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The Madness Begins: Peer Review has come to Opencaching.com

An interesting development at Opencaching.com today as they announced the introduction of a peer review system for geocache placement.

Newly created caches will spend 12 hours at http://www.opencaching.com/#review before they make it to the rest of the site. On this review page, anyone with an account will be able to vote on the caches, answering the question “Is this geocache following the guidelines?”

Allowing geocachers to vote on caches before they are published is an interesting concept that I am not entirely sure about. On one side it is great to have the power in the hands of the people, on the other it leaves things open to some serious abuse. I can just see a group of cachers ganging up on another and denying all of their caches. You are reliant on keeping all those around you on your side to ensure your caches go through. And before anyone comments to the contrary – yes, there really are people that petty in the world…even amongst geocachers!

Yes votes score as +1, No votes count as -3. After 12 hours, if the cache has a positive score, it gets published.

So if you want to publish a cache that falls outside of the guidelines just get all your mates to vote for it. The scoring system all reinforces the issue I outlined above.

Again, we want the power in the people’s hands. And as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility. In this case, experienced cachers have a chance to teach newcomers the best ways to create and place a cache. So please use the space for comments to explain your vote and offer constructive advice for placing the next cache (maybe even by remembering similar missteps from early caches back in the day). Or, if there’s something in particular you really like about a cache that you’re voting Yes on, let the cache owner know.

Now this philosophy is something I do like. I’m just not sure that the pros of the system will outweigh the cons.

It was also interesting to read:

we’ve also had a lot of questions. Some of those questions have answers. Who is that funny blue guy running around the site? (Opie) How much does it cost to take part? (nothing) Can I use your logo to create and sell merchandise? (please do) And some of those questions are still unanswered, because we’re counting on the community to come up with them.

Clearly there will more consulting (and surprises) to come in the coming months. This announcement today is clearly drawing a big distinction between geocaching.com and opencaching.com. I would assume it is to attract those disgruntled with the reviewing system at geocaching.com or those who like to stick their oar in (like me!).

An already interesting example from the two caches available to vote on in the review section is Abzweigung by eltownsven. At the time I looked at it 12 people had voted. Ten had given positive one point votes and two had given -3 votes for a total score of…4 points. Only one person had bothered to give an explanation for how they voted. Geopup voted against the cache because

I can’t tell do to the fact I cant read It and is to far away to check on

It is worth pointing out the cache description was in German but a sane person would refrain from voting rather than vote against. Even a brief foray into Google Translate would have been the respectful thing to do. It’s this kind of petty silliness that worries me about peer review. Especially as the grammar and spelling would suggest english is not Geopup’s first language as well. 😛

But the fact that the publishing of this cache is jeopardised by petty stupidity is outstanding. I took my own advice and translated the cache description;

small cache on the Rhine.

The cache is convenient to reach by car, directly on the Rhine near the swimming pool. You are 200 parking spaces, but it is nice along the Rhine promenade and the towpath to get to the cache.

Was founded in Eltville pool 1958th

The swimming pool is idyllically situated on the banks of the Rhine and surrounded by greenery and with its large trees in high summer, many shady and secluded Plätzchen.Es of 25,000 square meters of lawn with a chestnut avenue available. You have the option of shipping operations at the current observed at rest.

Here again begins the towpath towards Erbach. Find more information about this in their cache Rheingaunopoly # 02 or on the towpath, passing through the cache between Eltville and Walluf Rheiner. The former, you can bike or on foot, passing through on the edge, past the pool to reach.

The muggles in summer is extremely high, especially when swimming weather, then you should not look for the cache, perhaps, or the same link with a swimming pool visit.

From this description and the other cache details I can see no reason to vote against it. Whilst I don’t intend on being a peer reviewer I felt obliged to give this cache a positive vote to try and counter the negative ones.

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  1. Captain Caveman

    So, let me get this straight. Before a new cache will be published on OpenCaching.com, it will be published on OpenCaching.com. But, and this is the clever part, it will be published in a special, secret corner of the site, available only to people who can find the “Review” link at the bottom of the page.

    This will then display a list of all the brand-new caches close to you, *complete with their coordinates*. And Garmin really expects people to wait 12 hours before rushing out for the FTF?

    Your post also has a typo. You wrote:
    “So if you want to publish a cache that falls outside of the guidelines just get all your mates to vote for it.”
    The word “mates” should, of course, read “sock puppets”.

    What color is the sky on Planet Garmin? It seems like all the blue went into the squirrel.

    1. Cumbyrocks

      I hadn’t considered it until I saw GSV make the comment on the NZ GPS forums that it would be easy for someone to place a cache in a restricted area and then create 10 or more bogus accounts to vote for the cache. The whole process is quite preposterous.

  2. Mulvaney

    Interesting system, but I don’t know whether a group of peers is going to know enough about the caching policies in my area to determine if a cache is within guidelines. We have some very intricate boundaries between lands where caching is permitted and places where it is not; specific land use policies (including some agencies that require caches to be listed with grounfspeak); and other sensitive locations.

    Things can slip by groundspeak but the average peer reviewer would be hopelessly lost.

    1. firennice

      True. Wilderness, reservations, some park systems, military bases. the maps they are using, often do not show those.

  3. firennice

    One other thing to think about..
    On geocaching.com the reviewers see the final coordinates of puzzles. Someone could place a final of a puzzle and no one could tell. The peer review does not show the actual final. So the cache owner could have it in a completely stupid place.. the peer review doesn’t solve the puzzle and you have issues,

  1. Opencaching.com review process changes » Its Not About The Numbers

    […] A couple of days ago opencaching.com quietly posted some changes to the opencaching.com review process. If you’re not familiar with the opencaching.com peer review process you can check out my post on it. […]

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