GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Geocaching Australia governance issues

Should GCA STOP listing new caches in banned zones?

Yes
157
64%
No
89
36%
 
Total votes: 246

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Xorg and Pixelwarrior
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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by Xorg and Pixelwarrior » 16 March 10 8:36 am

caughtatwork wrote:
No would mean you are in favour of the community member who owns the cache listing making the decision as to whether to continue their listing after being warned that their cache is hidden in a banned zone.
Just out of interest, is there a mechanism for automatically warning such people currently? Is it being implemented? Is it being ignored by some? if so, how many? If there isn't, is it possible to create such a mechanism? Or would somebody have to manually check from time to time?

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by caughtatwork » 16 March 10 8:47 am

Xorg and Pixelwarrior wrote:caughtatwork wrote:
No would mean you are in favour of the community member who owns the cache listing making the decision as to whether to continue their listing after being warned that their cache is hidden in a banned zone.
Just out of interest, is there a mechanism for automatically warning such people currently? Is it being implemented? Is it being ignored by some? if so, how many? If there isn't, is it possible to create such a mechanism? Or would somebody have to manually check from time to time?
Example for Lane Cover National Park: http://geocaching.com.au/zone/caches/31/
Specific cache listing: http://geocaching.com.au/cache/ga0027

Note that this cache was hidden in 2004 so you should not consider that the hider "broke the rules" as we didn't know the rules were in place at that time.

To answer your questions:
Warning mechanism? Yes, both when you enter your listing and when the cache page is viewed (see above)
It is implemented now (see above).
Ignored by some, I'd say yes to "some" and no to "some others". We obviously don't know the ones that didn't ignore it as they didn't find it so we don't know how many people chose not to seek it based on the warning. I can't prove a negative.
How many? How long is a piece of string? GCA, GC, other sites? Recent when it was unknown that it a restricted zone? Recent now it is known as a restricted zone? The gathering of this statistic for all 1000 zones it too taxing on the server, sorry.
The mechanism is in place now.
The danger is that a new location is identified, you have a cache there pre it becoming a banned zone, what do you do if you don't know about it? Same things for previous finders. It wasn't a problem at that time.

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by Xorg and Pixelwarrior » 16 March 10 9:56 am

Thanks C@W for your comprehensive reply. I am coming in a bit late to this discussion, hope I am not asking stupid questions which everybody else knows the answer to!
Sorry to be a pain again, but I have another question.
If a person lists a cache on GC but doesn't check their listing on GCA, will that person receive a notification that their cache is in a banned area?

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by caughtatwork » 16 March 10 10:08 am

All questions are valid. So please ask away. Keep the thread on topic though (which you are doing), but if you find you have an OT question, open a new thread. Pixels aren't restricted like geocaches :-)

To answer your question, no.

GC is not affiliated with this site in any way.

If a grandfathered* GC cache is in a banned zone, they run the risk of being fined for geocaching in a restricted area. The same applies to a GCA cache, by the way, but at least here if you visit the cache page you get notified whereas at GC there is no visual indication.

From the date the new rule / regulation comes into play, GC generally ban new listings. We don't have reviewers so we take a little while to find the shape files for the banned areas and massage them into new zones. For Queensland, this is currently underway.

However, with the GCA My Query or GC Pocket Query functionality, it is not guaranteed that the cacher will visit the cache page. If I download a bunch of caches that happen to be in banned zones, run them into GSAK and then into my GPS, I never visit the cache page and therefore I am oblivious to the warning.

And, no, we can't add that detail to the GPX files (the technical aspects are too much for our server).

That makes for an interesting point though. If GCA doesn't have a zone for a banned area, we can't not allow the listing. Is this tacit "approval" for the cache because we didn't stop it? i.e. If we allow it to be listed, is it considered legal in every sense of the word? There will be some sorry people in the future because GCA couldn't catch a cache at the boundary of the zone who think it's legal (in the legal sense of the word), but when they get caught and fined, the cache is identified as being 1m inside the national parks area. Our shape areas are not meter perfect and I really feel uncomfortable that we are pretending to be "all knowing" (legal placement vs. illegal placement) when we are very, very far from being capable of making that decision. We will end up not listing legal caches and listing illegal caches. That's why I would prefer the cache hider and finder make their own decisions. Technology is not capable of making that decision for them, but the overall consensus here seems to be to take the accountability away from the cacher and place it on the website.

* Grandfathered caches are those that were in place prior to a new rule / regulation coming into play.

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by CraigRat » 16 March 10 10:24 am

We need to discuss (in another thread) the wording for a standard disclaimer on all caches, making it clear that a cache that is not flagged as in a banned area isn't necessarily 'approved' or deemed ok by the site. You know, the usual guff.

