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Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor adventure that is happening all the time, all around the world. To play, participants use the Geocaching app and/or a GPS device to navigate to cleverly hidden containers called geocaches. There are millions of geocaches in 190 countries waiting to be discovered—there are probably even some near you right now.
Geocaching started in early 2000. When the website launched, only 75 geocaches had been hidden. Today, there are over 3 million geocaches and millions of active geocachers playing the game. Geocaches come in all different shapes, sizes, and difficulties and are hidden in both rural and urban settings.
Geocaching offers something for everyone, from families with children to retirees. Some geocachers play the game to see how many total “finds” they can get, while others play to see how many new states or countries they can visit. Geocaching is a great way to find remarkable destinations that you would not have otherwise discovered. It is also an excellent education tool and an excuse to get off the couch.
Go play. To get started, create a free basic account and use Geocaching.com or the free Geocaching® app to search for geocaches near your location. Whether you are off to find your first geocache or your ten-thousandth, the Geocaching® app is your ultimate geocaching toolbox.
Once you find a geocache, open it up and sign the logbook. You may discover some trade or swag items (small toys, keychains, trinkets) inside the geocache. The general rule of thumb is if you take something, leave something of equal or greater value. Then, place the container back exactly how you found it and share your experience online with the rest of the geocaching community.
Whether you’re developing an app, building a website or designing Tupperware containers, it’s important that you have people in your organization who are passionate about understanding people — people who are committed to discovering what makes the lives of those in their community better. At Geocaching HQ, there is a whole team of folks responsible for making sure we’re building the right tools at the right time to meet the needs of geocachers around the world.
Meet the Product Team:
In January, we introduced you to Jayme, our User Insights Analyst at Geocaching HQ. Jayme collects feedback from geocachers about our apps and features by working with playtesters, coordinating surveys and even organizing special games designed to collect feedback. Recently, Jayme and the rest of her Product teammates — the people who work with departments across the company to determine the “what”, “how”, “when” and “why” for everything we build — took their insights-gathering on the road to the Going Caching Mega Event in Rome, Georgia.
We asked Jayme to share some of the Product Team’s takeaways from the experience with us:
Why did the Product Team decide to take a trip to Going Caching in Rome, Georgia?
The first User Insights Games — games designed to collect feedback from geocachers about our features — were a success at the 2014 Geocaching Block Party, so we were looking for a way to expand the program and bring voices in from other regions and demographics. Geocaching’s Founder, Jeremy Irish, had attended the Going Caching Mega Event the previous year and thought it would be a great place to host the next User Insights Games because the event attracted players with a wide range of experience levels.
What were you trying to achieve by taking the User Insights Games on the road?
We had a few different goals in mind for these games:
First, we wanted to invite geocachers to help us prioritize various community-suggested features for the Geocaching website and apps — and have fun playing a game too!
We also saw this as an opportunity to share what it’s like to be on the Geocaching Product Team with the community. When Geocaching HQ makes decisions on a new (or old) feature, we have to consider how people play the game differently across the world and across interests. That’s actually one of the coolest things about geocaching — it allows for you to play the game just the way you like it. But not everyone likes the same aspects of the game which can make deciding which features to focus on (and when) very challenging. All the geocachers who participated in these games were made “Honorary Product Team members” for the day, and were presented with some of the challenges we get to think about every day.
Finally, we wanted to spread the word about how we gather feedback about product and ways to stay involved. The games are just one step in the lengthy process of creating new geocaching features.
What are the steps to deciding on a new geocaching feature?
We usually start with a thread in the User Insights forums and follow up by sending out surveys to the global geocaching community. (Editor’s note: Make sure you’re signed up to receive the Geocaching Weekly Newsletter to be notified about these surveys.) We’ve played User Insights Games with folks at the Geocaching Block Party and Going Caching, as well as with geocachers at Mega-Events in Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, and Sweden. We’re hoping to bring these games to more geocachers around the world in 2016.
What happened at the User Insights Games at the Going Caching Mega Event?
We played with 75 different geocachers over a three day period in four separate two hour sessions. Whew! This time, groups were given a set amount of Monopoly money and were then asked to “purchase” various features — and making sure to consider geocachers of different skill level living in different places with different likes and dislikes. They purposefully were not given enough money to purchase everything (similar to how we have to consider resource constraints here at Geocaching HQ) so the groups had to collaborate and make some decisions together.
What will you do with your learning from the User Insights Games?
As members of the Product Team, it’s our job to be the voice of the geocaching community, based on the insights we gather at games like these. These learnings are shared with others at Geocaching HQ and are central to the product development process, ensuring that we design new features with many different geocachers’ interests in mind.
What was the highlight of the event for you?
It’s incredibly fun to watch a team of 5-7 geocachers collaborate on a specific topic. They may not agree on everything, but watching them get a bit vulnerable and share their passion for geocaching with each other (and us) is pretty special. Ideas are shared, listened to, and friends are made — all in a two hour whirlwind of fun and games.
