Geocaching Etiquette 201: Cache Ownership

In the first of this two-part series, we shared some guidance that Geocaching HQ and community volunteer reviewers provide when asked about finding and logging caches. In this second installment, we’ll cover the guidance we provide regarding cache owner etiquette.

It should go without saying, but let’s say it anyway: It’s very important to read and understand the Geocache hiding guidelines before placing a cache. When you submit your cache for review, you check a box stating that you’ve read and agreed to those guidelines. The Geocaching Help Center is another valuable information source.

Don’t damage the environment to place a cache, or place the cache in a way that finders will damage the environment to find it.

  • This topic is addressed very clearly in the guidelines. Still, we sometimes receive complaints from property owners about caches that cause a geotrail through undergrowth, or caches nailed into trees, just to name a few examples.
  • If property owner sentiments don’t convince you, “Does not harm the environment” ranked as the second most important factor to a high quality cache in our recent Cache Quality Survey. That means it’s important to your fellow cachers.
  • If yours is an extremely rare situation where a property owner has given you permission to hide the cache in a way that might be seen as damaging the environment, include that explicit permission on your cache page. We still recommend against that kind of hide, because it could inspire someone to place a similar hide somewhere without permission. 

Proper use of the Owner Maintenance log

  • Post an Owner Maintenance log every time you perform maintenance on your cache.
  • Don’t use the log when you’re just planning to perform maintenance. 
  • Don’t use the Write Note log for owner maintenance. If the Needs Maintenance icon is on your cache page, only the Owner Maintenance log will make it go away.

Vacation cache? Think long and hard about it

  • The guidelines strongly recommend against hiding caches far from home. Such caches are often not published because they’re difficult to maintain.
  • If you insist on hiding a cache far from home, you need a maintenance plan, usually including a local person who can help you maintain the cache. This is something you need to take care of before submitting the cache for review.

Proper use of attributes

  • Attributes are intended to communicate what to expect at a cache location. Please use them for that purpose.
  • Don’t intentionally add incorrect attributes to help people with challenge caches, or for a puzzle, or just to be funny. It defeats the purpose of preparing finders for the cache location.
  • Be especially mindful of the Wheelchair accessible attribute. If you’re unsure if your cache location is wheelchair accessible, is an excellent resource to help you figure it out.

Other things to consider about cache ownership

  • Give your cache accurate difficulty and terrain ratings so that finders know what they’re getting into.
  • If you must delete a finder’s log, communicate with them about it. Most of the time, the reasons for log deletion (ex. including a spoiler in the log) are innocent mistakes. 
  • Don’t add content to your cache page after publication that doesn’t comply with the guidelines. If it is brought to a reviewer’s or Geocachging HQ’s attention, the cache may be archived.
  • Don’t maintain an archived geocache. In many cases, a cache is archived because it caused a problem or a property owner didn’t want it there. By maintaining an archived cache, you could be unwittingly exacerbating a problem. Instead, submit a new cache page for review.

Check out the Inside Geocaching HQ podcast for more discussion of the items in this post and in the Finding & Logging article!

Hopelessly addicted cacher and Geocaching HQ's public relations manager.