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Thread: Quality caches. What are they?

  1. #1

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    Default Quality caches. What are they?

    People on this forum and the GC.com forum often bang on about "quality" caches (usually when proposing yet another rating system). Quite arrogantly (IMHO), they often assume that everyone will know what they mean about a "quality" cache.

    Well, I don't know exactly what they mean; it seems to depend on who is using the term at the time. I have no idea how a rating system could work when there's no clear definition of "quality" in this context.

    I invite GAGB forum contributions from anyone who thinks they know what a "quality" cache is, with a view to defining the term for future use (if that proves possible!). It's no use just saying what type of cache you prefer; I'm after a general definition.

    The only reasonable definition I've seen so far is that it's a cache that's well-maintained, with a clean and dry log book and good coordinates.

  2. #2

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    A bit of effort on the listing helps - its nice when someone puts some effort into 'selling' their cache.

    It could be an explanation as to why they've placed the cache where they have, a bit of information about a nearby historical tidbit, that sort of thing - you know, something that helps the cache stand out from the crowd when you're planning a day out.

    Call me an elitist is you will , but running things through spellchecker never hurts either...

    A good/quirky cache title is also a nice attention grabber.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by von-horst View Post
    A bit of effort on the listing helps - its nice when someone puts some effort into 'selling' their cache.

    It could be an explanation as to why they've placed the cache where they have, a bit of information about a nearby historical tidbit, that sort of thing - you know, something that helps the cache stand out from the crowd when you're planning a day out.

    Call me an elitist is you will , but running things through spellchecker never hurts either...

    A good/quirky cache title is also a nice attention grabber.
    I agree... :socool:

    - plus a pleasant walk or great view is always appreciated.
    - an unusual or clever hide.

    The size or cache type does not matter (too much) if other factors raise the cache from the mundane.
    Happy Caching

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

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    I appreciate the replies, and such things as a well-written cache description and good location certainly help make a cache more appealing, but I was really after a concise definition of "quality".

    But perhaps that's impossible, and what we need is a checklist of major selling points. Then, if you're rating a cache (for whatever purpose) you'd be able to give points based on a number of factors; eliminating any that are too much a matter of opinion.

    For example, you could rate a cache as between one and five stars after taking into account the following;

    Location (poor = 1* to amazing = 5*)
    Condition of the cache (Neglected to well-maintained)
    Cache description (Useless to entertaining/informative)
    Creativity (Mundane to brilliant)
    Collectibility (Pointless to must-do)

    Possibly the last one is most controversial, but in reality there are many caches that people want to "collect" (for various reasons) and cachers will put up with other "quality" factors being low in these cases (caches in a series, for instance, or caches with some notoriety, or historic/unusual caches).

    The idea would be to give an overall rating by adding up the stars awarded for each factor then dividing by the number of factors (so if a cache is average for each of the five detailed above, it's 15 divided by five so it's a three-star cache). This would improve consistency, and reduce the personal preference factor.

  5. #5
    keehotee Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Humphrey View Post
    Location (poor = 1* to amazing = 5*)
    Condition of the cache (Neglected to well-maintained)
    Cache description (Useless to entertaining/informative)
    Creativity (Mundane to brilliant)
    Collectibility (Pointless to must-do)
    I think this is going to prove impossible.
    To take the (seemingly) easiest category..

    1. Location. If you're a wheelchair user, this is going to be 1 terrain, with a reasonable view. If you're a mountain leader type person, this is going to be a 4 terrain on the top of a mountain - with a reasonable view.

    2. Condition of the cache. The box might be spotless - with no swaps left. It needs maintenance to add swaps - but does this affect the condition?

    3. cache description - some of my favourites have utterly cryptic wording, with no description of the surroundings at all....

    4. Creativity. Hmmmm - tricky.

    5. Collectibility. As in series? Or individual caches?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by keehotee View Post
    I think this is going to prove impossible.
    To take the (seemingly) easiest category..