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by geoskid » 16 March 10 10:56 am

caughtatwork wrote:



That makes for an interesting point though. If GCA doesn't have a zone for a banned area, we can't not allow the listing. Is this tacit "approval" for the cache because we didn't stop it? i.e. If we allow it to be listed, is it considered legal in every sense of the word? There will be some sorry people in the future because GCA couldn't catch a cache at the boundary of the zone who think it's legal (in the legal sense of the word), but when they get caught and fined, the cache is identified as being 1m inside the national parks area. Our shape areas are not meter perfect and I really feel uncomfortable that we are pretending to be "all knowing" (legal placement vs. illegal placement) when we are very, very far from being capable of making that decision. We will end up not listing legal caches and listing illegal caches. That's why I would prefer the cache hider and finder make their own decisions. Technology is not capable of making that decision for them, but the overall consensus here seems to be to take the accountability away from the cacher and place it on the website.
I can certainly see the dilemma, particularly when it comes to the actual hiding and dealing with unfenced boundaries.
Would it be practical to do both, i.e., if a new caches coords put it within(say 20m for arguments sake) of the boundary - list it with the warning, and not list if coords place it more than 20m inside the boundary?

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by caughtatwork » 16 March 10 11:14 am

Regrettably, no. Our shape data is not good enough.

i.e. There may be a 100m curved line of 100 points, which for simplicity has been reduced to a start and end point giving a straight line. We don't know how much it curves. Are we out by 10m? 20m? 50m? I don't know, but looking at some of the shapes, they're pretty shoddy. The data we sourced (I believe) is not adequate for the purposes for which we are proposing to us it. i.e. List or not list.

I can see fun and games for the site administrators in that a shape will be reject a cache, the owner will come in and bitch at an admin 'cos it's 10m outside the park boundary. One of the site admins will need to make a judgement call as to whether it's in or out. Potentially from 1,000km away and without local knowledge and if in a remote location, poor quality satellite imagery. They will then need a special override function, not only for the cache listing to allow it, but also an override that doesn't put up the warning for future finders. i.e. We can't just override the rejection, we also need to make sure that the same warning doesn't come up for people who want to find the cache.

Personal opinion follows:
As a site admin, I don't find that level of intervention palatable and personally I won't be involved in any level of intervention in that manner.

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by Bewilderbeest » 16 March 10 11:28 am

caughtatwork wrote:That makes for an interesting point though. If GCA doesn't have a zone for a banned area, we can't not allow the listing. Is this tacit "approval" for the cache because we didn't stop it? i.e. If we allow it to be listed, is it considered legal in every sense of the word?... Our shape areas are not meter perfect and I really feel uncomfortable that we are pretending to be "all knowing" (legal placement vs. illegal placement) when we are very, very far from being capable of making that decision. We will end up not listing legal caches and listing illegal caches. That's why I would prefer the cache hider and finder make their own decisions. Technology is not capable of making that decision for them, but the overall consensus here seems to be to take the accountability away from the cacher and place it on the website.
Not preventing people from breaking the law is very different to different to encouraging people to break the law. I dont believe we are, or should be, policing people's activity.

If we implement a ban using the zone boundaries we have, it creates a defacto belief that those boundaries are fit for that purpose. As CAW points out, I dont believe they are fit for that purpose. Using them to enforce a ban would create more problems than you solve by expecting people to be accountable for their own actions.

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by grahamf72 » 16 March 10 7:20 pm

caughtatwork wrote: I can see fun and games for the site administrators in that a shape will be reject a cache, the owner will come in and bitch at an admin 'cos it's 10m outside the park boundary. One of the site admins will need to make a judgement call as to whether it's in or out. Potentially from 1,000km away and without local knowledge and if in a remote location, poor quality satellite imagery. They will then need a special override function, not only for the cache listing to allow it, but also an override that doesn't put up the warning for future finders. i.e. We can't just override the rejection, we also need to make sure that the same warning doesn't come up for people who want to find the cache.
IMO if you are to block listings, it will be impractical to do it automatically based on zones for the very reasons you cite. Which means you need to have a 3rd party review process, which means more load for site-admins or volunteers etc. Either way, it means GCA becomes pretty much the same as that other site.

But then, what say do I get, My GCA hides are at a big fat 0 and my finds are only 1 better. (But lots of good intentions for that to change).

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by blossom* » 16 March 10 8:34 pm

What boundaries do GC use then? Obviously they are happy enough with them - although that's not to guarantee the users are happy with the accuracy. I do know that we had a lovely cache planned in an area which turned out to be NP administered. The kind GC reviewer suggested we could move it 130m and we'd be outside the boundary - which we did and then it was published :D

Maybe the process could be that anything that is within the banned zones needed a reviewer to publish it. That way, there is a person to go to for discussion on whether the location is in or out of the boundary area etc etc. If it's just outside the fence/gate or whatever and the zone boundary isn't accurate enough to show that, the reviewer can discuss it and approve if all is good.

