Deep in the bowels of Groundspeak headquarters, somewhere in the vicinity of N47 37.000 and W122 21.000 lies an ancient and terrible cult with enormous power and influence. Some call them the Tripartite Commission. Some know them as the “new world order” or the Illuminati. We know them only as
They are a shadowy bunch, traversing the space between the Geocaching Hider and Seeker with no apparent finds of their own, but thousands of Geocaches reviewed, approved, denied or just plain ignored. They are the third player in this game and it does not go on without them; their power is legend.
It has a very western 1-2-3 feel to it, and you probably know nothing about what number 3 does, why they’re here and how they can help. It’s time we fixed that in a two parter. In this first chapter let’s just cover the reviewer’s role, shall we? It’s essential and neither the Hider nor the Seeker can do their thing without the Reviewer.
Most of your experience with the Geocaching Reviewer community will fall into one or more of 3 main buckets, depending on your activities
Reviewing and Approving (or not) Caches
I know, sort of obvious. That simple description is deceptive, though. Reviewing and approving new cache submissions can be a time consuming process. In the most basic example a cache review could take just a few minutes because the area is well known, the cache is simple and there are no conflicts to worry about. Start piling on the multi-waypoint, mystery puzzle or oddball requirements hides and you have what amounts to the advanced calculus of Geocaching. Go further and stir it up with multi-cache series releases that need simultaneous release and you are talking “fog of war” level confusion. I don’t envy the reviewers.
Cache Re-Review and Archiving/Un-Archiving
No, this isn’t a repeat. After a cache has been published it may become necessary to revisit the listing to insure its continued compliance with Geocaching/Groundspeak guidelines. This usually happens as a result of an SBA (Should Be Archived) log or a posted Reviewer Note. Sometimes it’s just as simple as a new piece of information the cache owner forgot to put in with the description that will materially affect his/her hide. Caches that were archived may be eligible again for whatever reason, and so forth. The Reviewer actually WANTS caches to be published. That’s the point, so this task is monumentally important.
Dispute Resolution and Rules Interpretations
Trust me, this happens. The rules are dynamic and have some flexibility, to a point. The problem is that everyone wants to bend those darned rules until they break and sometimes that means a mediator must step in. Meet the Reviewer. He or she might not be fighting crime in spandex but is fighting confusion and ignorance in the caching community, one issue at a time. You normally only see the outcome of these events in the Geocaching.com Forums unless you are one of the affected parties or the reviewer weighs in on the discussion thread for more info.
Your typical Reviewer leads a double life as an anonymous entity behind the keyboard by day and as a real live Geocacher by night, or something like that. 🙂 As a player, the Reviewer is in a unique position to appreciate local conditions, conventions and peculiarities about your geography. They’re there to facilitate the game, not hinder it, which is why you see such a wide variety of approaches to cache hides, descriptions and so forth. If you have a question about the game, the Reviewer community will most likely weigh in, if not decisively rule on the matter. The hider and seeker both cannot do their thing without the reviewer, and for the most part when the hider is abusing the seeker the reviewer can stop that in an instant. The Reviewer is not just an essential figure in the game; they see the big picture as Geocaching evolves.
With the basics out of the way, stay tuned for the next post where we get up close and personal with this shadowy cabal by way of Marko Ramius. Marko is a reviewer covering part of Southern California. He was kind enough to allow me 20 questions, the answers to which I promise to mangle and misrepresent.