Caching Territory and Cache Hide Review
This topic is cross-posted, I hope you don't mind, but after writing it in another thread I felt that it was good info for all geocachers, and so am posting it here!
The basic question, paraphrased, was "Where is your geocaching turf?"
Great question, and one that I will chime in on because it is one of the most common issues that arise in new cache listings.
Geocachers get their new listings held up almost daily over this issue!
[FlameGuard On] Herein the word 'you' is easier to type than 'the geocacher involved' so I am not using 'you' to address the OP (Original Poster) or you the reader directly, but the whole community of geocachers. Further, I am not particularly politically correct, so though I value and appreciate the women of geocaching I use "him" rather than dance around the him/her/he/she/them gender thing in my writings![/FlameGuard]
Where you normally geocache, the area that might be called your 'turf', is relevant to me only in the context of my ability to spot vacation and 'throwaway' caches... those that are too far off of your beaten path to realistically believe that you will maintain them.
You would not believe the number of proposed new listings submitted where it is obvious that the hider was driving down some highway far from home, sees an interesting tree and thinks "Hey, I have a microcache in my briefcase, I believe I'll throw 'er under that tree!" He'll get home, list it, and forget it. It becomes GeoTrash after the first couple of months, as he has no intention of ever going back to look at it.
Now, I am all about helping geocachers get their hides listed.
I am a Volunteer Reviewer for no other purpose.
Sure I apply and enforce Groundspeak's Cache Listing Rules and Guidelines, but I represent and work for geocachers.
If there is room for flexibility or discretion in the application of the Guidelines I will almost always exercise it to the benefit of the geocacher.
I will go to great lengths to work with any geocacher to help them configure a cache so that it is listable.
A vibrant, healthy, happy and growing geocaching community is my only pay or reward.
That said, however, I have no desire whatsoever to list a cache like the one above described! Such hides benefit neither the geocaching community nor the listing service that publishes them.
So, knowing something about your turf and travel habits is important to me... and by extension, to you!
Your turf, in my terms, is the area you reside or work in and regularly travel through.
Determining that turf is the reason we ask you to put your home coords in your profile - when you list a cache its distance from your home is one of the things we see and consider.
If it is over 30 miles from your home I will generally inquire as to how often and how quickly you can respond to cache issues.
I know from experience that a 60-mile round trip to change out a wet log is more effort than most geocachers are willing to put into a cache - in which case they don't need to have caches that far away!
If, for example, you are a family man, you have young kids at home, your wife doesn't cache, you've got 0 hides and 30 finds and you work full-time, you can pretty much expect that I will question your ability and dedication to maintaining your new listing on top of a mountain 20 miles away! You're just not likely to have time to go climb that mountain to check on the cache very quickly or often!
On the other hand, if you are retired, are an active cacher with 10 hides and 300 finds and are a participant in your geocaching association's forums, I can better expect that you'll be able and willing to get to that cache in a reasonable timeframe.
Every Reviewer is different, but in most cases my expectation is that you will respond to cache issues within two weeks. That is the maximum time that should elapse between a 'Needs Maintenance' or 'Should Be Archived' note and your going to check on the cache. There are, as in everything, exceptions. If you need an exception just write me! When I don't hear from an owner and two weeks pass after an issue alert I will most likely archive the cache.
This is why we use guidelines instead of rules... geocaching and geocachers need this level of flexibility.
I will also look at the number of caches you've found in the area of your new hide. That's a pretty good indication of the turf you regularly cache - that way when I see you place a new hide way out away from where you normally cache I can pretty much predict that you won't maintain it!
If I have reason to believe that you can't or won't maintain a hide, I may list it based on your note telling me that you will maintain it, but may set a watch on the cache.
If unresolved maintenance issues should arise I will then have no hesitation about archiving the cache, and the experience teaches me something of value to consider for your future hides!
You may travel 100 miles to your lake house once a month. If I know that this is the case I won't have any trouble listing caches along that route, even though they are much farther from your home than I might allow for another geocacher!
Even then, if I see you place a new cache that's not along that route, we are back to square one - I have to determine (and hold up the listing while I ask) is it a vacation cache? A cool place you happened by and will never visit again? Do you have relatives there that you only visit every six months?
Of course your time in the game, your reputation in the caching community, the number of hides you have and where they are, your maintenance history with existing hides as well as our relationship and your past relations with Reviewers all feed into my ability to decide if you are likely to maintain the hide.
Geocaches may in theory live forever, but the minimum lifespan under the guidelines is 90 days.
To list it I have to believe that you can and will maintain it as needed for at least that long and will collect it when you no longer can or desire to keep it up. Therefore I need to know that it is within your normal turf.
There are exceptions, of course.
Vacation caches are not allowed, but occasionally you'll see a cache hundreds of mile from the owner's home, even in another state.
I have several caches near me here in Alabama that are owned by a cacher in California. I have never met the man, but I know that he has a home in both states, spends half the year in each home, has family that lives close to his caches here for whom he provided me phone numbers and who have committed to doing maintenance as and when needed. So far that has worked fine!
There is a caching couple here who are truck drivers; they have caches strung from Miami to New York, but they are actively up and down that route every week or so and no cache of theirs has ever gone two weeks without attention when it needed maintenance.
So, if you have a dependable local maintainer and give me their contact info, or if I know that you are in the area of your new listing frequently, your 'turf' can be vastly extended!
Another way to extend your turf is to co-own a cache with another geocacher. Under the Guidelines co-ownership doesn't exist - one account must own and be responsible for each cache, but it can be done as a cooperative agreement among geocachers.
If you are out of your normal turf and find a location that really begs a geocache, a place you just know geocachers will enjoy, but it's just too far out of your normal travel routine and you know you wouldn't realistically maintain it, team up with a local cacher to place it.
This local cacher will, if he sees the value of this location as you do, likely allow you (or work with you) to place the hide and will list it under his account.
He will actually own it and as far as Groundspeak is concerned he will be singularly responsible for it, but in the listing page he will put both his name and yours as the cache owners, giving you credit and recognition for the placement.
You won't get a statistics bump out of it, it won't show up in your hides list, but geocachers will see and appreciate your involvement, and that's got to be more satisfying than incrementing a number!
This is but another good reason to host and attend events, geocache with others and to be active in the forums and community - if you are known and trusted well enough to work cooperatively with geofriends you can place caches almost anywhere!
As far as the idea, and surely it was mentioned only in jest, of protecting your turf from other cacher's hides - you have that right only on property you own and not one inch further!
What all of this means to you is that anytime you place a hide outside of the normally-accepted 30-or-so miles from home, writing a Reviewer Note when you submit your listing to explain that you can and will be able to maintain it will very likely keep the listing from being held up while I try to contact you!
The more I know about you and your hides the more I can help you. Use the Reviewer Note on all new listings to tell me anything I need to know about the listing and it should sail right on through the review process!
I hope this helps you!