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Couch Potato Logs Research from your sofa is not Virtual Cache hunting.

#1 User is offline   MissJenn 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 10:17 AM

What's a couch potato log?

The term couch potato log refers to logging a virtual cache even though you never actually visited the location. Instead, you found out the answer to the verification question through internet research or other means.


What's wrong with that?


Well, it was never intended that way. Virtual caches are like physical caches, just without the box. You are supposed to actually visit the location, find any verification info there and then log your find online.

Not actually visiting the location is considered as cheating by most geocachers. Just like when you post an online found log for a traditional cache when you never found that box and/or never signed the logbook. Also these couch potato logs contribute to the archiving of virtual caches. Many virtuals have been abused by so many cachers that they had to be archived. Often these are among the oldest caches in an area and many of them are in really interesting spots.

And yes, it's all in the guidelines:

Quote

A virtual cache is an existing, permanent landmark of a unique nature. The seeker must answer a question from the landmark and verify to the cache owner that he was physically at the location

How did this happen?

Basically we think this is the result of a misunderstanding growing out of proportion.

First there were a few geocachers which logged a virtual after they found the verification info on the Internet or through other means. Heck, there were (are?) even some caches without any verification requirement at all. Others copied that behavior.

Lists of couch potato caches were created, without any hint that this was not the proper way to log virtuals. Even more people copied the behavior thinking it was perfectly OK. And probably also the language barrier contributed:
virtual cache = virtual log, or not?
Also neither Groundspeak nor the reviewers really stepped in so the behavior became really widespread and some thought that it is accepted.

So this is not about finger-pointing at anyone. It's about giving feedback, changing behaviors and mending the rift between the couch potato community with the rest of the geocaching world.


Common misconceptions about couch potato logs


"There's no requirement visiting the location in the cache listing".


Stating that you must visit the location is not necessary as this is an implicit requirement, just like the one that you need to bring a GPS receiver to find a traditional cache. Also this requirement has been in the Guidelines since July 2002:

Quote

There should be a question that only the visitor to that location will be able to answer. The questions should be difficult enough that it cannot be answered unless you physically visit the spot.

(Source: http://web.archive.org/web/20020811012522/...quirements.asp)

"It's the owner's responsibility to remove bogus logs".

That's true. It is also true that the searchers of a geocache have some responsibilities to keep it alive. For a physical cache that means avoiding that muggles see you while getting the cache and re-hiding the cache properly. For a virtual cache that means visiting the location and not posting the verification info in your log.

"It's the owners fault that the info can be found on the internet".

No, often that's not the owner's fault. In many cases the information was not available when the virtual cache was published years ago. Remember, many of the caches in question were placed many years ago. At that time Google maps and geotagged photo collections didn't even exist!


What can you do?
  • Stop logging virtuals as "Found It" unless you really visited the location. A good way to demonstrate good behavior is to post a photo from you at the location. (Try to avoid spoilers though!)
  • Spread the word! If you have a blog, post about it, and maybe link to this thread. Talk about it at the next event. Educate your geocaching friends. Compose a funny couch potato song. ;-)
  • You may want to go through the list of virtuals you have found and check if there are any couch potato logs among them. You can convert them into a note or even delete them. Yes, this reduces your find count, but afterward you can proudly say that you really found all of them.
  • If you own a virtual cache, regularly check for any bogus logs and delete them. You may also want to tighten the verification to avoid further abuse - often a photo requirement fixes any issues.

What will Groundspeak and the reviewers do?


If Groundspeak or the reviewers become aware of a cache which is abused with many bogus couch potato logs, the owner will be informed about the situation and given some time to do maintenance on the cache (i.e: deleting the bogus logs and tightening the verification if necessary).

If nothing is done to correct the situation, the cache may be archived.

#2 User is offline   mtn-man 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 10:22 AM

Posted Image

#3 User is offline   Castle Mischief 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 10:36 AM

Is this a new series of informative posts? If so, I like.

#4 User is offline   Jeep_Dog 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 10:55 AM

:blink:

Now, this is frogress!

The peasants rejoice!!!

#5 User is offline   tozainamboku 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 10:59 AM

I think it is totally unnecessary for Groundspeak to get involved in this. :blink:

The guidelines already make it clear that the intent of a virtual cache is to actually visit the location and verify your visit by answering a question or posting a picture. Clearly if a cache owner believes a log on a virtual is bogus they may delete the log. (Perhaps what was needed was a clarification that the no ALR rule for physical caches doesn't apply to virtual caches).

If some cache owner wants to allow coach potato logs it has no impact at all on anyone else, least of all on Groundspeak. Those who want to find a virtual cache an properly meet the verification requirement will still be able to do so. What these new guidelines don't address are the virtual cache owners who don't respond to verification emails. They don't respond to verification emails from couch potato loggers either.

My guess is that Groundspeak has posted this in preparation for a mass archiving of the remaining virtual caches. Their next step will be to have the reviewers look for logs on virtuals that say "Greetings from Germany" and click that archive button. If their intent is to archive virtual caches, just do it. Silly official recognition of couch potato logging seems to show the influence of puritan/taliban cachers who want an narrow definition of the "Found" log. My preference is to let people who want to play alternative games do so, so long as it doesn't interfere with those who are geocaching.

#6 User is offline   Jeep_Dog 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 11:03 AM

:blink:

#7 User is offline   MissJenn 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 11:05 AM

View Posttozainamboku, on Aug 21 2009, 11:59 AM, said:

My guess is that Groundspeak has posted this in preparation for a mass archiving of the remaining virtual caches. Their next step will be to have the reviewers look for logs on virtuals that say "Greetings from Germany" and click that archive button. If their intent is to archive virtual caches, just do it. Silly official recognition of couch potato logging seems to show the influence of puritan/taliban cachers who want an narrow definition of the "Found" log.
Wow, toz. You are so wrong.

We are most certainly not preparing for a mass archiving of the remaining virtual caches. We are recognizing a long-term issue and addressing it through education. We know that the remaining virtual caches have a natural attrition rate and they will eventually pass through the course of this game over time. Naturally.

