Hiding Quality Caches - A lost art?

posted Sep 29, 2012, 3:50 PM by Greg Jewett   [ updated Sep 29, 2012, 3:50 PM ]
mda_taz (Matthew)
I heard about this website http://www.progeocaching.com/ (on the Podcacher.com show #334) that has surveyed cachers thought about the quality of geocache hide getting less interesting.

I seem to agree in part that there are to many cache hides with no personal touch or creativity.  Why does it seem to be a lost art of hiding creative hides?

Jay - BingOGT
Personally, I think that it is not so much a lost art as it is a not yet found art. It is much harder to hide a quality geocache than it is to hide a lame one, one that is just like dozens of others that you and everyone else has already seen. As the number of geocachers increases, the number of geocachers wanting to contribute to the game increases thus the number of geocachers who actually hide a cache increases. While some people are just naturally creative, the rest of us have to learn to think creatively, which takes work, so unless we are very motivated we just tend to follow the crowd, imitating what we have already seen. As Hi_Dude98 pointed out to me once when we were discussing LPCs, the more a hide is imitated the lamer it gets. When I started geocaching I intentionally chose for quite a while to look mostly for caches rated 2/2 or lower, so I came across a great many caches that were on the low end of the creativity spectrum. Personally, although I had the urge to start hiding when I had found about 100 caches, I resisted the urge until I had found nearly 400 caches. I know that during that time that it took me to reach nearly 400 caches my attitude about what was a good hide and what was not changed, as a result I crossed off my list several places that, as a novice geocacher, I had thought would be good places to hide a cache. I also know that it made me think about the possibility of hiding a cache more creatively. I know that it made me consider that a cache should have a reward for finding it in addition to the smiley and the bump in the find count, for example a beautiful view or a challenge to overcome. Hopefully it improved the quality of the few caches I have hidden. Although I think it did, the community will have to be the judge of that.
Another reason that quality may be decreasing is that people get lazy after they see how much effort hiding a quality cache takes and just go for the low hanging fruit, so to speak.


I think it's just percentiles, Matthew
More hides out there, fewer of 'em will be creative. And we also lose some our our "charmed" -- a certain hide that's clever the first time or two is ho-hum after a while.
That's my theory...

Ed/SSO (Soft Science Officer)

I hide a geocache for any number of reasons, but there usually is a reason. Sometimes, it's about the cache itself--there something unique about the container that I like, or the hide is meant to be a bit on the evil side, or some other trick. Sometimes it's about the location--I really like the spot, or it's at a place that makes you go "whoa." In these cases, the hide itself is usually lame or boring--the point is to enjoy what's at the site. The lamest hide I think I have is an LPC, but it's at the Humane Society, and you can take your kids and look through the window at the cats and kittens! What's not to like? Other times, though, it's neither the location nor the container--but I thought of a funny cache name and I had to dedicate a cache to it. So, in those cases there's nothing much to the cache at all except maybe a bad pun. On second thought, maybe i should stick to the other two reasons...


You know, I think it depends on why you geocache.

If you geocache just to get numbers, it doesn't matter.  "High" or "low" quality...whatever.  And, considering the amount of traffic this list has that is "So-and-so hit this milestone" - anyone who says they completely don't care about the numbers...well, I suspect they're few and far between.

Personally, there are a few different reasons I cache:
  1. Hiking/great outdoors.  When I'm in Texas especially, I enjoy hiking around parks to find caches.  It's a good way to exercise, get outdoors, etc.

  2. Tourism.  I use geocaching when I travel to explore new areas, and areas that people think I might find interesting.  This is where high/low quality geocaches come in a little.  If you take me to a spot in a city that has nothing of interest, then...oh well.  However, for the most part, I find that a lot of people take time to come up with really cool things.  Like GC2AB5N, for example, which is a working cowpath...in the middle of downtown Chicago.  How random!  However, tourism geocaches don't have to be creative.  A lot of the ones in downtown Chicago are magnetic key boxes inside free newspaper stands.  Does that make them "low quality?"  Not to me - because I still see something cool!

So, really, it depends on why you're caching.  But that's also why Groundspeak has a "Favorites" system.  Why not, if you want a bunch of really cool caches to find, just set up a Pocket Query that requires 5+ Favorites, and only go after those?

That's one of the cool things about caching - there's room enough for all of us, regardless of why we want to go out in the first place.

Mark (BewareOfPenguin)

I feel that in some part, having quality cachers leads to having quality caches.  There should be a minimum find count required for someone to start hiding caches.  If a person has found 1 cache, I hardly think he's ready to go hide one.  For what it's worth, I waited until I found about 330 caches before running out to hide one.  That being said, I still agonize over whether or not a cache placement is a good one. 

But as far as caches are concerned, I think that quality is in the eye of the beholder.  I'm sure we were all jazzed the first time we lifted the skirting around a light pole and found that there was an honest to gosh cache under there.  Now...not so much.  As it was mentioned, good cache ideas will invariably be imitated.  And after everybody's seen that "creative" idea a couple dozen times, it loses it's edge.  But I do think that even the "lame" caches have their place.  They make for easy finds for those new to the sport and for those bent on the numbers.  We have to bear in mind that as long as people are turning up in droves to find those unimaginative, lame caches, those lame caches are every bit as much a viable part of geocaching as the clever, crafty, cool, creative caches.

