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The latest Rant… Geocaching Etiquette and Other Nonsense.

January 14, 2014

It would seem everyone has their own take on what rules and courtesies are needed in our sport.
Bloggers, local clubs and Groundspeak have all made etiquette lists in an attempt to get everyone in the game to “play nice.”
Today, we are going to examine this a little further…Do we really need this? Will it work? and Does it go far enough?
Let’s break it down, “Bitchy” style and try to find out.

So we are going to start with the things most cachers seem to agree on;

“Trade items in a cache equally or up”

Ok, so normally this one is a no brainer, even newbie cachers know this one before heading out for their first cache find. Its a good idea but
without checking the integrity of all cachers in our game, who is going to police this rule? Who is to say what is equal? So. of course it is left up to the individual.
Just because you spent five hours making personalized bookmarks for trade doesn’t mean I should have to leave you a car stereo when I take one. Who is going to know?
This idea is a little useless. No one is ever going to know what is coming and going out of a cache unless it is checked daily, and even then, it is all on “the honor system”
Reminding players of this one is a little insulting and just the fact it has to be reiterated shows players don’t really do this. Nice try, but I am never going to hold someone to this idea when
their child saw a troll doll they want and have nothing to leave in exchange for it. It is a cache owners responsibility to keep a cache stocked with swag not the finders of it.
Bitchy Cacher rating on this one; Useless idea.

“Keep trackables moving, and try to honor the goals set for them”

Does anyone do this? I have kept a few trackables I have moved on a “watch” after releasing them, only to find almost no one gives a rats behind what the goals for it are.
On one trackable in particular, the person moving it after myself, decided to schlep the item all around europe, when releasing it would have gotten it closer to its goal of going to
North America then they ever could have. No one seems to care if or when they move a trackable despite what it says in its mission statement. How is a player supposed to know whether or not to even take a trackable when rarely is the goal attached physically to the item. A player has to go home and look up the mission first before deciding whether or not they can help at all with its goal, and if they can not, is it ok to just keep it in you caching bag for a few months? Once again, nice idea but not practical by any means.
Bitchy Cacher rating on this one; Useless idea.

“Be discreet when looking for a cache”

Ok, so I don my trench coat, beret, sunglasses and gloves and head out to try to blend in when searching for a cache. I sneak up on the unsuspecting cache box and voila!
A muggle standing right before me! What to do? Should I kill them? Should I explain what I am doing? Should I lie to them? Should I run? Once again this one is a nice idea but
unless you are caching in the middle of the night in Antarctica, there is always a chance of being seen while caching. I am sure most players in the game realize if they are caught or seen while caching, the chance of the cache getting muggled is always a risk, but then again the chance of the container going missing is a risk we all take when just placing one.
The only way to absolutely ensure you are not caught while geocaching is to find caches in areas where no one is around, there are too many urban high muggle area caches for this idea to of any use to anybody. We all try to be discreet, but there is never any guarantee we were not seen by someone.
Bitchy Cacher rating on this one; Not practical.

“Respect the environment while caching”

This is a good one, but frankly, from my experience no one really seems to care to follow it. A distinctive geo trail is damage already caused by cachers to the environment.
Do you see that trampled grass? Do you see the broken twigs? Do you see the nail in the tree the cache is hanging on? If you are going to find the cache and sign the log you are probably going to step on a living organism to do it. The only way to ensure we leave no trace while caching would be to make sure all caches are accessable while standing
a paved road or a side walk. We as cachers have already caused a lot of damage to our environment, so if we are truly serious about this we should be calling for the archival of caches that have caused damage to an area.
Bitchy Cacher rating on this one; Nice, but in a user based sport, pretty useless.

“Obey local laws while finding a cache”

Ok, terrific, fanastic!… So what are the laws? That is the problem with this one. Unless a cache description spells these laws out for you, how are you supposed to know what they are?
It would seem a lot of cachers don’t even read a description anymore. I have read log entries complaining that a cache is on private property and should be archived, but somehow this did not seem to stop the logger from finding it and signing the logbook anyway. We can not be taking this idea seriously if we find it, and then complain it goes against the laws of the area. Did they not see that big “no trespassing” sign when hiding it? or finding it? If there are laws that must be observed by finders looking for a cache, we shouldn’t expect someone staring into a GPS compass to know exactly what they are espcially if they are just on a vacation to the area.
Bitchy Cacher rating on this one; Good in principle, but without some listed guidelines for finding, not really practical.

“FTF logging and etiquitte”

This is probably the most useless of the ettiquette rules. Yes, it would be nice if everyone could instantly record the find if they are first, that way others won’t waste thier time and
feel dismayed. Let’s get real here people, if I am first to find on something, don’t have a smartphone, and return home to find my kids are starving and my basement is flooded, trust me logging that find is just going to have to wait a few hours until my real life is back to normal, I will not care if you are pissed off and call me out in the local forums, too bad, real life comes first, suck it up and find another. You have no right to judge me when you have no idea what’s going on in my life. I hope you do feel like @#$% when I finally do explain myself.
Bitchy Cacher rating on this one; Useless.