#8 User is offline   TexasGringo 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 11:09 AM

<My guess is that Groundspeak has posted this in preparation for a mass archiving of the remaining virtual caches.>

It seems they may put some effort into that Wherigo stuff that was promoted years ago....and not much has been done since.

#9 User is offline   DefaultGen 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 11:11 AM

Meh, if you're not actually visiting a virtual cache it's your own loss. The satisfaction of them is getting out and seeing something interesting. Maybe I just don't know how some people care more about numbers than caching yet though.

#10 User is offline   MissJenn 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 11:30 AM

I want to clarify for all the readers that there are no new guidelines for this topic. The guidelines that address Virtual Caches and their maintenance have been the same for a really long time. Years. Others here can perhaps help me by checking the Wayback Machine.

#11 User is offline   Castle Mischief 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 11:31 AM

View Posttozainamboku, on Aug 21 2009, 10:59 AM, said:

I think it is totally unnecessary for Groundspeak to get involved in this. :blink:


Involved in their own website? :huh:

#12 User is offline   J-Way 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 11:35 AM

Woo Hoo, MissJenn!!! :blink:

And more :huh: to whoever else among TPTB decided to do something about this!

#13 User is offline   Moose Mob 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 11:37 AM

:blink:

#14 User is offline   tozainamboku 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 12:18 PM

View PostCastle Mischief, on Aug 21 2009, 12:31 PM, said:

View Posttozainamboku, on Aug 21 2009, 10:59 AM, said:

I think it is totally unnecessary for Groundspeak to get involved in this. :blink:


Involved in their own website? :huh:

Involved in the issue of when a cache owner chooses to allow someone to use the 'Found It' log in a situation where the puritans would say a 'Found It' should not be logged. Early on, I believe, TPTB realized there would be disputes over whether someone needed to sign the log in a physical cache or got the answers to a virtual question from the internet instead of from visiting the cache. TPTB decided they would not be the log police. Instead they asked cache owners to police their own logs and to try and settle disputes between cache owners and loggers without having Groundspeak get involved.

Now, I have personal knowledge of a cache from way back when I started caching. Here a cache owner deleted a Found It log because they didn't like the way the finder responded to their lack of maintenance. Eventually a reviewer and a Groundspeak lackey became involved and the cache was archived because of the cache owner arbitrarily deleting logs. But I have never heard of Groundspeak or a reviewer getting involved because a cache owner allowed a log that some puritan felt was bogus.

In some previous discussions on armchair logging of virtuals, people have pointed to caches that were already being archived. I was of the opinion that these caches were being archived because they essential had no cache owner. The owner had not logged on in months. Owners who were allowing armchair logs were safe so long as they were checking their cache page and responding to emails from both armchair loggers and those that visited the cache. The wording of Miss Jenn's post seem to imply that now a virtual cache may be archived if the owner doesn't delete armchair logs. I think this is new. I believe that the new "clarification" from Groundspeak means that caches like Four Windows (with over 9480 coach potato logs) are now eligible to be archived. If I am wrong, MissJenn's post needs to be clarified.

Couch potato logging threads are one of the those topics that come up over and over again in the forums. I like to use these threads to point out the folly of believing that the find count means anything, and certainly that it shouldn't be used to compare one cacher to another. When Groundspeak starts their own thread with a discussion of couch potato logging and indicates they want this practice to stop, it means the next time someone else starts a thread on this subject, the moderator will link to this thread and probably lock the new one since the "ultimate" answer has been given. And I lose a chance to try to dissuade someone from worrying about what somebody else's number might represent and the puritans gain another convert who will believe that people are cheating in order to increase their find count. I find couch potato logging an amusing side game that some people play when they can't get out of the house to find a geocache. It's not something I would do, but I would not call it cheating either.

#15 User is offline   ChileHead 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 12:25 PM

View PostTheTexasGringo, on Aug 21 2009, 11:09 AM, said:

It seems they may put some effort into that Wherigo stuff that was promoted years ago....and not much has been done since.


I think you mean waymarking.

#16 User is offline   TexasGringo 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 01:35 PM

<I think you mean waymarking.>

Wherigo....it is waaaaaaaaay down at the bottom....just above the Waymarking.

This was promoted a while back...but you need a garmin 300 and up to play it. It is advertised on even the new garmin 550's as a geocaching game....(Outdoor GPS games: yes (Wherigo only) ).

However....

Very little effort was put into this and no one seems interested in promoting this any more. There are only 18 within 500 miles of Dallas.

#17 User is offline   niraD 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 01:42 PM

View PostMissJenn, on Aug 21 2009, 11:17 AM, said:

What can you do?
  • [...]
  • Spread the word! If you have a blog, post about it, and maybe link to this thread. Talk about it at the next event. Educate your geocaching friends. Compose a funny couch potato song. ;-)
I've updated Cacheopedia.

Thanks for clarifying the official position on couch potato caching.

#18 User is offline   tozainamboku 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 02:02 PM

View PostMissJenn, on Aug 21 2009, 11:17 AM, said:


"There's no requirement visiting the location in the cache listing".


Stating that you must visit the location is not necessary as this is an implicit requirement, just like the one that you need to bring a GPS receiver to find a traditional cache.

You know it was clear to me from the start that the intent of geocaching was to use your GPS to go someplace and find something. But I was never bothered that some people would use maps and satellite pictures and go out to find a traditional cache without even owning a GPS receiver. I never thought the Groundspeak would publish something that says there is an implicit requirement that you need to bring a GPS receiver to find a cache. There is after all an explicit requirement that there be an option to use a GPS receiver as an integral part of the hunt. I find it silly of Groundspeak to all of a sudden start calling people that aren't geocaching the way TPTB intended you to geocaching cheaters and asking geocachers to educate these poor misguided souls by deleting their logs and making up funny songs about it :blink:

#19 User is offline   KBI 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 02:12 PM

I applaud MissJenn's effort, but I think MissJenn's approach may be missing the real root of the problem.


View Posttozainamboku, on Aug 21 2009, 04:18 PM, said:

.... And I lose a chance to try to dissuade someone from worrying about what somebody else's number might represent and the puritans gain another convert who will believe that people are cheating in order to increase their find count. I find couch potato logging an amusing side game that some people play when they can't get out of the house to find a geocache. It's not something I would do, but I would not call it cheating either.

