The Lost Art of Logging

I posted the following earlier over at Groudspeak.

I have been a fan of this thread since 9Key posted it last August. Unfortunately, I do not have a readily available solution to his lament as I am one of those who has changed his logging style. I am now what RK deems a parasite. I could attempt to explain why that is, but that would throw this thread off topic. Rather, allow me first to document how my first logging change came about. That may provide some perspective as to how logging has changed.

Before I ceased logging online, I wrote logs that detailed a bumbling cacher fortunate to find his way home, let alone a cache. While that was factual, the emphasis of the logs were on the misfortunes I encountered. There was anonymity at that time. It was fun and there was some back-and-forth play in the logs with other unknown cachers.

All that changed once I met the caching community. Prior to the first event I attended, I had met but a couple folks on the trail. When I walked into the Burger King people called me by name. That freaked me out. With each log, I posted photographs. The effect of that was that everyone knew me. At that event, the local caching community began to form. And immediately I was placed in an uncomfortable position.

Out with some of the “big names” for some caching, the first place we went had two caches hidden. It was decided to split into two groups and log both caches, despite having only visited one. That one event erased the magic geocaching held for me. All of a sudden I had what, for me, amounted to an ethical issue with what we had done. It bothered me so much I drove 90 minutes one way at a later date to find the other cache that I had logged.

Interestingly, I met a few people at that event who became friends. We then began caching together frequently. That hampered writing self-deprecating logs as they would follow (or proceed) with the “straight” logs.

At this time the number of caches locally began to take off. Like many have lamented previously, I felt the quality of the then-current crop dropped. 9Key acknowledged what many have witnessed over the years, people emulate what they see others doing (monkey see, monkey do). Now, the magic was gone and the quality, for me, was dropping.

I began keeping two sets of logs in my database: a public one and a private one. Unfortunately, I made some mistakes when I posted my logs online and published the “private” ones. I would delete them and upload the correct log, but the damage had been done. Even so, there were some memorable logs during this period.

The After Effect
It wasn’t long after that that I ceased logging online altogether. At that point, not much was lost. Sanitized, short logs were the norm publicly.

Honestly Logging
Many folks state that we should be honest in our logs and that will make a difference. As a matter of fact, I am posting here spurred on by the post of av8tors32. I recognize the handle. I found a cache of his/theirs after I ceased logging online. He stated above:

Okay, the problem is most cachers are too polite.

. . .

What is actually lost is the Art of a GOOD CACHE. People drop them any old place for no reason at all, with completely obvious hides. Or place nanos on ever metal sign they can find. The caches that get long write ups are the ones that take me to a unique place, a nice hike, a good hide, a nice container etc etc etc…

Honestly they need to implement a rule. Can’t hide/post a cache until you have found X total caches (not all nano or micro) The hope is that people will experience a “good cache” before they set out to hide one.

av8tors32, Apr 13 2008, 10:18 AM

Here is the log from my database for the av8tors32 cache I found. I wouldn’t characterize the log as “too polite.” I do not think having posted that would have changed anything. Do you, av8tors?

I have attempted to document what a good cache is. Folks railed on me for that. What I have since learned is that everyone approaches geocaching from his own perspective . . . as do I. So, I then posted my approach to caching, understanding that not everyone approaches it as I do, but at least they would know what to expect from my caches. That has not been well-received either.

I would have preferred to have written a different kind of log for av8tors32’s cache, but I had no audience at that point.

And that seems to be the crux of 9Key’s lament. Online logging supposes an audience. I removed myself from the geocaching community for numerous reasons. I no longer have an audience to write for. I am okay with that; I write for myself most times (including now).

My logs are a pretty good length, in general, these days. My logs now document, pretty much in a factual manner, my experience finding a cache. I am not against adding commentary if I feel like it. I sometimes embed a running story throughout caches that I found during the day, trying to find a different voice that would make the experience of documenting a past event more exciting for me. Those logs, for the most part, remain stored privately in my databases. Every now and then I publish a few on my site when the mood strikes.

So why post this publicly to an audience? Every now and then it seems profitable to share one’s perspective even if others do not agree with it.

Most issues with geocaching have different facets. Often it appears there are but two perspectives, neither understanding the other. I see this issue from a perspective I have not seen represented yet. I agree that online logging has changed since I began caching. I have changed how I log since I began caching. Caching has changed since I began caching. I think they are inter-related and as a whole, I would not characterize it as a positive. But what is one to do? Drone on about the good ol’ days or move forward?

While I lament the lost art of logging, I move forward.

Moving Forward
Moving forward, for me, has entailed changing my expectations from cache finders. If a cacher wants to post images of clouds giving me the finger, so be it. If cachers want to complain about puzzles being too hard, so be it. If cachers want to eschew my caches because they can’t be FTF, so be it.

I am confident there are some(one) out there who understand my approach and appreciate my caches. If the one, some, the majority, all want to post nondescript, uninteresting logs, so be it. I understand the lament. I document this issue, as I have many others, for that is how I feel at this time. But in the end, I move forward.

Also blogged on this date . . .

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