I’ve been meaning to write a post about this for a long time. I saw something today that propelled me to the keyboard. I’ll start by saying I love the idea of peer review. It’s a transparent process that hopefully will allow more and better caches to get published. I fear that is not what is actually happening over at opencaching.com.
I saw a forum post today that talked about peer review so I bounced over to opencaching.com and had a look at the review queue. The first listing I looked at had a score of -126. I thought perhaps this was a poorly executed cache so I looked at the listing.
In reading the reviewer comments all them them used the same option: From looking at the map, it looks like the coordinates might not be correct. Please double check them. Well how bad are those coordinates? I did what you would do and looked at the map. I zoomed in as close as I could and sure enough the cache looked like it might be in the river. Then I looked at the scale on the map. Based on that scale the cache is about 5-6m in the river. I don’t know about you but at best I get 3m accuracy on my GPSr and in most cases it’s closer to 5m. Add in the fact that the arial imagery may be off slightly doesn’t that make it it more likely that this cache is in a tree than in the water?
Why do I think the cache is in a tree? Well because the cacher left a reviewer note that said “small pill bottle in hole of tree about 61/2 feet high”. To be fair I don’t know if the reviewer note came before or after the cache was reviewed. In either case wouldn’t it be prudent to revise a vote if there is a better understanding of the cache placement?
While I like the idea of peer review for geocaches I think the process at opencaching.com is flawed. That’s the nice thing about dedicated reviewers at geocaching.com. We may not always like their responses and we should have better transparency of who the reviewer is but at least they are reviewing caches based on experience. The appeals process at geocaching.com also seems to work. My preference would be a combination of the two processes. I’d like to see a minimum standard for peers before they can review.