Results of 2018 Cache Quality Survey

In mid-2018, we invited the geocaching community into a conversation about cache quality. As we said then, HQ has taken steps in recent years to bring cache quality into greater focus, because we think it is very important to the continued vitality of the game.

But before we continue with more projects to encourage cache quality and expect the community to focus on quality, we first wanted to hear geocachers’ thoughts on the subject. We started with feedback threads in our User Insights forums. We then built a survey directly from your feedback and ideas. For example, cachers gave qualitative feedback about what makes a high-quality geocache in the forum threads. For the survey, we turned those results into questions to receive quantitative feedback.

Nearly 12,000 people from 58 countries participated in the survey. The respondents were some of the community’s most experienced and engaged players: 80% own a cache, 85% have found 500+ caches, and 95% are Premium members.

Following are the results of the survey, broken down by categories.

Most important factors for a high-quality geocache

Around 92% of survey respondents ranked accurate coordinates as very or extremely important for a high-quality geocache. By comparison, only 24% said that the largest container for a location was very or extremely important.

The factors, in order of importance, were:

  1. Accurate coordinates
  2. Does not harm the environment
  3. Owner maintains the cache regularly
  4. Container suited to the environment
  5. Accurate Difficulty and Terrain ratings
  6. Well hidden from non-geocachers
  7. Interesting location
  8. Well-written description
  9. Accurate attributes
  10. Helpful hint
  11. Clever or custom container
  12. Fun and/or challenging puzzle
  13. Includes parking coordinates, if available
  14. Largest container for location

If more geocache finders took certain steps, how helpful would each be to improving geocache quality?

Unlike the first question, there wasn’t as much separation between the top and bottom ranked answers here. According to respondents, the best step finders can take is to log “Did Not Find”, “Needs Maintenance,” and “Needs Archived” logs whenever necessary. 79% said it would be very or extremely helpful. But a strong majority (74%) also said assisting geocache owners with minor maintenance would be very or extremely helpful, while 72% said the same about writing honest, constructive online logs.

All answers, in order of how helpful they would be to improving geocache quality:

  1. Log ‘Did Not Find’, ‘Needs Maintenance’, and ‘Needs Archived’ whenever necessary
  2. Assist geocache owners with minor maintenance (e.g., replace wet or full log sheets)
  3. Write honest, constructive online logs
  4. Do not install new cache containers (e.g., throwdowns) without consent of cache owner
  5. Award Favorite points more often

If more geocache hiders took certain steps, how helpful would each be to improving geocache quality?

The results showed the best things hiders can do is to be more thoughtful about the cache location/container, and maintain their geocaches more regularly. Around 80% of respondents ranked those steps as very or extremely helpful.

All answers, in order of how helpful they would be to improving geocache quality:

  1. Be more thoughtful about cache location and container
  2. Maintain your own geocaches more regularly
  3. Hide the kind of geocaches you would like to find
  4. Provide mentoring to new cache hiders
  5. Host workshops to teach about hiding and finding geocaches

If Geocaching HQ were to adjust the requirements for hiding a cache, how helpful would certain ideas be to improving cache quality?

The top ranked idea was to require players to find a geocache before hiding one of their own. Nearly 60% said it would be very or extremely helpful. A similar percentage said the same about requiring cache owners to address maintenance issues on their current hides before permitting new caches to be placed.

All answers, in order of how helpful they would be to improving geocache quality:

  1. Require finding a certain number of geocaches before hiding a cache
  2. Require cache owners to address maintenance issues on their current hides before hiding new caches
  3. Require new cache owners to successfully complete an online tutorial before placing a cache
  4. Speed up the process for problem caches to receive reviewer attention
  5. Require cache owners to include a photo of their cache placement when submitting the cache for review
  6. Restrict total number of geocaches one person may own

We also asked about possible tools and projects that Geocaching HQ might undertake to encourage higher cache quality. Keep in mind that these ideas were the ones most mentioned in the User Insights forum threads.

Tool ideas, ranked by how helpful they would be to improving cache quality:

  1. Add function to search by Favorite point percentage
  2. Create rating system (such as 5 star) for caches
  3. Create a place for cachers to say why they favorited or rated a cache
  4. Allow Basic members to give Favorite points
  5. Provide unlimited Favorite points to Premium members

Project ideas to recognize cache owners, ranked by how helpful they would be to improving cache quality:

  1. Create visible website status for owners of high quality caches
  2. Give option to hide a unique cache type (like Virtual Rewards)

Other project ideas, ranked by how helpful they would be to improving cache quality:

  1. Souvenir promotions that reward a variety of caching, rather than high number of finds
  2. Rename the “Needs Archived” log to “Needs Reviewer Attention”

As noted when the survey was conducted, we can’t guarantee implementation of all these ideas. But these results give us a much clearer picture of the community’s feelings about cache quality. Your feedback will help us prioritize projects and greatly inform our work in general. The survey results also show how geocachers can directly improve quality, both as finders and hiders of geocaches.

We’re very grateful to everyone who participated!

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