    1. Location. If you're a wheelchair user, this is going to be 1 terrain, with a reasonable view. If you're a mountain leader type person, this is going to be a 4 terrain on the top of a mountain - with a reasonable view.

    2. Condition of the cache. The box might be spotless - with no swaps left. It needs maintenance to add swaps - but does this affect the condition?

    3. cache description - some of my favourites have utterly cryptic wording, with no description of the surroundings at all....

    4. Creativity. Hmmmm - tricky.

    5. Collectibility. As in series? Or individual caches?
    Yes, maybe there would have to be some help text to explain further.

    1. Location: is it well-sited, in a spot that seems worth visiting? A wheelchair user might not like it if it's up a flight of steps, but then if it's given Terrain 2 then he/she won't be judging it on wheelchair accessibility, and could still give it full marks for being a great spot to visit (if he/she is finally able to log the cache). You might have a preference for mountain caches, but you should be capable of appreciating a well-thought-out urban hide in a historic city-centre location.
    2. Condition of the cache. If it's in good condition and well-maintained, then there will be appropriate swaps. If not; it might not be the cache owner's fault, but it will be marked down slightly. You might not actually want swaps but a big empty box doesn't look good.
    3. Cache description. Yes, the description might seem utterly meaningless at first, only to reveal its clever secret after careful study. But what I meant was that it might actually be totally useless (NOT in any deliberate way!), and/or sloppily put together.
    4. Creativity. Not that tricky; if you think that it's generally humdrum and run-of-the-mill then mark it low. If the cache made you feel like laughing and applauding (an unusual hide, or some surprises along the way, for instance) then give it more stars. It could also be defined as entertainment value.
    5. Collectibility. If you really feel the need to collect this individual cache for any reason, then give it more stars. Perhaps it's one of a series, or it's the oldest cache in the county, or it's the highest (most southern/western...) in the country, or it's the only Wherigo in the county, or it's notorious (etc.). It's a pity if it turns out to be otherwise a bit lame, but the fact is that it does have drawing power and this is an asset which adds "quality".

  7. #7

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    I think trying to define "quality" is an impossible pursuit. However I recognise a "quality" cache as one where I feel better AFTER looking for it than I did before.

    How a cache makes me feel better doesn't really matter as much as the fact that it just does.

    I guess some people feel better for having clocked up one more find, some people feel better for having solved a puzzle, some feel better for having discovered a good walk or view, some might feel better for having learned an interesting fact. We're all different but we all recognise what is important to US.

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    I can sympathise with that, but surely it's possible to analyse what makes certain "good" caches work for you?

    Of course, that doesn't matter most of the time, but when we're trying to discuss cache quality it would be nice to know whether everyone understands "quality" in the same way. Which is why I was trying to define it to some extent.

    I see many attempts at rating caches. But how can people judge objectively using only their personal feelgood factor? We need some guidelines, at least to encourage consistency and not least to discourage assumptions such as that a five minute cache is bound to be inferior to one that takes all day.

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    Cache name
    D2.5 T3

    Cache description:
    In a hole in a tree covered by wood and leaves. You should not wear shorts.
    Very average size, tupperware. Over the style, on the right by the big tree.
    Quality cache?
    I have a Geocaching problem...
    Work gets in the way!

    * Cache Walker -Caching by byway, not highway! CacheWalker.co.uk
    Walking and Caching in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire areas

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear and Ragged View Post
    Quality cache?
    Who can tell, from that little snippet. But the typo suggests that it's not going to be great!

  11. #11

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    Surely any simple rating system (such as GCVote) would 'level out' over time as differnet styles of cachers rate it. Those that do not like it rate it down and those that do like it rate it up.
    Eventually you would end up with a median rating for that cache - good or bad or average.
    Happy Caching

    Gazooks

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  12. #12

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    That depends on how many rate it good only because they liked the location, how many rated it good only because it was a nice clean and dry box and how many rated it bad because it didn't have many swaps (and so on). If there were two visits a month, the rating could be pretty random after a year or so. With some guidelines, the rating could be quite accurate based on the criteria given.

