Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Challenge caches - Guideline has been updated

Groundspeak has updated the Challenge Cache guideline as shown below.

New guideline
A challenge cache is a variation of a mystery cache that enhances the geocaching experience. It will typically require the cacher to meet a reasonable and positive Geocaching-, Waymarking- or Wherigo-related qualification. If you are thinking of creating such a cache, please review the additional specifications in our Knowledge Book article.

Previous guideline
A challenge cache is a variation of a puzzle cache. This will typically require the cacher to meet a reasonable Geocaching-, Waymarking- or Wherigo-related qualification. An example is finding a cache in each county of your state. If you are thinking of creating such a cache, be sure to do your research first.

And here's the update to the Knowledge Book article, which contains more information. (Maybe it's just me, but I had to chuckle when I saw this in the text: "A lengthy list of 'rules' would be sufficient reason for a challenge cache to not be published," which is immediately followed by a lengthy list of rules.)

Updated Knowledge Book Article

What is a Challenge cache?
A challenge cache requires that geocachers meet a geocaching-related qualification or series of tasks before the challenge cache can be logged. Waymarking, Benchmarking, Challenges and Wherigo-related tasks also qualify. The additional qualification or geocaching-related tasks are considered the basis of a challenge cache, rather than Additional Logging Requirements (ALRs).

Challenge caches vary in scope and format. All challenge caches must be in the affirmative and require that something be accomplished. Challenge cache owners must demonstrate that there are sufficient available caches to meet the challenge at the time of publication. Reviewers may ask the cache owner to demonstrate that they have previously met the challenge and/or that a substantial number of other geocachers would be able to do so.

How will you know when the challenge cache requirements have been met?
Importantly, cache owners must consider how they will substantiate claims that the cache requirements have been met. The challenge criteria on the cache page must reflect this consideration, and must be verifiable through information on the Geocaching.com website. Challenge caches relying solely on third-party software for verification will not be published. Cache owners will need to ensure that geocachers can verify that they have completed the cache requirements without compromising their privacy. Challenge cache owners may also be asked to outline a long-term cache maintenance plan.

What makes an acceptable challenge cache?
A challenge cache needs to be appeal to, and be attainable by, a reasonable number of geocachers. A challenge cache may not specifically exclude any segment of geocachers. If a geocacher is required to alter their caching style or habits, such as avoiding a particular cache type to attain a specific percentage or average, the cache will not be published.

The requirements for meeting the challenge should be succinct and easy to explain, follow, and document. A lengthy list of “rules” would be sufficient reason for a challenge cache to not be published.

Additional points to consider when creating a challenge cache:

1. Challenge caches must contain the word "challenge" in the cache name.
2. Challenge caches are listed as the Mystery/Unknown cache type.
3. A Challenge cache must avoid undue restrictions. Specifically:
a. Challenge caches based on a specific list of caches, such as caches placed by a specific person or group, will generally not be published
b. Challenge caches cannot include restrictions based on ‘date found’; caches found before the challenge cache publication date can count towards the achievement of the challenge.
4. Challenge caches need to be attainable at any time while the cache is active. A cache that requires “100 multi-caches found in 2011” would not be publishable, as would not be attainable by someone new to the game.
5. A Challenge cache based on non-accomplishments, such as DNFs, will not be published.
6. One should not have to ‘give up’ finding other caches to achieve a challenge cache’s requirements. To state that "10% of your find count needs to be Attended Logs" would require the geocacher to stop finding other types of caches and could affect their overall enjoyment of the game.
7. Challenge caches may not require the publication of a new cache or Waymark as a challenge criteria; challenge caches must be achievable by those who do not own caches or Waymarks.
8. Challenge caches must not require geocachers to log caches that are disabled or archived.
9. A challenge cache should recognize the completion of a personal achievement, rather than the winner of a competition. For example, a challenge cache based on "First to Finds" is a competition between geocachers, and is therefore not publishable.
10. A challenge cache must be attainable without the need to email the owner. The cache page must include the true coordinates or the means to calculate them, if a puzzle.
11. If a challenge cache is submitted within an area where a similar challenge cache already exists, then it will need to have a unique list of qualifying criteria (geocaches, waymarks, etc.).

Friday, March 09, 2012

Too tired to start a fire

Here's a fun song by paddling singer/songwriter Jerry Vandiver, who will be performing at Canoecopia in Madison, Wis., this weekend. I'll be there too.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Podcacher.com coming to Iowa

Did you catch the announcement that Sonny and Sandy, creators of Podcacher.com, are going to attend MOGA in April at Rathbun Lake? It will be good to see them there. It's been nearly five years since I met them at the 2007 Midwest Geobash in Indiana when Sonny interviewed me for their show (Podcacher show #120). In case you weren't into geocaching back then, here's a link to that show with the interview. The interview starts around the halfway point in the program.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Phases of a Geocacher

This past week I read a nice blog written by a nice geocacher about the nice phases of geocaching. This has prompted me to finally post my own "phases of a geocacher" essay that I've been working on for some time. My "phases" essay may be not as nice but it is more realistic, IMHO. Here goes...

