Groundspeak, the owners of geocaching.com, have finally come to some sort of senses and gotten rid of Challenges, a feature they launched last year. Though nobody ever came out and said this (that I saw), it was undoubtedly a way to try and appease the mass of people who have been clamoring for the return of virtual geocaches.
I gave this concept thumbs down last year when it was created. I never saw enough improvements to change that opinion. Apparently Groundspeak’s opinion of the Challenges wasn’t great either.
Everything seemed so rushed. There were countless numbers of flaws with what they launched and it was way too easy to get around the system and users could score more “finds” by doing all the work from their computer. I saw several challenges where people from around the world found an image needed and posted it, despite the reality that they didn’t actually complete the challenge.
And, “owner’s” hands were tied.
See, with geocaches, an owner owns the geocache. That means if you armchair a find, I can delete it. With challenges, you didn’t have that option. In fact, once you created it, it was done. You couldn’t do anything from that point forward. You didn’t even get notifications that somebody completed the challenge you created!
What’s the point then?
The idea of geocaching is to get out and find something. It’s a way to get outside and see something. Not just sit on the computer and search for images so you can “claim” a find.
Heck, after initially having them “count” toward your finds for geocaches, Groundspeak at least was smart enough to switch that up.
This is what Groundspeak had to say in a post to its forums Tuesday afternoon:
In our effort to inspire outdoor play through Geocaching, we are often faced with decisions about what to focus on next, and what to focus on less. It is through these decisions that we explore opportunities to grow the global game of geocaching.
Occasionally, during this process, we are faced with the reality that certain ideas don’t catch on as we had hoped. In these situations we owe it to ourselves and to you to make tough decisions about the future of every project and the resources to be applied to each. Sometimes, as a result, cool features must become casualties.
In this spirit, we have decided to retire Geocaching Challenges.
This means that, effective today, we have disabled the ability to create new Challenges. We have also removed the Challenges application from all mobile application stores. In approximately 7 days, we will be removing all traces of the Challenges functionality and related content from Geocaching.com.
On an office wall here at HQ is a sign that reads, “Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow.” By accepting that we will sometimes get it wrong, we can allow ourselves to learn from and imagine new opportunities in the world of Geocaching. Our hope is we can take the lessons from Challenges and create better tools to guide you on your next adventure.
Kudos to Groundspeak for realizing that this was a failed idea.
Geocaching had grown to an amazing size and with Groundspeak being the main players in this game, the company needs to try different things. I don’t blame them for attempting this.
And I personally hope Groundspeak doesn’t decide to bring virtuals back. The ones that are out there now are just fine. They are able to be done and that’s great. But as this game continues to grow, if there’s not a serious set of rules with virtuals, they’ll be overused and become a bunch of trash. I don’t want a virtual cache to take me to a parking lot, which you know would happen.
If Groundspeak wanted to work with some National Parks or something and unveil some virtuals in conjunction with places like that, I’d be all for it. But not for opening them back up to anyone. It would get out of hand.
For today, Challenges are on the way out and I applaud Groundspeak for making this decision. It makes the game better by not having Challenges and it, hopefully, will help the game swing back to what it was originally intended to do — get outside and find something.
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