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Alternative Caching Sites and the Future of Geocaching
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s4xton
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 23 Mar 2003

Posts: 1070

PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2004 2:24 pm    Post subject: Alternative Caching Sites and the Future of Geocaching Reply with quote

I wanted to get some thoughts about this, and share some sites if you're unfamiliar.

If you've been around geocaching.com longer than I have, or have read Scout's excellent The History of Geocaching, you'll understand, in my opinion, for the need of an open geocaching system where the control is decentralized, or at least is more open.

I've ranted about this before in this thread, and other people have talked about "get[ting] out of geocaching.com" as well.

Now that a few months have gone by, a lot has happened. Frozen132, the guy who originally got me into geocaching, started up his own gig which is just barely off the ground, ‹bercache. The idea there is to have caches that are a bit more complicated, involved, and generally physically more difficult than standard multi-caches on geocaching.com. Frozen132 wanted to avoid the whole approval process and geocaching.com politics, and has succeeded, although right now he's on his own island and the site isn't fleshed out yet (i.e. can't log yet).

A friend of ours, Radix, was inspired to create Keyori, which is the beginnings of an open system for caches, and ultimately other location-specific information. The interface will eventually be redesigned, and it only has rudimentary features at this point, but the underlying back-end is designed from the ground-up to support syndicates to share the data... almost as if he was thinking the exact same thing when I was writing my rant I posted above. It's certainly a work in progress, but I believe there is huge potential.

Silent Bob pointed us to opencaching.com which seems to have almost the exact same goals as Radix and I. We've visited their system, and they've visited ours today, and there's potential that there'll be a combined effort. There are some major differences yet, but we'll see. Either way, our goals are almost the same.

Also interesting, is gpsvisualizer.com which takes cache mapping to the next level -- big time. It seems as if their goals are not that different -- to make cache information available (in their case, mapping), the way the community wants it, and open to how the individual wants it. They've even just recently optimized their parser to handle Keyori's files.

Before, Navicache has been the only viable alternative to cache information, but development hasn't seemed to continue on it for a long time, and the interface is also very unappealing for most users. Now that these new efforts are springing up, and in my dream world they'd all continue to be open and compatible with each other, hopefully we won't have to have a scenario where you have to scrape data from a central site that doesn't allow it's database to be shared. Currently, to get any data in a form that's different than how Groundspeak wants to deliver it, you have to scrape information off using tools such as RickRich's excellent MNGCA Maps, Statistics, and Software and Buxley's Geocaching Waypoint.

If opencaching.com and/or Keyori take off, all their caching data will likely be available in any form anyone would want it in the long run... and when more people support it, more administrators will syndicate the data. In the end, this would be the open alternative to geocaching.com. People can start up their own geocaching sites with the same shared data. My idea, in the long term, is that it could potentially become the main place to store cache information, instead of geocaching.com, assuming geocaching.com isn't interested in sharing their data, as history would suggest.

Of course, there are new road-blocks, such as how to approve caches, and to maintain the integrity of the data, but work is already being done to figure out how to pull it off already here and other places.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

If anything, check out a few of the sites I mentioned above - most of it is pretty interesting in my opinion.

-Aaron
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towlebooth
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 26 Nov 2002

Posts: 1270

PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2004 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would love to see an open system take off, but I do have some reservations.
I'd hate for geocaching to become an "us vs. them" activity like so many other ones. I also worry about caches being on multiple systems. Will the open systems have admins that will archive caches?

We REALLY need open data, but I guess that I do see the need for admins watching over an approval process. The MnGCA's experience with MN State Parks and various county park systems is a perfect example of this need. Without the promise that rules will be followed many park systems would not be open to caching.

I will be watching the rise of open geocaching with interest and I do hope it works out.
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Moe the Sleaze
Geocacher


Joined: 10 Jan 2003

Posts: 1146

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My own take is that I see no need for alternate sites to stir up divisiveness as will inevitably happen, whether or not that is the intent. I personally have no problems with gc.com that takes away from the fun of this activity for me. I also am not interested in caches that have not been through some sort of approval process and I've expressed my opinion of virtuals before.
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s4xton
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 23 Mar 2003

Posts: 1070

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only way open caching will work, is if there is an approval process that works satisfies both the needs that towlebooth and moe pointed out. I'm for the rivalry unless geocaching.com allows people to have access to the databases, like the original days of geocaching. Again, I do recommend Scout's History of Geocaching as a reference as to why. This should be a free sport, and the information should be free, imho. Also, I don't want to depend on geocaching.com for my information, as it's generally slow when I use it, and it's coded horribly. Only portions of it work on my hiptop (which normally does fine on anything else) and the site even borks in Safari now and then. I could go on, and on, I guess...

