Updated geocaching.com guidlines (long)
- Geocaching.com has updated it's guidelines.The following is a post from Moderator 'Keystone' with a brief explanation of the updates (taken form the gc.com forums http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=156242):Groundspeak and the team of Volunteer Cache Reviewers have worked on a new version of the Cache Listing Requirements/Guidelines. The new guidelines are effective immediately, and replace the prior version that's been in effect since November 2005. Caches submitted prior to the Guidelines change are generally considered "grandfathered" and allowed to remain as-is, because they complied with the Guidelines in effect at the time.
We thought it would be useful to summarize the changes, so Groundspeak asked me to write this post. But remember -- the actual text of the Guidelines controls over this Summary. And, there are many guideline provisions that were not changed in this version, so they're not described below. We encourage you to read the Guidelines in their entirety before submitting your next cache.
In addition to the usual minor terminology and wording changes, here are the main points covered in the new version:
One goal of the new Guidelines is to make them easier to understand by the worldwide caching community. Terms used frequently in the U.S., but which are not familiar to readers living elsewhere, have been replaced with more universal wording. Metric equivalent measurements are included along with Imperial measurements in all Guidelines where they are relevant. I would like to thank the growing group of non-U.S. volunteer reviewers for their contributions to improving the Guidelines.
We added a sentence at the end to tell readers to use the contact at geocaching.com e-mail address whenever the Guidelines say to obtain permission from Groundspeak.
Off Limit (Physical) Caches
We added an assumption that your cache placement complies with all applicable laws. If an obvious legal issue is present, or is brought to our attention, your listing may be immediately archived.
The guideline about U.S. National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges has been re-worded to cover all agencies who have a policy not to allow geocaches on the lands that they manage -- mentioning these two as prominent examples.
The sentence talking about defacing natural or man-made property has been expanded to cover "hiding places" (such as drilling holes in trees to conceal a container) in addition to "clues" and "logging methods" (such as using spray paint or "sharpies" on an object).
The listed "sensitive locations" and "possible terrorist targets" have been rephrased to be lists of examples. In many locations, a cache at a historic site may be perfectly acceptable. If the historic site is also environmentally sensitive, then it may be off limits.
We added a sentence clarifying that a reviewer may ask a cache hider for permission contact information in appropriate circumstances (for example, when a land manager's published geocaching policy requires that this information be stated). In most cases, though, this level of detail is not necessary.
We added approximate measurements as suggestions for the different container sizes.
Traditional Caches and Mystery/Unknown Caches
We added language to both these guideline sections to clarify that a cache with "Additional Logging Requirements" should be classified as a Mystery/Unknown cache. A find on a traditional cache generally can be logged by finding a cache at the posted coordinates, signing the logbook, and entering a narrative online log of the finder's choosing. If the cache owner wishes to add other requirements, it is generally their right to do so, but such caches should now be "flagged" by using the Mystery/Unknown cache type. If you own a cache like this and it is presently listed as a traditional cache, contact your volunteer cache reviewer if you would like to change it to a mystery/unknown cache.
Multicaches and Mystery/Unknown Caches
Instructions on using the "Additional Waypoints" feature to record all cache waypoints in addition to the posted coordinates have been added in several appropriate locations.
Formerly a separate topic heading in the "Cache Types" guidelines, instructions about Offset Caches are now included as part of the discussion of Multicaches.
Mystery / Puzzle Caches
A mis-statement in prior versions of the Guidelines has been corrected. While many caches of this type use "bogus" posted coordinates, this is *not* a requirement. A Mystery / Puzzle cache may be located *at* the posted coordinates. An example is a locked ammo box, where the lock's combination is derived by solving a puzzle.
Letterbox Hybrid Caches
The guideline for this cache type has been clarified. A letterbox hybrid does not *have* to be located at the posted coordinates, like a traditional cache. It can be in the nature of a multicache or puzzle, so long as the letterbox hybrid meets the guidelines for the applicable cache type. GPS use is an integral part of the cache hunt -- a cache cannot be listed if it relies only on letterbox-style clues.
