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Metro NY Geocaching Society • View topic - Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Conflicts with Hidden Stages

General conversation related to Geocaching

Moderator: addisonbr

Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby addisonbr » Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:02 am

So here's an issue that's cropped up lately that while I understand the background, IMHO it could be handled in a less frustrating manner for new cachers. Apologies in advance for the length; I didn't realize how long it was until I previewed the post.

(Details of the following story are intentionally being kept somewhat vague, to protect the integrity of some hidden cache stages. If those of you "in the know" could do the same thing, that would be cool.)

In brief, a short while ago a (relatively) new cacher listed a cache in an area that conflicted with a hidden stage for one of New York's many puzzle and/or multi caches. By my count there are around 50 hidden physical stages on the island of Manhattan alone, so it's not unusual to bump up against one.

Now I know that historically speaking, it got to be a problem that folks would use the cache approval process to try to flush out the coordinates of hidden stages they couldn't find the normal way. "You can't list the cache there, it's in conflict with the final for another cache." "Oh really? Wow, that's a huge surprise. Why don't you give me the coordinates so I can be sure to avoid it..." It was enough of an issue, that I totally understand why it was addressed, and why admins are now pretty tight-lipped on the subject of coords.

But I'm posting because I think the pendulum may have swung too far against earnest and honest cachers trying to break into the game, and facing often scarce real estate. For example, take Central Park - not that there aren't still good places to hide caches, but it is undeniable that many of us "older-timers" have already homesteaded some of the good spots. What makes it tough for newer folks is not just that some of the spots are taken, but that many of them are taken invisibly. In fact, there are more than twice as many hidden stages in Central Park than listed! (The exact figures aren't ultimately important, but I count 11 Traditionals and 24 hidden physical stages in the park right now.) So as a new cacher you can do everything within your power to avoid other caches, and you still run a good chance of bumping into a problem.

I think the frustrations arise from how these conflicts are handled... These days if you publish too close to someone else's hidden stage you'll mostly get a simple proximity rejection without further details or guidance. So without any further information, in this situation the cacher scouted a new spot, made sure to have the appropriate camo, took multiple GPSr readings, made the description fit, etc. - and after putting all of that effort in, tried to publish again and was essentially told - nope, still too close, try again.

So I get why the admin would not want to simply reveal the location of the problem stage, but I can imagine how frustrating it is to basically try to hit a target while blindfolded. It is rare for me myself to place a cache without spending at least a few hours of effort over several days tweaking the container, getting the coordinates as precise as I can, working on an entertaining description, etc. - I don't know that I would be able to maintain my enthusiasm having to keep repeating that process with little constructive feedback.

What I'm proposing is not for the admins to reveal the locations of hidden stages, but to be a lot more proactive in guiding potential hiders who run into a conflict. Rather than "Too close, try again" I'm hoping that the admins will take a more instructive role. For example, if a hider has bumped up against a proximity issue, I think it would make sense to offer more of an engaged dialog about placing the cache somewhere new. Maybe instead of allowing the cacher (especially the newer cacher) to go through all of the work to rehide and still run the risk of being in conflict, maybe suggest that the hider submit a few possible locations to the admin before hiding so that they can help vet which of them might be viable. And yes, I know if abused that this can also be a way to pull an end-around on the location of the hidden stage. But certainly this can be kept within reason, and a truly cooperative and helpful dialog between hider and admin would go a long way towards easing frustrations. For example, maybe the cacher submits three locations he is happy with, and regardless of how many of them are "legal" the admin gives one of them the go-ahead. The important thing isn't how many stages the cacher submits or the exact procedure, but rather that we just try to make the placement of a new cache as un-frustrating as we can.

