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Thread: What we are attempting to do.

  1. #1
    nobbynobbs Guest


    Below is the copy of a message I have sent to Jeremy and via mtn-man to try to open some level of negotiations to try and resolve the present problems.

    This was only posted on monday so it is not a great surprise that I have yet to get a reply but I hope it clarifies that things are being attempted. I would stress that I am not posting this now to brgin any bad feeling towards the groundspeak authorities, quite the opposite, I hope that this will show people that we are attempting to sort the problem out before it gets out of control.

    "Hi, I do not doubt that you have received more than a few messages from cachers from the United Kingdom in light of the recent events.

    At the outset I would stress that while I am a member of the Geocaching Association of Great Britain this post is entirely off my own back.

    As I understand the current situation a decision has been made by yourself and others that the United Kingdom has been less strict with it's reviewing and forum moderation than you would normally expect on one of the many American forums. As such they were told to become much more stringent and follow the guidelines with less lee way. They have then resigned due to that and other related actions .

    I do understand your thoughts that it is better for everyone to be operating under the exact same rules but I don't think that it really needs to happen. Has anyone actually complained that we are given more leniency or are allowed more freedom? Is there any commercial reason that you feel all the countries need to conform? (totally understandable if so)

    The thing is that both Australia and the Netherlands, to the best of my knowledge, have a certain level of freedom to act within their own set of guidelines while still remaining under the umbrella of groundspeak. Could you please explain why this could not be done for us?

    The question over recommending public houses I believe has been put to you but I will reitterate. The Public house holds a unique place for the british people as I hope you found out on your recent trip to an event that under the present rules would not be allowed unless I an incorrect?

    They are places where families go before and after walks/ caches etc. and form an integral part of the British culture. I do not think the same applies to similar establishments in the USA. But like any establishment some are more friendly towards families and weary travellers than others. I am aware that a large number of cachers welcome information as to whether a local public house falls into the nice category or not when travelling a long distance to go caching. So while in the strictest sense that does fall foul of the commercial guideline it is welcomed to the UK cachers.

    The counter argument is that once one is allowed there will be a flood of "go to this shop or this resturant" but that is where flexibility comes into play. I can say with certainty that when a UK reviewer makes a ruling it has been accepted by the UK cacher population as they have shown consistancy and fairness in their application of the guidelines.

    The sum of this argument is that some negotiation should be allowed to solve this current discord. It is my belief that if the UK reviewers and moderators were allowed to continue with their fair and firm interpretation of the guidelines with the UK holding a slightly detached position. We have seperate laws along an often common theme. We have a similar culture. But we do not always totally agree with how we each do things, surely some level of uniqueness and originality should be welcomed not suppressed?

    At the moment there is a great deal of resentment being directly towards by a normally calm happy group of people. You have to remember that before all this occured it was very rare that there was anything on our forums that required any moderation. They are a very calm and relaxed affair usually.

    I would greatly appreciate it if you could consider my points and see if you could show the British community that you are able to reconsider a mistake and rectify it before lasting damage is done to the trust that has built up over the relatively few years that our hobby has existed. I do not think that the hobby would suffer in fact diversity would strengthen it. Your UK customer base needs some reassurance and flexibility not a strict rule.

    Thank you for your time."

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    S. E. Wales


    A polite and reasonable letter, in my opinion. Let's see what happens


  3. #3
    The Molinnis Crew Guest


    Originally posted by Mrs Blorenge@Apr 29 2008, 09:01 PM
    A polite and reasonable letter, in my opinion. Let's see what happens


    Agree with Mrs B, well put and thought out.

  4. #4
    The Wilkerson Family Guest


    Very well put. It will be interesting to see when and if there is a reply.


  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jun 2003


    Well put Matt, and if you get a result my (our) actions will not have been in vane.


  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2003


    Yes, very well put indeed, Matt, and I hope you get a result...!
    ​​Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Dylan Thomas)​

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Staffordshire Moorlands


    I agree with the others, The email was clear and without emotion so in the very least is due a polite and decent reply.
    Well done

  8. #8
    molfrew-mosstoad Guest


    Very well put mate, heres hoping for a result

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jun 2005


    Nicely put - lets see if you get a reply.
    Happy Caching


    - Setting a good example for children takes all the fun out of middle age.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    North Wales


    Please be patient whilst waiting for a reply Jeremy is a very busy man and is not always in the office. There might be a possibility that he's on a business trip and if so he won't see the letter until his return.
    My post is my personal opinion and as such you do not have my permission to quote me outside of these forums!