Agreed.


View PostMissJenn, on Aug 21 2009, 03:05 PM, said:

We are recognizing a long-term issue and addressing it through education.

Perhaps an effective element to include in the ongoing re-education efforts might be to make it crystal clear that the Groundspeak find count is merely a personal activity record, NOT a competition score.

I think the problem lies with the ambiguity that rests within the very concept of the find count.

For a variety of reasons, any comparison of find counts between two cachers is meaningless. The find count is therefore invalid for use as a game "score" for the purpose of determining winners and losers. This is something the armchair loggers apparently fail to understand. Maybe an effort to educate cachers in such a way as to authoritatively and convincingly clarify this not-so-minor point would take the wind out of the sails of those who might otherwise believe they are gaining something of value when they log bogus logs.

On the other hand, the change (or 'clarification') in the official stance as it has been presented in this thread – especially when the word "cheating" is used to describe the effects of the unwanted logs – could very well be misinterpreted as a confirmation that Groundspeak does, in fact, view the find count as a competitive score:

View PostMissJenn, on Aug 21 2009, 02:17 PM, said:

Not actually visiting the location is considered as cheating by most geocachers. Just like when you post an online found log for a traditional cache when you never found that box and/or never signed the logbook.

To many, including me, the word "cheating" here implies the existence of competition. If there is no competition then there should be no one to steal anything from via any armchair log, therefore no one to "cheat" out of anything ... right?

The problem is not bad caches, or bad cachers. I think the problem is a general misunderstanding of want a cacher’s find count means – and more importantly, what it doesn’t mean. This hobby is not a competition. If everyone understood that, then not only would nobody ever feel cheated, but there would be no motivation for logging bogus logs in the first place.

#20 User is offline   Clan Riffster 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 02:14 PM

View Posttozainamboku, on Aug 21 2009, 01:18 PM, said:

and the puritans gain another convert who will believe that people are cheating in order to increase their find count.

Don't ya just hate when that happens? :blink:
Incidentally, I don't automatically equate violating guidelines with cheating. I see both as being a bad thing, for various reasons, however I don't see them as being one and the same. If I go to the famous couch potato virtual you mentioned, Four Windows, and logged a find on it, even though I didn't paddle way the heck out into the North Sea, nor did I locate any bears of any color, I would not call my actions cheating, since it victimizes no one but my own integrity. I would simply call it violating the long standing guidelines.

View PostTheTexasGringo, on Aug 21 2009, 02:35 PM, said:

Wherigo...you need a garmin 300 and up to play it

Not even remotely accurate. The person who introduced me to this aspect of the game uses an old beater pocket PC and a bluetooth GPSr hockey puck looking thingy. I don't remember what she said she invested in the setup, but I know it was considerably less than even a used Colorado would cost. In those cases, Ebay can be your friend. If you check out the Wherigo forums, you'll find a long list of devices, other than the Colorado and Oregon which are capable of playing Wherigo cartridges.

This post has been edited by Clan Riffster: 21 August 2009 - 02:18 PM


#21 User is offline   geodarts 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 05:48 PM

View PostMissJenn, on Aug 21 2009, 12:05 PM, said:

We know that the remaining virtual caches have a natural attrition rate and they will eventually pass through the course of this game over time. Naturally.


Although true, it is nevertheless regrettable. Virtuals are a great part of the game and there are many places where physical caches are not allowed. As to couch potatos, they can happen with any type of cache. We just noticed a series of traditonal caches with online logs expressing greetings from Europe with no signature on the physical container.

This post has been edited by Erickson: 21 August 2009 - 05:49 PM


#22 User is offline   fizzymagic 

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 06:01 PM

View PostKBI, on Aug 21 2009, 03:12 PM, said:

Perhaps an effective element to include in the ongoing re-education efforts might be to make it crystal clear that the Groundspeak find count is merely a personal activity record, NOT a competition score.

I think the problem lies with the ambiguity that rests within the very concept of the find count.

I couldn't agree more. A vast majority of the negative things about geocaching are related to people trying, in one way or another, to make it into a competition.

I think it would be helpful for Groundspeak to make it clear that they do not support those competitive aspects as an official part of geocaching.

But I don't hold out much hope that Groundspeak's position will have much impact on those who are determined to make it into a competition. There are just too many ways that it is ingrained into the culture.

Nonetheless, I applaud Miss Jenn for her work towards education!

#23 User is offline   Isonzo Karst 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 02:37 AM

toz, you say, "If some cache owner wants to allow coach potato logs it has no impact at all.....". That's not true however. Couch Potato logging is a time consuming and annoying problem for virtual owners. I know 2 people who have simply given up and archived their virts rather than spend "unfun" time chasing down couch potato logs.
Those of us who own physical caches rarely encounter a totally false log on a cache - perhaps an "Found" log on the wrong GC code, or a Found it that might have better been a note or DNF, but not strings and bunches of logs by people who were never near the cache. Dealing with that can sure take the fun out of cache ownership.

#24 User is offline   succotash 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 03:09 AM

View PostIsonzo Karst, on Aug 22 2009, 02:37 AM, said:

toz, you say, "If some cache owner wants to allow coach potato logs it has no impact at all.....". That's not true however. Couch Potato logging is a time consuming and annoying problem for virtual owners. I know 2 people who have simply given up and archived their virts rather than spend "unfun" time chasing down couch potato logs.
Those of us who own physical caches rarely encounter a totally false log on a cache - perhaps an "Found" log on the wrong GC code, or a Found it that might have better been a note or DNF, but not strings and bunches of logs by people who were never near the cache. Dealing with that can sure take the fun out of cache ownership.

Good point. The virtuals we've found have been a great addition to our caching experience. Once archived, never restored. What a shame to lose them due to frustration with false logging.

Thanks for the education effort.

#25 User is offline   briansnat 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 03:34 AM

Quote

Silly official recognition of couch potato logging seems to show the influence of puritan/taliban cachers who want an narrow definition of the "Found" log.


What an outlandish, radical idea - a found it log meaning someone actually found a geocache.

