Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Not my favorite...

…cache rating system. Late December the favorites functionality was introduced on the geocaching.com website. If you are a premium member, you earn a favorite point for every tenth found log. You can give these points to the caches you liked most. This way other geocachers can see what you liked and put more quality in their daytrip planning.

This new functionality gives other geocachers the opportunity to make a daytrip planning based on your recommendations rather then on the information in logs only. With the current density of geocaches to choose from, any qualified information in a rating system is better then no rating system at all. That is what makes the favorites functionality look like a great new feature. I think it is a great new feature, but it is not the best feature it could have been.

Why? Because I want to see what I might like, not what other people liked. With the current rating system, I can make a list of caches in a certain area and sort on favorite points (Hide & Seek a cache --> Seek a cache by address --> enter a radius --> Go --> click on the blue favorite icon in the header row to sort). For sure this will put a good cache on top of the list, but it is still based on what other people liked.

According to Groundspeak lackey Bryan Roth in a global caching chat, Groundspeak is working on an algorithm that presents you caches you might like based on awarded favorite points by you and by other people. For example, If you and someone else both awarded a favorite point to cache A and this other person also has awarded a favorite point to cache B, which you have not yet found, you will probably like cache B because you both liked cache A. The more favorited caches you share with another cacher, the more likely it is you will like the caches the other user has favorited and you have not yet found. This algorithm would make the result of the rating system more personalised and gives me a list of what I might like instead of what other people liked, which is exactly what I want.

However as I said, it is not the best system. It only takes into account the caches I have awarded a favorite point and not the other 9 out of 10 caches. Imagine you would have a rating system which gives you the possibility to rate every found cache on a scale from one to five with one being poor and five being excellent. These are some results entered by you and other cachers in this imaginary rating system:

Cache ACache BCache CCache D
You5 pointsNot Found2 pointsNot found
Cacher 15 points5 points4 points1 points
Cacher 25 points4 points1 points5 points

If 5 points resembles a favorite point, the Groundspeak algorithm would present you cache B and cache D in random order because you all liked cache A. However my imaginary rating system would also take cache C into account and because your rating on this cache is closer to cacher 2 then cacher 1, your caching taste is more like cacher 2. So, although cacher 1 does not like cache D, this would be the cache you would most likely like because your geocaching taste resembles cacher 2. Imagine this scenario with a lot more data behind it (your amount of founds) and there will be a lot of difference in the accuracy of the results of the rating systems!

But, as I said before, any rating system is better then no rating system. So here, under lists, you will find my favorited caches. I have 5 favorite points in my pockets. I only give them to caches which really deserve them, as I do not want you to visit caches I favorited which are not really remarkable. Please also be critical as it influences the decision for my next hunt!

By the way, my imaginary rating system is called GcVote. It does not contain the described algorithm and also the usage by other cachers in my region is very low. Just like other cachers, I also prefer a Groundspead branded rating system as more people are aware of and using it. Unfortunately this makes GcVote useless. Nevertheless the best solution was right before Groundspeaks eyes but they did not take it. Shame, shame, shame.

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