curators and sea chest

Photo: John Kelly

As most people know, one of the fundamental aspects of geocaching.com is that every cache gets reviewed prior to being listed publicly.  This policy is in effect to protect the integrity of cache listings.  In that sense maybe the volunteers should be called curators instead of reviewers.

There are about 200 volunteer reviewers that act on behalf of Groundspeak to approve cache listings.  The newly launched opencaching.com has no comparable review process.   Any one can post a cache at any location they choose.  Opencaching.com leaves it up to the community to report problems, after the fact.

One of the reasons that a number of people are excited about opencaching.com is exactly because of the lack of reviewers.   These are typically people that have been challenged, for one reason or another, by the review process.

The notion of “reviewing” a cache is in my mind slightly different from “curating” a cache. Caches are not reviewed at Groundspeak for quality of the geocaching experience.  They are reviewed to maintain the integrity of the game.  Things like; is the cache far enough away from other caches, is the cache placed in a restricted location, etc.   These protections are essential if we are collectively going to enjoy geocaching well into the future.  In that sense the job of reviewers is to protect our game by curating the listings.  It’s not about allowing or denying a listing, it’s about making sure the listing does not create harm to the game overall.

I know that some people have had problems getting caches published on geocaching.com.  Luckily I’ve never had that problem.  I hope Groundspeak reviewers will consider what I have written when they are deciding on whether or not to approve a cache.  I am not even sure that Groundspeak should be responsible for the review process.  There is an implicit conflict of interest associated with a corporate entity policing itself.   In most cases self-policing does not work.  For instance we don’t let car companies dictate safety parameters.   An independent third party may be a better way to go.   Our game of geocaching may not be big enough for such a step, yet.  There will come a time where certain standards must be maintained, regardless of which site a cache is listed on.  When the bomb squad shows up they aren’t asking if the cache is listed on opencaching.com or geocaching.com, the only question they want answered is whether or not the container is a bomb.  Any detonation by the bomb squad gives geocaching a black eye not a particular site.

Regardless of how a cache is reviewed the reviewer should ask themselves this: will publishing this cache harm the game?  I believe that as much as I believe hiders should ask the same question.   We are all responsible for maintaining the integrity of the game we call geocaching.

teamvoyagr

I have been writing the cachemania blog since 2008. I'm interested in the development of geocaching and the many ways that people play the game.

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