Outside of the geocaching.com vs all thing, have any of you tried GPS Visualizer? I've used it twice now as an alternative to the maps on geocaching.com - and I'm hooked.
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

s4xton wrote:
The only way open caching will work, is if there is an approval process that works satisfies both the needs that towlebooth and moe pointed out. I'm for the rivalry unless geocaching.com allows people to have access to the databases, like the original days of geocaching. Again, I do recommend Scout's History of Geocaching as a reference as to why. This should be a free sport, and the information should be free, imho.


The funniest part of it all is that Irish took the original database that was available and made his own for-profit website from that yet won't allow people to make other FREE websites from that same data. That's my problem with it all...

Silent Bob
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Arcticabn
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 30 Nov 2003

Posts: 1846

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be quite honest I didn't know there were any other sites out there. I'm happy with Geocaching.com at the moment. Of course I haven't experienced any other sites. As far as a pay to play site, I would have to say NO WAY. I seriously don't believe that they can make it better then this for the hunts that would make it worth paying to find the site.
Other games may be of an interest but again, I'm happy playing right here (ignorance is bliss I guess). Laughing
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Arcticabn wrote:
To be quite honest I didn't know there were any other sites out there. I'm happy with Geocaching.com at the moment.

While there are other sites out there, none are of the caliber of gc.com. I just don't think that GC.com is playing fair. Fine, you want to profit from gadgets and trinkets and TBs? That's fine. You shouldn't be allowed to profit from the database of data that is filled with coordinates and cache information that you don't own.

Open the data to the public and I am happy.

Silent Bob
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RJ
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 14 Mar 2003

Posts: 326

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The question is not if there'll be a splinter group, but when. I've already logged several caches on navicache.com but as others have mentioned, the website just looks funny and isn't that appealing.

I agree 100 percent with Moe about not having a proper approval process would make for some horrible hunts. Missing caches and illegally placed caches. Not just against the rules of gc.com but against state and national laws. On the flip side, there would be some great hunts too.

As a genuine question what does gc.com not approve now that some people want to see? I think gc.com protects newbies from placing caches next to railroad tracks and under freeway overpasses, which the cache placer would be the one in trouble if there ever was a problem with authorities.

Geocaches are currently banned in National Parks and many other places. Would decentralizing the sport aid or hinder attempts to change some of these rules? IMHO, it would hinder attempts.

On a side note, a couple weeks after I started caching, I found out about travel bugs. I thought, "Hey! What a great idea. I can't wait to make some of my own". And then I found out they were anywhere from $5 to $8 and I was disillusioned about it. Tbugs are way too expensive.

I just recently became an official paying member of gc.com after placing 43 hides and finding over 350 caches so money is not required to play.
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

R.J. wrote:
Geocaches are currently banned in National Parks and many other places. Would decentralizing the sport aid or hinder attempts to change some of these rules? IMHO, it would hinder attempts.

Why? I thought the reason that THIS organization was created was to deal with agencies within Minnesota and promoting geocaching as a positive activity to do in parks. I think that the attempts to contact the national park systems should be done by groups outside of gc.com.

Quote:
I just recently became an official paying member of gc.com after placing 43 hides and finding over 350 caches so money is not required to play.

Correct and they say that it will always be free and that is fine. I want the DATA to be free. Free to get your stats in anyway you wish, (ie rickrich's scripts) format them how you wish, and do with them what you wish. I did the leg work and they're just hosting that work. Should they be able to claim that as theirs? No.

Silent Bob
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RJ
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 14 Mar 2003

Posts: 326

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marsha and Silent Bob wrote:
Why? I thought the reason that THIS organization was created was to deal with agencies within Minnesota and promoting geocaching as a positive activity to do in parks. I think that the attempts to contact the national park systems should be done by groups outside of gc.com.


