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How do you describe geocaching to a muggle?
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Sonny
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Joined: 03 Aug 2006
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Location: San Diego, California

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:30 pm    Post subject: How do you describe geocaching to a muggle?

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Okay, before I even get started, let me say that this is a rant hidden in a question. It's a pet peeve on a genuinely trivial topic and I acknowledge that before I get ramped up.

What metaphor do you use to describe Geocaching?

I've seen:
A high-tech game of hide and seek
A high-tech scavenger hunt
A high-tech treasure hunt
(I've seen "modern-day" substituted for high-tech.)

We use these in an attempt to quickly describe to muggles what Geocaching is. To be effective, the catch phrase should simplify and project an image or vision to the non-geocacher. Do some of the above metaphors do that well? I don't think so. Let's take a look at couple definitions that I copied from Wikipedia (just to give us a starting point).

"Hide-and-seek or hide-and-go-seek is a game in which a number of players conceal themselves in the environment, to be found by one or more "seekers"."

My memory of playing Hide and Seek when I was a kid was that of hiding MYSELF (I was pretty good at it too, being small, I could hide pretty easily) not a container. Have any of you played Hide and Seek and hid a container? Now, I understand that in Geocaching you do HIDE something and someone does come along to SEEK it, but it's simply not the same game and I think using this example gives muggles the wrong impression and requires even more explanation to set them straight. By the way if there are any of you who actually hid YOURSELF as a geocache, listed yourself and then waited for others to come find you, let me know. I'd be interested to hear how that worked out.

"A scavenger hunt is a game in which individuals or teams seek to gather a number of specific items or perform tasks as specified by a list. The goal is usually to be the first to complete the list."

Okay a couple key point here and again they corroborate with my memory of scavenger hunts that I have done: "Gather items (or perform tasks) from a LIST". The goal here is to complete the list first.

Again, people can be creative and design caches that have "aspects" of a scavenger hunt (i.e. walk around an area and collect data that will lead you to the Final), but IN GENERAL geocaches are single containers, not on a predetermined list, that you do not collect. Once again, I think this example gives muggles the wrong impression and require more information to clarify.

My vote is therefore for the metaphor of a Modern-day / High-tech TREASURE HUNT. In my humble opinion, this sums up the experience. Someone has taken the time to hide a package somewhere "out there". There are clues for you to follow. You can use tools, (compass, treasure map, sextant and in our case GPS receivers) to help you locate it. And there are items in the container, even if just a log book. Most muggles hearing it referred to as a treasure hunt will get a pretty accurate vision of what takes place. Make minor adjustments (i.e. sign the log and put the container back for others to find) and the muggle is quickly on their way to understanding what geocaching is all about.

What do you think? Let's hear you on this?

PS: Here's a sentence that makes me cringe like fingernails on a chalkboard: "We were playing this high-tech game of hide and seek and the best one ever was right under a lamp post!!!" (great now that one is going to keep me up at night ... )

'nuf sed

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Grummelbär



Joined: 08 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:43 pm    Post subject:

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I call it a treasure hunt where the REAL treasure IS the hunt.
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geek_teach



Joined: 11 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:26 pm    Post subject:

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The best one that I've heard in a while is : I use high tech military satellites to find tupperware hidden under rocks.

(From geocachingcolo.com)

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addisonbr



Joined: 01 Mar 2008
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Location: New York, New York

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:32 pm    Post subject:

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Sonny, I think you're over-parsing a wee bit. Your points are completely valid from a lawyerly interpretation, but I'm not sure how much it matters.

I've used both Scavenger Hunt and Treasure Hunt. These days I usually go with "Internet-based scavenger hunt". "Treasure hunt" often implies buried treasure and digging, and I really don't want to give anyone that mistaken impression (even subliminally). I'm just so tired of that. I've read a ton of articles that mix the two concepts without reservation. Like this cruddy article from the New York Times last year:

"Geocaching is a kind of global treasure hunt. It has a number of advantages over dowsing or other luddite methods for finding hidden stuff. First, geocaching is undertaken just for fun. Second, in geocaching, someone has always deliberately buried the treasure (or “cache”), noted its coordinates (usually someplace outdoors) and supplied facts about it online."

Treasure Hunt and Buried Treasure just seem to go together in people's minds.

Scavenger hunt captures the general tenor of the activity well enough. Getting out of the house and looking for things. Doesn't imply digging. Can still imply fun and creativity.

You are right that "in general" caches are individual listings, but when I go caching, I often go for multiple caches in an outing, and often (literally) bring a list of them. You do too, right? So it's not *that* far off.

A final comment... My experience is that "scavenger hunt" seems to turn off people's "supicious" meters more easily than "treasure hunt". Treasure hunt has this built-in secrecy element to it that doesn't make the muggles any less wary or watchful after we talk. "Scavenger hunt", for whatever reason, just doesn't generate that same level of "I am going to watch this fellow like a hawk until he's done here" vibe.

When I interact with muggles in the field, I want to be honest but also get them off my back, and scavenger hunt seems to work pretty well.


Last edited by addisonbr on Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:41 am; edited 1 time in total

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Webfoot



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
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Location: Claremont, CA

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:48 pm    Post subject:

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The best way I've been able to describe this to muggles is it's an Easter Egg hunt.