Quote

In some previous discussions on armchair logging of virtuals, people have pointed to caches that were already being archived. I was of the opinion that these caches were being archived because they essential had no cache owner. The owner had not logged on in months. Owners who were allowing armchair logs were safe so long as they were checking their cache page and responding to emails from both armchair loggers and those that visited the cache.


They were archived because they were not being "maintained". As with real caches, whether or not the owner logged on recently is irrelevant.

Quote

Couch Potato logging is a time consuming and annoying problem for virtual owners. I know 2 people who have simply given up and archived their virts rather than spend "unfun" time chasing down couch potato logs.


It extends beyond that. I'm not a zealot when it comes to policing logs on my real caches, but when a log looks fishy I will investigate. It's now at the point where any log that starts "Greetings from ______" (insert one of several countries where this practice is common), I consider the log to be suspect.

#26 User is offline   Snoogans 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 04:27 AM

I could care less about this whole issue but this interests me:

View Postfizzymagic, on Aug 21 2009, 09:01 PM, said:

View PostKBI, on Aug 21 2009, 03:12 PM, said:

Perhaps an effective element to include in the ongoing re-education efforts might be to make it crystal clear that the Groundspeak find count is merely a personal activity record, NOT a competition score.

I think the problem lies with the ambiguity that rests within the very concept of the find count.

I couldn't agree more. A vast majority of the negative things about geocaching are related to people trying, in one way or another, to make it into a competition.

I think it would be helpful for Groundspeak to make it clear that they do not support those competitive aspects as an official part of geocaching.

But I don't hold out much hope that Groundspeak's position will have much impact on those who are determined to make it into a competition. There are just too many ways that it is ingrained into the culture.

Nonetheless, I applaud Miss Jenn for her work towards education!


Those of us who like to lurk regional and local forums and attend events regularly will KNOW what I'm talking about since I personally don't see it happen in this particular forum too often......... When a multiple K finder discounts another geocacher's opinion based entirely on their arbitrary find count I tend to point out that I have less than 1000 finds and been participating in this community often times a great deal longer than the person on their high find count horse which usually starts their crawfishing replies.

Also...

Texas has had The Texas Challenge for 7 straight years. I participated for 3 years but only enjoyed the first year when the event was more about being together than about competition and bragging rights. I saw and heard and was victim of bad sportsmanship as the NORM rather than the exception after the first year. It occurred to me after falling victim a 2nd time (fool me twice) that competitive geocaching is an oxymoron. I STILL attend Texas Challenges, but I just go to hang out and see cachers I don't normally see at local events.

I've seen a friendly game of ground zero at an event turn into angst over what? :) A dollar store prize and bragging rights. That's what. :huh:

I used to play the FTF game. I did it to be a spoiler to the local FTF hounds more than just to be first. I ticked one of them off because I didn't put a time in my log so they'd know how far behind they were and that right there spoiled the fun for me. Seriously, if I have to modify my log to appease someone for not being first in their own enforced competition, they can have their trophy. Everybody gets one in the Special Olympics right?

I no longer participate in geocaching competitions. I don't promote competition at the events I host and I sit quietly amused at those who think their find count affords them any status or sage geocaching knowledge. :blink:

The geocachers I hold in high regard are the ones that have impressed me by deeds OTHER than finding caches.

#27 User is online   NYPaddleCacher 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 05:54 AM

First, I appreciate it that you've taken the time to illuminate us on one the official word is on this issue.

Secondly, I wanted to provide a data point on virtual caches in general. I like them. Whenever I travel I will do a PQ and will make two (at least) for the area where I will be traveling. One for traditionals, and one which selects virtuals, puzzles, and earthcaches. For the second PQ, I'll reading through the listings to identify caches that look especially interesting. I like solving puzzles from different areas and it often provides me the opportunity to find a higher rated cache by doing the hard part at home before I travel. For virtuals and earthcaches I have often found that they provide some of the most interesting locations in the area. While, as your post suggests, there are probably lots of virtual caches not worth keeping active but there are also a lot of them that provide a significantly better experience than a micro on a guard rail. I would hope that this thread does not provide motivations for the community to go after virtuals in general and inform Groundspeak or their local reviewer that they are abused, simply because a segment of the community has found a way to abuse them. Which brings me to my last point...

View PostMissJenn, on Aug 21 2009, 10:17 AM, said:




What will Groundspeak and the reviewers do?


If Groundspeak or the reviewers become aware of a cache which is abused with many bogus couch potato logs, the owner will be informed about the situation and given some time to do maintenance on the cache (i.e: deleting the bogus logs and tightening the verification if necessary).

If nothing is done to correct the situation, the cache may be archived.


I'd like some clarification on what you might expect the community to do to make Groundspeak or reviewers aware of a cache which is abused. Are you asking the community to be "geo cops" (if so, I'm going to need an official badge) to report caches that we become aware of that are abused. As mentioned, before, the fact that some *have* abused a specific virtual does not, to me, necessarily warrant it being archived. Some people might just be really good with photoshop and can create a convincing photo of themselves at the location. The virtual cache, for those that actually find it, may actually provide a unique caching experience far better than many we encounter at traditional hides. It would be a shame to have those caches archived.

I know of a specific virtual that I came across awhile back that describes a hypothetical feature. As far as I can tell, the only requirement of logging the cache is identifying where that feature might be located. The fact that it's in a location where very few people ever have the opportunity to visit, yet it has managed to acquire hundreds, if not thousands of "found it" logs. I can't seem to find the GC code for it right now, but if I can find it, and you want me to make Groundspeak or a reviewer aware of the cache, as I said, I'm going to need an official Groundspeak GeoCop badge.

#28 User is offline   doingitoldschool 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 06:24 AM

View PostNYPaddleCacher, on Aug 22 2009, 06:54 AM, said:



I know of a specific virtual that I came across awhile back that describes a hypothetical feature. As far as I can tell, the only requirement of logging the cache is identifying where that feature might be located. The fact that it's in a location where very few people ever have the opportunity to visit, yet it has managed to acquire hundreds, if not thousands of "found it" logs. I can't seem to find the GC code for it right now, but if I can find it, and you want me to make Groundspeak or a reviewer aware of the cache, as I said, I'm going to need an official Groundspeak GeoCop badge.


