Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Team" finds or "ghost" logs? What do you think?

This week two different cache owners wrote to me to ask my advice/opinion about how to respond when a geocacher posts a "find" on their cache page but did not sign the log. The first situation (messages are posted below with permission from the cache owner; names changed to protect identities) involves members of a geocaching "team" who all log a find even though only one of them is present at the cache. Here's the message I received:

Hello Ken,
You have been a wealth of information to me lately and because of that, I have a semi-hypothetical question for a real-life situation and how our geocaching guidelines apply to it....

Let's say you and I are good geocaching friends and we call ourselves "GeoPair". So maybe I go out and make a find today (by myself) and sign the log as "GeoPair". I let you know I found it, and BOTH OF US log a find. But since GeoPair is just a pseudonym for our partnership, we have to log our find individually using our separate usernames on The owner of the cache does a log check and finds GeoPair signed the log, but you and I both posted finds. Perhaps it is well known that you and I together are "GeoPair", perhaps not. The general guideline is once you've signed the physical log, you can post the find on the internet. In this situation is it allowable for both of us to log a find? Is it acceptable (without repercussion) for the owner to delete both of our logs (due to the "bogus" nature of the logs)?

I ask these questions because I am aware of a situation that exactly mirrors my description of this hypothetical situation. What are the exact "rules" that apply here? If I had made this "find" today I could have just as easily signed my name and "forged" your name and the owner probably wouldn't/couldn't know the difference. I assure you, I am NOT doing this. I am aware of another geocacher that IS doing this (signing a pseudonym and/or signing for others). I am just looking for clarification of our geocaching guidelines and options/remedies for a situation such as this. I am relatively new to geocaching, but I believe in and insist on maintaining the integrity of this sport.

I would appreciate your insight and opinion regarding this matter. Thank you!

And here's my response...

I appreciate your efforts to protect the integrity of geocaching, but the geocaching logs are sometimes a mysterious place where one person's viewpoint conflicts with the next person's. As a volunteer reviewer, I have been instructed time and time again that reviewers are not the log police, so we shouldn't be editing or deleting logs on caches (other than those we own) unless a log violates terms of agreement that all geocachers "signed" when they created their account on

Note: The rest of this email is my personal opinion and not necessarily that of My personal opinion -- and I believe the widespread opinion of many long-time geocachers -- is that if you are not physically present for a find, you shouldn't claim it as a find.

In additon to my IowaAdmin account (which I rarely use to log finds), I have an account that I use when I cache hunt on my own and a third account that my wife and I use when we geocache together. Having said that, I know of many couples (usually husband and wife) who have just one account and log all their finds there regardless of whether they were both present. If a single account is shared by a nuclear family, there's seems to be widespread agreement among geocachers that it's OK for family members to log a find even if a spouse or kids were not present. To each his/her own.

Regarding the situation you describe, the cache owner IS the cache police for his/her own cache. I believe the cache owner is justified in deleting any logs he/she truly feels are not legitimate. Like any situation where there may be a difference of opinion, all actions by the cache owner should be done with tactful courtesy and not out of spite or nastiness. The cache owner should clearly explain why he or she is taking the action, such as deleting a log, and give the geocacher a chance to respond or revise the log. If the geocacher doesn't like the outcome, he/she can choose not to search for any more caches owned by that particular cache owner. But there's no need for public shouting matches about it. Just accept it and move on.

I hope this helps.
So what do you think?


Todd300 said...

Interesting. I've seen many e-mail logs from geocaching teams such as "My husband was not with me today when I made the find" or "Found it without our kids, who were with their grandma."

That don't bother me.

I've yet to delete logs of this nature. All that matters to me is if an account is a team instead of an individual, only one individual is needed to be present to sign the log.

If such a case that the other member of the team comes later to find the cache, he can sign the log there, but should not log the find online because his partner already did that. Rather, he should just write a note to let the owner know about his experiences like "My wife was here last week while I was home sick. I had to come here to find it myself."

I've also heard about a husband and wife team logging finds from different parts of the country. They both were on separate trips due to business and each went caching individually and each logged the finds on their one account.

Some people thought they were arm chair logging because the logs may say a cache in Chicago was found one day and another cache found in Cleveland the same day by the same account.

I have never deleted a log unless information is put on it that should not be there such as a spoiler or a TB number (both has happened and in both cases, the cacher apologized without further incident).

I've also seen logs where someone writes "Found cache, but did not sign log because I didn't have a pen." Now, I've yet to have that happen with one of my hides, I WILL ask the cacher to go back and sign the log if he did make the find or I will delete his log. I feel that the cacher must physically sign the log in order to claim the find. That is the only situation where I might consider deleting a log.

Hope I make sense here in my long winded babbling and rambling ;)

Stephanie I. E. said...

If the team members have separate accounts, each team member should only log finds they were present for.

If there's only one account for the entire team, then I guess the "team" logs each find whether or not the entire team was there for it.

P.J. said...

It seems to me that it's pretty simple.

If you're present, log it. If you're not present, don't log it.

That being said, if they have a "team account," and only one is there, I don't have a problem that account being logged.

If a husband/wife have a shared account and they are each caching in different spots, why shouldn't it count? They are finding things. Nobody says they have to both be there. As long as they share the account.

Now, if there are four people to a team and they all have separate accounts -- and all log even though only one was there? No way. That's wrong and owners should delete the logs.

Parabola said...

I had some log's that a group of people went threw and they signed under one name, a team name they came up for the day.

I don't really care for this, and I saw most of their reasoning was to save log book space. I can see it with a micro where the logbook or sheet is very small, but mine was a good sized notebook and room isn't a problem.

For the most part I will give the cacher the benefit of the doubt when it's logged like that. I have come across some where a person has logged it as a find, and didn't sign the log book, and couldn't give me a reason why. ex, no pen, wet log. Those I do delete.

I do think this is becoming more and more of a standard practice, and don't really care for it myself. But I've also seen how the old log book's out there have story's wrote in them that are great to sit and read, and all you see anymore is just a date and a name. :(

Also I don't delete the log's to be mean, to me it's a bogus log, and per guidelines as a cache owner I'm suppose to delete bogus find's. But sending the logger a notice before you do hit the delete button is a good way to go.

Marvin said...

Logging finds sure gets to be complicated! Sometimes I cache alone, sometimes with my wife, sometimes with my daughter, sometimes with my brother, sometimes with my brother's girlfriend, and sometimes with a combination that includes some or all of them. Each of us has an account. Our "rule" is that whoever is along gets to log the find even though only one of us truly is the finder.

Anonymous said...

Just adding my two cents here.

It's just Geocaching, if someone logs one of my caches and didn't sign the log, I don't care. If that's the way they want to play the game, so be it. Individuals, groups, teams whoever wants to find or not find my caches are more then welcome to do whatever. It's a lighthearted game and people get way too upset about it sometimes. There's no money involved in the game and there is no value to having more finds then another player. Let people do as they please. If they want to cheat or log caches that they didn't find let em have it. Putting this into practice will keep stress down and make the world a better place.