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GeoPolice Academy: Only power-trippers need apply

If you haven’t noticed the little tab on the left-hand side of the screen at Geocaching.com then you should really take a look. This is the feedback forum, the place where geocachers get to suggest ideas, comment on them and vote for the ones they like. It is an excellent system and allows you to be involved in the geocaching.com community.

It’s a system that seems to be working well with 61 ideas already completed and another 64 either in consideration or planned for the future. With over 1200 ideas it is clear geocachers are having their say.

But as with any situation where general public comment is encouraged you come up with some crack pot ideas. Whilst looking through the feedback forum today I stumbled across the most crack pot idea yet: the volunteer “Cache Police”.

The suggested idea is to:

Allow geocachers to volunteer to be “cache police”. The “police” go caching like they normally do and report caches which violate the guidelines.

It is fortunate that the majority of geocachers contributing to the feedback forum are wise and understanding souls as there is currently not a lot of support for this idea, either in votes or comments. The argument for the idea is that it would introduce cachers who had responsibility for reporting caches violating guidelines, removing the burden from the everyday cacher and avoiding the introduction of the self-appointed cache cop who sends everyone insane by vomiting up Needs Archived notes all over the place and creating disharmony.

Now I’m all for getting rid of the arrogant, self-righteous and all knowing  so-and-so’s who don’t know how to be nice and do things in a polite and friendly way (I’m sure these people weren’t loved enough as children!). But that’s just a dream really (in which they are all shipped off to a listing service that will not be named…come to think of it I think many may have migrated there already).

But the idea of volunteer GeoCop’s is inherently flawed and here’s why:

1. The ranks would be teeming with power-trippers.

It is highly likely that those people who would volunteer for this kind of work are the nit-picky rule lovers who want to enforce their will and establish their dominance over the rest of us. It would be like having hundreds of Monica’s running around telling everyone what to do. So much disharmony would be created in the community and there would be so much animosity towards the cache cops there would be a revolt. I know I would intentionally start breaking the rules if some know-it-all was telling me what to do. Fight the man!

2. Currently we all have responsibility for what happens in the geocaching community

We do, so get over it. Anyone who is a fan of the cache cop concept is a responsibility shirker who is trying to pass the buck. The world is not perfect and it never will be. More rules and cops everywhere won’t make it a better place – it’ll just make us all miserable. How are people supposed to learn to do things the right way if someone else is doing it for them? And by passing the buck to cache cops we would be giving up the power to be involved in our community and contribute.

3. If the systems not broke don’t fix it

Exactly what is wrong with the arrangements already in place? There are a number of avenues to resolve issues (private contact, reviewer contact, a Needs Archived note) that generally get the job done. One commenter suggested this idea would be a solution to the self-appointed cache cop driving everyone crazy. Unfortunately it wouldn’t and you can’t introduce a worldwide policing programme simply because the odd random cacher is a hardcore rules freak without a personality (the ones with a personality are okay with me 😉 ). The real problem there is the difficult cacher, not the need to enforce rules.

One of the spin-off suggestions was an anonymous ‘Report a Violation’ page. I’m pleased to report that this is yet to gain any traction. Can you imagine the extra work this would create for the already overworked volunteer reviewers? It would be a nightmare. Giving this tool to the hardcore and personality absent rules freak would be like putting them on steroids. There would be no end to the trauma dished out as reports fly in from cachers complaining about every cache they don’t like, or better yet, every cache they couldn’t find so they have declared it missing.

And before you ask, yes I did have my say in the comments section of the policing idea and I’ve copied it here to save you some time:

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Every person taking part in the geocaching ‘game’ needs to take responsibility and have involvement in this community. As much as people would like to consider themselves completely independent from it they are not – we are all part of it. Therefore every cacher has the responsibility to act appropriately to resolve issues. As with everything else in life there will be people who haven’t learnt how to do this without creating conflict and those who haven’t yet learnt to do this at all. What we can’t do is pass the buck to the volunteer power trippers and overload the system with bureaucratic nonsense. What is in place now actually works and people need to accept that nothing can ever be perfect. Just say NO to Geocops!

Fortunately there are a huge number of good ideas in the feedback section – take a look, cast your vote and have your say!

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