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 » 17 March 10 9:10 am

It seems that if we stop listing these caches, then instead of the cache hider being notified with a big box on their GCA cache page, the page simply won't appear on GCA, and the hider won't have any indication at all that their cache is in a banned area, is that right? whereas currently if they log in to GCA they can see the notification, plus all prospective finders can see the notification.
People looking for this cache on GC however will still be able to visit it, with no idea that it is in a banned area.
At least the way it is at the moment, SOME people are being informed of the current state of the cache. And if one is planning on visiting a GC cache and is concerned, one currently has the ability to do a quick check on GCA first.
If the listing becomes banned, we will not be able to check, there will simply be nothing there for that particular cache on GCA.
Now this might be OK if everybody knew that the presence of a listing on GC along with absence of GCA listing equals cache in banned area. But not everybody will realise that.
So after much reflection I am beginning to be ready to vote for the status quo. This will keep the onus on cache hiders where it belongs, while alerting cache finders (at least those who visit GCA).

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

Post by Damo. » 17 March 10 9:47 am

Xorg and Pixelwarrior wrote:It seems that if we stop listing these caches, then instead of the cache hider being notified with a big box on their GCA cache page, the page simply won't appear on GCA, and the hider won't have any indication at all that their cache is in a banned area, is that right?
The poll and discussion is about caches which are listed only on GCA.
The GC cache listing on GCA are just having additional functionality added and for statistical reference. The discussion is not about removing those pages, rather about allowing (or not) future placings of GCA only caches in areas designated as 'banned'.

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

Post by caughtatwork » 17 March 10 10:59 am

Xorg and Pixelwarrior wrote:It seems that if we stop listing these caches, then instead of the cache hider being notified with a big box on their GCA cache page, the page simply won't appear on GCA, and the hider won't have any indication at all that their cache is in a banned area, is that right?
Technical aspects of how this is handled are yet to be designed. If we end up not listing the cache, the owner will be told WHY, it's just that their cache will not be able to be made active.

As Damo. says, we do not enforce anything with GC caches. They are here for statistical purposes only. We put up the warning if you look at a GC cache 'cos we're nice people.

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

Post by caughtatwork » 18 March 10 9:04 pm

This is a post I made in the senate with regards to technical capability. The senate hasn't yet finished the debate, but I thought you might find this interesting.

This is the ACTUAL policy from Parks NSW.
http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resou ... eocach.pdf

The summary is on this webpage.
http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/polic ... policy.htm

The summary does NOT accurately reflect the policy in one key point.

Paragraph 9.
Geocaching is not permitted in protected areas managed by the NPWS.
I have put in bold the key word in that sentence.

The data we have covers what we believe to be areas managed by NSW P&WS (QLD further below). This is ALL areas managed by PW&S NOT just protected areas. We cannot differentiate between a zone that is managed by P&WS and one that is deemed protected.

This discussion about Parks Victoria may shed some further light on the question of managed vs. protected.
http://forum.geocaching.com.au/viewtopi ... 13#p141513

Interesting quote:
Parks Victoria's interim policy requires all that all geocaches have written authorisation from Parks Victoria.
Geocaches may be permitted in parks and reserves, which are not managed under the National Parks Act (such as You Yangs RP), and where the placement does not conflict with management objectives.
National Parks Act parks are treated differently to the rest of Parks Victoria parks. I would suggest quite strongly that protected areas under NSW P&WS operated under the same concept. i.e. Caches in parks are probably OK, but protected areas are banned.

Another post to read.
http://forum.geocaching.com.au/viewtopi ... 82#p141682
Interesting quote:
Specifically the issue PV has is with areas under the National Parks Act. The NPA (which only covers National Parks in Victoria) excludes any activity in these areas which may have a detrimental impact on the flora, fauna and geology of the area. So this is not specific to geocaching, but is covered under the National Parks Act.
I would assume that protected vs. managed for NSW P&WS is the same.

Geocaching is not permitted in protected areas managed by the NPWS.

The quality of data that we have is insufficient for an outright "not permitted" listing of a cache. I believe that it is sufficient for a "strongly worded warning" and the hider or finder can check and make their own determination as to whether the cache is in an area managed or protected.

Now we come to Queensland. We have a shape file for Queensland that is being massaged to create zones. Again, the data is not certain to be only National and State Parks in Queensland. There is a lot of data (54MB of kml file) and a lot of zones. 11,573 actually. It is very unclear as to whether the data covers ONLY NP and SP, but an initial check seems to indicate it contains other boundary data as well. Whether we can extract only SP and NP data is yet to be seen, but again, I would not put 100% faith in either the massage / cull process or the source data as being the "be all and end all" for Queensland.

So for Queensland, we have the same issue over quality and accuracy of data to enact an automated "not permitted" decision.