One geocacher pulled me aside at one point and said, “I was wondering to myself why you don’t just ask us the questions and save the time, and then I thought that probably wouldn’t be any fun. I see what you guys did here. You tricked us into having fun AND giving you feedback. Well played.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
The whole team would like to give a HUGE thank you to:
The event organizers and their crew for working with us to bring User Insights Games to the Going Caching Mega Event. It was the first time we had taken our more formal, organized games on the road and, thanks to their awesome teamwork and planning, it was wildly successful.
The city of Rome, Georgia for donating the use of their beautiful ECO Center. We needed a large space to hold the sessions and the ECO Center was an amazing place to play for the week.
All the geocachers who shared two hours of their time with us. There were so many things to do and geocaches to find at this event, and we greatly appreciate that they made the choice to spend their valuable time with us!
Are you a geocacher? (If not, then you may be reading the wrong blog.) If yes, we want to hear from you! Take this survey to share your two cents on Challenge Caches and check out this blog post for other ways you can give your feedback.
So why are we talking about the Message Center again? Well, when we launched this feature, we promised to keep making improvements based on your feedback. We recently wrapped up work on a few biggies so we want to make sure you know about them!
The big ones:
You can now reply to geocaching messages directly from your email!
Choose how you want to receive Message Center notifications: receive email notifications for every new message, notifications only after inactivity or no email notifications at all.
You can load more conversations in the Message Center.
We raised the character count limit to 4000 characters.
TB and GC codes automatically hyperlink in messages.
Trackable and geocache names automatically hyperlink in messages to owners.
Watch this short video, featuring two awesome Geocaching HQ developers, to learn a little bit more about what went into making the Message Center:
Thanks to all of you who participated in innovation games, completed surveys and participated in the User Insights Forum about Message Center! Interested in giving your two cents on future geocaching features? Check out this blog post for some ideas on how to get involved.
Wir müssen es eingestehen: Auf Geocaching.com war es bisher nicht immer einfach, andere Geocacher zu kontaktieren. Wir haben Euer Feedback ernst genommen und das nagelneue Nachrichten-Center Beta entwickelt.
Mit dieser neuen Funktion kannst Du Nachrichten von Geocaching.com senden und empfangen.
Aus Erfahrung wissen wir, dass Geocaching zu einem intensiveren Erlebnis wird, wenn die Mitspieler untereinander kommunizieren. Deswegen wollten wir diesen Prozess vereinfachen. Unserer Meinung nach sollten die Herausforderungen nur beim Abenteuer “Geocaching” liegen, nicht aber in den Anwendungen, die man dafür verwendet. Worauf wartest Du also noch? Nutze die neue Funktion, um jemanden, der den Geocaches bereits gefunden hat, mit der Bitte nach einem Hinweis anzuschreiben. Oder verwende das Nachrichten-Center, um mit Deinen Geocaching-Kumpels die nächste Wochenendtour zu planen. Wir wissen natürlich, dass noch nicht alles bis ins Detail ausgereift ist, weswegen wir gern Rückmeldungen von Dir entgegen nehmen und im Laufe der Zeit weitere Verbesserungen vornehmen werden. Insofern freuen wir uns, wenn Du an der Umfrage teilnimmst und uns Deine Meinung zum Nachrichten-Center mitteilst.
Wo finde ich das Nachrichten-Center?
Du hast jederzeit Zugriff auf das Nachrichten-Center, indem Du das Brief-Symbol in der rechten oberen Ecke der Website anklickst.
Wie verschicke ich eine neue Nachricht an einen Mitspieler?
Dafür gibt es eine coole Funktion, die den Namen automatisch vervollständigt: Tippe einfach einen Geocaching-Benutzernamen in das Suchfeld und wähle dann aus der Liste der vorgeschlagenen Benutzernamen aus. Jetzt kannst Du eine Nachricht schreiben!
Ich möchte eine Nachricht löschen. Wie mache ich das?
Derzeit können Benutzer Nachrichten nicht permanent löschen. Allerdings kannst Du die Funktion “Nachrichtenverlauf verbergen” nutzen, die dazu führt, dass dieser solange verborgen wird, bis Du erneut eine Nachricht mit dem betreffenden Benutzer austauschst.
Wie kann ich verhindern, dass mich bestimmte Mitspieler anschreiben?
Beim neuen Nachrichten-Center hast Du die Möglichkeit, andere Mitspieler zu blocken. Das betreffende Geocacher bekommt davon übrigens nichts mit.
Wird das Nachrichten-Center auch bei der Geocaching-Intro-App verfügbar sein?
Auf jeden Fall! Wir werden demnächst eine erste Version des Nachrichten-Centers bei der Geocaching-Intro-App für iPhone und Android verfügbar machen. Dadurch wirst Du auch von unterwegs schnell zu anderen Mitspielern Kontakt aufnehmen können.
