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Thread: The Inexorable Rise of the Pointless Micro

  1. #1

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    Default The Inexorable Rise of the Pointless Micro

    The thread on cache density was a useful reminder of how much simpler things used to be when I started caching.
    Using a GSAK export to Google Earth, it's interesting to see the not only the massive increase in caches around my area in Essex, but also the exponential growth of the micro relative to others.

    Micros are shown as black containers on these annual GE screenshots:
    2004:


    2005:


    2006:


    2007:


    2008:



    2009:



    2008 is when the rot set in!

  2. #2

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    Yup, it was frequency of micros that encouraged me to abandon my brief spell of geocaching and stick to trig points instead.

  3. #3

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    When everyone changes to a digital camera, will this herald a drop in micro caches (ignoring the obvious - other small containers )

    - lets hope so
    Happy Caching

    Gazooks

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

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    I don't get your point. The number of non-micro caches also seems to have risen hugely, and if you aren't into micros you can easily ignore them and enjoy the rotting boxes of soggy tat instead.

    The map doesn't seem to distinguish between "pointless" micros and "good" ones either.

    Chances are that as an area gets packed with caches, the remaining hiding places are likely to be more suitable for micros. As time goes on, even the good spots for micros will be used up and new cache hiders will have to get creative (or put up with negative feedback!).

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    Cool

    At least micros don't end up full of rusting, broken mildewed kids toys and completely pointless calling cards...

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    found a few calling cards stuffed in micros... always amazes me

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    Simply Paul Guest

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    I know a cache who's spoken of inventing Nano-cards... h34r:

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    What I want know is who is going to charter a boat and get the micro in the sea?:wacko:

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    Quote Originally Posted by M3ZPY View Post
    What I want know is who is going to charter a boat and get the micro in the sea?:wacko:
    That looks like a cool cache - and its more of a small than a micro...

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    I remember this site when it was on Coast on the telly

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    Does size matter

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mongoose39uk View Post
    Does size matter
    My sentiments exactly, if it is a micro and you dislike them, don't go look for them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrDick&Vick View Post
    My sentiments exactly, if it is a micro and you dislike them, don't go look for them.
    Ahhh, but it's not that straightforward, is it? The title of this topic refers to "Pointless Micros" and it can be quite difficult to differentiate between a (what's the opposite of "pointless"?) worthwhile micro and a pointless one without some careful reading of the cache description and previous logs.

    There are some very good/clever/humorous micros out there but unfortunately they often get tarred with the same brush as those other members of their family, the infamous damp-film-can-in-boring-hedge micro.

    Maybe it's like government: We find the caches that we deserve to find.

    Do your homework, be selective, only tick the boxes of those caches worthy of your vote.

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    The thread title, the maps and the comment "2008 is when the rot set in!"
    infer that ALL microcaches are pointless, unless there's been an attempt to eliminate the worthwhile micros from the diagram (which I doubt).

    The maps show micros using a more prominent symbol (so as to exaggerate the dominance of that type of cache hide), and in general I get the impression that qichina simply doesn't like micros at all. Which is fine; but why not just ignore them then? The maps also show a huge rise in non-micro caches, so why not seek those instead of ranting about caches designed for other people?

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Humphrey View Post
    The maps also show a huge rise in non-micro caches, so why not seek those instead of ranting about caches designed for other people?
    Perhaps the OP feels that geocaching as a whole is devalued by the spread of poorly thought-out caches, and that, disproportionately, this concerns micros in particular?

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    Quote Originally Posted by agentmancuso View Post
    Perhaps the OP feels that geocaching as a whole is devalued by the spread of poorly thought-out caches, and that, disproportionately, this concerns micros in particular?
    Exactly AgentMancuso,
    The point in my original post was the number of micros relative to others. It's really not such a hard concept.
    I usually avoid them, but with a PQ limit of 500 it's hard to find new interesting-looking 'ordinary' caches without wading through a sea of pointless micros.

    HH - who's "ranting"? A cheap shot.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by qichina View Post
    Exactly AgentMancuso,
    The point in my original post was the number of micros relative to others. It's really not such a hard concept.
    I usually avoid them, but with a PQ limit of 500 it's hard to find new interesting-looking 'ordinary' caches without wading through a sea of pointless micros.

    HH - who's "ranting"? A cheap shot.
    OK - I might have misunderstood. And if you don't think it's a "rant", then I'll happy to call it a "complaint" or whatever you prefer.

    So what you're saying is that if there were 1000 caches in a given area in 2007, made up of 200 micros and 800 small to large caches, today there are perhaps 2000 in the same area but the number of small to large boxes has increased to only 1200, whilst the number of micros has increased from 200 to 800.

