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Geocaching Challenges – Thanks for the Feedback

Bryan Roth: Co-Founder of Groundspeak

By Bryan Roth,

We hear your concerns, and thank you for your feedback.  Now we are asking you to give Challenges a chance. You don’t necessarily have to participate, but give us some time to improve the feature set.  Here’s why.

For many years, the geocaching community has been clamoring for the return of Virtual geocaches. There were a lot of issues with the implementation of Virtuals that prevented us from bringing them back in their original form. When we set out to find a way to bring Virtuals back that would appeal to the community, we determined that the basic idea behind Virtual Caches was “go somewhere, do something.”

This is what Geocaching Challenges are all about. Over 99% of Challenges will be location-based Challenges created by the community. You might be Challenged to take a picture of yourself walking across the Abbey Road crosswalk or tasked to take a picture from the top of the Empire State Building. These are fun, outdoor adventures that can happen even in locations that do not support physical caches.

If a Challenge is not specifically location-based, or does not require a photo (for a photo Challenge) or an action (for an Action Challenge), please flag it or vote it down. When flagging, think of yourself as a reviewer. You wouldn’t deny a cache just because it sounds boring (though, in this case, you could vote it down), but you would deny it if it were inappropriate or did not meet the guidelines. We think the instances of locationless Challenges being submitted by the community will decrease as people come to better understand what Challenges are. We are working now to improve the educational materials within the Challenges section of Geocaching.com so that it is clear what is acceptable for a Challenge and what is not.

Worldwide Challenges are the one exception to the location-based rule. These are Challenges created by Groundspeak that are meant to bring the community together by letting us all experience the same adventure. If everyone participated, we could have well over five million geocachers hiking their local trails one day or biking to work the next day. We will generally be creating one Worldwide Challenge per day, although we may add a few in the early days to get everyone started. These will almost always be outdoor adventures.  We started with one that was not necessarily an outdoors Challenge (Kiss a Frog) because we thought it would be fun.  But, we realize that such a Challenge is not in keeping with our mission of getting you outside.  So, we have archived the Challenge effective today. We will soon be adding functionality to allow you to remove ‘Acceptance’ and ‘Completion’ logs you’ve entered, if you choose to do so.

If you think an individual Challenge is bad, you are welcome to vote it down. All users have the ability to sort by the highest rated Challenges (simply click on the column header ‘Rating’ in the search results), so voting a Challenge down will send it further down the list.

We will be updating the mobile applications, adding functionality to the API so that other developers can incorporate Challenges into their applications and services, and working to improve the website functionality on an ongoing basis.  In the interim, we ask that you to allow us some time to innovate.

We believe that, if people use the Challenges system as it was meant to be used and populate it with Challenges they think others would enjoy, Challenges will add more to geocaching than Virtuals ever did.