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Feedback Needed! Unwritten Rules

For the benefit of beginning geocachers,we want to include a rundown of unwritten rules of the game. Here’s what we could think of. What are we missing? We’d love your comments.

There are several nuances of geo-caching that aren’t evident to the novice,so let’s go over a few of them here.

Logs. You must sign the log book in order to legitimately claim a cache.  This may sound like a nuisance,since there is very little chance that anyone is going to check the paper log against the online equivalent.  However,religious wars sometimes erupt online over this issue.  If someone is verifying the legitimacy of another catcher’s claim and discovers that your online log doesn’t have a corresponding paper equivalent,you could get hate mail.  All you need to do to log a claim is write your Geocaching.com user name and date in the book.  Some people write considerably more than that,but it isn’t necessary.

Many people also leave behind cards they’ve created that include photos,logos and website addresses.  This is a terrific idea and it’s not expensive or difficult.  You can buy perforated business card stock at the office supply store and download free Microsoft Word templates that make it simple to create your own cards.  While you’re at it,use the same approach to create miniature stickers that fit in micro caches.

Online,it’s considered rude to log a find without entering some kind of comment.  In fact,comments are what cache owners find most fulfilling.  Your comment doesn’t have to be long,but it should be unique.  In other words,don’t just repeat the same phrase for 50 different caches.

Taking and leaving items. You are free to take any trading item you find in a geocaches long as you leave something of corresponding or greater value.  It’s also perfectly okay to take nothing and leave nothing (abbreviated as TNLN in the logs). Most veteran geocachers don’t trade items,but this is one of the little delights of the game,especially when children are involved.

Did Not Find. You won’t find every geocache you seek,and even the most experienced enthusiasts occasionally walk away disappointed.  It might seem pointless to log a DNF,but it’s actually very important.  A DNF is a sign that a cache may be missing.  If two or three DNFs turn up sequentially,there’s a high likelihood that the cache is gone.  Owners pay more attention to DNFs than they do to finds because of this possibility.  Frequent DNFs may also indicate that the difficulty rating is too low.

So logging your DNFs is a courtesy to everyone.  And don’t be ashamed of them.  It happens to everyone.  We once spent an hour looking for a supposedly simple geocache in Puerto Rico only to walk away empty-handed.  We were convinced the cache was missing,but just two days later it was logged as found by another visitor.  Even worse,the finder described it as “easy.”Grrrr.

Re-hiding. Always re-hide a cache the same way you found it.  Small changes in cover or camouflage can elevate a difficulty 1 to a difficulty 3 in no time.  Owners take pains to set their difficulty estimates as accurately as possible so please honor their intentions.  On the other hand,if a cache is plainly visible and carries a difficulty rating of three,it probably could benefit from some extra camouflage.  Make sure to note any changes you’ve made in your log so that the next visitor is aware of them.

Broken or compromised caches. It’s not unusual to find a Geocache waterlogged,cracked or otherwise damaged. Owners always appreciate it if you can save than a trip by repairing the container.  It’s nice to carry a small roll of duct tape for this purpose and we always throw in a couple of bison tubes and log sheets in case a micro has gone missing.  If you can’t repair the container,move it to a place where it will be protected from moisture and always note in your log that a repair is needed.  There’s a special label you can use for these comments on Geocaching.com.

6 comments to Feedback Needed! Unwritten Rules

  • Stephen O'Gara (Ventura Kids)

    Stickers! You forgot stickers! We use tiny return address stickers printed with our geocaching name. Some other cachers use stamps. If you are in a hurry,these are quite acceptable for signing logs.

  • Laura Goodwin

    A few suggestions:
    –Maybe you could elaborate on common acronyms that are commonly used (which are especially helpful when signing a micro):
    * TFTC –Thanks for the Cache
    * TFTH –Thanks for the Hunt/Hide
    * TNLN –Took Nothing,Left Nothing
    * TNLNSL –Took Nothing,Left Nothing,Signed Log
    * SWAG –Something We All Get
    * FTF –First to Find
    * FTFP –First to Find,Published
    * DNF –Did Not Find
    * LPC –Light Post Cache
    * TB –Travel Bug
    * BYOP –Bring Your Own Pen
    * PNG –Park and Grab


  • admin

    Thanks. We’ve contacted Geolex and received permission to adapt the Geolex dictionary as the glossary for the book.

  • Laura Goodwin (thrifty-chick)

    In addition to the business cards that some people use,I’ve noticed that some just print address labels with their geocaching name and/or logo,an acronym (i.e. TFTC!!),and the word “date”(so they can write the appropriate date in). We were going to have those printed up cheaply,when I discovered that I could buy my own lable stock,find a Microsoft Word template online,and design my own even more cheaply. These help save in writing time and also assist in placing info in small areas (a.k.a. those evil micros). Since I print them on an inkjet,I cover them with tape to secure them so that they do not run. Hope this helps!

  • Laura Goodwin (thrifty-chick)

    For the “unwritten rules,”be environmental and take care of the environment. This can be done within the CITO guidelines.

  • brianweeks

    Let’s not forget about our favorite encryption tool ROT-13. I have placed a few caches that have “Zntargvp”in the title. I am getting to the point after over 1600 finds where I can read ROT-13 easily enough without a decoder (two lines of the alphabet written on a sheet of paper). This has come in handy for a multi-cache where the hint on the log page of several micros was written in ROT-13 for the final big cache. “Ryrira”is eleven,“Gjb”is two,and such. I am always glad to read “Abg va gur vil”for obvious reason. A friend got cute with his clue:he wrote “Repinujetahi”which is backward “I hate juniper”that came out as “Ercvahwrgnuv”(pretty creative).

    –brianweeks,Hayward CA

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