Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Why most challenges are no challenge yet

Many geocachers voted to bring virtuals back but now even more geocachers appear to be against the replacement for virtuals, the challenges. The release of challenges was at least bumpy. Many people who don’t like the challenges are talking them down on Twitter, Facebook, forums and even on the challenge pages by voting them down, writing comments and posting ‘I dislike challenges’ pictures. So far, in all these comments, I have not found a single reason to dislike challenges.

Some users dislike challenges because they simply dislike change. With every change, there is always this group that doesn’t like it, simply because it is change. They need time to get used to changes; they will accept the change if time goes by. Another group dislikes challenges because challenges are not geocaches. They are right. That is why they are counted separately from geocaches and trackables in your profile. You also do not see them in the ‘hide and seek a geocache’ functionality. Simply because they are not geocaches. Challenges are something completely different compared to geocaches and they should not be mistaken.

Some people dislike challenges because they don't see a point in the first challenges which have been created. I must agree with them. I like the challenges concept, but I do not like most challenges I have seen yet. Why? Because there is no challenge in them! Yes, there is no challenge in them. I will explain. This is the definition of a real challenge according to wiktionary:

"1. An instigation or antagonization intended to convince a person to perform an action they otherwise would not.
2. A difficult task, especially one that the person making the attempt finds more enjoyable because of that difficulty."

Most challenges confirm to the second part of the first definition. They ask me to perform an action I otherwise would not have done. But they don’t convince me. Why should I perform that action? There must be a reason, I need to be convinced! Please tell me why, tell me why, tell me why!

To proof that challenges can be fun when they are a real challenge, convincing and/or difficult, I created my own challenge which confirms to both definitions of challenge. To explain my challenge, I first have to explain something about my hometown Tiel.

Tiel is in the center of the Betuwe, a part of the Netherlands with a lot of fruit orchards. In Tiel there was company named ‘de Betuwe’ which made delicious marmalade. This marmalade was so delicious that other companies which made marmalade advertised their marmalade as ‘from the Betuwe’, which is allowed because it refers to the region where the fruit is from they use for their marmalade. For customers this made it difficult to find the real ‘Betuwe’ marmalade in the shop. So the company ‘de Betuwe’ created a cartoon figure, named him ‘Flipje from Tiel’ and put him on the label of their marmalade. This worked excellent because customers now could easily find the real Betuwe marmalade by the picture of Flipje. Since then many marketing items were created based on the Flipje character, even a series of comic books.

Because of the decreasing sales of marmalade, the marmalade factory in Tiel was closed in 1993. Since his birth Flipje has been the mascot of the city of Tiel, also when the factory closed. Earlier this year, Flipje returned on marmalade pots of the company who took over the assets from ‘de Betuwe’.

The challenge I created, is to write a love letter to Flipje, signed with ‘Signal the Frog’, put it with a red rose in a marmalade pot (preferably of the right brand) and place the pot at the location mentioned on the challenge page, near the statue of Flipje, without being seen.

This challenge is difficult because the Flipje statue is on a busy square in the center of Tiel. The goal of this challenge is to create a mystery around the secret lover of Flipje, who over and over again writes a love letter and places it in a marmalade pot with a red rose near the Flipje statue. If you want to help build this mystery, complete the challenge!

For geocachers, the challenge promotes the city of Tiel. But it also promotes Geocaching for curious people who find a marmalade pot and track down the referral to 'Signal the Frog'.

This a translation of the first love letter I placed on the Flipje statue:

Dear Flip,

I have missed you for years,
But I have never forgotten you.
You have always been the one and only for me,
I have never tasted from another pot.
Now you are back, better than ever,
As if you have never left me.

From now, forever I will warship you.
People will talk about us,
But my love for you is unconditional.
Also when, with all these other people around you,
this will always be a challenge…

Signal the Frog

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