Virtually a reality

I noted from a post at Freekachers that geocaching.com have announced they plan to bring back virtuals. The announcement is found in the feedback section of the geocaching.com site in the request titled ‘Bring Back Virtuals’. It reads:

Bring ’em back. Virtuals and Waymarks simply aren’t the same, I don’t care how much you try to force the square peg into the round hole. Put controls and criteria in place and let us police them as with regular caches. If a plethroa of lame micros are OK, what’s so wrong about a few lame virts squeaking through? If you don’t like ’em, don’t do ’em. by Semper Questio

Status: planned

We have a basic draft of the functionality complete and are trying to schedule the development of the concept along with other projects like maps, statistics, API and favorites. Our hope is to get something out by spring. Fingers crossed.


This has me slightly concerned as I am not traditionally a fan of virtuals. I have vaguely enjoyed the few I have done but always thought they seemed like the lazy way of making a cache. All the sites I have visited could easily have taken a real cache and fortunately some geocachers had decided to place real caches after the virtual was in place. For me they don’t quite seem to fit into the geocaching environment, much like wearing white socks with black pants and shoes.

The whole issue is compounded for me by the fact I can’t ignore a cache in my vicinity. I wish I could as it has meant I have done a few truly horrible caches. The plus side is it has pushed me to complete some of the harder ones and they have been the caches I enjoyed the most. But I am concerned I will be trotting off to complete a bunch of ‘nothing’ caches. The point above about their being a bunch of lame micros is valid but from my perspective at least there is something to find. If a spot is pretty or worth seeing then stick something there, or nearby, to find and lead people there that way.

Of course I’m sure Groundspeak will be carefully considering how to implement virtuals. From what I can tell of their history people got sick of virtuals popping up all over the place and it detracted from traditional geocaching. I would think this is the first thing Groundspeak will want to protect and as such I hope there are some pretty strict rules surrounding the placement of virtuals. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with as I have an odd feeling they could surprise in a good way.

As always with a large and diverse bunch of people it will be hard to please everyone – so good luck Groundspeak!

This is my own biased and probably short-sighted, uneducated opinion. Feel free to enlighten me in the comments as to yours…


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  1. CraigRat

    The thing that will interest me is how they will get around their own reasonably recent ruling on additional Log Requirements (ALR’s)…………. most virts require you to do SOMETHING to prove you went there to get your smiley

    Virtuals have a place, especially in areas where traditional geocaching is banned. They are still a VERY popular type on other sites.

  2. Jr and Juju

    I have put mystery/puzzle caches where a virtual could go.
    I hope not to see a virtual at the same location as a mystery/puzzle cache. The reviewer has allowed me to place a mystery/puzzle(waypoint) closer than 1/10 mi. of a traditional cache. He told me it was OK since this was only a waypoint and did not have a container.
    This could also reduce “armchair geocaching”.

  3. SSeegars

    I think they have their place in geocaching. They were here when I started and you can call me whatever you want, but I didn’t like the change. Waymarking, I feel, was just weak. I never felt the urge to go out and find one. As a matter of fact I saw in Waymarking a lot of the bad that virts turned into. McDonalds, gas stations, post offices, come on! Just not fun or interesting. A lot of the virts I’ve done have taken me to historical locations where you couldn’t put a traditional cache. As for the ALR, they could be handled just as they are with Earthcaches something else we throughly enjoy as a family. The questions have to be answered to log the cache. I look at Wherigo the same as I do Virts and EC’s. While they may not be a necessary addition to geocaching, they are fun for a large percentage of the community. And I say this as nice as possible cause I like ya Pete! If you don’t like ’em, don’t hunt ’em.

    1. Cumbyrocks

      It’s not so much that I don’t like them, but rather that I’m not a big fan. In principle I like the concept of virtuals but have concerns about the reintroduction of something that may dirty the geocaching waters. Of course lame micros have dirtied the waters but that doesn’t mean we have to open the door to everything that will muddy things up. I am geocaching purist so anything beyond the traditional stuck in the woods is not going to cut it. Doesn’t mean I won’t do them…I’m far too addicted for that!

  4. SSeegars

    Oh well I guess I’m a bit of a caching whore, I do them all. Depends on my mood and who I am with. I try to do something really special on the first day of the year, but after that all bets are off.

  5. Guwapo's Papa

    I think there is a valid place for virtuals but there is certainly the potential for them to cloud or crowd for that matter the traditional caching scene. One type of place where they would provide a useful alternative is where there is a high likelyhood of being muggled. We were fortunate enough to cache in the Phillipines in 2010 and the majority of the finds were virtuals. Physical caches just would not stand the test of time and I’m quite sure there are other places that are similar.

  6. Jr and Juju

    We enjoy virtual caches and the history/education they provide. Waymarking.com just does not do that.
    The best example I can think of for a virtual is “Trinity site” (GC22C0) It is at the site of the first Nuclear explosion. It is archived now( the owner past away). This is a locked missile range and only open to the public twice a year. Impossible to place or maintain a container here.
    Maybe they will place webcams back in geocaching.com.

  7. GSV

    Virtuals started out as interesting spots where a physical container couldn’t be placed. We’ve got puzzles and multis to solve that now and they still get the cacher to the interesting spot that the cache is showing off.
    Lazy cacher placers, by that I mean those who did not take or have the time to create a physical cache muddied the waters of virtuals and could never pass the “WOW” test; hence they were put on hold then no longer published. Today many of those are cheap micros. They’d make good Waypoints, if Waypoints hadn’t been filled with spots not worth visiting.

    Personally, I can’t see any reason to bring them back to GeoCACHING. Sure, start a GeoLOGGING site – that’d be cool, but a cache by definition, has content.
    Oh, and virtuals give landowners the excuse to ban physical caches – not good!

  8. Ericksob

    Virtuals have made my caching experience far richer than it would have otherwise been. Many of my favorite of the favorites are virtuals and earthcaches. And if they return it may open up large areas near where I live that will not permit traditional caching within my lifetime. Still, the interesting thing to me is that Jeremy has said he hopes to find a way to make both camps happy. That seems like a task virtually guaranteed to be difficult.

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