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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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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…)

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!