    I haven't looked at GCVote, but obviously it must have some sort of basic guidelines for rating?

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Humphrey View Post
    That depends on how many rate it good only because they liked the location, how many rated it good only because it was a nice clean and dry box and how many rated it bad because it didn't have many swaps (and so on). If there were two visits a month, the rating could be pretty random after a year or so. With some guidelines, the rating could be quite accurate based on the criteria given.

    I haven't looked at GCVote, but obviously it must have some sort of basic guidelines for rating?

    Thats the point with a simple scoring system it is open to interpretation because everyones views are different - but the overall effect of a high/low score is still the same. A complex scoring system might put people off scoring. On the other hand a complex system with various elements would be of use to the owner, who would then know where his cache is lacking.
    Of course any marking system is optional anyway.

    This is from the GCVOte site on rating explanation:
    <<<<<< >>>>>>>
    Meaning of the quality rating:

    ? - not rated yet
    1 - poor
    2 - below average
    3 - average
    4 - better than average
    5 - awesome


    There is no detailed guidance on how to rate a geocache, but please rate in a kind of common sense so that any fellow cacher can see where you felt a detour is really rewarding.
    <<<<<< >>>>>>

    I think that says it all .
    Happy Caching

    Gazooks

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

  14. #14
    keehotee Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by gazooks View Post
    Meaning of the quality rating:

    ? - not rated yet
    1 - poor
    2 - below average
    3 - average
    4 - better than average
    5 - awesome


    There is no detailed guidance on how to rate a geocache, but please rate in a kind of common sense so that any fellow cacher can see where you felt a detour is really rewarding.
    <<<<<< >>>>>>
    We use this at home, and try to rate any caches we do (eventually).
    However - I try to be subjective. So although I hate micros in hedges, if a cache is honest about being a micro in a hedge, and the container and log are in good nick, and it's where it says it is, I'll rate it as average - much as it galls me.
    A camoed micro would get above average from me.
    The system will fail though when people rate caches according to what they like, as opposed to what the cache is like...

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    We use this as well and would rate an average box hidden in an nice location as a 3 but if the owner has gone to some lengths to camo up the box and make the hide more ineteresting it would get a 4, did some caches on Dartmoor recently and they all got 2's, why? because they were all micros hidden in old quarry areas and the like, so to me they were all below average and only got a 2 because of the walk.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrDick&Vick View Post
    We use this as well and would rate an average box hidden in an nice location as a 3 but if the owner has gone to some lengths to camo up the box and make the hide more ineteresting it would get a 4, did some caches on Dartmoor recently and they all got 2's, why? because they were all micros hidden in old quarry areas and the like, so to me they were all below average and only got a 2 because of the walk.
    That's my point really. If you really like a good walk and only want a cache to provide a bit of interest on a quick stop along the way then you'll probably rate those Dartmoor caches very highly. You might not appreciate the annoyingly long search for the well-camo'd box so it'd get a low rating. But it's all rather hit-and-miss, and a few simple guidelines would make it so much more meaningful.
    I know that I would rate the same cache differently on different days, only because I might slightly change my mind about what factors are most important. A glance at the checklist would help consistency, and would also help the user of the ratings to understand what they actually mean.

  17. #17

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    I appreciate what's behind all this discussion about "how to rate a cache" but, personally, I feel it's making the whole thing too complicated.

    I used to regularly rate the caches we'd found on the GeocacheUK site with its system of 5 stars. I would rate an average cache as 3 stars, then work up or down from that point. But then I recall some folks used to award the stars along the lines of 1 = OK, 2= above average, 3= good, 4= very good, 5= wowee! This is stunning! My favourite cache ever!