Phases of a Geocacher

In my interaction with hundreds of geocachers over the years, I have come to recognize that attitudes, opinions and comments of geocachers are often influenced by what phase they are in during their geocaching timeline progression. Therefore, to better understand a geocacher’s attitudes and motivations, it’s helpful to understand what phase he or she is in. Keep in mind that there is no standard duration for any of these phases. Some geocachers move through the entire continuum in a matter of weeks or months, while others may dwell in a single phase for several years before transitioning to the next.

With no offense intended to anyone in particular, here’s my description of these phases of a geocacher. My thanks to a few geocaching friends who have contributed their ideas to this list.

Pre-geocaching phase, also known as “muggle”
You may own a GPS. You may be a hiker. You may even be a letterboxer. But until you first become aware that there is an organized activity called geocaching with thousands of people taking part, you are quite simply… a muggle. (The term is borrowed from the Harry Potter books. The word “muggle” has spread beyond its Harry Potter origins and is used by many groups to indicate those who are not aware or are lacking in some skill. In 2003, “muggle” entered the Oxford English Dictionary with that definition.)

The Curious Excitement phase
You found the geocaching.com web site or found a geocache by accident, or you were introduced to the sport by a family member, co-worker, neighbor, someone you met on a trail, or by a story in the news media. Your interest level is moderately high because you wonder what it would be like to look for a hidden container and what others will think of your strange behavior. After searching on geocaching.com and printing out a cache listing, you’re ready to go on your first cache hunt.

The Irrational Exuberance phase
The phase begins with your first geocache find. In this phase, unless you were introduced to geocaching by a friend or family member, you have not yet met another geocacher.
            After your first find, the “irrational exuberance” phase either continues or it is squelched. The first find can make or break you. If it was a hum-drum location, you may end your geocaching after that first experience. If it was a great location, a clever hide, an ingenious container, or a memorable geocache for other positive reasons, you’re probably hooked, at least for the short term, and the irrational exuberance phase continues, although it is now somewhat more rational because you now have experienced that geocaching is as fun as you hoped it would be.

The Quest For Recognition (QFR) phase
For many geocachers, the next phase involves a desire to be recognized by the local and/or worldwide geocaching “community.” This phase manifests itself in different ways to different people:

You may become a FTF hound/hog.

You may fall to the dark side and realize It’s All About the Numbers. (Note: These first two behaviors indicate signs of geocaching-obsessive behavior. More about that in a moment.)

You may post long, humorous found-it logs on cache pages to demonstrate how brilliant you are.

You may write multiple, frequent forum postings in the Groundspeak forums and/or on your local geocaching organization website. In these postings, you seek to carve out a niche for yourself by adopting and promoting an idiosyncratic stance on a certain issue. For example you may spread the word about non-Groundspeak geocaching sites such as Terra… Open something... whozit… something (sorry, I never can remember the names of those other sites.)

You may create signature items (including geocoins) that you leave in caches and/or trade with or sell to other geocachers.

You may organize geocaching events.

You may create only mystery/puzzle caches and begin building a mystique surrounding your puzzlemaster geocaching I.D. (which is actually a sock puppet account) by never publicly acknowledging that TonyVargossy77’s alter identity is The Enigma.

You may get a local newspaper or TV reporter to do a story about geocaching that features – who else? – you!

The Flame-out phase. Also known as “My life-changing situation”
At some point, obsessed geocachers arrive at a stark realization: “There are other geocachers who are even more obsessed than I am and therefore I will never be able to reach the pinnacle in my Quest For Recognition (QFR)” For many geocachers, this is a bitter pill to swallow. Of course, while this scenario is the cause of many flame-outs, it is NEVER admitted to be the cause. Instead, the stated cause of the flame-out is one of the following: a) My workload has changed; b) My family situation has changed; c) My knee/back/hip/ankle/shoulder/GPS/car/wife/husband/family gave out/up on me.

In its most severe form, a flame-out is punctuated by a “geocide.” This term refers to a geocacher who publicly disavows geocaches, geocachers and all things geocaching. In effect, he or she commits virtual suicide of his geocaching.com identity and vows in the forums to never return to the forums/logs/events/game again. Although the term “geocide” may imply permanence, the opposite is usually true. Many geocides have been known to last no longer than one day, and many geocachers have been known to commit geocide as many as five or six times… and counting. In these multi-geocide situations, the official forum posting to mark the end of a geocide phase usually begins with “OK, I tried to stay away but there’s just one more thing I want to say.”

The “It’s not about the numbers – No really, I mean it this time” phase
After pursuing the Quest For Recognition phase followed either by a graceful Flame-out or a not-so-graceful Geocide, geocachers generally enter the “It’s not about the numbers – No really, I mean it this time” phase.

The “Rodney King (Can’t we all just get along?)” phase
This phase is evidenced when a geocacher posts a forum message with the central theme of: “Everyone should be allowed to play the game the way he or she wants to.” While this is truly a noble and harmonious sentiment, few geocachers actually believe it. The unspoken truth is that if a geocacher does not play the game exactly the way I do, he or she is either a “newbie” a “FTF hound” a “numbers whore” a “coin maniac” or qualifies for one of a number of other derogatory classifications designed to imply superiority.