Sunday, April 5, 2009

New Geocaching Guideline Changes

The fine folks that run the Geocaching website have decided to further restrict the guidelines for hiding a geocache. In the past, a certain category of cache, known as a puzzle or mystery cache, could have what was called "additional logging requirements," or ALR. ALR caches might say something along the lines of, "you must send the cache owner an email with the text of the plaque," or some other additional requirements in order to log a "find."

Groundspeak, the company that runs the website, has decided that many of the ALRs are getting out of hand, and they have completely removed the ALR aspect of the game. All cache hiders must remove any ALRs, but can keep suggested "optional" activities. Since the bulk of the ALRs were in place to either add some fun to the game, or ensure that someone actually found the container in question, this new rule stomps on the fun of many a cache hider.

The Groundspeak forum post on this topic is afire with hot debate over whether or not this is a good move. I think it's nannyish in its design, and it merely restricts the activities of some geocachers, while ensuring that a few others won't have to think for themselves.

Many a cacher was arguing that if they don't bother to read the cache description before trying to find it, they wouldn't be able to log a "find" with an ALR in place. I would ask, why on earth would you not read the description, particularly for a puzzle or mystery cache? That's like going to a Chinese restaurant, and then complaining that you can't order Italian cuisine, because you didn't bother to find out what type of restaurant it was prior to going. YOUR FAULT, NOT THE OWNER'S!

I'm sure that there are some behind the scenes convenience issues for the volunteer reviewers of the geocache listings. They will now have their volunteer hands full of complaints about whether or not a listing is a prohibited ALR cache listing. Good luck with that. The statement that many of the ALR caches were "absurd," is just as absurd. There are plenty of other types of caches that many would claim are absurd (lamp post skirts at a wally world?). These "absurd" caches bring the hider enjoyment too, remember?

I think that Groundspeak does, overall, a great job. This latest hand holding decision is just a bit much to agree with. What happened to the idea of, if you don't want to search for a particular type of geocache, don't search for it?

Your thoughts?


Webfoot said...

No more ALRs?? We have a cacher out near me who expects you to email something for his regular caches. Things like what's on the inside of the cache? IMO, it's ridiculous. You've already found the cache. It's not a puzzle, so why the extra requirement? Because he wants to make sure people actually found the cache. If the hider's that obsessed about people actually logging their cache, then go out and check the log book every now and then.

I have to tell you, that I cache many times without reading the cache page. That's part of the challenge. Find it without any clues outside of the coordinates in your GPSr. Yeah, I'll break out the cache page if I can't find it right away, but many times I can. I don't think that's my fault because I didn't read the cache page. I found the cache, so why do I need to do something else to log the cache?

There's my two cents. Your mileage may vary.

Just John said...

Webfoot: Well said. I have to disagree with the part about not reading the description first. If the cache type is "traditional," then by all means. If it's a puzzle/mystery cache, however, it is indeed your fault if you fail to find it, or solve the puzzle.

Since ALRs are required to be listed as a puzzle/mystery cache (or were), that sort of narrows it down.

It's moot now though, since that feature has now been removed from the game.

P.J. said...

I've been planning to eventually tackle this topic on my blog, too. I personally think it's a "Big Brother" move and it stinks.

There's a reason they are mystery and puzzle caches.

If people try and make you do ALR with traditional caches, then by all means scratch that. But all together? Argh.

I enjoy the additional parts to these caches. I have no problem taking a photo or doing something goofy. I wouldn't want to find a cache and then have an ALR of "Now, climb the mountain and take a photo from up there" as if that was the fact, then the cache should be up there. But if it's something to be silly or fun, have at it.