    Brenin Tegeingl
    Formerly known as Mancunian Pyrocacher on GC

  11. #11
    [MF]taz Guest


    There might be a possibility that he's on a business trip
    Is that code for "He may be busy geocaching" ?? :socool:

  12. #12
    moote01 Guest


    Very well written Matt :socool:

  13. #13
    sTeamTraen Guest


    Warning: this is a very long post! I've attempted to structure it a bit, but it may appear to ramble a little. Sorry for that.

    Most of the people reading this will have seen my posts in the UK forum on Some of you also know that I'm one of the reviewers for France. I hope that my not being a current UK resident (I left the UK some years ago) will not disqualify me from contributing. I hope, also, that the people who I know from the UK Geochat will understand those points where I take a different view from them. This post is being made entirely at my own initiative and it is not a "plant" for Groundspeak; it certainly doesn't represent the views of anyone but myself.

    As Greg (mtn-man) suggested in the forum, I don't know if you will get a reply from Groundspeak, but if you do, it quite likely won't be from Jeremy, but from Bryan, aka Rothstafari. Groundspeak is not a huge multinational, but it does run like any other company, with internal communication channels and all their associated issues, and Bryan is the person in charge of this sort of thing. He also has a rather more diplomatic style than Jeremy (older hands who remember some of Jeremy's posts when he was more active in the forums will know what I'm talking about).

    Having talked to people in Groundspeak over the past few days, and knowing quite a few of them personally ("In Real Life"), here's one thing I can tell you for sure: they are very upset - as in "personally cut up about it" - about the loss of Lactodorum and Eckington. Their communication style may not always reflect it (how do you really convey "upset" in a mail?), but that's the truth. The lackeys are good people and they view the volunteers as not far short of family. Like any family, things get said, things get regretted, sometimes things take a long time to heal. But this is not some kind of autocratic, jackbooted regime; nor are there people in sharp suits and braces pacing up and down and shouting "f*** 'em". (The tone of the debate over the past week could have benefited from a wider acceptance of this.) Neither is Groundspeak on some kind of a mission to silence criticism. I challenge you to find another commercial organisation in the world which allows as much criticism of itself on its own Web site, provided it's done openly and in a civilised tone. (Calling people "Nazis" does not meet that criterion; nor does using sock puppets. Those are the only things for which people had their posting rights suspended, AFAIK. Incidentally, at least one target of the "Nazis" comment is Jewish.)

    Nobody at Groundspeak imagines that they are going to become millionaires in short order; in fact it's hard to see how the founders could sell out, because the database has very little value other than for geocaching. Compared to other Web services, collects almost no information about you. This is a Good Thing™ from our point of view and something which is widely underestimated. Groundspeak has always been more about a bunch of guys doing their own thing - with all the pluses and minuses which that entails - than making a load of money. (After nearly eight years of this game, Jeremy's office is about 13 feet square.)

    Back to the issue which brought us here: the fundamental problem from Groundspeak's point of view is the same as for any other company whose business model is built around user-generated content, namely, where to draw the line. Let's face it, everyone would like things, in Burger King's phrase, "your way", but Burger King won't give you foie gras on your Whopper or let you lie on the floor to eat it. And even YouTube has standards sometimes, it seems.

    Here's an example: in any given month you can be sure that American military personnel will submit for review, caches with some or all of the following themes:
    - "Support our troops in their fight against evil Muslim terrorists"
    - "Support our troops in their fight to protect our country"
    - "Support our brave troops in Iraq"
    - "Support our troops"

    After much discussion among the volunteer community, it has been decided that every single one of those is off-limits, not least because the easiest place to draw a line is through the point marked "zero". This gets Jeremy some very, very nasty hate mail. It gets the poor support people at Groundspeak some very unpleasant phone calls. So this company, which many people in Europe like to imagine as some kind of evil American multinational, regularly gets called unpatriotic, and worse, by Americans. (Incidentally, Jeremy is a former serving member of the US Air Force.)

    Similarly, you can't have a cache which invites people to something as inoffensive as giving blood or looking for a missing child. This is not because Groundspeak are Jehovah's witnesses or child murderers. It comes down to a very simple philosophy: the site is about geocaching. Nothing else. Any advertising or promotions should be paid-for and should help support the site. It's probably a stronger philosophy for being simple, but of course it has to work in the real world. The question is whether anything less simple would give fewer problems.

    One of the strong points of the UK caching community, unlike many in the US and some in Europe, is that historically there has not too much paranoid searching for minor inconsistencies among listings ("you wouldn't publish my cache because of XYZ guideline problem, but here's one which you published last week which in my opinion is ten times worse", optionally followed by "therefore you are oppressing me"). Undoubtedly this has to do with the stable and consistent reviewing style over the years, plus perhaps a pragmatic aspect to the national character.