I believe you may be referring to GCF55A - Four Windows, which is based on being at the North Pole, and has almost 10000 finds logged onto it.

#29 User is online   NYPaddleCacher 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 06:31 AM

View Postdoingitoldschool, on Aug 22 2009, 06:24 AM, said:

View PostNYPaddleCacher, on Aug 22 2009, 06:54 AM, said:



I know of a specific virtual that I came across awhile back that describes a hypothetical feature. As far as I can tell, the only requirement of logging the cache is identifying where that feature might be located. The fact that it's in a location where very few people ever have the opportunity to visit, yet it has managed to acquire hundreds, if not thousands of "found it" logs. I can't seem to find the GC code for it right now, but if I can find it, and you want me to make Groundspeak or a reviewer aware of the cache, as I said, I'm going to need an official Groundspeak GeoCop badge.


I believe you may be referring to GCF55A - Four Windows, which is based on being at the North Pole, and has almost 10000 finds logged onto it.


Yep, that's the one. Does this mean I don't get an official Groundspeak Geocop badge?

#30 User is offline   briansnat 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 06:41 AM

Quote

I'd like some clarification on what you might expect the community to do to make Groundspeak or reviewers aware of a cache which is abused. Are you asking the community to be "geo cops" (if so, I'm going to need an official badge) to report caches that we become aware of that are abused. As mentioned, before, the fact that some *have* abused a specific virtual does not, to me, necessarily warrant it being archived.


Not to speak for Jenn, but after reading her posts I don't see where anything has changed, outside Groundspeak's effort to educate.

Unmaintained virtuals have been archived all along when they come to the attention of reviewers. There has been no effort to seek them out. There has been no creation of a geo-police force to bring them to Groundspeak's attention. There has been no inquisition or witch hunt to root these caches out and none of these
are being proposed.

If a cache happens to be brought to the attention of Groundspeak, or they happen to encounter one, then appropriate action will be taken and if someone wants to appoint himself cache cop, he can go ahead and knock himself out. But its always been that way.

#31 User is offline   MissJenn 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 08:37 AM

Thanks, briansnat. What you wrote above is indeed true. There is no attempt to create any kind of new geo-police force here; just educating people on how Groundspeak feels about one facet of the game.

By the way, for several weeks now, Groundspeak has been in a conversation with the CO of Four Windows, with the help of the German reviewers.

#32 User is offline   KBI 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 08:43 AM

View Postdoingitoldschool, on Aug 22 2009, 10:24 AM, said:

View PostNYPaddleCacher, on Aug 22 2009, 06:54 AM, said:

I know of a specific virtual that I came across awhile back that describes a hypothetical feature. As far as I can tell, the only requirement of logging the cache is identifying where that feature might be located. The fact that it's in a location where very few people ever have the opportunity to visit, yet it has managed to acquire hundreds, if not thousands of "found it" logs. I can't seem to find the GC code for it right now, but if I can find it, and you want me to make Groundspeak or a reviewer aware of the cache, as I said, I'm going to need an official Groundspeak GeoCop badge.

I believe you may be referring to GCF55A - Four Windows, which is based on being at the North Pole, and has almost 10000 finds logged onto it.

Would that cache qualify as a Puzzle/Mystery virtual? Or would it be better described as a mislabeled Locationless? Either way, my understanding is that that cache is perfectly legal under the grandfathering clauses of the guidelines.

I’ve been thinking: How did so many folks in the caching world come to believe that it is acceptable to log overwhelming numbers of couch-potato logs without ever visiting the associated physical cache locations? And here is my conclusion: I don’t think they see anything wrong with it at all ... and I think some of the past practices of this website have strongly encouraged that view.

My all-time favorite "virtual" cache is this one: Änglamarken (GC55A5)

Notice it is not listed as a Virtual; it is a Traditional cache, but it is a 'virtual' Traditional cache. To find the cache, the seeker played an online video game very similar to the original Doom in which the player navigates a 3-D world with his keyboard, except that in this game the player carried a GPS instead of a shotgun. I enjoyed virtually 'running' from one waypoint to the next as I completed the four-stage multi-hunt. The final consisted of a "Welcome to Sweden" sign. It was clever and fun, but it was archived a couple years ago, presumably due to instructions from Groundspeak under its newer policy interpretations. I think there were many similar types of listings that got purged around that time.

Locationless caches are another cache type that actively encouraged huge numbers of remote logs from anywhere around the world. Just get your picture made next to a yellow jeep, for example, and claim yourself a smiley – no need to visit any particular coordinates.

These things are no longer allowed as new listings. They are being phased out because TPTB decided those activities don’t really qualify as "caching." I strongly agree with that purification policy, even though I may reasonably quibble over some of the lesser details of how it is carried out.

My point is that Groundspeak made this problem possible by:
(1) Encouraging couch-potato type logging in the past, and by
(2) Never having made it a policy to actively discourage the silly-yet-widespread cacher vs. cacher competition which relies on meaningless comparisons between find counts.


(Please understand that I am not criticizing; I understand that these decisions made sense at the time. If I were running this site I might have made the very same series of decisions through the years, but more likely I would have made a total train wreck of things. You really really don’t want me in charge.)

Cause Number (1) was corrected when TPTB chose to phase out certain non-caching types of caches. Cause Number (2) can be corrected as well, but it won’t be nearly as easy. Fix Number (1) was a simple rule change and a few mouse clicks at headquarters to shrink the Cache Type menu on the New Submission page. Fix Number (2) will unfortunately require changing the long-established attitudes of tens of thousands of experienced geocachers – while simultaneously fighting the usual misinformation and gripes, as well as the cultural inertia resulting from several years of Cause Number (1).

For such a mass-reeducation effort to be effective it is going to have to come from the top leadership, and it is going to need to be a massively substantial campaign. I really don’t think a single forum thread is going to do it. Splash it everywhere, and do it relentlessly: "Geocaching is NOT a Competition! There is NO PRIZE for the most online smileys! GET OUTSIDE!!!"

