I’m a member of a lot of Facebook groups related to geocaching. A LOT. More than I’d care to admit to, frankly. I do find it interesting when the same topics come up over and again. I can easily waste too much time scrolling through the comments to see conflicting opinions: sometimes helpful and fresh, at other times needlessly unpleasant. Occasionally though, I’ll see a comment or opinion that makes me stop and think. Such was the case when I came across a recent discussion on armchair logging.
What is Armchair Logging?
In case you haven’t heard of it, armchair logging is when someone logs caches online without having ever found the cache, or even visited GZ. Essentially, without even leaving the comfort of their armchair at home. Since the ‘point’ of geocaching is to navigate to a particular spot and find something there, there can be little argument that this is cheating.
On geocaching.com, you’ll find four ‘steps’ under ‘Log a Geocache‘:
- Find the cache.
- Sign the logbook.
- Trade SWAG or trackables.
- Put the cache back exactly as you found it.
Everything else could be considered superfluous, like logging an FTF find promptly online so others don’t go running out thinking they’re still in with a chance. Not too nice if you’ve wasted your time, effort and fuel getting to GZ to be faced with disappointed, but at the same time, just the way it goes. Nobody is obliged to log straight away online, no matter how much it might annoy us if they don’t.
But finding the cache and signing the logbook are integral to geocaching. If you don’t do either, but you log online, you have to be cheating, right?
What about Throwdowns?
In case you’re not familiar with the phrase, a ‘throwdown’ is when you get to GZ, can’t find the cache, assume it’s missing and replace the container without the cache owner’s permission. Geocaching.com states that throwdowns are “strongly discouraged.” And look, I get it: you’ve gone to a lot of trouble to get to GZ, maybe you’re visiting a new state or country that you’re unlikely to return to any time soon and it’s more than a little galling to come up empty handed.
For me, the best part about geocaching is the adventure in getting to GZ. You can still record that adventure online with a DNF. Some of the most interesting stories I have are when I didn’t find the cache. Not adding another number to my tally won’t change that fact.
Does it Matter?
Someone has decided to log virtual caches all over the world without leaving the comfort of their own home. Someone else has failed to find a cache at GZ and decides to replace it on behalf of the CO. How do these things affect those of us who don’t see the point in doing these things? My gut feeling when I see stuff like this or even read about it happening (even if it’s thousands of miles away), is mild irritation.
Armchair logging is not something I would do or have ever considered doing; the appeal of just logging stuff online without ever experiencing the journey to GZ just isn’t there for me.
Throwdowns are trickier because I’ve been in the position of going to a lot of trouble to find a cache, only to not find it. An example that springs to mind is when I was in Italy and searching for a cache to fill a Jasmer and I couldn’t find it. But I didn’t replace the cache. I didn’t find the cache so how can I claim I did? If I know the cache owner and I converse with them and they agree to me replacing their cache: that’s a different story. On the flip side, I have been the ‘victim’ of throwdowns on my own caches and it annoys me greatly. In most cases, this was when there was maybe one, but often no, DNFs on the cache so I had no idea there could be a problem. Each time it’s happened, I have thought long and hard about deleting the logs from the cachers who ‘threw down’. According to Geocaching.com’s guidelines on throwdowns, I am well within my rights as the cache owner to do so.
In the most recent case, I decided to check on the cache in question and indeed, it appeared to be missing (despite no previous DNFs). This of course does not justify a throwdown. I promptly removed the film canister that was placed (the cache hidden was a small tupperware) and replaced it with the proper sized container. Despite thinking long and hard about it, I always seem to come to the same conclusion: “They are only cheating themselves!”
But really, when others do this, who are they hurting? Does it really affect my enjoyment of the game? I’m by no means condoning this type of behaviour; I think my thoughts are pretty clear above. But why waste my time worrying about people who are so obsessed with stats that they are willing to seriously fudge the numbers (to put it mildly)?
I am interested to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think the propensity to cheat in geocaching is affecting the game for those who don’t cheat? Is the integrity of the game marred by those who armchair log or place throwdowns?
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