Okay so the gloves are off. Groundspeak had much fan fair about the launch of recent updates to the geocaching.com website. On the same day as the update Garmin announces that opencaching.com has an official peer review process. The timing cannot be coincidental.
This is a major victory for Groundspeak. Supporters of geocaching.com have insisted that a review process is critical to the smooth operation of the game we love. Garmin has capitulated and agreed that this is true but creating their own review process.
Opencaching.com has extended the Terracaching.com model of peer review from sponsor review to public review. Anyone can now review a cache before it gets listed. Only caches with a positive score after 12 hours will get listed. Additionally a yes vote counts as +1 but a no vote counts as -3.
While I’m pleased to see that Garmin is doing something to ensure quality I’m not sure this model is sustainable. Firstly, a time limit of 12 hours is too short. I’m on my computer A LOT but I’m not likely to check the review queue that often. Hopefully others will. The only people that will be monitoring the site that closely are those that want to exert some control over what happens in their area and not always in a positive way. Extending the review process longer means that users could get frustrated in the length of time it takes a cache to get published. Secondly, the fact that a no vote gets a -3 makes it very easy for an unscrupulous player to sabotage the efforts of another player. Some of the most vocal advocates of opencaching.com are those that have been banned from geocaching.com.
Garmin has now given someone with a vendetta an opportunity to affect someone’s ability to play the game. Abuse is mitigated by the fact that it’s not anonymous. If you vote against someone people will know. To get around that I just create my free accounts over and over again. I could conceivably create 100 accounts and vote down just about any cache if I wanted to.
Peer review is an interesting way to go. It might work better if you earn the right to be a peer reviewer. That’s sort of how Groundspeak does it. Volunteer reviewers have demonstrated over a long period of time their understanding of the game. I’m not sure how you could earn that right to be a peer reviewer but earning it is one way to keep the bad actors out.