BarbJ / Tygress

I *LIKE* puns, Ed....   Just sayin'.
Now I've plunked out my share of no-brainers -- and our oldest cache is a match container (original) in a cedar tree (you LOVE to HATE 'em!). Like Ed, we like interesting places, or a place we got map sourced to -- figureing we're not alone, so we'll reward the NEXT guy with a smiley. 'Normal' hides we do change up a tad -- make you work. And I like silly containers. Got some out there -- in fact Aunt Misbehaving is probably the toughest hide we have, just because of the container. If all else fails, make you smile.
Earthcaches, of course, are another game. bwahahahaha! Come to this cool spot -- and THINK! [After, of course, reading an essay worth a technical journal entry. bwahahaha!]
But there are times, like in this heat, that a park and grab that is just that, is just the ticket. The only caches I really dislike are those placed where there are going to be a gazillion spiderwebs (or otherwise reaching blind into a spot that will probably be full of spiders, wasps, scorpions, snakes), greenbriar thickets, PI thickets (but when you place in winter, you forget summer's another matter, so some get a pass), bushwhacking forever through cedar to just a urp or uwp under another cedar (I fear I'm not into bushwhacking for bushwhacking's sake, and no swag is worth it), or having to frisk a bush right outside a business. Hard to be subtle with your head in a bush. I mean, you DO have to make caches muggle proof, but maybe put it next to a landmark or something (and hint to it) so it's grab and go. If you want a HARD bush find, don't make me do it in muggle grand central station. Though it's a great time to talk up geocaching....  Them's my hates. Which still aren't as bad as a cache with a string of DNFs on it (it's one thing if it's a tough hide, *I* have a couple of those miserable boogers, but a 1.5 with months of DNFs wastes my and other's time, and speaks of no respect for others)(or, if I know the owner, makes me worry a whole lot whether they're ok).

BarbJ / Tygress

Besides, it makes those creative caches stand out more.
If every rock were a diamond, diamonds would be ho-hum!
Still, Matthew's concern is not one to just =eh= ... it's worth stopping to think about at some of our hides -- how to change up the container, how to change up the hide, how to make it a wee bit different. Though most didn't last, Mrs Captain Picard's 'make a 35mm look like something else' (sorry, out in heat all day, memory oozy, you said it better) containers were great fun.
Anyway, you know I'm definitely on the equal opportunity band wagon -- I'll do a power string, I'll do the really clever ones, the smiles are just as golden, and each has their place (like a couple gimmes in a new area to get my mojo booted). But I'll appreciate, just an itty bit more, the memorable hides (which can be as much an easy find with a nifty container -- like the bison tube hanging from a faucet on the back side of a tree -- or a gimmick (the cheerleader photo cache) as a devilish cammo that nearly ruptured every brain cell) -- they make logging SO much easier. And you all know they ALL get a log!

Doc, Barry Watson, MSgt, USAF (Retired)

I suppose how you hide it or camoflage it, could be creative, but I so totally agree with you Matthew.
I don't think I will be "Favorite"-ing micros much (and never a nano).  When I do an ammo can for a new cache,
I go down to WalMart's camping area or toy area, Cabelas or REI and buy NEW stuff  ($5) or less for the cache.
I want people to open my ammo box and go, "Oh, Wow!  Look at the great swag!".  And I want to place it
someplace that will impress the finders.  But it might be the overall cache theme that makes it all special....
like The Monster...


Caching is what you make it!  Around here there are many awesome puzzles, series, night caches, skirt lifters you just have to pick which ones are for you!


I like hiding and try and come up with new and interesting things to do. Some people get frustrated with my hides, but some seem to really like them and some just seem indifferent. I like that motto of the guys in Florida GC profiled a few weeks ago: "Take pride in your hide". That says it all, really. Good hides remind me of when I was a kid and was really into spy stuff. I loved hiding things for others to find... so a good cache hide brings that childhood fun back out for me, which is why I do it. 

That said, you can have a simple lamp-post and it be interesting just because it's a cool spot or has a punny/witty description... I really like my "Cold Lampin'" cache for example... it's a Flava Flav tribute based on an old phrase of his that people into hiphop would get. It's nothing but a lamppost, but still kinda cool IMO.

Paul (de Los Komodos)

It seems like the game (it's a game, right?) has room for a variety of hides.  Descriptions, difficulty and terrain ratings, and favorite scores enable the finder to have information to choose what he/she hunts.  Part of the fun (it is fun, right?) is looking at the map and finding what peaks your interest.  I love a sneaky hide (when alone).  I also enjoy an easy, large cache when I'm with the kids on a hot day.  Sometimes a long hike is perfect.  I'm not a huge fan of power caches for my needs... but these are very easy to spot on the map, so I just don't do them. Loads of folks do.  Good on 'em.

That there are so few rules (ie. minimum finds per hides), leaving the game open to interpretation, is quite appealing and encourages the creativity of the players.

Hide 'em where you like.  If I choose to, I'll find them.