Thursday, April 26, 2012

Making my way to MOGA. Stopping to review and publish new geocaches at highway rest stop just now.

Let's Call Them "Issues". A Blog in INATN.

The New Zealand-based geocaching blog "It's Not About the Numbers" recently asked me to write a guest post on the topic of the most common mistakes that geocache owners make that prevent me from publishing their caches on the first go-round. You can read my post on their blog. I'm also posting it below to improve the  search engine optimization for my blog. :)
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It’s Not About the Numbers was kind enough to ask me to write a guest blog on the topic of “the biggest/most common mistakes you see as a reviewer when players submit a new cache listing.” But since geocachers are Groundspeak’s customers, I prefer not to call them “mistakes.” How about referring to them as “issues”?

It’s pretty easy for me to say what the most common issue is that I see: placing a cache too close to an existing geocache. This is sometimes called the proximity issue. As all seasoned geocachers know, Geocaching.com guidelines call for spacing of at least 528 ft. (0.1 mile or 161 m) between geocaches and between physical waypoints of different multicaches. If there’s one issue that red-flags a new geocache and causes a delay in publishing, it’s mostly likely the proximity issue, and it’s often the result of the cache owner neglecting to check the location of nearby geocaches before placing his or her new cache. In those cases, I try to work with the geocacher to let them find a new location so they don’t have to resubmit an entirely new cache page. 

My second most common issue is when a multicache or puzzle cache doesn’t have the final coordinates listed as an additional waypoint. Sometimes geocachers will post the final coordinates in a reviewer note, but that doesn’t really help me much because I would then have to enter those coordinates myself as an additional waypoint before I could determine if it’s too close to another geocache. That’s why it’s important that cache owners use the “add/edit waypoints” feature to enter the coordinates for all the waypoints that are physical caches, including the final location. This not only makes it easier for reviewers to review the new geocache, it also helps ensure that future geocaches don't encroach on the caches we publish. 

Third on my list of most common “issues” are caches that appear to have commercial overtones, which is a violation of Geocaching.com’s guidelines regarding commercial caches. Many times the cache owners are just big fans of the business or organization and have no direct financial connections. They simply want other geocachers to know about the great sandwiches, the delicious ice cream, or the helpful service they receive inside the store. However, such an endorsement of a business still crosses the line beyond what Groundspeak wants to publish on its website. In these situations, it’s usually easy to correct the issue. Usually all it takes is the cache owner removing the name of the business from the geocache title and/or removing the endorsement from the description. 

In addition to those, I also see lots of others issues; ones readers of this blog are likely familiar with such as: too close to railroad tracks, on school property or near a government building without permission, and for Iowa, on land managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources without permission.  
One of the oddest issues that I encounter is seeing a newly submitted cache with the same coordinates and the same name as an existing geocache, but submitted by a different geocacher. The first time I saw it, I scratched my head as I tried to figure out what was going on. Eventually I was able to determine that the new listing was not actually a new geocache hide. It was meant to be a “found it” log but the newbie geocacher was mistakenly using the “submit a cache” form to log his find. Believe it not, I’ve seen this happen a number of times so when I see it again it’s easier to recognize the reason. 

So there you have it. My list of the most common “issues” may be different than it is for other reviewers around the world. But all the volunteer reviewers will assure you that we don’t seek ways to deny new geocaches. Our goal is to help cache owners get their caches listed within the guidelines Groundspeak has established for its listing service. Sometimes that requires a few details to be resolved before publication. My thanks to cache owners for their patience and cooperation as I work with them to keep this activity fun for everyone.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New "Submit a Listing" Form

Groundspeak has been working on an update and refinement of the "Submit a Cache Listing" form. They've just released a new wizard that is intended to improve the process and help prevent mistakes. Have you tried it yet? If so, what do you think?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Featured guest

video
In case you missed the Late Show with David Letterman this past Friday night, here's the highlight: my appearance on the show along with an appearance by the top of my wife's head.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

I just can't take it any more.

If you submitted an Iowa geocache for publication on geocaching.com this weekend, you may have noticed that it was published today by a reviewer other than me. This is because I have lost the ability to push the "publish" button on my computer. I have tried to fix this problem. At first I thought it was a computer problem but Computer Geeks told me my computer was fine. They suggested I contact a physician. My physician told me there was nothing wrong with my index finger -- which is the one I use to press the "publish" button. He suggested I contact a psychiatrist. My psychiatrist told me I need to overcome my fear of publishing new caches by attending his month-long reviewer rehabilitation camp, which I did... to no avail. Therefore, the only option left for me is to enlist geocaching.com reviewers from around the world to help me overcome my cache publishing phobia. As I continue to cope with this terrible disability, I hope you enjoy seeing the name of a reviewer other than IowaAdmin at the bottom of your cache page.