Sunday, March 21, 2010

IGO's system to recommend caches for archiving

Back in the December, bucknuts (Dale), a member of the Iowa Geoachers Organization (IGO) board asked me my thoughts about working with IGO to get caches archived that may have passed their useful lives because the owners are no longer maintaining them. We agreed to give it a try. The IGO system for calling such caches to my attention has been in place for about a month. So far it's been working well, although there has been some questions and discussions about it among Iowa geocachers. To shed more light on the system, I'm posting (with permission) an email I received from Rlowtek (John), who raised valid concerns about the IGO system, followed by my response.

I have exchanged messages with the President of IGO over my concerns with the new IGO cache “Tagging” process.  Below I have provided my thoughts and would like to know your opinion and how in practice you use this process.

I believe this will not enhance geocaching (to the contrary) and that a proper, open method already exists to accomplish the desired result. In effect, this creates two parallel systems. Publicly, you, the administrator or other Groundspeak volunteer, warns the owner and they generally have 30 days.  The open system, governed by, provides if someone publicly abuses the “Needs Maintenance” or “Needs Archived” logging,  the system will be self-correcting.  However, the underground, anonymous system, is not self-correcting and is without benefit of public exposure to the point of not requiring the "tagger" to have personally posted a "Needs Archived" log. Further, it appears that archiving is instantaneous.

While I share everyone’s frustration with caches that are not maintained, I believe this “cure” is worse than the disease. It will result in accusations, retaliations and misunderstandings. If one is concerned about caches needing justified attention – use the “Needs Maintenance” or “Needs Archived” logs. The IGO tagging will be influenced by individual personal bias and opinions of what geocaching is supposed to be – bias that we all carry. Even with the purest of intentions, hard feelings will be the result. 
I believe we have enough squabbles and misunderstandings in the caching community. We simply do not need more fuel for the fire. While at times we all feel the need to be the geo-police, it is ill-advised to give in to the temptation. I further submit there is a better system already in place that is reasonably impartial and is certainly in the open.

My response:

    Thanks for your feedback.
    A few responses...
    First of all, archiving a cache is not a death sentence for a cache.
It's simply another method to take it off the books until the owner decides to do something about the DNFs, Needs Maintenance, or SBA logs. If, after archiving, the owner truly wants to keep the cache going, he or she needs to be prompt about getting it fixed before another cache takes its place. In most cases it can be brought back to life with a simple email to me explaining that it has been maintained and is ready to be unarchived.
    Second, I agree with you that there is already a system in place for dealing with caches that need attention. I don't view the IGO tagging process as a replacement for the system of logs. Rather, it's a useful supplement to that system because it gives the elected organization leaders a way to notify me about caches they feel need to be maintained. I view it as a useful aid to help me monitor caches that may be in need of TLC.
    Regarding whether there was a Needs Archived log on a cache before it is archived, I agreed that there should be.  In fact, I pointed this out to the IGO board -- requesting that they not forward to me requests for archiving unless there has been a SBA log posted on it for a reasonable amount of time -- say two weeks -- without a response from the cache owner.
    I hope this clears up the situation and the current interaction I have with IGO about its tagging system and how I respond to it.

volunteer reviewer