    On top of that, out of the 800 micros the vast majority are known to be pointless, but you can't ignore micros altogether in your PQ because you want to pick up the non-pointless ones (?). So you end up not being able to easily identify the extra caches that you might want to hunt (presumably after sifting through these to identify the pointless non-micros).

    My question then, is how do you identify pointless caches (as opposed to worthwhile ones)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Humphrey View Post
    OK - I might have misunderstood. And if you don't think it's a "rant", then I'll happy to call it a "complaint" or whatever you prefer.

    So what you're saying is that if there were 1000 caches in a given area in 2007, made up of 200 micros and 800 small to large caches, today there are perhaps 2000 in the same area but the number of small to large boxes has increased to only 1200, whilst the number of micros has increased from 200 to 800.

    On top of that, out of the 800 micros the vast majority are known to be pointless, but you can't ignore micros altogether in your PQ because you want to pick up the non-pointless ones (?). So you end up not being able to easily identify the extra caches that you might want to hunt (presumably after sifting through these to identify the pointless non-micros).

    My question then, is how do you identify pointless caches (as opposed to worthwhile ones)?

    I think you are trying to be a smart-****.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mongoose39uk View Post
    Does size matter
    I was always under the impression that it was what you did with it, and not how big it was....


    Rampton Broadmoore Esq.

  20. #20
    uktim Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by qichina View Post
    Exactly AgentMancuso,
    The point in my original post was the number of micros relative to others. It's really not such a hard concept.
    I usually avoid them, but with a PQ limit of 500 it's hard to find new interesting-looking 'ordinary' caches without wading through a sea of pointless micros.

    HH - who's "ranting"? A cheap shot.
    The concept that some of us find hard to understand is why this is considered a problem. Picking the right caches to visit is all part of the joy of caching. Just how simple do you want caching to be?

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    Quote Originally Posted by qichina View Post
    I think you are trying to be a smart-****.
    Oh crikey!

    I was simply hoping for some explanation, but if you don't want to clarify, then no problem.

  22. #22

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    Micro's are on the rise (as a % of total new caches placed).
    Of all the caches published when I started caching in 2005, 20% were micros.
    In subsequent years that changed to 27%, 34%, 33%. So far this year it's at 36%

    The reason we are noticing them a lot more is down to sheer numbers of new caches. In 2005 roughly 5000 new caches were published - so far this year we are up to 15,000.

    For the record, this years figures show the biggest increase is in the number of new caches being classed as "small" (with the biggest drop-off in "unknown").
    One of the loonies who ran the UK's First Mega Event :wacko:
    http://www.yorkshiregeocaching.co.uk

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rampton Broadmoore View Post
    I was always under the impression that it was what you did with it, and not how big it was....


    Rampton Broadmoore Esq.

    unwittingly this joke does answer the question.!

    There are places that nanos and micros are appropriate and can be great hunts. Magnetic nanos on the side of metal bridges for example. ( on the assumption that the bridge is interesting and pleasant to be on)

    The problem occurs when people decide they want to place a cache.
    They sometimes don't put much effort in to finding a suitable location with some redeeming features to make a trip there worthwhile.
    They then don't appear to spend much time trying to locate the best location to place the cache.
    They then don't seem to want to make an effort and use the largest container that they possibly can.
    So we end up with. A pointless location maybe even very unpleasant. A poor choice of cache location.
    A micro where, 30 feet away, you could have hidden a larger container.

    Do I want to have to ignore all the micros and nanos? No I want to see the interesting places that people have found, where they have taken the time to search out the best hidding place and where they have realise that the largest container they can use is a nano or micro.

    Do I want to not have yet another 35mm pot stuffed into a hedge 500 ft from the last one with the interesting feature nearby being heroin needles/ large amounts of dog excrement/ a rubbish dump/ cheap burger van in layby/ great spot to do some dogging ( delete as appropriate) YES

    I think it's great the way our hobby has developed and attracted many more people. I will remain unconvinced that ANYONE actually enjoys the above. You may want the numbers but you'll never enjoy them.
    They teach newbies the wrong lesson and thus make them more likely to happen again.

    Do I wish the reviewers could ask for evidence of a sites suitablility for a nano etc? a reason and photo for it's location and size? dreaming now!!
    But do I wish that everyone make a commitment to in future place caches only where there is a good reason to do so and use the largest possible container? yes please.


    I hope that I have explained my view point rationally, without too much emotional outbursts and without causing too great an offence.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobbynobbs View Post
    I hope that I have explained my view point rationally, without too much emotional outbursts and without causing too great an offence.
    All very nicely explained.

    I suppose that I'm at a disadvantage, as I've found loads of micros but none (yet!) of the type you describe. It's unfortunate if your neighbourhood has seen a proliferation of this type of thing and I agree I wouldn't be pleased to plan a nice country walk with a view to picking up half a dozen micros on the way round, only to find that they are all of the heroin-needle type (although I can't help thinking that a large cache in the same spot would be even worse: I'd be worried what was in the box).

    I tend to prefer a mix of caches, but a good micro is preferred even if there's room for a larger cache in the same spot; but that's my personal preference and I understand that many people rate the size of cache as much more important than the location. I don't like nanos very much though (too fiddly and frustrating).

    I take your point, however, that sometimes people think that a smaller box is easier to hide (or that the usual match container/preform tube is cheaper to buy and doesn't need to be stocked). My belief is that a micro is more difficult to hide; a full-size box can be chucked in a bush without a thought and quickly covered with a few sticks (I've found loads of those!). Whereas the usual micro container (rarely a 35mm film pot these days) has to be placed with some care so that it doesn't move about, can be replaced exactly as found, can be located easily within the likely GPS radius, stays waterproof and has room for a logbook big enough to last a good period before requiring replacement.

    Back to the main topic though, I just haven't seen a disproportionate rise of the "pointless" variety of micro (otherwise, why aren't I finding them?), and I dispute that the maps demonstrate anything other than that cache numbers have increased, and possibly that the proportion of micros has increased in relation to others.
    Last edited by Happy Humphrey; 8th August 2009 at 07:25 AM.

  25. #25
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    Then the Isle of Man is a wonderful place to cache because 35mm pots ARE used very regularly in lots of other areas in my, any many others who I speak to often, opinion.

    Regarding locations like heroin needles not being good for a larger sized cache.... well I thought that one of my major points was that caches should only be placed where there is a point of finding one not just because why not.

    Yes it's easier to hide a smaller cache. Larger caches being thrown in bushes.... haven't you got your sizes mixed up? Or is this another lucky break for cachers near you? I can certainly say that it has been told to me many many times that micros " appear to be thrown out of car windows at 500ft gaps into hedges" larger caches that are hidden with similar disinterest tend to be muggled very quickly and clear themselves from the unfound list.

    micros and nanos hidden in some locations tend to cause an area of damage around them where people rummage around, this can have a noticable issue in some locations and will get us a bad name.

    They have their place in our hobby. It being where a larger container is unplacable.

    But again we can only talk about our own experiences and those of the people we converse with on a regular basis. What are the B+B rates near you as it would seem to be a great place for a trip

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    Most of my caching is between 100 and 500 miles from home, so I do get to see a variety (check my gc.com profile!). No, I didn't get it wrong; it's definitely easier to place a regular cache than a micro (I've also placed a lot of caches!). But perhaps because I've taken more care with micro placements I've influenced others to do the same? Anyway, yes there are a lot of good caches around here and few duffers.
    :socool:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Humphrey View Post
    But perhaps because I've taken more care with micro placements
    :socool:

    OhhhYesss, I can vouch for that!!!!hmy:hmy:

  28. #28
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    Hope it didn't look like i was doing a personal comment on your placements?

    I wish that everyone took the care that you do. There are a large number that don't. That's what gets micros a bad name.

    It is harder to place a decent micro....... but so much easier to place a rubbish one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobbynobbs View Post
    Hope it didn't look like i was doing a personal comment on your placements?
    Not at all!
    Quote Originally Posted by nobbynobbs View Post
    It is harder to place a decent micro....... but so much easier to place a rubbish one.
    Agreed.

  30. #30
    keehotee Guest

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    Agree with both of you.

    The issue isn't with the growth of micros per se, but with the growth of meaningless cache placements....most of which seem to involve low effort, low thought micros.

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    A while ago a new cacher started placing micros in our area and I thought that surely there was room for a larger cache in some of the places. I was initially predosposed to dislike them but after I got around to finding a couple I changed my mind. Okay, a larger cache could probably have been placed but these micros were really well camoflaged and presented a totally different challenge - as such they make a welcome change.:socool:

  32. #32
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    So how do we find a way to mark with big neon signs on the PQ's the rubbish ones so that we only have to find the decent ones?

  33. #33
    Icenians Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobbynobbs View Post
    So how do we find a way to mark with big neon signs on the PQ's the rubbish ones so that we only have to find the decent ones?
    Perhaps a field that gives the average number of words per log on the cache

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    That rather favours certain types of cache. There are many good ones where you're asked to keep logs short and not give too much away. Plus, many people just don't write long log entries.

  35. #35
    Icenians Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Humphrey View Post
    That rather favours certain types of cache. There are many good ones where you're asked to keep logs short and not give too much away. Plus, many people just don't write long log entries.
    It wasn't a serious suggestion of a solution

  36. #36
    nobbynobbs Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icenians View Post
    Perhaps a field that gives the average number of words per log on the cache


    LOL :cheers:

    If only

    I wonder whether the only answer is to try and educate people or maybe get gc.com to introduce a rating system.
    Otherwise we either put up with it or just ignore all micros.

  37. #37
    keehotee Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobbynobbs View Post
    LOL :cheers:

    If only

    I wonder whether the only answer is to try and educate people or maybe get gc.com to introduce a rating system.
    Otherwise we either put up with it or just ignore all micros.
    A lot will have to do with people writing what they mean when they log online.
    It's sad - but we all seem to be more scared of upsetting cache owners with honest logs than we are keen to let other people know what we think of any particular cache.

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    I see your point, but apart from upsetting the sensitive souls who set caches there's another flaw in this plan.

    You might not enjoy the cache one bit, and 90% of visitors don't care for it much either but does that make it a poor cache? Not necessarily. The majority of visitors might just be rubbish at identifying caches that they'd enjoy. Why should every cache be aimed at the "average" cacher? Sometimes it's worth setting a cache that you know will be less popular but is something you want to do. It might just be at a location of significance to yourself, but with little else of interest. If it's executed with some care, then it might still be unpopular with some but they shouldn't criticise it just because it's not their type of cache.

    Rather than a rating system, I'd prefer a system of categorising caches (Waymarking-style) so you can match your preferences to what the cache owner had in mind. After all, not every cache is meant to provide a brilliant afternoon out with all the family, or a great walk, or fine views, or whatever.

  39. #39
    Icenians Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Humphrey View Post
    Rather than a rating system, I'd prefer a system of categorising caches (Waymarking-style) so you can match your preferences to what the cache owner had in mind. After all, not every cache is meant to provide a brilliant afternoon out with all the family, or a great walk, or fine views, or whatever.
    Not entirly sure how that would help. Surely you can have a nice sidetracked and an awful sidetracked. (I mearly use sidetracked as an example of a type)

    For example, sidetracked stuffed at a post next to a shunting yard is possibly not what MOST folk would like whereas, I would imagine, a sidetracked at a lovingly restored station building may be more pleasing. Categorising both in the same category doesn't help to distinguish the 'good' from the 'bad'. Does this mean that we would have to use multiple categories per cache to try and narrow things down?

  40. #40
    uktim Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobbynobbs View Post
    LOL :cheers:

    If only

    I wonder whether the only answer is to try and educate people or maybe get gc.com to introduce a rating system.
    Otherwise we either put up with it or just ignore all micros.
    There are two options ignore all micros or put some effort into selecting good ones to visit. Educating people is not an option IMO, an educated person shouldn't even consider "educating" others round to their rather narrow view of the world. Caching is a diverse hobby lets keep it that way instead of dumbing it down to suit a few who want to twist it to fit their own preferences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icenians View Post
    Not entirly sure how that would help. Surely you can have a nice sidetracked and an awful sidetracked. (I mearly use sidetracked as an example of a type)

    For example, sidetracked stuffed at a post next to a shunting yard is possibly not what MOST folk would like whereas, I would imagine, a sidetracked at a lovingly restored station building may be more pleasing. Categorising both in the same category doesn't help to distinguish the 'good' from the 'bad'.
    I agree that this wouldn't make a badly-executed cache impossible. What it would do, however, is allow you to focus on the type of cache you're more likely to enjoy, and to make the cache owner clarify the inspiration for the hide (remember this is about "pointless" micros).

    If you consider all caches pointless when all they are is something to occupy a few minutes when waiting for a train, then you can simply ignore that category altogether. With a small amount of effort, your local cache map would look like your own concept of the "good old days", with only caches that fit within your own idea of "proper caches" appearing on the map.
    Quote Originally Posted by Icenians View Post
    Does this mean that we would have to use multiple categories per cache to try and narrow things down?
    I suppose you could have sub-categories, but I doubt that you'd need to go that far. Within a category, a rating system would work because you'd have something objective to rate, i.e. how well did the cache "do what it says on the tin", in other words, was it a good example of the type.

  42. #42
    Icenians Guest

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    Of course, it's perfectly possible that any rating system would push the micros up and highlight them as much loved, and the traditional cache down.

