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.

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