Just like the Easter Bunny, someone goes out and hides something for other to find. The only difference is we use more sophisticated stuff to help us find our Easter Eggs.

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skitpero



Joined: 23 Aug 2008
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Location: Charleston, SC

PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:52 pm    Post subject:

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I normally say "high tech treasure hunt" and then hand them one of the muggle cards I printed out from geocacher-u.com!

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BuckeyeBeth



Joined: 27 Apr 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:57 pm    Post subject:

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I usually start off with something along the lines of "it's a hike with a treasure hunt at the end," and then launch into the whole GPS explanation. Or even just "it's a hike with a purpose." People seem to jump into the idea of adding some fun to a nice walk.

I know what you mean, Sonny, about a scavenger hunt not really being correct, but the funny thing is that even the times I don't use the term, people often jump in with "oh, it's like a scavenger hunt!" Right or wrong, the term seems to stick with muggles.

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CoronaKid



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:27 pm    Post subject:

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I usually just pretend like I don't hear them and go about my business mumbling to myself. 9 times out of 10 they'll leave the weirdo (me) alone.

In all seriousness, I usually start off talking about the GPSr I'm holding because most people know what a GPS is nowadays.

It might go something like this, "...do you have a GPS navigation system in your car?...well this is a handheld version and you can play a game with it that allows you to search for interesting containers in interesting locations..."

That's usually enough to satisfy them. Honesty is always the best policy if you ask me. I find trying to sugercoat it often makes it sound stranger.

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ePeterso2



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:30 am    Post subject:

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I still think that the most accurate metaphor for geocaching is that of the multi-user dungeon, but that's several orders of magnitude more difficult to explain to someone than "a high-tech treasure hunt" Smile

-eP
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geek_teach



Joined: 11 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:56 pm    Post subject:

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I also like to call it a walk with a goal. (If you know your audience, you can say bike ride or hike too.)

I think most people have done a child's treasure hunt, where you leave a note that says look on the dryer, then on the dryer, there's a note that says look at the alarm clock, etc. Geocaching is just like but bigger - and instead of saying, "Go to Pikes Peak", you use GPS coordinates so they know WHERE on Pikes Peak to look.

Just saying Treasure Hunt makes me (and others that I've talked to) think of National Treasure grandeur, challenge and reward. I was talking to somebody this weekend and they asked if I'd ever got more than $50. Um no, but I have found a Starbucks gift card! And I agree with Sonny that the visual on scavenger hunt is all wrong. I like people's ideas of the easter egg hunt too.

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A Team



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:44 pm    Post subject:

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I use Scavenger hunt or Treasure hunt. It depends on who I am talking to though. If I don't want to get into a big explanation I tell them it's a scavenger hunt. If I feel like explaining it I tell them it's a treasure hunt. When I tell them it's a treasure hunt they tend to ask more question's then if I just tell them it's a scavenger hunt. I guess most people know what a scavenger hunt is and don't really ask questions, but if it's treasure they want to know what the treasure is where it is and all sorts of question's. Hide and seek don't think I have used that. I don't really see it as hide and seek?
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addisonbr



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:23 am    Post subject:

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A Team wrote:
When I tell them it's a treasure hunt they tend to ask more question's then if I just tell them it's a scavenger hunt. I guess most people know what a scavenger hunt is and don't really ask questions, but if it's treasure they want to know what the treasure is where it is and all sorts of question's.

That's been precisely my experience.

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Sonny
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:22 pm    Post subject:

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You guys make a good point and I could see how "scavenger hunt" would drop the warning flag sensors on people ...
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pacholik



Joined: 08 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:05 pm    Post subject:

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This is on the front page of geocaching.com now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbgnV6xa6io
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KTMRocks



Joined: 15 Mar 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:03 pm    Post subject:

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Ok, well, hmm... This topic has generated some good discussion and discussion is good.

My point of view is this: Really? How we describe Geocaching is an issue? Geocaching is great fun and fun shouldn't be too serious.

I admit that I have pondered what is the perfect way to describe the hobby/game so that the muggle who asks will just go away quickly and leave me to my devices. But then it occured to me that maybe I am a little self-centered and socially weak. It happens in this brave new world of internet, blogging and email. We have to guard against being too intraverted. In the internet womb, we don't have to answer any question that we don't want to. We don't have to read facial expressions, or worry about being verbally or otherwise abuse by someone we offend. It's like a self-induced for of Asperger's Syndrome.

In the real world we are faced with having to see a social encounter through to the end. Sometimes we try find ways to shorten the duration of social encounters because they make us uncomfortable.

So my new way of describing Geocaching is to say "Get out of here!" and druel on myself! Not really.

Actually, I just say "It's a fun activity to do with a GPS and some coordinates." Or something like that. Usually, this leads to a conversation wherein I am able to relate the fine/fun points of Geocaching. Unless, that is, the person who asked is as socially weak as I was/am recovering from (blog/forum/email - aholic?), then they get scared of the oncoming personal conversation, say, "Oh, that's nice.", and leave as quickly as they can. Sometimes drueling...

Be that as it may, this is a great discussion.

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