On the 21st Geocaching.com had quite a big site update which include 3 massive new features: Favorites, Statistics, and maps (Beta) Oh and the forums have had a bit of a make over! Here’s a quick run down of what’s been added incase you’ve missed anything…
I must say I’ve always had the issue where when I go to a new place, I’m never sure which caches are really special. When you visit somewhere for a brief amount of time you don’t want to waste your time finding pointless micros that aren’t placed anywhere interesting. There is GCVote which allows you to give up to 5 stars for a cache, however it’s difficult to know if these caches really are special as the ratings on GCVote are very subjective and you could give every cache in the world a 5 star rating if you really wanted to!
Groundspeak have come up with a great idea to allow you to rate the caches that you think are really good whilst limiting the votes that are given: For every 10 caches that you have found you are able to rate 1 cache as your favorite. If you’ve found 2000 caches, you can mark 200 favorites. Simples!
You can see how many favorite points you have by logging in and viewing your profile.
And now all cache pages have a small ‘favorites’ area in the top right.
When you click on the number of favorites on the cache page you can then see the users that have rated the cache as top on their list:
And when you view another cacher’s profile you now have a Lists tab that you can click to see their list of favorites. Very neat! You can also click the Lists link in your profile to see your favorites.
I used up 25 of my favorite points on a quick skim through my cache logs. I’m sure I could award more if I think about it, however I don’t want to award them for the sake of it because that would give the wrong impression about the caches. I also felt myself wanting to mark a cache as my favorite because of the experience that I had with it. I felt like marking my first nano find, my very first cache find, etc. however held back from doing it because on their own those caches aren’t very special, it was simply a good experience for me.
The restrictions for favorites is that you have to be a premium member to add favorites, which in my opinion is an excellent idea as it stops people abusing the system and creating new accounts, logging fake finds, and favoriting their own caches. Also, you can’t favorite event caches. As well as favoriting caches, you can take your favorite points back, for example if a cache gets archived. You can remove a favorite by visiting the cache page again, or by clicking the Lists link on your profile.
I was quite excited when I heard that Geocaching.com were going to add stats, and then quite disappointed when I’d heard that they were going to do it because they had acquired http://www.mygeocachingprofile.com. However after seeing them in action I’m pleasantly surprised. It makes sense to have your finds and your stats all under one roof so that you don’t have to upload your pocket query elsewhere to generate your statistics.
You’ll notice that you now have a statistics link on your profile page, and also on your public profile. Other users can also view your statistics by clicking the tab on your public profile. The stats include your finds and distinct finds, the month and days you have mostly found caches on, your find rate (caches/day), your longest streak, longest slump, best day, best month, and best year. There are also sections for Finds per month, cumulative finds per month, yearly breakdown, finds for each day of the year, cache types found, container types found, difficulty and terrain of caches found, and location stats (closest/furthest find from home, etc.) The MyGeocachingProfile website does include a few more stats, like UK counties and US states cached in, countries cached in, GeoAchievement badges, memorable finds, a way to select FTF’s, and a way of showing progress on some UK and US challenges. My favorite part of the site was always the UK counties caches in section, so hopefully we will also see this appear on the Geocaching.com stats area. I know the creators of the site worked long and hard to create it and it probably wasn’t easy. It was created by a Geocaching couple as a project for them to see their own statistics which they later kindly decided to go public with, so I hope they have done well for themselves out of groundspeaks acquisition of the site.
I find that having the stats so conveniently accessible is very handy. Also, if you’ve been out for a day caching you can click a button at the top of the stats that says “Update My Statistics Now” to generate an up to date batch. I like the fact that I can quickly see my find count compared to my distinct find count. You’ll notice in the pic above it says I have found 2149, on 2148 distinct caches. This means I have accidentally logged one cache twice. I hate having my account in this condition because it means when I log (for example) my 2500th cache, it is really only my 2499th cache! Of course you could read through your log list and try to identify your duplicates, but it really can be quite tricky. I’ve blogged about this dilema before. The quick solution is to download and install the program ‘Cache Stats’ and upload a My Finds PQ to it.
The help pages for statistics seem to be a little bit plain at the moment. However I’m sure that there will be some information soon.
I have however found that you can turn these stats off in the Your Account Details section. It’s good that they have included this function as I can see that some people wouldn’t want others poking their nosts at their stats
And the final massive update is the maps. You can access the beta version of the new mapping area by clicking here.
On viewing the link, the first thing that you will see is a message from Signal…
In the next version (v0.9.2) of the maps is the promise of:
* Premium Member filtering by cache type
* Pocket Query integration
* Caches along a route
* Trackables support
* See and communicate with geocachers in real-time using Geocaching Social (coming soon!)
I’m quite excited about the “Geocaching Social” feature, it will certainly be interesting, but I must admit that I’m not surprised that they will be adding a feature like this. You can enter the location to focus on, choose which maps you would like to view the caches on (Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, there’s no Ordnance Survey option so I won’t be abandoning cacheye anytime soon!)
On first impression the map certainly is impressive and removes the restriction of only viewing 500 caches at a time. In fact, now not only can you view all of the caches in the UK at once, but all of them in the world. Amazing! I really love this feature. Once the filtering and the ability to hide your cache finds come in then I can imagine that the map will be truely amazing. It’s nice that they’ve left the old maps there for now and have kept these as beta so we can test them and get everything ironed out first.
And the rest…
The Geocaching forums have also had a bit of a revamp. No longer do they look like your standard “out of the box” forum area, but now they have a bit more of a Geo-style (I made that word up…) about them. I haven’t decided if I like them yet, but I’m sure I will get to like them!!!
There is also neat facility for searching members in the forum areas. From here you can see how many posts they have made and go straight to their posts.
I’m certainly impressed with the latest Geocaching.com updates, there are certainly a lot of improvements, and it sounds like they really listened to the user feedback. I remember viewing suggestions to view more than 500 caches at a time, to view stats on the Geocaching.com site, and some way to rate caches. We asked, and Groundspeak answered, and according to the release notes there is more to come, “Stay tuned for phase 2 of maps and stats, and many more exciting feature updates in the coming days.”
Now, I just wish all of this snow would bugger off so that I can actually get out and find some caches!!!!!