Anyway, that's what I've got. I'm still working with the cacher to try to help get this thing listed. It's a cool one, and I'd like to see it publish, if he doesn't throw his hands up and leave the game in frustration first.
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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby Tatanka49 » Wed Jul 02, 2008 2:08 pm

IMHO...I would cut back on the number of multiples and puzzles. :lol:
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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby Child Of Atom » Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:34 pm

I agree that admin could be a bit more helpful in situations like this, but they carry a fairly big burden as it is. Personally I would like to see a NYC only admin that knew the ins and outs of the city better, to avoid certain misunderstandings about the urban cache landscape here.
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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby Bonick0 » Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:55 pm

I agree with CoA about a dedicated city administrator - or at least an admin who fully understands the issues of urban caching. As we all know, that covers many topics besides cache placement - city safe containers, constant surveillance, often cache destruction. It's a whole different ballgame.

I was talking to a newbie PA cacher at a recent event, and he was surprised to find out that we have more than just magnetic micros in the city.
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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby Child Of Atom » Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:05 pm

Is your culture a counter-culture or an over-the-counter-culture?

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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby addisonbr » Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:52 pm

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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby halijusapa » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:13 am

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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby Child Of Atom » Thu Jul 03, 2008 8:41 am

I was imagining it more like: GOHider submits coords A, is rejected. Submits coords B, C, and D. C is accepted and the cache is PUBLISHED... then they have to scramble to get it into place before the FTFers start showing up... regardless either the current method or your suggested method requires at least two hikes out to the hide... which I guess is part of the hazard of being an owner now that I think more about it.

Regardless, I feel like it is part of living in a cache saturated area to have these problems. It's like complaining that you don't have any more room in your wallet for all the money... what a great problem to have!
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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby addisonbr » Thu Jul 03, 2008 9:12 am

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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby Child Of Atom » Thu Jul 03, 2008 9:26 am

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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby addisonbr » Thu Jul 03, 2008 10:18 am

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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby EastVillageFamily » Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:09 pm

I understand addisonbr's frustration very well. I may be responsible for some of it.

But, speaking as someone who has had other cachers submit new listings as a strategy to find out more about what I was up to; and as someone who has argued with the NY Admin many times over the last few years; I feel that the current NY Admin has been very reasonable with their approach to this problem.

In the last 6 months, the NY Admin has allowed caches in Central Park that slightly violate the proximity rule, but only when it's a puzzle cache final (not listed coords) involved. The NY Admin has asked me if I would consider moving one of my stages so a cache submitted by a newer cacher could be published - I did, and the other cache was published with no one knowing they were near each other.

I have had caches, and stages rejected many times for proximity issues. I had 15-16 proximity issues when I originally submitted the Central Park Decathlon. Some of these served to reveal problems with GC.com's records of other caches.
Every time I have had a proximty issue, the NY Admin has told me that "Geocache GCXXXXX is x number of feet away". Depending on what that number of feet is, it's pretty easy to decide what to do. If it's close to 528 feet, I simply reply by asking if moving it "West a few feet" will solve the problem. If it's 70 feet, I abandon the cache or stage. If my cache can't be moved, and the concept can't be executed anywhere else, then I try to frame a thoughtful argument for my cache to remain. I have never won this kind of argument outright, but recently I have been getting constructive responses.

So I have also tried to help the NY Admin whenever possible. I have told the NY Admin that I will consider moving any of the stages of my Central Park Decathlon, if they conflict with a newly submitted cache. I don't think it should be up to the CO to play a guessing game, by submitting a series of possible coords for approval, the NY Admin should provide some additional guidance here without compromising existing puzzles.

A touchy subject, but I think that the NY Admin has been working hard to get everyone's caches published whenever possible.
Or are there caches that have been rejected in Central Park that I don't know about?
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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby EastVillageFamily » Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:32 pm

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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby addisonbr » Mon Jul 07, 2008 3:11 pm

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Re: Conflicts with Hidden Stages

Postby EastVillageFamily » Mon Jul 07, 2008 3:35 pm

I agree it's not at all helpful for the Admin to tell a cache submitter to go find the conflicting caches. The admins are supposed to be trying to maintain the geocaching community, not make it more awkward. I was speaking from my personal experience, but now that I know the particular circumstances of this case, I hope that we can help the new cache owner to find a location that works.
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