I have recently been investigating some of the other alternative geocache listing sites such as opencaching.us and terracaching.com. I even went so far as to list caches on those two sites plus geocaching.com in an attempt to gauge the popularity of those sites. When placing these caches I wanted them to be fairly close together but not closer than the geocaching.com minimum distance of 161m. I was not entirely successful in my attempt. This highlights a concern many cachers have of geocache saturation. Will the presence of other sites lead to significant density issues?
In the case of my three cache experiment I cheated a little on the density requirements. One cache is just under 161m away and the other is closer than I would have liked. If it wasn’t for the experiment I would not have placed these caches so close together. The parcel of land I was dealing with just wasn’t big enough to get three hides far enough apart. I was aware what I was doing was pushing the bounds of acceptability because I was listing caches on all three sites, that will not necessarily be the cache for all geocachers. Managing cache placement density could be much harder if any alternative site gains traction as is the case in Germany.
Opencaching.de has a very active user base. I have been told that in order to manage cache density in Germany the reviewers there will also check on opencaching.de when a cache is being listed on geocaching.com. I suppose that means your cache could get denied because it is too close to a cache on opencaching.de. I think there are better ways to manage this problem.
Here are my suggestions for managing cache placement density:
- List the cache on both/all geocaching listing sites. In this way if it is denied on one then you know it shouldn’t be placed where you want it. This might work but what do you do for cache types that you can’t list on all sites? Or what if one site has different rules than the other?
- Have Groundspeak (or any listing site) create an API for checking density. Geocaching.com has the most listings so it makes sense for them to lead the way on this. The API only needs to return the distance to the nearest cache and the type of cache. Here’s how I think it would work: Site A sends the coordinates for a cache to Site B. Site B returns the distance to n number of caches with their cache type. If returning the distance is too specific then perhaps just a “not close/too close” flag. Site B can provide this information to the cache lister or incorporated into Site B’s density rules. Site A (Groundspeak) gets to keep their information confidential while at the same time helping to ensure the Geocaching community doesn’t over saturate a given area with caches. Groundspeak could charge a nominal fee for access to the API based on usage. For instance your first 100 queries are free above that you need to pay some nominal fee. The fee would go to paying for the bandwidth and development of the API. This is a completely doable solution.
If Garmin or any of the other sites are truly interested in being an open platform they will make the development of an API a priority. The community needs to work together if the game is to continue to be accepted and tolerated by land managers.