Thursday, 28 April 2011

When geocaching in Rome...

... you can do all the traditionals at all the famous spots. But we did it diffently. When we visited Rome last November, we went for Angels and Demons and the four sisters, the challenging mystery caches of Nemrodek.

Angels & Demons is about the famous book and movie and will lead you along all the important places of the story. The four sisters is a nice puzzle cache which will lead you to 4 nice places in Rome where you have to answer 4 challenging questions. Do not forget to visit the coords on the cache page of the four sisters, for us that was the best view in Rome.

We failed on both caches, but we had tons of joy searching for them and nearly missed our plane! Next time in Rome I will give it another go. I recommend you do the same.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Will geocaching ever be spoiler free?

This week, the Groundspeak newsletter asked your attention to keep geocaching spoiler free. In the Netherlands, a big discussion is going on around spoilering. The discussion was started from two sides:

1. A blog post by Nav2Paddy with a videolog (has been removed from his website after the chaos it has caused), picked up by Phoenix-night for his friend, cache owner Dukkie;
2. The Geoleaks forum, a forum to help or to get help to solve a mystery cache.

These two items caused a serious scene in the Netherlands. Cache owners started archiving their caches and on the forums there appear to be just as many users who are against spoilering as users who do not see this as an issue. The first feedback item, a request to Groundspeak to make a statement against spoilering, was opened and approved by Groundspeak. Result was section 4m added to the Terms of use:

“You and not Groundspeak, are entirely responsible for all content that you upload, post or otherwise transmit via the Site. You agree not to:
(m) Publish, in any form of media, the solutions, hints, spoilers, or any hidden coordinates for any geocache without consent from the cache owner.”

Geocachers against spoilering reacted very positive on this statement, and have contacted Geoleaks to force them to close down their forums because they are acting against the terms of use of Groundspeak. Geoleaks declined the requests because in their opinion Groundspeak is not allowed to act based on what is being posted on a third party forum. And they are right. If you read the terms of use clearly, you can see that they are only applicable to the website and forums. They are not applicable at all to e.g. your own website or any random other forum!

So today, a new request has been opened, to ban public spoiling geocachers. I think this is going way too far. You can not ban users from your site because of their behaviour on another website. Currently Groundspeak is kindly asking you to behave like your mother has told you to do. They could take it one step further and start a discussion with the people behind the spoiler websites, twitter accounts etc., but that is all they can do.

I would not act at all against spoilering on third party websites. It is part of the game. If people are having fun playing the game this way, let them play their game. Geocaching should be all about having fun outdoors. Everyone in their own way. And the cache owners? Just like Groundspeak, also cache owners can not make everybody happy the way they want to. You can not force people to act a certain way. In stead you should focus on the 90% of the geocachers enjoying your cache like you have intended it to be. But also cache finders can help: Write a decent log. A log which makes the cache owner happy and clearly points out you have taken the whole jouney, including the joy of solving the puzzle.

And what about the video log? See it as a good add for your cache. The geocacher behind the camera has also put efforts in making the video, please respect that. Off course the satisfaction for the cache finder will be greater if they find something amazing when they did not know what to expect. But maybe without the video, they would never have done your cache and you would not have been able to give them some satisfaction at all! In Dutch we say: When the glass is half empty, think of it as being half full.

Friday, 15 April 2011

6 tips for blossom geocaching at the Betuwe

The Betuwe is a part of the Netherlands that is famous for its fruit orchards. At this moment all the fruit trees are flowering, which is very beautiful. That makes this weekend the best weekend to visit the Betuwe for a blossom cache! Find here 6 nice caches by car, bike or foot to experience the blossom:

By car or bike: Betuws fruit

By bike or Foot: Bloeiende Betuwe, Bingo or Zakdoekje leggen (also a recommendation if you do not like blossom).

By bike: Hoge dijken, Lage huisjes and the Slingerroute serie.


Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Geocaching on a pair of Timberlands

Last week, 24 caches in parks around 6 cities in Europe have been published related to the Nature Needs Heroes campaign. Nature needs heroes is the latest campaign of shoes and clothing brand Timberland. All over Europe these caches caused noise. Why is Groundspeak allowing these commercial caches?

First of all, commercial caches are allowed with special permission from Groundspeak, see the last remark from the guidelines below:

"Commercial caches are disallowed. As a general rule, reviewers will not publish cache pages that seem commercial. A commercial cache has one or more of the following characteristics:

* It requires the finder to go inside a business, interact with employees and/or purchase a product or service.
* It has overtones of advertising, marketing or promotion.
* It contains links to businesses, commercial advertisers, charities, political agendas or social agendas.
* It contains the logo of a business or organization, including non-profit organizations.
* The name of a business or commercial product is on the cache page.
* On very rare occasions, Groundspeak makes an exception for a commercial cache. Arrangements are made before placement. If your cache is commercial in any way, please contact Groundspeak for clarification about how to comply with cache listing guidelines."

This way, Groundspeak has given itself the possibility to limit the commercial use of geocaching to those exceptional cases where there is something in it for them, which is quite fair I think. With the current amount of active geocachers worldwide, Groundspeak would be an interesting party for a lot of brands to make their message heard, like Timberland. This could be another significant source of revenue, besides the webshop, site banners and premium membership.

However, Groundspeaks Financial lackey Bryan Roth explained to me by mail that Groundspeak has cooperated with Timberland cost neutral, which means they have not gained any money on the promotion. According to Bryan, the main driver for Groundspeak to work with Timberland was to introduce new audiences to geocaching.

For Groundspeak and Timberland, the knife of the Nature Needs Heroes campaign cuts on both sides. The Timberland brand is introduced to the geocaching community and I think, there will be a phase 2 where Timberland is going to promote the caches to their audience and spread the message of geocaching.

I already blogged in May last year that Groundspeak is not considering geocaching as a secret hobby. As already said last year, more geocachers equals more fun for other geocachers and more money from premium memberships and site banners. This campaign is certainly not going to be the last campaign. While you might waste your time on complaining about this, I am looking forward to the creative caches placed by people wearing Timberland shoes and I just hope they are just a big adventure as this: