Hi All,
I feel I must put into words, my concerns regarding to Groundspeak, and GC.com, and our complete and utter dependance on the organization for supplying us the cache info that drives the sport.

To take a quote from Spiderman, With great power, comes great responsibility. Geocaching.com are the largest database of caches, and have gained the power to enforce what they like on the sport. Like it or not, they have the ultimate power on what caches are listed (indeed, over and above the Moderators), and who they grant access to the database they guard so vigorously.

(Other internet companies who are in a similar position include Google and Ebay. It should be noted, that both Google and Ebay provide an API to access their services, for all to use, and guidelines in how to use them. GC, however , do not).

I do not have a problem with a single geocaching database for the World, so long as what they do is fair and responsible, and for the good of the hobby.

The responsibly element, unfortunately, has cause for concern.

A few days ago, they, without warning, blocked access from GeocacheUK.com, thus preventing the excellent service that Ian (Teasel) has provided to us all in the UK, from working properly. Among other services, the Mobile Midlet service, is now not useable.

Now, Hopefully, the dispute will be resolved soon, (in the mean time, I'll be reverting back to the old paper caching methods&#33. However, the way in which the supply of data was shut off, raises questions:

1) Why should we in the UK have to rely on an American Company for our hobby.... What happens if GC are bought out, and their new owners are not so accommodating to non US caches (ie, they no longer list them).

2) Premium caches ? Yes, I understand that it's only 6 or so a month, but this 6 isn't helping GAGB, GUK, or anyone this side of the pond. So far, only a few caches are premium, but that means that as a non paying member, I only get access to 99%.....
So, what's 6?.... The petrol cost is much higher, I'm not going to miss 6... . This is not the point. If the majority of people in the UK were premium members, It could follow, that the majority of caches could also be premium? Therefore, much more pressure would be placed on people to sign up, and so on... I just don't want to find in 10 Years or so time, that to go caching requires you to sign up with GC.com inc, the multi million pound cache gorilla.
(EDIT 9/8/04.... Premium Membership is 1.30, not 6. The point remains the same though.)

(in just the same way, as to watch Sate-light TV in the UK requires you to sign up with Sky...... Remember 10 years ago, the free Channels that slowly went premium..... We are on the same path here).

3) Is there anything that can be done to prevent this? Setting up our own server will be difficult, as GC have the market share.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

Comments please.