    However, when you don't have a problem, it can sometimes be difficult to understand when other people have it. (For example: as an English person, who didn't find out what a Catholic was until about the age of 14, it took me a very long time to begin to understand what the whole Celtic v Rangers thing was about.) Well, it turns out that Groundspeak has to handle a substantial number of calls and e-mails from people in many countries and states who consider that they have been personally wronged by decisions made by volunteers.

    There is also the specific local "problem" of the common language which means that, when American cachers are looking for examples of inconsistency with which to beat up Groundspeak, they will scour the forums and the cache titles and listings, and they are far more likely to come up with something if it's written in English. Had the UK forums and caches all been written in German, maybe none of this would have been noticed. Still, the world is as it is, and at least UK cachers can understand pretty much every word that's on the site (occasional discussions about "color" and "-ized" notwithstanding); the absence of multilingual versions is a huge issue for other countries.

    As I mentioned in a public forum post, there is no realistic alternative to the volunteer system. Given the peanuts (zero) that Groundspeak pays the volunteers, I think they get some pretty good people, but as anyone who has ever tried to organise volunteer labour in any sphere knows, there's only so much you can ask of them. Groundspeak got a pretty tough reminder of that last week, and you can be sure that they will learn from it. But any compromises which are made, will have to take into account the trade-off at the other end. You will already have seen one or two posts from people saying "what's the big deal with finding the pub, round here we have to do it from coordinates" and the last thing Groundspeak will want is to have dozens of US volunteers complaining that everyone wants an exception for the Historic Roadside Inns of Massachusetts or whatever.

    (By the way, as quite a lot of people seem not to know, the commercial guideline is not, in fact, a blanket ban. It basically states that if you want to mention the name of a business, your reviewer will refer you to Groundspeak. This is, among other reasons, to save the reviewers from flak; if the business name is denied, they can say it wasn't them who denied it. In fact the whole review system is set up so that, if the cacher wishes, pretty well every decision can be confirmed by Groundspeak. If you've never had experience of that, it's because you've had reviewers with good communication skills.)

    I personally think that consistency is something which you can only maintain so far. The solution which I instinctively prefer is some form of regional (or national) guidelines, to be established in conjunction with local/national associations. But there's probably well over a hundred associations worldwide. Some countries or states have more than one, and they don't always agree on very much. How much time will it cost to set up something which is fair for everyone? How many disappointed associations will withdraw their cooperation because they didn't, say, get the 0.1 mile proximity limit reduced in their very densely populated area? What will the consequences of allowing regional guidelines be in three years time? They will probably be minimal from our end, but Groundspeak will feel the full effect, and it's their mortgage payments, rather than ours, which depend on it.

    There may be a clue to a way forward in this Seattle area newspaper article
    "That was the biggest surprise," said Irish. "People actually wanting to get together and talk about their experiences, and these organizations that have been created around geocaching."
    Jeremy knows a lot about GPS technology, and the Web, and running a tech company, and even, yes, geocaching. But I suspect that he may have underestimated how damn important it is to many people. It is to me - I can honestly say it has literally changed my life - and I'm pretty sure it is to Peter, Dave, and Dave, and everyone else who's made it this far through this post. The tone of the posts in the last week has reminded me at times of the anger - which I've witnessed first hand - of people faced with a sudden bereavement, and I don't doubt the sincerity with which that was expressed.

    I think there is a strong case for emphasising the social side of the game, whether it's by allowing a degree of off-topic threads in the forums or Happy Humphrey's suggestion of allowing the cache placer to include a recommended pit-stop place. But ultimately it's Groundspeak's call as to if, and/or how, they try to do that.

    Nick aka sTeamTraen aka riviouveur

  14. #14

    Join Date
    Aug 2007


    Originally posted by sTeamTraen@Apr 30 2008, 06:24 PM
    Warning: this is a very long post! I've attempted to structure it a bit, but it may appear to ramble a little. Sorry for that.
    At last, a sensible, measured response to put the other side of the coin!
    I have stayed out of the discussion up to now, feeling that there must be many things that the US reviewers have to put up with that we know nothing about. I certainly would not want to have to review those 'Troops' caches!

    Thank you, sTeamTraen for adding some balance.

  15. #15
    Lactodorum Guest


    Thank you Nick for your well thought out and very reasonable reply. I'm sure others will take issue with parts of it and I'll leave them to do so.

    My only point I'd like to make is that even with all the possible problems with so called "inconsistencies" you rightly mention, we had a system which worked almost (&#33 without a hiccup for around 5 years.

    It was not the UK reviewing team that changed everything over the past weeks and months, it was Groundspeak. If they are so "cut up" about it maybe the first step to rectifying the current difficult situation would be to discuss it with those closely involved. That and being prepared to listen to what is being said.

    Yes, there have been some intemperate postings recently but there have also been some positive suggestions. These need to be taken on board if things are going to improve.

    Feel free to pass on these comments if you think it would help.


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