Don't get me wrong, I like variety and gc.com seems to stifle it sometimes. When a cache that I submitted was not approved but archived with a harsh note, I thought, "Hey, this sucks, why should they tell me what to do." But I adjusted and fell into place, as good or as bad as that may be.

What attempts have been made on a national level to allow geocaching in banned areas? I have no idea. Probably need to go to the big site forums to see that. I'm sure it's a hot topic though.

If I was a national park administrator, I would be more likely to approve caches in national parks if I knew that there was some sort of regulating body overseeing to some degree what was going on.

I don't but does somebody know if you can go onto navicache or other sites and just place caches anywhere? Like in national parks or next to railroads. I've never submitted a cache through those sites but it would be interesting to see.
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Marsha and Silent Bob
Past MnGCA President


Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 6261

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

R.J. wrote:
Don't get me wrong, I like variety and gc.com seems to stifle it sometimes. When a cache that I submitted was not approved but archived with a harsh note, I thought, "Hey, this sucks, why should they tell me what to do." But I adjusted and fell into place, as good or as bad as that may be.

This is the one thing I never thought gc.com did poorly. They approve caches in a seemingly fairly manner. I think you and I had this discussion with Good-Boy at the event.

Quote:
What attempts have been made on a national level to allow geocaching? I have no idea. Probably need to go to the big site forums to see that. I'm sure it's a hot topic though.

I have sworn off reading the gc.com forums. Most of it is worthless drivel and what is worthwhile reading just gets trolled. Maybe someone else could comment?

Quote:
I don't but does somebody know if you can go onto navicache or other sites and just place caches anywhere? Like in national parks or next to railroads. I've never submitted a cache through those sites but it would be interesting to see.

Well they aren't immediately approved? I figured they had to do some sort of checking on them. What do I know.

Silent Bob
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Scout
Geocacher


Joined: 27 Jan 2004

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 2:44 pm    Post subject: http://geocaching.gpsgames.org Reply with quote

Yet another geocaching listing service has been online for a few weeks now. Check out http://geocaching.gpsgames.org . If you're happy with your current service, that's cool. But if you are interested in checking out something new, you'd be welcome. We definitely need some Minnesota caches to hunt. ;-)

Site features:

o Listings for all types of caches -- regular, virtuals,
multis, travelers, hitchhikers, events,
locationless, etc.

o Open and democratic review and archival process

o Secret verification codes to ensure only finders can log finds

o Ability to "ignore" caches you don't want to see,
as well as "watch" caches you do

o Rating system for caches so you can tell at a glance
before you hunt what others thought of each cache.

o Ability to record and report issues with safety, suitability for
children, cache condition, landowner permission, etc.
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rickrich
Geocacher


Joined: 06 Jul 2003

Posts: 673

PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 3:39 pm    Post subject: Re: http://geocaching.gpsgames.org Reply with quote

Scout wrote:
Yet another geocaching listing service has been online for a few weeks now. Check out http://geocaching.gpsgames.org . If you're happy with your current service, that's cool. But if you are interested in checking out something new, you'd be welcome. We definitely need some Minnesota caches to hunt


Can you take a GPX file of caches I own and import that into your database? That would make it very easy for existing cache owners to list on your site.

Also, dyl1231 and I dual list our caches on navicache.com, and we check off the box that says "do what you will with them" (why anybody would place a cache but wouldn't check that box is beyond me, but whatever).

So you could just do an nc.com bulk query and pull all those caches from nc.com all at once to seed your database.
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Scout
Geocacher


Joined: 27 Jan 2004

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not pulling caches from other listing services, even if the cache owner would prefer it that way. Too much can go wrong. It's not worth the risk.

As for loading from a GPX file, there's nothing in place right now to do that. But send me the file and I'll look into offering such a service.
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s4xton
Past MnGCA Board


Joined: 23 Mar 2003

Posts: 1070

PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just added my 4 caches. I'm curious to see where your site goes from here. Looks like it's off to a good start.

One small tip: Don't display the help section on every single cache page - for users of mobile devices it's a bit of a waste to have to load that.

Otherwise, thanks for hosting an alternative service.

-Aaron
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