The more I look into this, the more I feel that outright "not permitting" the listing of caches in banned zones based on the data we have is not technically feasible. We have enough confidence for a "warning" as they can be checked by the hider / finder, but as an automated process, this is not a suitable approach.

This essentially leaves us in a technical position where our intent would be to strongly discourage people from hiding and finding caches in zones that may be deemed to be "borderline", but we should not use the data to "ban" the listings.

I am certain that should policy come into play in other states, the same problems will occur.

Papa Bear_Left knows how much the NZ government gives out "public data" vs. Australia. If we were in NZ we would have good comfort in the data being available and updated. In Australia we are forced to find data by searching the vastness of the internet and picking up bits and pieces as we come across them. This is a piss poor method of identifying data under which to "ban" listings.

I understand that people will be voting with their moral compass. Technically neither CraigRat nor I can place a hand on our hearts and say that we have confidence in the ability of the site to enact the result.

It may be a result, that regardless of the senate vote, we may not be able to technically achieve the result if the vote was to "not list".

Remember, this is not a decision, but is information to help transparency and the technical limitations we face.

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

Post by blossom* » 18 March 10 9:18 pm

How does GC do it? Are they using the same data with the smae potential problems?

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

Post by caughtatwork » 18 March 10 9:24 pm

blossom* wrote:How does GC do it? Are they using the same data with the smae potential problems?
Good question your padawan.

I believe we both source the same data, but I can't be certain. I also don't what the specifics were from NPWS to GC, or who the authority was that requested GC stop listings.

Attached to the same thread that I dragged my previous post from, I've given a heads up to theUMP and riblit (in the senate) with the following:
Given my recent discovery of the protected phrase of the policy, GC (hi theUmp and riblit) may be drawing the same original lines that we were going to draw and may (I emphasise may), be casting the net too wide in not permitting caches in NPWS "managed" areas vs. "protected" areas. As Papa Bear_Left is one of our senators, this might be a headsup to seek clarification on that specific item. I'm not suggesting they are, but quite a few people may be making an error in determining excluded zones.
We may end up arguing semantics over managed vs protected for NPWS, but for Victoria (see my post above ) there is a distinction.

Remember that GC have reviewers who dedicate a huge amount of time to checking cache listings and GCA doesn't so they may be able to use their brain to make distinctions where as GCA will rely upon the programmed robot to make the choice.

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

Post by Richary » 18 March 10 11:22 pm

Thanks C@W for all that information and research. As someone said way earlier, if geocaching is banned in areas managed by NPWS then presumably they could be placed in areas where they never do any maintenance :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

Now we need to find a legal definition of protected versus managed for NSW. I don't know whether the GCNSW Committee who have contacts with them here in the effort to get it approved might be able to assist with that. I suspect it may need trawling of austlii to look at whatever act covers NSW National Parks.

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

Post by ruzzelz » 19 March 10 7:56 am

Queensland legislation seems to work on the basis of making different classes of protected areas and then providing to enable certain activities in these areas under regulations (including, building power lines and mining) and providing for permits to be granted for other activities (eg Eco_tourism(include 4WD tours), overnight camping, rogaining) and then enables certain activies to be allowed without permits (eg bushwalking including organised bushwalking via clubs.)

Under the Queensland legislation "protected area" has a wide application. All these areas are managed by QPWS with some responsibility handed over to Local Government for individual areas. Many of the old "State Forest" areas have been classified as "national parks (recovery)". In fact some of these areas are in better shape that some of the NP's as they were actively managed by Forestry agencies when logging was still permitted in the areas.

Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld)- Part 4 Protected areas
Classes of protected areas to which Act applies:
The classes of protected areas to which this Act applies are—
(a) national parks (scientific); and
(b) national parks; and
(c) national parks (Aboriginal land); and
(d) national parks (Torres Strait Islander land); and
(da) national parks (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land);
and
(e) national parks (recovery); and
(f) conservation parks; and
(g) resources reserves; and
(h) nature refuges; and
(i) coordinated conservation areas; and
(j) wilderness areas; and
(k) World Heritage management areas; and
(l) international agreement areas.

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Post by cantanga » 20 March 10 12:30 pm

Originally I had voted that yes GCA should ban caches being listed in known banned places. After all why should GCA help people break the law. However after a bit more thinking and reading some of C@W's comments on the capabilities of the servers/ banned area profiles I now am of the understanding that basically the question is "should we do the impossible by trying to determine just how close to the real boundry is that cache actually?" (perhaps it could be worded better).
Quite frankly I now think that the warning is the best that could reasonably be done with the resources available. It should be up to the cache placer to determine if where they have placed it in an illegal position. If the cache placer see's the warning and is unsure as to wheter or not the cache is placed in a banned site they should either err on the side of caution and remove it or perhaps even question NPWS staff as to if it is within there zone.
This way GCA has given notice that the cache could be illegal, the cacher has taken the responsibility to ensure that it is not illegal or at least accepts the risk and no legal cache gets blocked. Everyone wins.

