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Geocache Spoilers Banned No More

He’s been called geocaching’s own David taking on the Goliath that is Groundspeak …

And now that his battle is over, Britain’s Steve Love can return to his favourite  game while still posting the video logs that got him in trouble.

Late last month, the creator of popular YouTube channel Geocache Spoilers was banned from Geocaching.com over two complaints from other players in his home county of East Midlands. The listing service initially contacted Love (GC handle: Sven.) asking him to remove clips that it deemed were spoiling specific hides in the area. When he refused, a 30-day ban was imposed.

Love wouldn’t back down, though, maintaining that he had never contravened GC.com’s terms of use. Hundreds of players worldwide agreed with him, petitioning Groundspeak for his reinstatement on the company’s feedback forum – an issue that was subsequently rejected by community relations manager Sandy Barker.

But, as of this week, the video logger has apparently done his time in Groundspeak’s eyes and is more than willing to tell It’s Not About The Numbers of his crime.

He’s pleased to no longer be banned but said its reversal was a little confusing.

“A week ago Groundspeak phoned me and said that their legal chap was back from vacation. I was waiting for clarification on the terms and conditions (which anyone with school-level English could read that spoilers were fine, off Groundspeak properties). He had looked over section 4(m) and confirmed that I hadn’t broken any terms.

“They offered me additional premium membership time added [to my account] and I would be unbanned BUT said they would be changing the terms to say ‘spoilers’ are a no-no. And if I then didn’t remove the content, I would be banned again.

“So, I did nothing wrong; I was banned; the goalposts were then being moved and I’d be banned if I didn’t adhere. Whilst it was detrimental to my caching experience, I stuck to my guns on principle and the ban then became indefinite.

 “Then [on November 10th], out of the blue, another phonecall to indicate they’d changed their mind. So now I’m unbanned.”

Not that either the 30-day ban or threat an indefinate punishment would have stopped him, he says. “I was going to keep on posting videos regardless as I don’t see them as spoilers or as any detriment to anyone. I have uploads stacked up in YouTube’s scheduler. Every other day at 17.00 GMT they go live from now until the New Year.

“Problem is as I film more and more inventive caches I have to travel further and further, so my blog will unfortunately have finite content.”

He points out that while Groundspeak repeatedly asked him “to remove content from YouTube”, the company never requested that he “change how I make videos or any aspect of the content”.

Even so, Love says he’s very grateful for all the help from his fans over the last three weeks. “I’ve had lots of support on my channel from the people that watch my videos. There was a ‘petition’ with Groundspeak which reached over 500 signatures until it was rejected by Sandy [Barker]. I had many people offer to do me pocket queries and a couple of people even offered me their GC.com passwords!”

 Yet he does admit to still being surprised that the issue ever occurred. “There does seem to be a surprisingly large element of the community that assumes I’m solving really hard puzzle caches and posting all the information about them, including the solution.

 “This isn’t the case at all. Most bizarrely, the videos have been most welcomed by the local community (besides two people). The local forums are awash with praise and support, which I find most baffling. I never intended or wanted them to even see them, thinking that ‘they’ would have been the ones to complain.

 “It’s a funny business this geocaching malarky. I think the problem is often the community with unrealistic expectations. I don’t blame Groundspeak; I blame a tiny, small-minded part of the community.

“Groundspeak are just trying to keep everyone happy, but I think they’d have to employ 10 people just to keep up with all the people that think someone taking a photo in the same county is a spoiler!”

* Where do you stand on this subject? Let us know below.

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5 comments

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  1. Bryan Roth

    A summary from our perspective:
    In response to a significant number of requests in uservoice, we agreed to help cache owners by banning spoilers. To the apparent satisfaction of this group of users, we presented a modified version of the Terms of Use which, we believe, covered both internal and external sites.
    After receiving cache owner complaints regarding this user’s videos, we requested that he honor the cache owner’s wishes and remove specific videos. When he said no, we attempted to change his stance by warning him and, after no change, subsequently banned his account for thirty days.
    Regardless of whether the TOU actually covered non-geocaching.com sites (there is some disagreement here and a formal legal determination would now be irrelevant), we still believe that publishing cache spoilers without the cache owner’s permission is wrong and demonstrates poor geocaching form. However, we agree that the definition of a spoiler is subject to interpretation.
    Nevertheless, after review of the effort and resources required to address this individual incident, we decided that Groundspeak simply could not afford to spend resources trying to protect cache owners on any site except geocaching.com, and that cache owners would have to enforce their own rights when it came to other sites like YouTube, independent blogs, etc. The Terms of Use section has been revised to more clearly indicate our policy.
    We will continue to do what we can to prevent unwanted spoilers on geocaching.com. All things considered, we believe that this is the best approach for Groundspeak and the best use of available resources.

    1. GeoLeaks

      Bryan Roth wrote:

      In response to a significant number of requests in uservoice, we agreed to help cache owners by banning spoilers. To the apparent satisfaction of this group of users, we presented a modified version of the Terms of Use which, we believe, covered both internal and external sites.

      Bryan, how can an external organisation (gc) determine the terms of use of other parties, e.g. GeoLeaks and others, which are located outside the US and having Freedom of Speach? GC can make their own internal rules but can never make rules for third parties. Just accept that as a given fact.

  2. JR and Juju

    I don’t have a problem the videos. But if the cache owner wants them removed than they should be removed. I do not know what I would do if a video was posted about one of our hides. JR

  3. rhr_nl

    Good to see Geocaching spoilers back in action!

  4. Alan

    Mixed feelings on this one. I think it’s a toss up between free speech and protecting the game. At the end of the day, as a cache owner, there’ll always be people who won’t abide by the spirit of your cache – whether it’s tagging along as part of a large party and ticking off a difficult cache without any effort, copying puzzle answers from another cacher, or bending the rules in some other way. Personally I dont think you should let it detract anything from the game for yourself.

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