For geocaching events that involve several components, such as a full weekend event that includes a geocoin trading session, a seminar and a potluck dinner, multiple event listings may be submitted if they each stand on their own merits as events meeting the listing guidelines.
For regional, national and international events where advance reservations and travel planning are needed, the event can be listed up to six months in advance instead of the usual three months. The reviewers have been following this more helpful standard for just over a year, and now it is an official part of the Guidelines.
A new guideline paragraph has been added for our newest cache type.
Because Earthcaches are once again being accepted for publication on Geocaching.com, the applicable Guidelines have been moved out of the "Grandfathered Cache Types" section. We also clarified that all responsibility for reviewing Earthcache submissions and issues lies with the Geological Society of America and Groundspeak -- not the regular volunteer cache reviewers.
Guidelines that Apply to All Cache Types - Introduction
We expanded the language on using common sense when selecting cache locations and cache containers, to think about how the cache, and those seeking it, would appear to the general public. The guidelines now convey a message very similar to what was published in the new cache notification e-mail two weeks ago.
We added a sentence here to confirm that a logbook is required for all physical caches -- previously, this was covered only in the Traditional Cache guideline.
In May of 2006, Groundspeak asked the reviewers not to publish caches that require the downloading, installing or running of data and/or executables. This change was made in the interest of file security, and now appears as part of the official Guidelines text.
A new sentence explains that caches which require a geocacher to visit another website will not be published if the finder must create an account with, or provide personal information to, the other website.
The ten-day lead time requirement for submitting a large numbers of caches for "timed release" now applies to all such situations, not just mass releases in connection with event caches.
The former section on "Vacation Caches" has been moved into the Cache Maintenance section, to emphasize that the primary reason for that guideline is to be sure the cache is within the owner's "maintainable distance." If the owner demonstrates an acceptable maintenance plan (the ability to respond to reported problems), the cache may be listed.
We clarified the "Power Trail" section of this Guideline by adding that term, and by giving an example -- a series of caches that are generally intended to be found as a group are good candidates for submission as a single multicache.
We clarified the situations where the "528 foot" separation guideline applies:
- The guideline applies to all physical caches and physical stages of multicaches and mystery/puzzle caches.
- The guideline applies to virtual stages of multicaches and mystery/puzzle caches ONLY if the cache owner uses the "Stages of a Multicache" type when entering an Additional Waypoint for that stage. If you don't want a "surprise" virtual spot in your multi to be spoiled by a later cache placement nearby, code the virtual waypoint as a "Stage of a Multicache."
- The guideline does NOT apply to virtual stages of multicaches and mystery/puzzle caches coded as "Question to Answer" or "Reference Point." If you don't care whether another cache is hidden within 528 feet of the historic marker or park sign used as a stage in your cache, use one of these waypoint types.
- The guideline does NOT apply to earthcaches or to grandfathered virtual caches and webcam caches. You can hide a physical cache at any distance from any of these.
- The guideline does NOT apply to any "bogus" posted coordinates for puzzle caches.
- The guideline does NOT apply to stages within a single cache. You can have two stages of your own multi hidden close together (but we recommend not placing them so close that the finder locates them in the wrong order).
We added a sentence saying that a cache is presumed to be commercial if the finder is required to go inside the business, interact with employees, and/or purchase a product or service. The cache owner would need to present facts to overcome this presumption, or seek special permission from Groundspeak.
Caches That Solicit
There's now a new separate section for the existing guideline text about caches that promote a religious, political or social agenda, or which solicit support for a charitable cause. This change was made to clarify that this is a requirement separate from the commercial cache provisions.
Grandfathered Cache Types
We removed all references to Earthcaches in this section, because new listings are again being accepted. No new virtual or webcam caches will be published, but the remaining caches are grandfathered. We also removed all references to locationless caches, because these caches can no longer be hidden OR logged.
In the guidelines for logging virtual caches, we now say that the seeker must verify to the cache owner that he "was physically at the location," instead of the phrase "was really there."
There are a lot of changes, but I hope you'll agree that most of them are helpful clarifications, or increase the flexibility for caches that can be listed. And, I hope that you found this Summary to be useful.