Two months ago the owner of the largest geocaching website of The Netherlands, geocaching.nl, has sacked half of his volunteer staff because of a lack of confidence. Half of the other half of the staff has been loyal to the sacked volunteers and have left the geocaching.nl team. How could this happen? A short overview.
Geocaching.nl was founded in 2001. Since I started geocaching in 2004, the forum is the most important part of the site but the atmosphere was not very good at that time. Until last year a lot of discussion was going on about deletion of posts by moderators and banning user from the forum. In the years I have read the forum since 2004, I learned that moderators in stead of having a good discussion about geocaching and listen to the users, were deleting posts which would not fit in their opinion of geocaching. Because of this way of moderation, multiple geocachers in the Netherlands tried to start their own geocaching website, with globalcaching.eu as one of the most successful.
This made the Dutch geocaching community very diversified. In an act to stop this diversification, and to make geocaching.nl the only center of the Dutch Geocaching community, some geocachers decided to join the team to help geocaching.nl out. In 2010 the team was almost doubled and ready to strengthen the sites position in the centre of the Dutch geocaching community. Until, suddenly out of nowhere, the forums were taken offline.
The team had decided to do this to get more support from the owner of the site. After a good discussion, the team continued their work. Until two months ago, again the team felt a lack of support from the owner. They wrote a letter and instead of a good discussion, half of them got fired.
The news of the sacked team members spread very fast in the Dutch Geocaching community and as a result many users decided to leave the site. Some joined other existing forums such as globalcaching and the Dutch Groundspeak forums, some stopped posting on forums at all. Also a new forum was created, geocachingforum.nl, but there is not a lot going on at this forum.
Posts on the geocaching.nl forum have dropped, although it is still one of the most active forums in The Netherlands. Now, 2 months later, the main spirit is coming back again but most new topics are simple question and answers, mostly about functionality that already has stopped working and can’t be fixed because the knowledge was sacked or has left the team. The ‘Netherlands’ section on the geocaching.com forums as a lot more active now and the new place for people refusing to post on geocaching.nl.
What will the future of the geocaching community look like in The Netherlands? Will geocaching.nl remain the main center of the community, will some other website step up or will the community fall apart into smaller local communities? Or will there only be single geocaching teams without any community to support the Geocaching activity? I just hope a strong leader will step up who is able to create a platform where all geocachers can get together after everything that happened in the past 10 years and share the fun that comes with geocaching.