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How to “fix” geocaching

Did you know that Geocaching is broken? No, neither did I. But over the last few weeks I’ve been collecting a mental list of complaints about Geocaching and how it isn’t like it was “in the good old days”.

The list got lengthy, but when I started to think about it the complaints boiled down to a very specific list of “problems” with Geocaching:

  • Traditionals aren’t what they used to be
  • New geocachers are to blame for the poor quality of caches hidden
  • New cachers don’t know what they’re doing
  • New cachers ask stupid questions
  • Established cachers are cliquey and unwelcoming

Now, looking at this list, I could probably condense it even further to

  • We need more ammo can hides
  • New cachers are to blame for everything wrong with geocaching

The original list could also be much longer, but most things I’ve heard (your mileage may be different) boil down to those few things.

Lets take the points in the first list one by one.

Traditional Geocaches Aren’t What They Used To Be..

Apparently, in the good old days, every cache container was an ammo can lined with gold and chocked full of wonderful swag. Now, apparently, you’ve got more chance of seeing a unicorn than an ammo can out in the wild. It seems we’re in the age of the micro and nano, which have rendered traditionals boring.

Possible Solutions..

  • When creating your pocket query, filter out any caches below a certain size
  • Geocaching listing sites ban all cache containers below a certain size. For arguments sake, lets say they put a ban on any container you can’t fit a geocoin in. Two things will potentially happen: Cache containers will get bigger. Or, geocoins will get smaller. Imagine a world full of micro geocoins!

New Geocachers Are To Blame For The Poor Quality of Geocaches Hidden/Don’t Know What They’re Doing..

These two go hand in hand.

I’ve seen this complaint in a number of places and it is usually accompanied with statements like:

.

The theory here is that ALL the poor cache hides are by new geocachers. They pick poor containers, bad locations etc. But where did they get these bad habits from?

This complaint is like adults complaining about how lazy and spoiled the kids of today are. WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK MADE THEM THAT WAY? They didn’t raise themselves. Take some responsibility. If your kids are lazy and spoiled, how about looking at yourself before shoving the blame on to them for all the ills in the world.

Mmmm…tangent there. But the principle is the same. The majority of the time new geocachers follow the lead of established geocachers surely? There may be occasion where they’ve only found caches hidden by other new geocachers, but that won’t be all the time.

Possible Solutions..

  • Established geocachers take some responsibility and reach out to the new geocacher. Point them in the right direction, offer to go out caching with them to show them some examples of good hides.
  • Established geocacher stops using poor containers and hiding caches in bad locations. Lead by example.

New Geocachers Ask Stupid Questions..

This is my personal favourite and perhaps the most stupid complaint made by established geocachers.

Complaints that new geocachers are ruining forums/facebook pages with their stupid questions. Often the people who make these complaints are the same ones blaming new geocachers for spoiling the game with their substandard cache hides and not knowing the rules.

Possible Solutions..

  • Put a FAQ section on the forum/FB page
  • Ban any established geocacher who moans about new geocachers and their stupid questions. Seriously, they are adding no value to the game and are in fact part of the problem they moan about. Extreme? Yes. But a culling of idiots can only be good for the game long term ;-).
  • If you’re an established geocacher and you don’t like these stupid questions, then DON’T READ THEM!

Established Geocachers Are Cliquey And Unwelcoming To New Cachers..

You know what its like, you go to your first event and no one wants to talk to you. They’re all in their groups chatting away and no one has come over to welcome you. Or, you join a FB group and the people already in the group just carry on their conversations without including you.

It can be difficult when you’re new to something. But relationships take time to form, they don’t just happen.

Possible Solutions..

.

  • Okay, thats harsh. But in reality you’re just another face in the crowd/name on the computer screen. People will gravitate to those they know, its natural to do that. If you’re not willing to go outside your comfort zone and introduce yourself, then what makes you think they will?
  • Event organisers make the effort to meet and greet newcomers, introduce them to others (really a no brainer most do anyway)

For the record, I’m getting a bit sick and tired of new geocachers being made scapegoats for every little perceived problem in geocaching. There have always been new geocachers and there always will be new geocachers. Any cacher who claims to abide by the rules 100% and never makes a mistake is just plain lying. Its just easier to point at someone else and say its them who are “spoiling” it for others. We need to take a look at ourselves and see what we can do to make things better/maintain the high standards we expect.

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  • Collin French

    Great article. Some valid (and a silly) points. Of course, that’s not *all* that’s broken. Yes, I think newborns are blamed far too often, but, you missed the big one that’s all “seasoned” cachers moan about given a chance. Virtually. I am fed up of hearing about them. It has been publicly stated numerous times over the years that virtual will not be coming back. People need to suck it up, do an earthcache (which auto corrects to wart ache if you aren’t careful!), a wherigo or simply complete the grandfathered virtual and suck it up.

    • ohbeep

      How did I manage to gloss over virtuals? Cheers Collin

  • Dave DeBaeremaeker

    Good article. Don’t have much to add or comment on. Except this: Geocaching has been going for 15 years now – of course its not the same. Name one thing that remains the same from its inception to 15 years later?

    Being different does not make something better or worse. Just different. If you don’t like it as an old timer, do something about it (see the bit about being cliquey above) or go do something else (I am sure opencaching.us or opencaching.uk, or opencaching.YourRegion would love to have you).

    Complaining about it, and playing the blame game, solves zero problems. Zero (see? its about the numbers!) and just builds walls within the community.

    • ohbeep

      Your second point, try something else, is something I’ve been considering for a while. I’ve become a little jaded with gc.com and some of the things they’ve done over the last couple of years. I understand why they’ve done them, I just don’t agree with some of them.

      So, with that in mind I was going to try and spend maybe a couple of months just using the alternative sites. I’ve dabbled with them, but not gone in for the full experience. Now seems an ideal time to do that.

      Cheers Dave