After attending the “Shoals Summer Meet, Greet, and Eat” (GCX0MV) I began to wonder about what counts as a find and when a trackable item should be logged. It seems that geocaching is a sport with some loose rules and guidelines when it comes to what counts as a find. I’ve also encountered some different opinions when it comes to trackable items too.
This morning while looking at the upcoming events in Alabama, I came across the “Exit 334 Charbroiled Meet & Greet” (GCXCJ5) event and happened to view the profile of the event’s organizer, “TOIDS R US“.
In his profile under Biography he talks about approaching his 1000th find and what he considers to be a find. The following is from his profile:
More recently: As I approached my first 1000 finds, I began to think of the number of times I had heard other cachers declare that the neat thing about caching was that you could play and post by the rules you were most comfortable with – everyone can “Play their own game”, their own way.
I realized that this was the way some players rationalized their “soft finds” and inflated cache counts. I mean, honestly, how meaningful is it to log 80 pocket caches at an event, or 30 caches on a cache run when you never set foot out of the car, or to somehow log caches spread across 1200 miles, in 3 or 4 different states yet only burn a 1/4 tank of gas in the process?
Looking inward, I examined my own inventory of finds and found that about 4% of my logs were questionable or weak. I decided then that I would review and adjust my finds to a higher standard.
These are the rules *I* choose to play by.
That way a thousand finds means 1000 finds, not 500, or 750 or 960.
This means that sometimes I put a lot of work into a search without getting a smiley, but then the unearned find doesn’t cheapen all my other hard work and treasured caching experiences.
He mentions that his personal ground rules are an adaptation of geocacher “David” (formerly known as kd4adc). So I viewed David’s profile and some of his ground rules were the same and some were different. Groundspeak has given the cacher a lot of leeway in this area and there seems to be differencing opinions on these unwritten rules. I think most of the core rules of geocaching have not changed, but some have perhaps been stretched or changed to suit a particular situation or caching style. After viewing both profiles and personal guidelines it gave me the idea to create my own personal geocaching guidelines. So using these fellow cacher as a reference here they are:
- I do log virtual caches as a find only after I fulfill the requirements on the cache page as the owner intended and receive permission from the owner to do so.
- I do log caches as a find when I find the container and the log but cannot sign it due to condition (soaked, mush, etc.). I will replace the log if possible, leave my name on a scrap piece of paper, and/or take a picture to show the cache owner.
- I do not sign the container rather than the log inside unless that is the intent of the cache design and the cache owner.
- I do not log trackables unless I actually touch and look at them or move them along.
- I do not collect any items with a tracking number, such as geocoins or travel bugs, unless the owner intended.
- I do leave an item of equal or greater value when trading cache swag.
I have not encountered some of the following situations. But these are the guidelines I will use when I do:
- I will not log caches as a find which were gone and I could not sign the log.
- I will not participate in cache runs where team members split up to increase the number of finds for the team.
- I will follow the cache page rules when logging a locationless cache as a find, as the owner intended.
- I will collect personal signature items left in caches I have created.
One thing that I’ve been having issues with is event only caches (and/or pocket caches, whatever you want to call them). From what I’ve read there has been some controversy about this practice. At the Shoals Summer Meet, Greet, and Eat we (the TechBlazer family) found three caches that were set up just for that event. They were not published and are not available now to find. After we found them we were told we could log it as an additional find for the event. I was wondering if the main purpose of these were to increase your find count or to get people searching together. When I went to log that we attended the event, I noticed that others had logged the event only caches, so I logged them too. But when I did, I noticed that there was not a “Found It” option, only an “Attened” option. So when I went to my profile page and saw the new Event Cache icon showed 4, but clicking on it only revealed one event attended.
I did a quick search regarding pocket caches and came up this from the Geocaching in Maine forums (http://www.geocachingmaine.org/forum/archive/index.php/t-186.html). The following was posted by the geocacher “attroll”:
I emailed Groundspeak on this subject. I told them how I felt and asked them how they felt on users doing this. Since I wrote I have been corresponding in email with GPSFUN from Groundspeak. He has told me that he discussed the concern I raised with several members of the volunteer reviewer community and with the Groundspeak headquarters. His reply was:
“Generally, most of the volunteer reviewers believe the practice of logging multiple “finds” at an event cache is inappropriate. However, Groundspeak has no specific rule on what geocachers may or may not log. To Groundspeak, numbers don’t matter, so we stay out of it and let the local community dictate what is ok and what is not.”
So basically it is up to the person that post the event how they handle the logs. If a person feels good about what they have done it is only there their own conscience they have to answer to.
Personally I like keeping track of the number of finds and geo stats, but I’m not in competition with any other cacher or group. I found a post on the Groundspeak forums that relates to how I feel. This is from http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=133916 by geocacher “Cache Heads”:
I don’t care if I ever break any records or hit 1000 before someone else did or any of that… but I do care about the record keeping because it’s like a personal journal of things I’ve done and places I’ve visited.
If you need to be competitive about it, why not race your buddies for the numbers and enforce the rules you set amongst yourselves? That way, you’ll all be playing the same game and you still get to have fun competing. As far as I’m concerned, my family’s geocaching stats are important– but only to us. To others, I see no reason why they should mean a thing.
The three finds that I logged for the event only caches have been weighing on my conscience since the event as to their validity. Depending on which way you look at it, these are either said to be legitimate finds or questionable/invalid finds. Personally I could care less what others think, but for my own conscience and stats, I will use the following guideline:
- I do not log pocket caches/event only caches as a find multiple times to claim credit for caches found during the event, even if that is the event organizer’s intention.
So for the 3 event only caches that I logged as a find, I have gone back and changed it from “Attened” to “Write note”. If other cachers want to log caches such as this as a find, then it’s up to them, their conscience, and the event organizer. Groundspeak apparently doesn’t care what you log as a find and neither do I. My cache counts and stats are for me (and my family) and if others want to view them I have no problem with that. I would just rather have my own Event Cache count reflect the number of events that I’ve actually attended.
Now these rules are not official Groundspeak guidelines. They are my personal guidelines and opinions. Other geocachers will have different personal guidelines. Some will be the same, some will be different, and some will be a mix.
At the end of a cache day you know what you have found, and if you feel you have deserved to log a find, then log it.