I expect there will need to be a bit of coding to make it all work. Obviously "cache type = virtual" -> no reviewer necessary for new caches or warning needed for exisiting ones. And maybe some attribute somewhere that says "published after date of this new policy" -> no warning needed (on the assumption that if it was allowed to be published, then it isn't in a banned zone even though it might look like it.)

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by CraigRat » 16 March 10 8:37 pm

The GC reviewers use the same/similar data to what's in our zone database (NPWS have a google earth feed with the boundary data)

The data is not perfect by any means. If fact the quality of the data and what problems will occur because of this is starting to concern me more and more as this discussion continues.

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by Tuena » 16 March 10 11:00 pm

At the moment if a cache is in a national park etc. a warning appears, on GCA at least. Could this aspect not be used in future to simply disallow a cache placement in such areas?

We shouldn't be concerned as to whether the cache is 1 metre or 20 metres outside the boundary as how could this be proved anyway.

If the cacher has concerns then they could seek clarification from DECC (NSW) & then resubmit the placement after having obtained approval. :-k

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by homedg » 17 March 10 12:25 am

Unfortunatley this sounds like being guilty until proved innocent.
Remember the words "Free and OPEN"
This is not GC.com

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by caughtatwork » 17 March 10 7:41 am

Tuena wrote:At the moment if a cache is in a national park etc. a warning appears, on GCA at least. Could this aspect not be used in future to simply disallow a cache placement in such areas?

We shouldn't be concerned as to whether the cache is 1 metre or 20 metres outside the boundary as how could this be proved anyway.

If the cacher has concerns then they could seek clarification from DECC (NSW) & then resubmit the placement after having obtained approval. :-k
The problem is that if it's 1m inside the line, but the line is not accurate, the listing would not be permitted.

The data we have access to is not frequently updated.

I mentioned somewhere else that the level of detail in the points along the line are not perfect. So a 100m long curve in the real world might only have 2 or 3 points, making it effectively a straight line between the points. This means the area between the start of the curve and the end of the curve could either include or exclude a banned area. If you placed a cache inside the area, but an area that is outside the actual park boundary, we would not list it. The same deal applies the other way. You have it in an area not covered by the zone data, but it actually exists in the zone.

The data we have, where caches are along the boundary, is not of sufficient granularity to make an automated decision. Furthermore, as new areas are declared or boundaries change, we are not kept up to date so as time goes past we get more and more wrong in terms of not listing caches in areas where boundaries have changed.

Intervention and decision about whether a cache location is legal (in the law realm, not just the "legal geocaching" realm) should not be the activity of this website.

The following is general commentary and not a response to the quoted post.

YOU make the decision to hide or seek.
WE provide an indication that YOU should check where you are going by way of a warning.
It is not OUR role to be your mummy and tell you to only do legal things.

The site was built, and started listing caches to get away from the perceived big brother approach from the powers that be on the other side of the planet. If GCA takes to not listing caches in areas that the data suggests are banned for geocaching, then we have replaced one big brother on the other side of the planet with a different big brother on the other side of the country, or worse, an automated robotic big brother who is unable to listen to reason.

To say again. Why can't YOU be responsible? Why do WE have to be your mummy?

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Re: GCA listings of caches in areas where geocaching is banned

Post by grahamf72 » 17 March 10 8:31 am

caughtatwork wrote: The site was built, and started listing caches to get away from the perceived big brother approach from the powers that be on the other side of the planet. If GCA takes to not listing caches in areas that the data suggests are banned for geocaching, then we have replaced one big brother on the other side of the planet with a different big brother on the other side of the country, or worse, an automated robotic big brother who is unable to listen to reason.

To say again. Why can't YOU be responsible? Why do WE have to be your mummy?
Agree 110%. It is the hider & finder's responsibility to sensibly hide caches, and sensibly find them respectively. If someone puts a cache on the side of a 100m cliff, and someone tries to find it without appropriate gear and is injured/killed is it GCA's fault? Or if a cache requires a 2 day hike and a finder sets out without food water & shelter is it GCA's fault? The hider should exercise some sense and indicate potential risks on their cache page, likewise the finder should exercise some sense and evaluate risks before they commence the hunt.

If a hider/finder can face prosecution for caching in an NP, how is that any different to some of the poor hides that exist in metro areas, that cause the police / security guards to become suspicious and could lead to detainment or prosecution. What is an OK hide and bad hide will change over time, and can even change day to day and for different people. As a middle-aged bloke, I wouldn't do a playground cache at 3:45pm on a week-day, that is just asking for trouble. Likewise I wouldn't do a NSW NP cache until the situation is changed. A change in park boundaries could make existing ok caches illegal, and vice-versa. In QLD it seems to vary depending on the park, some are actively removing caches, some don't seem to care. It is the responsibility of the hider to determine if seeking the cache is ok or not.

I agree with caughtatwork - the site is here just to be a holding place for cache information. How that information is used, is the responsibility of the hider and finder.

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