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Proof It’s Not About The Numbers

Here at It’s Not About The Numbers we’ve always maintained that geocaching was, well, not about the numbers. And now we have proof to back up what we’ve all known all along.

Geocaching blog, PROGEOCACHING – whose tag-line is ‘improving the quality of geocaching’ – has surveyed 1000 people to “understand what people like and dislike about the pastime, and get their thoughts on what things are missing”.

And the results are very interesting.

One of the questions asked was “Why do you do geocaching?“. The top four reasons, in order, were:

  1. Experiences I have and places I go
  2. To go hiking with a goal at the end
  3. For the thrill of chase and the sense of achievement
  4. It helps me to get exercise

Also clear from the results was that one of the reasons we geocache is because we love technology.

Interestingly, the responses that it was all about the numbers and for the enjoyment of competing with others came 10th and 11th respectively. This interests me because I assumed they would rank higher, especially as to some extent we all enjoy the numbers. Possibly the question wording focused on identifying the percentage of people for whom it’s all about the numbers (and it’s quite small really!).

Another question asked cachers “What are some of the things that you DO like about caches that you’ve done?“. This produced the following top 10:

  1. They go to places that they would not have otherwise;
  2. Scenic locations;
  3. Historical/educational/interesting caches;
  4. Well maintained caches;
  5. Large containers;
  6. Clever/Creative containers or hides;
  7. Good contents;
  8. Caches with some challenge (intellectual or physical) – but not too much;
  9. Accurate co-ordinates;
  10. Puzzle caches.

I found it interesting to see good contents up there at #7. To me it suggests that while cachers do not do a lot in the way of trading anymore, they still highly appreciate there being quality contents. Those people who think that a container and logbook is all that is required these days should think again!

Obviously, the next question was “What are some of the things that you DON’T like about the caches that you’ve done?“. This produced the following top 10:

  1. UNINTERESTING LOCATIONS
  2. MICROS AND NANOS
  3. CACHES THAT TOO EASY
  4. CACHES THAT ARE POINTLESS
  5. JUNK CONTENTS
  6. POORLY MAINTAINED (e.g. soggy logbooks)
  7. POOR CONTAINERS
  8. INACCURATE CO-ORDS
  9. TOO PUBLIC (too many muggles)
  10. PLACED IN INACCESSIBLE PLACES

The results are not surprising and it is again clear that cachers do not like pointless caches or ones placed wherever there happens to be an available space.

But perhaps the question with the most surprising results was to “Do you think the quality of the caches is getting worse, improving or … ?“.

From the responses, it would appear that few think the quality is improving and equal numbers think the quality is getting worse or not changing.

There was also a large number who didn’t know if the quality was changing and it was suggested that this was due to the large number of people who haven’t been in the game long.

The results to this question have really got me wondering as I was of the impression that the standard had generally been getting worse, particularly in comparison with the top ten things people like about caches.

Of course, this question does not tell us whether the quality of the caches is acceptable or not. It may well be that the general quality of the caches has always been poor and therefore things are not changing!

Overall, I think the two important things to take away from the survey are that people like and want quality caches, and that GEOCACHING IS NOT ABOUT THE NUMBERS!!! 🙂

And these results are useful for the site who ran the survey – PROGEOCACHING – who say the ‘Pro’ in their name is “about having an attitude that says “I care” about the quality of my work and that I want to give people a great experience when they find one of my caches“.

Andrew George (GC handle: Sky Dog) who authors PROGEOCACHING, writes that the aim of the site “is to seek to improve skills and attitudes toward geocaching and to help people to understand that it’s not about finding plastic boxes in the outdoors. It’s about voyages of discovery and having great experiences that enrich our lives“.

Clearly, Sky Dog and PROGEOCACHING share similar philosophies to those of us here at It’s Not About The Numbers. If you have a few minutes make sure you check out the site!

*Is the quality of caches getting worse or has it always been poor? Have your say in the comments below!
Note: All images reproduced with permission.

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  1. Eddie

    This is something I’ve pondered for a while, as it’s so easy to talk about the ‘good old days’ (which for us was only 2007!) in all sorts of ways, geocaching included.

    I’ve dug up some old words I used in the GeocachingAustralia forums a while back around this very issue:

    “First off, yes, I reckon there are more very ordinary caches out there now than when we started. But then, there are way more caches full stop – so of course there will be more bad ones. And with the phone apps we’re seeing a lot more new and casual cachers, so it’s understandable that the dodgy % will increase. But is it really that bad?

    I have some vague, unproven theories that perhaps we’ll always feel that things were better ‘in the old days’. Firstly because I think we all were more impressed with hides when we were new. I look back on my early finds and I was thrilled at almost any hide, whereas now I find myself fussier and more critical. “Oh, another sistema crammed in a tree. How unimaginative”, I say – when my first find was such a hide and I was delighted (thanks Geodes!). So it’s not the caches getting worse, it’s my expectations getting higher simpler because I’ve done so many of the same kind. That’s my problem, not the cache hiders responsibility.

    I also reckon (again, unproven) that the crap caches come and go, so they are always going to seem to be the ‘newer’ ones. We all see the unimaginative, badly placed micros. But when I see one published I know it’s probably not going to be around for long. It’ll get lost, damaged, and the owner will probably lose interest or just not bother maintaining . In which case eventually (and we won’t go into the archiving discussion here) it will disappear… So in that sense, there’s probably been a fair number of dodgy micros and other caches in the past but since they are no longer around, most of what we see in the past is ‘quality’ caches. Time has cleaned the database of the chaff. I hope that will continue to happen so when we look back at caches placed in 2010 all we’ll see is the better ones. Again, this is perhaps an inevitable process that we just need to accept.”

    (Apologies for the length – and there’s more! – http://forum.geocaching.com.au/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=15243&start=0)

  2. Carolynn Langley on Facebook

    its funny how the finder ‘s perception of caches changes …i was so pleased to find a 35mm cannister …. now i hate them.. caches are getting more inovative as time goes by which keeps you on your toes……. btw should reach 5600 finds by today..

  3. Andrew George

    The survey was interesting but not surprising. Since doing that survey I have spoken to lots of geocachers who feel the same way. I spoke to a group in Indiana who said that the way they improve the quality of caches is to hold events and develop a community.

    This not only helps newbies to learn from more experienced geocachers, but it also gives accountability. There is an expectation that everyone will hide quality caches and maintain them properly.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. Keith Mack

      As a newbe I think this is a great idea. We need to learn from our peers and see what quality caches are and all the different types that can be produced. I already try to avoid ones at busy places and mail box ones, etc. Maybe we should need to find a couple hundred before hiding any. It is great when they take you to some pace you have not been or teach you something.

  4. Jon

    i think bad caching has been since caching spread 10 years ago. amazingly, some of those bad caches from 8-10 years ago are being partially maintained by the community. there are caches full of rocks, dirt, sticks, pulped logbooks, etc. that gets a minor amount of TLC maybe one time a year or if some “newbie” reports it. i’ve seen some that have the triple threat of having bad coordinates too. no one ever says anything… why? fear of retribution.

  5. robnzh

    Now there are caches that encourage caching being all about the numbers- e.g. one that needs you to cache every day of the year- despite family, work and other things that should be attended to in life! I wonder how many divorces and separations will result…

  1. Waypoints — August 6th, 2011 : GPS Enviro Rides

    […] I’m not the only one who doesn’t like micros and nanos; of course I’ve got a preschoolers who loves trading […]

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