Just when OpenCaching was starting to accumulate a good number of caches along came another Geocaching site, OpenCaching! Er, wait… Didn’t I just say that??? Yes I did. In case you weren’t aware, Geocaching.com is not the only cache listing site out there. There is also navicache, Terracaching, and quite recently a trend of ‘OpenCaching’ with sites for each country (opencaching.org.uk, opencaching.eu, opencaching.us, etc.) These opencaching sites are focused on being completely free, so there is no members fee. Also you have more choices on what types of cache you can submit. E.g. Webcam and virtuals are allowed.
This new opencaching site that has caused quite a stir is opencaching.com and despite having the same name is not under the same umbrella as all of the other opencaching sites, instead it is associated with our good friends GARMIN!!! Hmmm…
The site is still in early beta stages and behaves very buggy to say the least, however the overall site layout looks neat. One would hope that a new listing site would mean new unique caches, however it actively encourages you to upload your cache hides that are already on Geocaching.com via an import tool. Having the same cache listed in many places may seem like a good way to get more finders, however sounds like a real pain to maintain. How can you ensure that the cache owner hasn’t forgotten to update their opencaching.com listing if coords change or if it gets disabled on geocaching.com? And what if you go for an FTF to submit to Geocaching.com when someone who only uses Opencaching.com has already been there and signed the logbook? In my opinion any type of redundant data is something that should really be avoided!
There are so far a few caches here and there over the UK. The map search is however quite nice, as are the little circles that show cache ratings.
As well as size, difficulty, and terrain there is Awesomeness!
I’m concerned at the review process in that there isn’t one. On the listing submission page there is a tickbox that says “I have permission from the landowner or manager to hide my geocache.” Some may moan about reviewers taking time to publish, or being very picky with listings, etc. But at the end of the day they are there to help us, for free! The last thing I want is to trespass onto land that I shouldn’t be on. I know that by finding caches from geocaching.com they will have been checked by a reviewer and although they can’t check absolutely everything they can catch most dodgy locations and I rarely feel like I shouldn’t be somewhere when searching for a cache. However, I can’t say the same about this new site. Another thing that interests me in the site is its set of guidelines. They are quite brief, however one thing in particular did catch my eye: “Don’t hide your caches on cliffs, down abandoned mines, in trenches or anywhere that might put the safety of geocachers in peril” I have found a 5/5 down an abandoned mine (And it was amazing fun) and I know of many up in the Peak District that are up on cliffs. There are also quite a lot of extreme Geocaches out and about that would probably go against this guideline.
To find the location of caches on opencaching.com you don’t need to have an account. Any old muggle can just go to the website and search. On the geocaching site you can indeed do the same, however the actual coordinates are hidden until you login. This is indeed the same on the other opencaching sites. I’ve read on the forums about a group called GROEP (this is old news and has been happening for years so is just one example) whose main goal is to sabotage caches. They however have to sign up and as soon as they are found to be abusing the system have their accounts banned. You can still check ip addresses through a lot of ISP’s so these users are trackable. I do worry about a site where geocache hides can be anonymously browsed and found, especially when it’s endorsed by Garmin.
I signed up and attempted to create a cache on Opencaching just as a test to look at the submission process. I got through step 1 where I gave the cache name and the coordinates, however step 2 was just a blank page and some exception was raised that stopped me continuing. I would have thought really important bugs like these would have been ironed out in the Alpha stage rather than let it get to beta as it is slightly important that you can actually add caches to a cache listing site!!! However, I guess it was working at some point or another as there are a few caches on there already.
At the moment I’m about as excited about this as I was the chirp (not very!) and feel that Garmin are trying to fill a hole that doesn’t exist. Perhaps it did a few years ago, but I fail to see a reason behind it now. Oh, apart from to sell more Garmin units! 😉 Garmin certainly seem to be taking an interest in caching recently. First there was the chirp that Groundspeak knew nothing about until a few days before its release, and now this brand new listing site. I cant help thinking that perhaps everyone would benefit more if Garmin worked *with* Groundspeak rather than against them! The site is still in its early stages so we shall wait and see how it unfolds…
Does anyone else have any opinions on this new listing site?