"Neil R. Ormos" <>
Sent: 3/12/2002 11:44:55 PM

Re: [gpsstash] Keeping Geocaching Free!

Dustin Sallings wrote:

> Neil R. Ormos said:

>> What the geocaching community needs in order to avoid the
>> potential of extortionate use of monopoly power in
>> geocache data is to separate the cache information
>> database from the presentation apparatus. If the basic
>> cache data (name, owner, location, hints, and any cache
>> status/existence update) were separately available on a
>> truly non-commercial, collectively-owned, and
>> volunteer-operated site, ...

> This has been discussed many times and has gone nowhere.
> It's very sad that such trivial information as a place on
> earth can be held almost as a trade secret. I may or may
> not be able to produce a better site than,
> but it's not relevant because the data is so valuable when
> people are paying to get it.

Regardless of earlier discussions, the threat of "pay to
play", which was merely speculation in the past, is now
real. It's time to revisit the issue of a non-commercial

>> Unfortunately, it's too late for that. The hobby has
>> already been AOL-ized, users have become addicted to the
>> spiffy presentation, and it's highly unlikely that users
>> can now be persuaded to register caches with a
>> non-commercial database, even if someone wanted to go to
>> the trouble of setting one up.

> It's not so much AOLization, it's just the lack of public
> data. Since I seem to be the only person who created a
> site that had any interest in sharing data in the first
> place (as far as I can tell), the only one that can
> succeed is the one with the most data points. Data
> hoarding is exactly what makes this so annoying. I would
> like raw access to the data for my own analysis (which I
> would share with the world if it's interesting at all).

You blame data hoarding, but it is exactly AOLization that
has created the underlying atmosphere in which data hoarding
is not only permitted, but thrives. It is exactly the
AOL-style users that will suffer any indignity to get a
little convenience and spiffy presentation. It is exactly
the AOL-style users who are unmotivated or unwilling to
contribute their cache information to an independent cache
database. It is exactly the AOL-style users who migrated
almost all geocaching discussion away from Usenet and
relatively unmoderated e-mail groups onto web-based "forums"
with their censorship and inane web-based interfaces. And
it is exactly the AOL-style users who are unable to
understand the risk data hoarding presents to the future of
the hobby. Obviously, by "AOLization" I'm not referring to
all AOL users or solely to AOL users, but rather to the user
community that doesn't understand or value free access to
basic data.

> The recent appearance of (well, not *that*
> recent) doesn't appear to do a lot. As far as I can tell,
> it might as well be I keep seeing
> messages like, ``Keep Geocaching Free,'' but I don't
> understand how another site operating the same way is
> helping anything. I see no data export mechanism on the
> site, and when I responded to a post here if there were a
> way to export the data, I was ignored. Perhaps I just
> missed the point.

> It's clear that the only way to maintain the openness of
> the activity as it was when it started is to get rid of
> all the data hoarding. It's also clear that that's not
> going to happen.

If someone would define a simple format for an e-mail
message containing the essential cache information, it
wouldn't be too hard for individuals to code up descriptions
of, say, 10 nearby caches and submit them to the database.
You could probably get 85 % coverage of existing caches
within six months, which would be a good start.