“Geocaches should not be of a commercial nature”

Now, do we really care here? A cache is a cache, if we did allow these types they might actually have some really cool swag or some coupons in them. Apparently a charity cannot even be mentioned in a cache description. The reason this rule is so @#$% useless is; Groundspeak has already done these. So, if they really are going to make this an article of etiquitte we have to make sure even the authority on the sport isn’t allowed to place them either. So once again we all being hippocrates here, We either call for the archival of all the caches groundspeak has been paid to place, or we allow others to place them as well. Don’t worry commercial companies won’t be any better at maintaining thier caches than lazy cache owners are. Does this mean the cache next to the Dairy Queen will have to be archived if I mentioned I got a yummy hot fudge sundae after the find? Does it mean my log entry will be removed? Let’s not be stupid here, we are advertised at everywhere we go in life. Why should caching be any different?
Bitchy Cacher rating on this one; Useless.

“Be sure to write in your log entry if cache is broken or needs maintenence”

This one is also a good idea, but only in a perfect world with conscientious cache owners. I once told someone in a log entry that their cache container was cracked on one side and no longer waterproof, only to have them yell at me in a cache note, “I was just there last week, YOU must have broken it!!” I hate to say this, but really I have a secret desire to go out searching and make unnessesary remarks in my log entry. (just wanted to see you would run out in a snowstorm to fix it) . Let’s get real here people, we have all seen cache logs with comment after comment about how a cache is in bad repair, and the owner obviously does not give a @#$#%.
Bitchy Cacher rating on this one; Nice, but pretty much useless without good cache owners on board with it.

Now to be fair to all the cachers that worked really hard to hammer out these etiquitte rules, the Bitchy Cacher wants you to know you did great, it was a worthy idea.
But unless you are going to make every cacher sign a contract that includes penalties for breach of contract, even you got to admit it is pretty useless unless ALL players are going to sign it. So once again we are left with the problems of being a user based sport, it is not policed, it is not penalised, and it is not practical in real life situations. Be content knowing you follow your own ideas and hope you can get the word out to others in the game. The Bitchy Cacher is on your side with the idea of an etiquitte list, but forgive me for being a realist here it is all pretty much uselss we can trust the moral compass of other players in the game (which from personal experience I can tell you, we cannot.)
Carry on Caching folks!

  1. bruno permalink

    nice post.

    imk the most useless rule is the one about respecting the environment… some cachers get in their cars on a daily basis with the single purpose to find caches… they have a massive carbon footprint…

    imagine the total carbon footprint of all geocachers… don’t worry about the nail in the tree or the trembled grass… the environment doesn’t give a damn about that 🙂

  2. One can limit the effect on the environment..dismissing this guideline just because we drive a car does not mean that we should not do what we can. The guidelines are there for a reason..Yes, there is always going to be those cachers who don’t give a damn. But it is not limited to cachers…They all walk among us…”It’s not my problem” I can’t stop them” etc etc etc. For example…Here in the Pacific Northwest we have big trees and that means big stumps. Big stumps that rot, grow nurse trees, grow moss, lots of moss… So we go looking for that elusive micro or nano and it’s hidden in such a stump.. A good clue or a piece of ribbon as a marker limits just how much of that stump gets ripped apart looking for it. IMO the CO has an obligation to limit the impact on that stump and its ecosystem…If everyone had the same opinion that the guidelines were useless and that no one pays attention to them then the forest would be in a much sorrier state…

  3. Interesting Blog.

  4. ashley permalink

    lol! Loved this blog. My big pet peeve on other cachers is, Why would you intend to go caching and NOT bring a pen to sign the log?! WTH! Then there’s the leave change for swag. So you went out caching, and the thought of bringing any sort of swag with you was beneath you? You found swag that you liked and left the next person 6 cents? That was wonderful.

  5. Actually I think the Geocaching Etiquette is very well written and wise. All they can do is give cachers a nudge toward better behavior and guiding principles. It is not like they can enforce a detailed code of conduct.

    Take the principle to avoid commercial and even charitable causes. It avoids a huge slew of problems with advertisement and coupons, and especially avoids political battles over social issues and flaming web wars that the internet is full of. Yet if a business wants to have a cache in front of its building, it can do so and just let the natural attraction of the business be its draw.

    As for the environment — you can either think mankind is evil and everything it does destroys the environment, and therefore geocaching is environmentally evil, or you can see geocaching as an activity that draws people into interactions with the environment. Sure it burns a lot of gas, and even requires more eating to replace the calories expended. And those GPS satellites don’t get there without creating a lot of CO2. But people who enjoy being in the natural environment will protect it — those playing video games won’t.

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