Newbie Cache Placers – Should they be allowed?

There has been a small amount of talk in geocaching circles in the last week as to whether there should be certain requirements cachers need to meet before placing a cache. It’s an issue that has been around for years without finding a solution.

Head Hard Hat had a small vent after a cache placed by someone with only 20 finds was located on private land that had a very clear no trespassing sign.

This simply could be a case of not doing your homework before placing but I am really thinking there should be a geocaching guideline stating you should not place a geocache until you reach a certain amount of geocaching finds first. Call me crazy but after say 100 geocaching finds you gain a good geocache sense. Knowing the difference between a good or poor placement.

Would it be too much to ask for a guideline such as this?

Lone R picked up the bandwagon and gave some suggestions about what he thought should be in place

First and foremost I’d like to see a time period of at least 3 months registration before anyone can plant a cache. Then allow one initial hide. After 3 more months, once the CO has experienced the responsibilities of ownership and hasn’t become bored, restrictions are lifted. This should weed out the fly-by-nighters.

I’d also like to see a small amount of cache finds required.

Do we really need COs who wouldn’t wait 3 months before hiding a cache? Anyone who would quit geocaching because they had to wait a few months would likely not be a responsible owner.

And then there is the timely Geocaching.com Latitude 47 blog post about the basics of geocache placement, including the following excellent Lost & Found video that has an excellent cameo from local Kiwi reviewer and some equally handsome shots of the Otago Pennisula.

There is even a suggestion in the feedback section on geocaching.com that cachers be required to have 50 finds before placing a cache. This suggestion is currently ranked 6th with 671 votes from 341 supporters.

I’ve experienced quite a number of caches placed by newbies that were below par and as a result have seriously considered supporting the idea that there should be a minimum number of finds before being allowed to place. I’ve come to the conclusion that those kind of restrictions would be detrimental to the hobby and negatively impact the experience for new cachers. In light of the increasing competitiveness in the geocache listing arena turning cachers away from your service is not something any site should consider.

The only idea that I think is suitable is where first time placers are required to pass a short, online, multiple choice test. The idea here is not to make it difficult to become a cache placer but to ensure that placers have a basic level of knowledge before attempting to place. Once passed cachers would then not have any excuse for placing terrible caches. The test could be taken as many times as needed, not that it would be hard, because repetition would only assist in the newbie cachers learning about cache placement. The solution is simple and the least limiting of all the options I’ve seen so far.

Of course one could argue that the trauma of a terrible placement is all part of the fun of the game…

UPDATE: It seems they have been having this debate recently in Portugal as well!


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  1. CraigRat

    I really sit on the fence with this issue.

    Some of the BEST caches I’ve done have been placed by people who had at that stage hidden fewer than the 50-100 caches proposed.
    Some of the worst caches I’ve done are from people with >500 finds, in some instances they have MANY hides of all the same style (no-watertight micro thrown in a questionable area)

    It is VERY possible for someone to get to 100 caches on just LPCs, Nanos and driveby 200ml containers even where I live…..

    I really don’t think there’s anything that can be done, it’s all just part of the game.

    1. Cumbyrocks

      It will be very interesting to see if the new favourites system at geocaching.com or the ranking system at opencaching.com has any impact on cacher placement. I sincerely hope that the good caches get the votes. Perhaps it will make the poor placers realise people aren’t enjoying those caches? Or are some people enjoying them? Hmmm….

  2. CacheMania

    I don’t think there is an easy answer to this quandary. Are you about the numbers of the quality? Quantity seekers don’t always care about the quality of a cache whereas quality seekers do.

    For me the problem stems for the lack of education. In that sense maybe a little quiz would work. It sounds kind of silly but maybe that is all that is needed.

    Maybe it’s just a pop up box that comes up once you submit that says something like “if you are a dope and put out a crappy geocache your account could be suspended” but in nicer words 🙂 Who judges your cache to be crappy is an open question.

    Another thing that might help is the ability to ignore a user. We have a user locally that put out just awful caches. I put all of his caches on my ignore list.

    I’m getting of my soapbox now.

    1. Cumbyrocks

      I find it an interesting debate because on one hand I’m all about the quality – I strongly prefer the large ammo can or bucket placed in the woods that requires some effort to reach. On the other hand (and dare I admit this!?!) I’m a big fan of the numbers – I love grabbing the FTF’s and seeing my numbers grow. So the quality side of me deplores the bad cache whilst the quantity side refuses to let me ignore it. Oh bother my geocaching split personality! 🙂

  3. sTeamTraen

    It’s a good job that no such rule was in place on May 1, 2000, when Dave Ulmer decided to dig a hole (!) to place a cache containing food (!) which he then failed to replace when it went missing in the first couple of months (!).

    This subject also highlights the way in which, despite the recent appearance of OpenCaching.com to remind us that there are other listing sites, people still thing that “Geocaching” === “Geocaching.com”. If another site were actually taken remotely seriously by anybody, the discussion would have revolved around “ah, but how do you know for sure that this person doesn’t have 50 finds logged on another site?”. (You can’t be sure that that other site will allow the same username, for example.)