    It's a bit like the way ebay have now added an extra system for giving feedback. I was quite happy to give the Buyer's comment as one sentence of a few words (usually I would put "All good. Received with thanks" - the ebaying equivalent of TFTC) but I'm not inclined to add all the extra bits about the seller's communication/description/dispatch/postage etc.

    Overall, I think I can get enough information from the cache description and by reading past logs to assess whether or not a cache is a "quality cache" (by our standards ).

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs Blorenge View Post
    I appreciate what's behind all this discussion about "how to rate a cache" but, personally, I feel it's making the whole thing too complicated.

    I used to regularly rate the caches we'd found on the GeocacheUK site with its system of 5 stars. I would rate an average cache as 3 stars, then work up or down from that point. But then I recall some folks used to award the stars along the lines of 1 = OK, 2= above average, 3= good, 4= very good, 5= wowee! This is stunning! My favourite cache ever!

    It's a bit like the way ebay have now added an extra system for giving feedback. I was quite happy to give the Buyer's comment as one sentence of a few words (usually I would put "All good. Received with thanks" - the ebaying equivalent of TFTC) but I'm not inclined to add all the extra bits about the seller's communication/description/dispatch/postage etc.

    Overall, I think I can get enough information from the cache description and by reading past logs to assess whether or not a cache is a "quality cache" (by our standards ).
    I understand what you're getting at, but rather than your inconsistent and ambiguous method of quality rating I was trying to propose a more simple and straightforward method. And it's no good relying on past logs when there are perhaps 1000 caches in the area you're visiting.

    Just saying "it's good" is fine, and I was proposing nothing more complicated that that.

    But "good" to you might be "bad" to someone else, so logically you're proposing either something which is fairly useless, or having to explain what "good" means to you personally every time. All I was saying, is why not simplify it by agreeing some standard, reasonably objective, definition of "quality" beforehand. This would make clear that we have to ignore certain factors which are too much dependant on personal choice (e.g. some people don't rate caches highly that only take five minutes, but clearly some do, so this can't be a factor).

  19. #19

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    I think the 1 - 5 stars approach works well as with the GUK system. Despite what everyone thinks or supposes about it a few caches in each area got a consistently high rating marking them out as exceptional in the view of everyone who did them.
    As we only used it to identify the top % in the areas we were visiting it made it usefull to draw up a short list.

    We never used it to filter out poorly rated caches it was only for that top set.

    To us the current set up on GC does not help you filter for what you like.

    Caches need to separated into categories. Categories the visitors and owner can vote on (to prevent lying)

    Lenght of walk to cache. Height gain to cache. Type of terrain (split as per handicaching)

    Difficulty of hide of cache. 1 easy to 5 high degree of camoflage may require multiple visits / PAF

    Difficulty of puzzle. 1 sudoku - 5 phd in subject required (most are solved at meets strangely!)

    and things like night cache, scenic view, good walk, part of larger series (alchemy style etc), cache and dash etc
    "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning."

  20. #20
    Icenians Guest

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    Quality to me is very very simple. A cache is something you visit. Cache pages etc, I don't visit that it's just a signpost to the actual cache. At the end of the hunt I take a look around and ask one simple question, Why? If I can see a good reason for that, it was a quality cache. If I can see absoloutly no reason for someone to bring me here then it's not a good cache.

    There is far too much rubbish quoted about how things average out and how we should have guidelines etc. People simply do not need telling or guidance to know whether or not they enjoyed something. Quality is subjective and always will be.

    Cache rating systems work when they are used. I recently visited an appalling cache in Holland that was rated consistantly low, I only visited it to allow my rating to be counted, and the rating system was correct. I saw nothing of interest from a motorway bridge across an industrial river and it was clear from the caches score that nobody else deemed it worthy either.