There is no such thing as cheating in this hobby – there is nothing to be gained, in other words – but too many folks don’t understand that. Remove the competition culture from geocaching by correcting the conception of the find count, and you remove the motivation to "cheat."

Good luck, Goundspeak! It’ll be a steep uphill battle at best. I'll be pulling for you guys, but, like Fizzy, I am not optimistic. :P

#33 User is offline   MissJenn 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 08:43 AM

We ought to refrain from using this thread to discuss whether we like or don't like virtual caches. There are many other threads for that. :P

I would simply like for this thread to be about what you see at the very top of the page: "Couch Potato Logs, Research from your sofa is not Virtual Cache hunting."

View PostMissJenn, on Aug 21 2009, 11:17 AM, said:

You are supposed to actually visit the location, find any verification info there and then log your find online.


#34 User is offline   MissJenn 

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  Posted 22 August 2009 - 09:04 AM

View PostKBI, on Aug 22 2009, 09:43 AM, said:

(Please understand that I am not criticizing; I understand that these decisions made sense at the time. If I were running this site I might have made the very same series of decisions through the years, ...
I hear ya, KBI. It's definitely good to keep in mind the long-term nature of this situation.

Quote

... but more likely I would have made a total train wreck of things. You really really don't want me in charge.)
And thanks for making me laugh! :P

#35 User is offline   MissJenn 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 09:10 AM

View PostniraD, on Aug 21 2009, 02:42 PM, said:

View PostMissJenn, on Aug 21 2009, 11:17 AM, said:

What can you do?
  • [...]
  • Spread the word! If you have a blog, post about it, and maybe link to this thread. Talk about it at the next event. Educate your geocaching friends. Compose a funny couch potato song. ;-)
I've updated Cacheopedia.
Muchas gracias!

#36 User is offline   tozainamboku 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 09:21 AM

View PostIsonzo Karst, on Aug 22 2009, 03:37 AM, said:

toz, you say, "If some cache owner wants to allow coach potato logs it has no impact at all.....". That's not true however. Couch Potato logging is a time consuming and annoying problem for virtual owners. I know 2 people who have simply given up and archived their virts rather than spend "unfun" time chasing down couch potato logs.
Those of us who own physical caches rarely encounter a totally false log on a cache - perhaps an "Found" log on the wrong GC code, or a Found it that might have better been a note or DNF, but not strings and bunches of logs by people who were never near the cache. Dealing with that can sure take the fun out of cache ownership.

It fairly simple for those who don't want coach potato logs on virtual caches they own to take care of the problem. First of all delete these logs. If your cache is showing up on a bookmark list of armchair caches it will get removed once people find out their log will be deleted. Second, use a verification requirement that you can't answer by looking on the internet. Unfortunately people believe that the answer for a virtual cache has to be something that educates about the location. This is nonsense. You can have the person visit an interesting place and learn something, but to verify that the person was actually there (and, IMO, that the found something) you'd do much better to as some trivial question that can only be answered by some who was at the site - what number is painted on the 3rd lamppost on the path or how many benches are there next to the water fountain. Have visitors post a picture. There aren't many people who bother to Photoshop a picture to get credit for a cache. Third, don't use a "certificate of achievement". The armchair loggers look for caches with "ceritificates of acheivement" where you open a document with a password to show you have answered the verification question instead of emailing the cache owner. The certificate is seen as saying - if you can answer the question you can log a find. Forth, despite what MissJenn says about it being unnecessary, it doesn't hurt to state in the cache description that you must visit the cache to claim a find. I would agree that the guideline already allow a cache owner to delete couch potato logs even without stating you will do so in your description, but if you are having problems with these logs, a warning on the cache page can go a long way in stopping them.

Virtual cache owners who archive their caches because they found it to difficult to take care of couch potato logs are, IMO, just lazy. They probably hid virtual caches in the first place because they were to lazy to buy and stock a cache container or to get permission to hide a physical cache. They add a "certificate of achievement" because the were too lazy to answer emails. They were too lazy to take some simple actions to stop the couch potato logs. And finally the realized they were too lazy to own and maintain a cache, so they archived it.

#37 User is offline   Alibags 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 10:34 AM

What a very timely thread, I have just been dealing with and wondering about how best to deal with a rash of virtual finds on one of my virtual caches. The cachers mostly seem to be in Germany for some reason. Anyhow, I am going to find another bit of information that cachers must seek and then provide me with, which they cannot Google for. In the meantime I have added some bold red text to the cache page.

#38 User is offline   tozainamboku 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 10:40 AM

I still am having difficulty understanding why Groundspeak has decided now to make an issue of this. What was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. As MissJenn points out , the intent of a virtual cache was always to go and visit that location and to provide verification that you in fact had done this. IMO, there was even more to this. The guidelines for virtual caches stated "A virtual cache must be a unique physical object that can be referenced through latitude and longitude coordinates.' In other words, you had to go and find something (with the option of using using the GPS as an integral part of the search). The difference was that a virtual cache was a permanent or semi-permanent object instead of something you hid. The big problem was not armchair logging, but virtuals themselves. Too many people simply wanted to use the virtual cache to share an interesting place with other caches. They were not at all interested in it being a virtual cache. Since a verification question was needed they simply asked for some information about the place that could usually be found on a marker or sign in the area. But this kind of information was also likely to be found on the internet. Waymarking solves the problem by allowing people to share interesting places. There doesn't have to be something to find and generally if a waymarker wants verification of a visit they ask for a photo. I don't doubt that there are some people who find photos on the internet and post these in order to claim a waymark visit, but since waymarks get so few visits this abuse doesn't seem to cause the angst it does with geocachers.

