good hide with good placement. SLTNLN — thanks for the fun, Jaegermann…

It’s the simple things, like a good hide with good placement.  I’ve seen 50 “pine cones that really aren’t” but I still love them because they’re always in the right spot, are devilishly hard to spot and they take some time to craft if you do it right.  Like I said, I appreciate all the angles of this game.

I just wish I could have some more time to enjoy it.