    That would be a legitimate debate; the fact that we aren’t even having it shows that nobody is really taking any other site vary seriously right now. The day it happens, many other geocaching discussions will be revealed to be about placement or about listing; at present, most people have never stopped to think about the difference between the two.

    1. Cumbyrocks

      That’s the beauty of the short pop up box test concept – an experienced cacher from another listing site would breeze through and it would just a minor stepping stone. But you are correct that the discussion revolves around Geocaching.com because few people take other listing sites seriously.

  4. SSeegars

    Take new cachers in YOUR area under your wing. When I see someone new pop up as finding one of my caches I contact them and welcome them to the sport, invite them to the next event, and offer my help if they have any questions. We are a community!

    I hid my first cache after only 20 finds and never had a complaint about it! It was in a state park area when caching was very new to our area. Another cacher found it, emailed me after his find, and offered the same as I wrote above. We were friends from then on. It impressed me that he took the time to contact me and offer.

    By doing that, he instilled in me a habit, want, need to help others in our hobby. And I will continue to do so.

    I don’t think there should be a limit imposed upon new cachers. It’s not how many you’ve found, it’s the creativity and common sense of the cacher that really brings out the hide. Trespassing is wrong whether you’re a cacher or not. That’s the common sense part. Don’t put other cachers in danger whether it’s legally or physically.

    Like Uncle Red said, “We’re all in this together. I’m pulling for ya!”

    1. Cumbyrocks

      It is amazing how the cacher culture differs from area to area. We are very lucky here in Dunedin to have a fantastic group of friendly and helpful cachers to help others when they need it. However it seems there are some places in the world where the cachers are less than friendly or where one or two leading cachers heavily dominate everyone else. A result of a less than friendly response is that some new cachers are put off the game entirely and return. A more robust method for getting cachers to meet up and talk about their placements would probably be a very good thing…maybe the new geocaching social function Groundspeak are looking to introduce soon will be just that!?

      1. SSeegars

        Maybe we should be more forward thinking about it ourselves. Some kind of Big Brother program where you hook up with the new cacher in your area? Perhaps an assignment of sorts by Groundspeak? Completely voluntary of course!

  5. Bunglebees

    Mr. Ulmer wouldnt have been able to place his cache. Bad caches do go away and people learn from them, not just the person that placed it.

  6. Lone R

    What about the 3 month wait? Even a 2 month wait would probably discourage a number of fly-by-nighters who are just testing things out without committing to the pastime.

    However, there’s something about a CO that won’t fully participate in geocaching (which includes finding a few caches) that strikes me as worrisome. They might not have a gps unit so can’t find caches. Which means they are probably using online maps to get coords. Or they may not enjoy finding caches which worries me that it might also turn out that they don’t enjoy the responsibility of caring for a cache. Or maybe they are not mobile enough to find caches, which could mean they are not mobile enough to maintain caches in a timely fashion.

    BTW, I like the quiz suggestion for first time COs. I think it would be a good method to try first. If it proves to be insufficient, I’d like to see at least a 2 month wait period before posting a cache.

  7. GSVNoFixedAbode

    I’d like to see maybe a couple of weeks between registration and first cache placement. Otherwise, the # of caches found doesn’t usually correspond to how good or otherwise their first placement is. It’s more about the types of caches they’ve found in their local area. The buddy idea is also a good one.

  8. Hols1982

    As a relatively new-er cacher (just started this year), after finding about 25 hides of different types I was excited to go out and try out my own hide. This was “adding to the game” and being a newbie, I wanted to try! From hiding our own caches (and puzzle caches), we learnt a lot about the rules of geocaching and the finesse that it requires. If we had waited until 50 caches, I’m not sure that we would have had the same experience; although from finding some of the noob caches I can understand in a way too.

    During this time, my caching partner and I found an Earth Cache – we had downloaded into our GPSr. We didn’t realize that an Earth cache required a picture, dutifully filled out the questions & sent them in. The owner emailed us not allowing us to post without a picture “proving’ we had been there. That was our first encounter with other people in the community and it wasn’t entirely positive. We didn’t know this person and therefore did not know how to take her criticism/tone. (We have become friends since this incident!)

  9. JR

    I find trouble with geocachers who put out caches and do not now how to get accurate coordinates. I do not know if they are using a smart phone that is getting its coordinates off of cell towers or they do not know how to average coordinates.
    Our first cache we placed a month after we started and the location was one we drove by daily. I think they should start simple and something they can and are willing to maintain!

    1. SSeegars

      Simple is always better. I think that’s a great idea, although I have seen some pretty awesome caches from first time hiders.

  10. Aranea

    What I love about this game, is that it is not regulated to death and the rules are simple.
    I would like to see it stay that way.
    If a 1st timer places a cache, that is not “according to the rules” it doesn’t take long for “us” to clue them in, a learning curve, if you will for the newbie AND it makes the find much more interesting!
    The old teaching the young, nothing wrong with that!
    Keep on caching and having fun!!! 🙂

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