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Re:

Post by noikmeister » 20 March 10 2:16 pm

cantanga wrote:Originally I had voted that yes GCA should ban caches being listed in known banned places. After all why should GCA help people break the law. However after a bit more thinking and reading some of C@W's comments on the capabilities of the servers/ banned area profiles I now am of the understanding that basically the question is "should we do the impossible by trying to determine just how close to the real boundry is that cache actually?" (perhaps it could be worded better).
Quite frankly I now think that the warning is the best that could reasonably be done with the resources available. It should be up to the cache placer to determine if where they have placed it in an illegal position. If the cache placer see's the warning and is unsure as to wheter or not the cache is placed in a banned site they should either err on the side of caution and remove it or perhaps even question NPWS staff as to if it is within there zone.
This way GCA has given notice that the cache could be illegal, the cacher has taken the responsibility to ensure that it is not illegal or at least accepts the risk and no legal cache gets blocked. Everyone wins.
Sounds sensible. I would add to this that if the cache placer goes ahead and places the cache anyway that the cache finder should get the same warning when logging their find.

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

Post by caughtatwork » 22 March 10 8:31 pm

The vote has ended with 7 of 9 possible votes cast and a result of 1 Yes, 6 No and 2 abstentions.
It is therefore passed that the No option has the votes.

I will not reveal the individual votes or abstentions, but the individual senators may, if they choose, provide information about how they voted and their reasoning.

Discussions both in the senate and by the community has been vigorous and robust with many opinions and positions put forward.

Without pre-empting what any other senator may say on the subject I believe that the reason the No option took the votes was due to the inability of the website to accurately identify those specific areas in which geocaching is banned due to the lack of integrity in the zone data that the website has access to. This would have put the website into the unenviable position of making a judgement call on some cache listings. As the senate is there for the website governance, not the overall game of geocaching, the website needs and direction took precedence.

There was a general consensus by the senate that the GCA website will more strongly encourage hiders and finders to check the areas that they are about to geocache in to ensure that they are not going to be breaching any land managers geocaching policy.

This will be done as time permits by the developers. Technical details will be identified by the developers in due course.

This means the hider will still be permitted to list their cache on the GCA website, but as always, the hider takes accountability for cache placement and the finder takes accountability for entering and searching an area.

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

Post by Damo. » 22 March 10 9:28 pm

Thank you to the senators who took the time to discuss the matter! =D>
Congratulations on the first vote by the first elected Senate.

It's great to see the website moving forward on a self governance model.
There are always going to be critics and I'm sure no model will be without faults.

Big thank you to Caught@Work and CraigRat for you hard work and drive to get the website this far in the server move and transition from the Benevolent Dictator model. I hope this takes some pressure off you two.
Last edited by Damo. on 22 March 10 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Richary » 22 March 10 9:34 pm

I think given the technical limitations of the data we have that is the sensible course, and probably would have led to a different vote from the geocaching community if we had realised that at the start.

I don't know if it is possible or desirable to check the data we have when a cache is listed and if within a reasonable distance from a boundary ask the cacher "is this outside the NP" before permitting listing. If they lie then it is on their heads so to speak and the site has done what it can. That's probably a new ammo can of worms though!

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

Post by caughtatwork » 22 March 10 9:56 pm

This is real life example of the problem.

http://geocaching.com.au/cache/tp5364 This is a TrigPoint and as such there is no warning on the cache page as non-physical geocaches don't trigger a warning. There is another cache however, hidden in that grey area you can see in the google map. You can't see the other cache listing as it's still in "draft" mode, but as an admin I can see it. Trust me, it's there.

That grey area is inside a banned zone. http://geocaching.com.au/zone/view/477/ Look to the first area covered by the zone data and you can see the same grey area.

Now that whole area in blue on the zone map is inside the zone, but that grey area is not actually part of the banned area as it doesn't belong to NPWS. So the hider has indicated that the cache is not in an area covered by NPWS, so is OK to find.

If GCA were to use the zone data as an exclusion zone, this cache would not be permitted to be listed. I'm not beating a dead horse here, just giving an indication that there are indeed zones, covered by the zone data that would indicate that the area is banned, which in reality, are not.

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

Post by geoskid » 22 March 10 10:10 pm

Damo. wrote:Thank you to the senators who took the time to discuss the matter! =D>
Congratulations on the first vote by the first elected Senate.

It's great to see the website moving forward on a self governance model.
There are always going to be critics and I'm sure no model will be without faults.

Big thank you to Caught@Work and CraigRat for you hard work and drive to get the website this far in the server move and transition from the Benevolent Dictator model. I hope this takes some pressure off you two.
Ditto. I am glad I got off my butt and got involved in this thread. It wasn't as cut and dried as I thought it seemed at first and I have learn't a lot. Thank you

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