For whatever reason, some virtual cache owners allowed armchair logs on their virtual caches. Before the guidelines were tighten there were several caches that were intentionally meant to be armchair logs. With so few geocaches at the time, the ability to hide a cache in Germany that someone in the US could log from their computer meant there was cache you could find if there were none close by you could get to that day. It allowed geocachers from different parts of the world to interact and share experience. I don't know what Jeremy and others at Groundspeak reaction was when they saw these caches. I'm sure they thought, "This isn't what we intended". But they didn't run out and archive these a caches either. The took a slow deliberate approach changing guidelines to keep the number of these caches small and then clarifying the guidelines so that it was clear you were suppose to visit a virtual cache in order to claim a find. But the cat was out of the bag, and guideline changes didn't put and end to those that found enjoyment in armchair caching. It has developed into a alternative game played by geocacher around the world (not just in Germany as some believe). If this thread is simply mean to reiterate the guidelines that already in place that allow cache owners to delete these logs, then perhaps there is much ado about nothing. I only question why now and why this approach. I don't believe that Groundspeak can do much to stop people from inventing and a playing alternative games using the Geocaching.com website. What they can do is provide guidelines that allow the geoaching purist/puritans to play the game they want to play. These won't stop the alternative play, and the puritans will continue to be annoyed, but they should be able to live with the annoyance and enjoy caching the way they want to.

I was a little put off by the original post because it seems a bit of telling one group of people "You are doing it wrong" and telling another "Groundspeak is behind you in telling others that they are cheating and abusing the geocaching website" But then I found the following memo from the office of Global Positioning Systems in the undersecretary of the Air Force website

Quote

What's a geocache?

The term geocache refers to a box or other container hidden some place and whose geograchic coordinates are share by person on the internet who then use the Global Positioning System to find the box.


What's wrong with that?


Well, it was never intended that way. The Global Positioning System was developed by the United States Department of Defense to enable a new generation of weapons and logistics systems to provide the warfighter with improved capabilities. Congress mandated that portions of this system be opened to civilian use as well. The uses intended by Congress included civilian navigation systems to be used in automobiles and airplanes, use by recreational enthusiasts to identify locations of campgrounds, fishing holes, hunting stands, etc. and aiding in search and rescue operations.

Congress did not envision that the Global Positioning System would be used to play games and to hide object that could be mistaken for bombs if found by someone not in the know. The use of the Global Positioning System in this manner could result in a public backlash and calls to limit its use in other areas.

How did this happen?

Basically we think this is the result of a misunderstanding growing out of proportion.

First there were a few recreational users who marked where they had cached supplies for a hunting or backpacking trip. Someone decided that it would be a good idea to publish the location of this cache on the internet to allow other backpackers or hunters to access these supplies in case of emergency. Some people used this information to find the cache. Since it was not an emergency they replaced the supplies they used but they also left a note in the cache reporting they had been there.

Later they thought, why not hide boxes just for a game instead of as a real cache of supplies that someone might use? Lists of caches were created, without any hint that this was not the proper use of the Global Positioning System. Even more people copied the behavior thinking it was perfectly OK.

Neither the Department of Defense or any other government agency really stepped in so the behavior became really widespread and some thought that it is accepted.

So this is not about finger-pointing at anyone. It's about giving feedback, changing behaviors and mending the rift between the geocaching community with the rest of the GPS using world.


Common misconceptions about geocaches


"There's no requirement for what locations you may mark with a GPS".


Stating that you must only use the GPS for serious purposes is not necessary. It is implicit requirement, just like any other system paid for with the tax payers dollar it is expected that this will not be spent on frivolous games. Government expenditures are expected to give value back to all tax payers and not for the enjoyment of a few persons. Look what happened with the internet. It was paid for at tax payer expense to promote the interchange of information between government, institutional, and commercial research. It now has become a conduit primarily for distributions of pornography and misinformation. We can not let the Global Position System suffer the same fate.

"It is the GPS users responsibility to mark only waypoints that are appropriate."

That's true. It is also true that the people using a waypoint have some responsibilities to us it responsibly. For a cache of supplies that means only access these supplies when you truly need them.

"It's the cache owner's fault that people can trade item and leave notes in a cache".

No, often that's not the owner's fault. The person is sharing the location of his cache has every reason to expect it to be used as he intended. In most case they did not even leave a pen or paper for writing on. Geocachers are adding things to these caches that may take away space for items that are critical when someone does need them.


What can you do?
  • Stop using caches as a game by trading items and leaving notes.
  • Spread the word! If you have a blog, post about it, and maybe link to this thread. Talk about it at the next event. Educate your friends. Compose a funny geocaching song. ;-)
  • You may want to go through the list of caches you have found and check if there are any where you are playing a game instead of using the GPS for the serious purpose it was meant for. Go back and remove notes and material that doesn't belong and replace with supplies similar to the original.
  • If you own a cache, regularly check for visitor who are using it to play a game. Remove the notes they leave behind and any items that are not appropriate supplies in your cache. Don't share the waypoint with people other than other backpackers or hunters who may use want to us the cache..

What will the government do?


If the government becomes aware of a cache which is abused, the owner will be informed about the situation and given some time to do maintenance on the cache (i.e: removing notes and items that shouldn't be in the cache).

If nothing is done to correct the situation, the government may remove your cache.

:P

This post has been edited by tozainamboku: 22 August 2009 - 10:58 AM


#39 User is offline   Corp Of Discovery 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 01:49 PM

Is this going to be done for all cache types or only virtuals? There are some who would view many of the logs on caches like this one the same way they view 'couch potato' logs on virtuals. I don't know that I'm for or against Groundspeak getting involved with doing this at all but if they do it should be applied fairly. If not, one could take it as a way to help the 'natural' process along a little unnaturally.

#40 User is offline   fizzymagic 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 04:12 PM

View PostKBI, on Aug 22 2009, 09:43 AM, said:

Splash it everywhere, and do it relentlessly: "Geocaching is NOT a Competition! There is NO PRIZE for the most online smileys! GET OUTSIDE!!!"

There is no such thing as cheating in this hobby – there is nothing to be gained, in other words – but too many folks don’t understand that. Remove the competition culture from geocaching by correcting the conception of the find count, and you remove the motivation to "cheat."

Ah, a great relief! Something to disagree with KBI about. I was starting to get worried that we were agreeing too much.

There is, in fact, a "prize" for the most smileys. Or even for smaller numbers of smileys. Many prizes, in fact. That's the culture that keeps the "competition" thing going.

