Geocaching Challenges – What’s it all about?

EDIT: 01-09-2011 Due to all of the user feedback on challenges, Groundspeak removed the “challenges completed” count from the find count, so parts of this article that mentioned it have now been scrubbed out!

Last night Groundspeak implemented their replacement for virtuals – Geocaching Challenges. A while ago there was a user feedback suggestion to bring virtuals back, and I did indeed add a vote to it. However, after doing so I started thinking… Would it really be such a great idea? Back when virtuals existed the overall cache quality was higher and there were far fewer Geocachers. There are some brilliant virtuals that are still alive today, but there are also some really pointless ones. The reason I questioned my vote was that I wasn’t sure how new virtual quality would be measured so that the poor ones wouldn’t get through. How worthy a location is of a virtual would surely be very subjective. Reviewers have enough to do reviewing physical caches to be bombarded with virtuals as well. Groundspeak obviously thought about these things when they created their “Geocaching Challenges”, but what exactly are they, and did they think hard enough? The brilliant Podcacher podcast had an interview with Jeremy and Bryan from Groundspeak about this before the implementation which is worth a listen. Here’s a look at Challenges now that they have been implemented…

Completing a Challenge

After the update we now have the ‘Challenges’ link under our Quick View, and when you hover over ‘Your Profile’ and ‘Play’ on the main menu. Creating Challenges is a ‘Premium Members only’ feature, but completing them is open to anyone. In your profile, your finds are now broken up into Finds, Hides, and Challenges and although your “Found” number in the top right-hand side of the Geocaching page and in the logs for caches shows the total number of Found/Completed which includes challenges, when someone clicks on your public profile they will get the breakdown.

Pick a number, any number...

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Virtual Geocaches will be back in Spring?

Back when I thought bringing back virtual Geocaches was a good idea I placed one of my votes on the suggestion someone added on the Geocaching feedback site. Last night I had a notification that Jeremy (President of Groundspeak) had added the following note:

“We have a basic draft of the functionality complete and are trying to schedule the development of the concept along with other projects like maps, statistics, API and favorites. Our hope is to get something out by spring. Fingers crossed.”

You can see the full discussion here.

Since voting I’ve changed my mind as I had looked at waymarking. It just seems to me that it’ll be hard to control and some people will just submit virtuals at water pumps, and churches for example when a physical cache would be fine. You never know, it may be a very skilful implementation that completely works… We shall wait and see…