Warum kann ich nicht gleich den Inhalt einer Nachricht sehen, sobald ich eine Benachrichtigung darüber per E-Mail erhalte?
Gute Frage: Es gibt eine technische Begrenzung dafür, wie eine Benachrichtigung ausgelöst wird. Du kannst auf diesen Punkt gern in der Umfrage zum Nachrichten-Center eingehen.
Bekomme ich nun auch alle aktuellen Meldungen hinsichtlich Fund-Logs und Sofortbenachrichtigungen über das Nachrichten-Center?
Nein! Nachrichten, die durch Aktionen im Spiel ausgelöst werden wie Fund-Logs oder Sofortbenachrichtigungen und Logeinträge zu Trackables werden weiterhin per E-Mail an die Adresse geschickt, die bei Deinem Geocaching-Benutzerkonto hinterlegt ist
Bedeutet das, dass das bisherige Kontaktformular zum Versenden von Nachrichten an andere Benutzer entfernt wird?
Nein! Diese Funktion wird für die absehbare Zukunft weiter bestehen bleiben und ist nach wie vor die sinnvollste Art, beispielsweise den regional für Dich zuständigen Community Volunteer Reviewer zu kontaktieren. Zugleich hoffen wir aber, dass Du auch der Meinung bist, dass das neue Nachrichten-Center eine effektive Methode ist, um sich mit anderen Geocachern auszutauschen!
We’ll be the first to admit it: contacting other geocachers hasn’t always been the easiest thing to do on Geocaching.com. We heard your feedback and that’s why we’ve created the brand new Message Center beta.
With this new feature, you can send and receive messages from Geocaching.com. It’s still in beta testing, which is why we’d love your feedback for the final release. After you send a few messages, fill out this survey and tell us what you think.
We know that geocaching is better when players communicate with each other so we wanted to make that easier. The challenge, after all, should be in the adventure and not in the tools you use. So what are you waiting for? Reach out to a geocache owner for a hint or plan a weekend outing with your best geocaching buddies! We’re considering this a beta product meaning we’re still in the process of taking feedback and improving. So be sure to tell us what you think by taking this survey.
Message Center beta on the Geocaching Intro app
Why is Message Center not available in the paid Geocaching app?
We’ve made the decision to direct our app development resources toward the Geocaching Intro app to create an introductory geocaching experience on mobile that can be unlocked into a full geocaching experience with Premium membership. This decision was made in response to the many requests from our players to include a full geocaching mobile experience with Premium membership.
Additionally, the Message Center is a social feature intended to be used by all geocachers. To ensure a great social experience, we believe it’s essential that this feature be accessible to all by providing it to basic members in the free app.
Can I hide conversations or block geocachers from Message Center in the app?
At this time, it is not possible to hide conversation or block geocachers from the Message Center in the app. You can do so from the Message Center beta on Geocaching.com. Please note that if you hide a conversation or block another player on the web, those messages will still appear in the mobile app. (Although you will not receive any further messages if another player has been blocked.)
Is this functionality important to you? Be sure to tell us what you think in this survey. And remember, the new Message Center for mobile is a beta product, meaning that it will continue to improve as we receive feedback from geocachers like you. So stay tuned as we add even more awesomeness to this new feature!
Message Center beta on Geocaching.com
How do I find the Message Center?
You can access the Message Center at any time by selecting the envelope icon in the upper right corner of Geocaching.com.
How do I send a new message to another player?
So this is pretty cool. Start typing a player’s username into the search bar. Select their name from the list of suggested usernames. Then send them a message!
I want to delete a message. How do I do that?
We do not currently allow players to permanently delete a message. You can, however, “Hide Conversation” which will cause the message thread to disappear until the next time you start a conversation with that player.
How can I block another player from messaging me?
With the new Message Center, you have the option to block another player. The other player will not be able to see that you have blocked them. Hover over the player’s username, click the red circle with the line through it and follow the prompts to block the player.
Will Message Center be available in the Geocaching Intro app?
Absolutely! We will be launching a beta version of Message Center in the Geocaching Intro app for both iPhone and Android in the near future. So yes! You’ll be able to talk with your fellow geocachers on the go.
Will I now receive updates about Found It logs and Instant Notifications through the Message Center?
No! Game-triggered emails like Found It logs, Instant Notifications, and Trackable logs will continue to be sent to the email address associated with your Geocaching account.
I want (or don’t want) to receive notifications about new messages to my email. How do I set this up?
You can turn on/off email notifications for new messages in your Account Settings. Just be sure the check in to the Message Center or mobile app from time to time to see if you’ve missed anything from your fellow geocachers.
Does this mean you’ll be taking away the old Send Email to User page?
Nope! This page will continue to exist for the foreseeable future and is the best way to contact your local Community Volunteer Reviewer. However, we hope that you’ll find the Message Center to be the best way to communicate with your fellow geocachers!