    A system that shows a genral dissatisfaction or otherwise of a particular cache is a good means of telling the owner, and others, that maybe they are not in touch with what others call good. It also allows folk to see what others think is great.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icenians View Post
    I recently visited an appalling cache in Holland that was rated consistantly low, I only visited it to allow my rating to be counted, and the rating system was correct. I saw nothing of interest from a motorway bridge across an industrial river and it was clear from the caches score that nobody else deemed it worthy either.
    It's an interesting example. It might be that the cache owner had a good reason for placing the cache there. If this is mentioned in the description, then that might be the only thing of note about the cache but it's bound to be a "good" cache whatever the actual location or size of box. For example, let's say it's to commemorate a lovely viewpoint that is no more since the building of the motorway. You might not like the viewpoint now it's been ruined, but it's not a bad cache because it's taking you to where the cache owner wanted you to go. Many caches of "historic" or local interest are like this.

    Or, of course, it might be just placed at random (do people really do that?).
    Quote Originally Posted by Icenians View Post
    A system that shows a genral dissatisfaction or otherwise of a particular cache is a good means of telling the owner, and others, that maybe they are not in touch with what others call good. It also allows folk to see what others think is great.
    It works in sifting out a few really great caches and a few really bad ones, but the systems I've seen aren't much help beyond that. The weakness is that the caches are just rated "better" or "worse" by several visitors and this is fairly useless information on its own.

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Humphrey View Post
    .

    Or, of course, it might be just placed at random (do people really do that?).

    I can think of a few that are there because you can park a car safely with no other obvious reason ---- either in the description or looking at the nearby scenery.

    I can definitely identify a few that appear to be even more random than car parking available as well.

    Ok if your struggling to find a lay by though so they do have a point just not one that appeals to me.

    Without knowing the intention of the hider there is no way to easily distinguish caches id like to do from caches i wont. Taken the far safer route to not being dissapointed by spending more time researching caches than actually finding them.
    "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning."

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icenians View Post
    Quality to me is very very simple. A cache is something you visit. Cache pages etc, I don't visit that it's just a signpost to the actual cache. At the end of the hunt I take a look around and ask one simple question, Why? If I can see a good reason for that, it was a quality cache. If I can see absoloutly no reason for someone to bring me here then it's not a good cache.
    Got to agree with you there, Kev. I have a cache in a lay-by, and the only reason it was placed there was the difficulty rating I gave it. I have said this on the cache page so everyone knows that it wasn't placed just for the sake of it. The feedback I have had back has been positive which is good to receive.

    Another cache of mine has wonderful views.......albeit on a good day, which has also had good feedback. I don't think I would place a cache "just for the sake of it".

  24. #24
    Icenians Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Humphrey View Post
    It's an interesting example. It might be that the cache owner had a good reason for placing the cache there. If this is mentioned in the description, then that might be the only thing of note about the cache but it's bound to be a "good" cache whatever the actual location or size of box. For example, let's say it's to commemorate a lovely viewpoint that is no more since the building of the motorway. You might not like the viewpoint now it's been ruined, but it's not a bad cache because it's taking you to where the cache owner wanted you to go. Many caches of "historic" or local interest are like this.

    Or, of course, it might be just placed at random (do people really do that?).

    It works in sifting out a few really great caches and a few really bad ones, but the systems I've seen aren't much help beyond that. The weakness is that the caches are just rated "better" or "worse" by several visitors and this is fairly useless information on its own.
    Ah, you misunderstood me. There is no box, to log the cache you stand on the the motorway bridge and take a photograph of yourself. The view is a typical dutch industrialised scene that has been like that for some time.

    The rating system has an average cache as 5 with poor down at 1 and great up at 10. This one is at 1 and it takes a lot of negative votes to get to 1.

    Having done the cache I can assure you there is nothing redeeming about it.

  25. #25

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    Quality is very subjective and what appeals to one may not appeal to another. Over the past year, or so, I have tried to take some photographs of the area near the cache so that others can try and judge for themselves whether a cache look like doing or not. I have had one or two stroppy emails from cache owners asking me to remove photos as they are, to quote one "not representative of the location".

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