Welcome to: Opencaching.UK

With the introduction of opencaching.com last year there was a lot of talk about geocache listing services. One of the things we noticed was that there wasn’t much of a focus on what the other listing services were and what they offered. In an attempt to rectify this we have invited the other listing services to write a guest post on It’s Not About The Numbers. In this guest post we welcome Andy (Amberel) and Paul (Lord Darcy) from Opencaching.UK:

Thanks for your invitation to describe OpenCaching.org.uk.

OpenCaching UK is one of several loosely associated open cache listing sites around the world. It was started in August 2009 by Paul Hutchinson, and immediately attracted cachers who already were familiar with sites such as TerraCaching and NaviCaching. It has grown slowly but steadily since then, and widened its user base to include many who previously would not have considered using sites other than Groundspeak.

There were several reasons for starting OpenCaching UK.

One was to be a non-commercial UK alternative to Groundspeak, who at that time were close to being a cache listing monopoly in the UK, but whos primary responsibility must be to their shareholders. While the interests of cachers will frequently coincide with those of the shareholders, it was felt that some diversity was desirable, as was a listing site with the interests of cachers paramount. It should be emphasised that the great majority of UK OpenCachers enthusiastically support Groundspeak and believe they are generally doing a good job, while recognising the benefits of an alternative.

A further motive for starting OpenCaching was the desirability of a local site, recognising the interests of UK cachers, rather than conforming to “one size fits all the world”. OpenCaching has few restrictions and is responsive to feedback.

It was also recognised that, for many OpenCachers, it really is “not about the numbers”. The modern trend towards “numbers caching” appears to be linked to a growing number of poor quality caches, with little thought or effort having been put into their placement. It is hoped that OpenCaching will continue to avoid caches that have little merit other than being “one more smiley”.

Membership of OpenCaching UK is free – there is no premium to use features such as stored queries.

Caches can be searched for by a range of criteria such as name, distance, city, cache owner, size, difficulty, rating, attributes, etc. There is no limit on the number of caches returned by the search, and search criteria may be saved for future use.

An alternative to using the query system is to browse maps showing the location of caches, with a range of filter options to control which caches are shown.

The web site offers personal and group statistics, and many other features that make it more rewarding to use.

OpenCaching UK has 2 distinct cache rating systems. Each cache may be rated from “poor” to “excellent”, and finders may “recommend” one cache for each ten found.

OpenCaching is run by an annually elected committee of four members. The first three caches hidden by an OpenCacher are reviewed by the committee. If it is apparent that the cacher understands the guidelines, they are trusted to use their common sense and responsibility when placing caches.

Cross listing is not prohibited, but is discouraged.

We have on the whole welcomed the recent launch of the Garmin OpenCaching site. We are disappointed that they chose to use the OpenCaching name, both for the confusion it is bound to cause and because a commercial site is unlikely to be truly “open”. We also feel that their policy of aggressively encouraging cross-listing is a short term tactic that will not work well in the longer term.

Thanks again for the opportunity to introduce ourselves.

Thanks Paul and Andy!

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