Here are a few examples of such "prizes:"
  • Many local geocaching groups hand out awards based on the number of smileys logged.
  • There are geocoins available only to those who have logged certain numbers of smileys.
  • There are challenge caches only available to those who have logged large numbers of smileys.
  • I am friends with the cacher who currently has the most finds. He has occasionally been given perks, such as free accommodations, for attending events.
  • Like it or not, many cachers give respect to people for their find count. The cacher mentioned above is treated as a celebrity at cacher gatherings. I don't begrudge him the honors; he has worked hard for them. But we can't pretend they don't exist.

The point is, there actually are rewards for racking up smileys, both intangible and tangible. Those incentives make the underlying competitive culture all but impossible to eradicate, which I think is too bad.

#41 User is offline   mtn-man 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 05:22 PM

View PostCorp Of Discovery, on Aug 22 2009, 05:49 PM, said:

Is this going to be done for all cache types or only virtuals? There are some who would view many of the logs on caches like this one the same way they view 'couch potato' logs on virtuals. I don't know that I'm for or against Groundspeak getting involved with doing this at all but if they do it should be applied fairly. If not, one could take it as a way to help the 'natural' process along a little unnaturally.
:)

:P


I have to step away from the forums for a bit to go throw up.

#42 User is offline   Clan Riffster 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 05:28 PM

Yeah, that's pretty bizarre. Find 50 temporary caches? Log them all on this cache! :) :P

#43 User is offline   Allanon 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 05:48 PM

View Postmtn-man, on Aug 22 2009, 06:22 PM, said:

View PostCorp Of Discovery, on Aug 22 2009, 05:49 PM, said:

Is this going to be done for all cache types or only virtuals? There are some who would view many of the logs on caches like this one the same way they view 'couch potato' logs on virtuals. I don't know that I'm for or against Groundspeak getting involved with doing this at all but if they do it should be applied fairly. If not, one could take it as a way to help the 'natural' process along a little unnaturally.
:D

:)


I have to step away from the forums for a bit to go throw up.



View PostClan Riffster, on Aug 22 2009, 06:28 PM, said:

Yeah, that's pretty bizarre. Find 50 temporary caches? Log them all on this cache! :D :P

Did you guys really not know that was happening?

#44 User is offline   Steve&GeoCarolyn 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 06:02 PM

Confused here. The cache was approved by a reviewer in 2008, which is recent. The cache was installed by a venerable user, so it is not a newbie hide. Doesn't that mean that it is on the up and up? If it were not, it wouldn't have been approved, right?

Carolyn

#45 User is offline   fizzymagic 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 06:02 PM

View PostAllanon, on Aug 22 2009, 06:48 PM, said:

Did you guys really not know that was happening?

I confess I didn't know. Is it a joke cache or something? It doesn't look that way, though. But it's hard for me to believe that there are real people out there who would actually log a find on something like that.

It's really, really sad.

#46 User is offline   fizzymagic 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 06:07 PM

View PostSteve&GeoCarolyn, on Aug 22 2009, 07:02 PM, said:

Confused here. The cache was approved by a reviewer in 2008, which is recent. The cache was installed by a venerable user, so it is not a newbie hide. Doesn't that mean that it is on the up and up? If it were not, it wouldn't have been approved, right?

Wrong. You are free to change the wording of the cache page however you want once it has been approved. I would suspect that the cache description was indeed changed after it was approved.

Notice that the cache meets all the guidelines: it has a physical container, etc. And AFAIK there is no guideline about how pathetic the cache's raison d'etre can be.

#47 User is offline   Mr.Yuck 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 06:09 PM

View PostAllanon, on Aug 22 2009, 05:48 PM, said:

View Postmtn-man, on Aug 22 2009, 06:22 PM, said:

View PostCorp Of Discovery, on Aug 22 2009, 05:49 PM, said:

Is this going to be done for all cache types or only virtuals? There are some who would view many of the logs on caches like this one the same way they view 'couch potato' logs on virtuals. I don't know that I'm for or against Groundspeak getting involved with doing this at all but if they do it should be applied fairly. If not, one could take it as a way to help the 'natural' process along a little unnaturally.
:D

:)


I have to step away from the forums for a bit to go throw up.



View PostClan Riffster, on Aug 22 2009, 06:28 PM, said:

Yeah, that's pretty bizarre. Find 50 temporary caches? Log them all on this cache! :D :P

Did you guys really not know that was happening?


It actually has come up in the forums before, and had an SBA posted by a reviewer from another State, that was quickly self-deleted. They loves their temporary cache logs in Wisconsin, I think. :D

#48 User is offline   Mr.Yuck 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 06:18 PM

View Posttozainamboku, on Aug 21 2009, 10:59 AM, said:

Silly official recognition of couch potato logging seems to show the influence of puritan/taliban cachers who want an narrow definition of the "Found" log.


I've long since accepted Mr. T's "Puritan" moniker. As a matter of fact, I kind of like it. But this Taliban thing is way over the top! For one thing, Mrs. Urkel is still refusing to wear the Burka I bought her last Christmas. Perhaps I should have gone with the frying pan, or toaster instead. :P

#49 User is offline   Steve&GeoCarolyn 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 06:26 PM

View Postfizzymagic, on Aug 22 2009, 06:07 PM, said:

Notice that the cache meets all the guidelines: it has a physical container, etc. And AFAIK there is no guideline about how pathetic the cache's raison d'etre can be.


Thank you for the information. I suppose I thought that "free to change the wording on the cache page" meant within certain bounds and that if I chose to completely change the cache I'd put up, I would have some explaining to do.



View PostTheWhiteUrkel, on Aug 22 2009, 06:18 PM, said:

I've long since accepted Mr. T's "Puritan" moniker. As a matter of fact, I kind of like it. But this Taliban thing is way over the top! For one thing, Mrs. Urkel is still refusing to wear the Burka I bought her last Christmas. Perhaps I should have gone with the frying pan, or toaster instead. :P


You really need some feminine help in the gift buying department. I can tell you that no woman eating enough to keep her brains operational is going to wear a frying pan or toaster. Even if you bought 2 frying pans and suggested symmetrical placement, it wouldn't work. Metal clothes pinch.

Carolyn

This post has been edited by Steve&GeoCarolyn: 22 August 2009 - 06:30 PM


#50 User is offline   Hockeyhick 

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 07:00 PM

Thanks for the info, MissJenn!

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