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Guest Post: Creating a Checker Needn't Be a Challenge! | The Geocaching Junkie

Just over a year since the announcement of a moratorium on new challenge caches, Geocaching HQ confirmed yesterday challenge caches are good to go again and published updated guidelines. There are three major changes to the guidelines: 

  1. The cache owner must show that they have met the challenge themselves
  2. The container must be placed at coordinates on the listing, either as posted coordinates, or as a visible additional waypoint.
  3. Challenge cache listings must include a link to a web-based challenge checker.

Project-GC is currently the only approved website to host these challenge checkers. If you’re planning on submitting a challenge cache for approval under the new guidelines, you’ll need to create one. Luckily, I have enlisted the help of Stephen from Ulster Latinos, to show how to create a checker based on one that already exists on Project-GC.

PLEASE NOTE THAT AT THE TIME OF PUBLISHING, THE ABILITY TO TAG SCRIPTS IS TURNED OFF AND LOOKS LIKELY TO RETURN WITHIN A FEW WEEKS. I WILL UPDATE THIS ARTICLE AND MY SOCIAL MEDIA WHEN THAT HAPPENS. 

Creating a Challenge Checker

The software coding behind a challenge checker is called a script, in theory anyone can write these but you will require some level of computer programming knowledge. A far simpler way to get the one you need is to take someone else’s script and change the tags to customise it for your requirements. Tags are elements within the script that can be changed to suit your needs (i.e. they are variable), the trick is to find the script with the tags you need to use.

Example

Your starting point is http://project-gc.com/Tools/Challenges. Here you will find a list of all existing challenge checkers and you can view them by country and do a search if you like. If your challenge idea is a copy of someone else’s cache then looking for their checker is the best place to start!

So let’s start with this one listed under Ireland:

challenge checker screen grab

Script name gives you a description of what the script does.

Tag comment let’s you know how this has been set up.

A quick click on Show beside Tag config reveals the following:

{

    “counties”: 32,

    “findsPerCounty”: 1,

    “country”: “Ireland”,

    “list”: “show”,

    “types”: [

        “Traditional Cache”,

        “Multi-cache”,

        “Unknown Cache”,

        “Letterbox Hybrid”,

        “Wherigo Cache”

    ]

}

It’s clear by reading down this configuration that you have to have finds in 32 different counties, at least 1 find in each, in the country of Ireland, {don’t worry about list: show is all about} and only finds on the five cache types listed count. Immediately you can see that by using different tags on this same script you could set up a challenge checker for:

  • One find in every county of the UK
  • Two finds in every county in Ireland
  • One find in half the counties in Ireland (16)
  • An earthcache find in each of ten different counties
  • And if you can think a little outside the box…one find in every county in Ulster (or any other region)
  • Plus many more possibilities!

Set Up Your Own Tags

To set up your own tags you need to click on Tag script on the right-hand side. This will take you to a screen like this:

screen (1 of 1)

Here is where you can configure the checker to fit your own needs.

Configuring the Checker

GC-Code

The code of your challenge cache

Config

This is where the action happens. Below the boxes to be completed on this page, you will find a list of all tag configurations currently being used for this checker.The simplest way to make your own is to find one that is close to what you need, copy it and then modify. So if we wanted to configure our checker to be an earthcache found in at least ten different counties in Ireland we would copy and paste the script above then modify it to read:

{ “counties”: 10, “findsPerCounty”: 1, “country”:”Ireland”, “list”: “show”, “types”: [ “Earthcache” ]}

Comment

Enter a description of what your checker is doing here, so in this case “An earthcache find in ten different counties in Ireland.”

After that you tick the Enabled box and hit Save (providing your cache is enabled, if not you can come back and enable your checker later).

Once you have a tagged script ready to go, it will appear under ‘My scripts and tags’ on the above page.

screeny

Clicking on one gives you the option to click Link. You then have three options to include your challenge checker link on your cache listing page.

screeny myscreenface

So that’s the simple way to set up a challenge checker via Project-GC. There are many, many scripts already in existence so hopefully you can find one to suit your needs. Unfortunately, access to create and tag scripts is currently restricted so you may not be able to practice yet, all the more time to focus your efforts on getting those creative challenge caches ready in anticipation 🙂

hDMYdv1464206996

According to Project-GC’s Challenge Checker FAQ page, new checkers will be available to create ‘a few weeks after the moratorium ends’, so watch this space! Many thanks to Stephen for sharing his knowledge. 

How do you feel about the new guidelines for challenge caches? Let me know in the comments! 

Happy caching! 

Sarah

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