I am a little concerned that geocaching might be on the downward slide. What makes me think this? The length of online logs. I’m noticing a trend in the logs I’m seeing towards shorter logs for new cachers. I ran some numbers on a cache I just published and cachers with more than 500 finds wrote logs longer than 150 characters, 50% of cachers with fewer than 500 finds wrote shorter logs. As much as I like to read longer logs the length of the log isn’t the issue. Twitter has shown us that you can be brief and be interesting at the same time. What this is showing me is that we have developed a geocaching culture of take without enough give.
I try and make my caches interesting. I’ll try unusual hides, interesting places, something to make it more than a numbers run. My only reward for doing this is to read the logs of people that find the caches. If I spend a few hours on the creation of a cache I would hope it warrants a longer log than TFTC. Unfortunately not all cachers feel as I do.
I know that if I do 20 caches in a day it is hard to write something unique for all the finds but I try. I’m not concerned with the logs on power trails. I’m thinking of caches where the cache owner put a bit of work in to the cache but the finder didn’t reciprocate with a suitable log. How does a newbie cacher know how long a log should be? Who is teaching cacher etiquette?
Unlike baseball or soccer or darts there are no geocaching leagues. We don’t start out in peewee and progress up to Triple A. It is for this reason that geocaching associations and geocaching vendors provide a critical role in the success of geocaching. Without these related organizations there is no one to teach new cachers etiquette or technique. A film canister is NOT a suitable cache container where I live but where do you go to learn that?
If you are like me and would like geocaching to continue for a long time then please let hiders know you appreciate their effort by writing complete logs. Here’s something that geocaching listing sites like geocaching.com can easily do: add a character count to the log submission. Let me sort, group or search by log length. I don’t need favourite points if I can see the log length. If every log for a cache is less than 50 characters then I know it’s not is cool as a cache where every log is longer then 200 characters. You could even go as far as showing the average log length at the top of the log entries.
If you are supporting geocaching education let me know and I’ll tweet about it. Something everyone can do to support the geocaching community is to join their local association. These associations and groups are great ways to learn about geocaching.