    I love the way many pro micro cachers automatically assume that a rating system would harm their caches. Maybe that says something about their view of thier own caches

  43. #43
    Icenians Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Humphrey View Post
    I suppose you could have sub-categories, but I doubt that you'd need to go that far. Within a category, a rating system would work because you'd have something objective to rate, i.e. how well did the cache "do what it says on the tin", in other words, was it a good example of the type.
    But don't we already have this, apart from the rating bit? We have a way of distinguishing through the cache size. Sidetracked and similar are easily spotted, and you're not likely to have loads of them in your immediate area.

    To be fair though, it should really be more about pointless caches. It's not fair to single out the micro. Some caches wouldn't be improved no matter how big the box.

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    Must agree with the last post, I am sure that if we all think about we could come up with a list of 'pointless caches' of all types and sizes.
    I personally find 'Puzzle Caches' pointless as for me it is about the walk and chilling out not about scratching my poor old head trying to fathom out somebody's puzzle so to me they are pointless. I also find 'WebCam caches' pointless as I might just as well go there and take a photo of myself at the cache'?' location, 'Virtual caches' fall into this group as well. But then again it is only my opinion and it would be a very very boring world if we all had the same opinion and all liked the same type of cache etc.
    Live and let live and each to his/her own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icenians View Post
    I love the way many pro micro cachers automatically assume that a rating system would harm their caches. Maybe that says something about their view of thier own caches
    It is more likely that it reflects their concerns about the perceived agenda of a small but oh so very vocal set of 'veteran' cachers that use this (and the other forums) to bang on and on and on and on and on and on and - well, you get the idea - about micros and how the world apparently ended sometime after the 'good old days' of 2006....


    Mike

  46. #46
    Icenians Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by von-horst View Post
    It is more likely that it reflects their concerns about the perceived agenda of a small but oh so very vocal set of 'veteran' cachers that use this (and the other forums) to bang on and on and on and on and on and on and - well, you get the idea - about micros and how the world apparently ended sometime after the 'good old days' of 2006....


    Mike
    I would suggest that any forum on caching, whatever the views pro or con micro, is a small set.

    Nice of you clip the rest of the post where I actually said that the thread ought to be about pointless caches and NOT micros!

    I was simply observing that many pro micro posts SEEM, and that is only my gut feeling much like your unproven claim of minorities, to not want any way to rate caches. I simply interpreted that as possibly some of them are not that happy with their own caches.

    I've found some great micros and some ruddy awful big caches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icenians View Post
    Nice of you clip the rest of the post...
    You made two separate points.

    One about cache rating systems, one (perhaps meant in jest) about how you perceive cachers who are 'pro-micro'.

    Since I was only addressing one of the two issues you had raised, I only quoted the part of your post that I felt was relevant.

    If you feel that you were missrepresented or that I twisted what you were saying somehow, I apologise.

    Mike

  48. #48
    Icenians Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by von-horst View Post
    You made two separate points.

    One about cache rating systems, one (perhaps meant in jest) about how you perceive cachers who are 'pro-micro'.

    Since I was only addressing one of the two issues you had raised, I only quoted the part of your post that I felt was relevant.

    If you feel that you were missrepresented or that I twisted what you were saying somehow, I apologise.

    Mike
    Fair enough, you have a point. I need a tongue in cheek smily

    I learnt long ago that it's far more likely the communication issue is at my end

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    I don't think that any criticism was aimed at me, but just in case...
    I'll point out that I used to have several caches in the top 100 of the UK Geocaching rating list, and even one in the top 10.
    However, I still think that ratings are of very limited use and only really tell you that some caches are very popular, some are very unpopular and the vast majority are neither.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icenians View Post
    But don't we already have this, apart from the rating bit? We have a way of distinguishing through the cache size. Sidetracked and similar are easily spotted, and you're not likely to have loads of them in your immediate area.
    We can distinguish the cache size , as you say, but where does that get you?
    "Sidetracked" is an example of where a cache category has been applied, albeit informally, because you can search for those caches if you think it's a good idea and easily avoid them if you don't. "Motorway Mayhem" is another example of a category. All it promises is that the cache will be easily accessible from the motorway, and if the cache delivers on that promise then it's not "pointless".
    It seems quite a popular idea to categorise your cache by using a "theme" (Curiosities of Derbyshire, for instance) or a series name (Chiltern Hundred), and I think that this makes it easy for people to understand why the cache was placed and what the point is. The latter has a few caches which appear to have been chucked in a roadside hedge (although with some care), but the point is obvious (it's en route to the next) and completing the series is the challenge (as is made clear).

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