Attracting New Cachers: An Experiment
I have been pondering how to attract more interest in Terracaching in my area (Massachusetts/Rhode Island). When I talk with local geocaching folks, I basically get two responses: 1, "Never heard of it" and 2 "Yeah, but there aren't any caches near me". In my local area, a third of all new geocaches are placed on or within 15 feet of pavement and fewer than 10% require a walk as long as a half mile round trip. These caches are very popular with many finds but virtually no favorite points (half have none), and while the small number of "caches in the woods", kayak caches and woodland multis have many fewer finds, they are favorited far more often.
This suggests to me that while majority of geocachers behave as if "only numbers matter" there is a small subset of cachers who would like a little exercise with their smilie and aren't afraid of getting lost in the woods. Clearly someone who will do a mile or four walk or kayak while tracking down a five stage multi might be interested in finding and listing similar Terracaches.
So with that in mind, I'm trying an experiment. I've placed a three stage geocache that requires a mile long round trip in a conservation area with few other caches nearby. Inside the cache box I've placed this note:
Congratulations! You found the Geocache.
Please sign the log. To return to your car, retrace your steps.
If you would prefer to continue caching there is a
Terracache multi nearby. To begin, go to
And then listed the first stage coords and a hint. At the fourth stage final is a note that says:
Congratulations! You have found the Terracache
Please sign the log. To return to your car, continue
down the trail. You can log your find and locate
other caches at Terracaching.com It's free to join.
Terracaching.com is a listing site for geocaches with
an emphasis on the journey (rather than “the numbers”) and
caches are reviewed by a Sponsor of your choosing rather
than the website. Check it out and see what you think.
I'm curious to see what happens when folks who have self-selected to do a woods trail multi can either go back to their car or go onto another cache. Any terracacher who clicks the "Nearest geocaches" link will see the preceding geocache and it's mentioned in the cache description, but only geocachers who find the cache and read the inside lid will see the Terracache.
My hypothesis is that by addressing the two primary responses to "have you ever found a Terracache": 1,This cache will be found by people who never have and 2, Some of those will log the cache and join up and 3, Some of those will place their own Terracaches.
We'll see. The caches are in the field and should be "up and running" in a couple of days.
An excellent idea.
Back before there was any Terracaching, I placed Geocaches under the name RCTRECKER. One of my earlier ones was a high peak in the Cabinet Mountains of northwest Montana called LOST HORSE MOUNTAIN - GCKPPB.
I recently received a correspondence from the first and only Geocacher to find it. He wrote " Wow, I was looking through my watch list and see this hasn't been found in over 10 years. What is wrong with the Geocaching community? Nobody hikes? This is the most awesome hike/cache that I ever did".
I answered back that the serious hikers have now gone to Terracaching.
I always give a higher rating to any cache that requires actual physical effort to find it. I hope some day the Appalachian Mountains and the Adirondacks are loaded with Terracaches. Then I'll just have to drive 3000 miles back there to find them.
Another excuse I've heard is "But my find totals will be in two different places". This from a couple folks who aren't afraid of a good walk/paddle and who also hide some pretty good caches. Instead it's the all-important 'smiley count' that motivates them.
If I happen to be out finding terracaches along with geocaches, I'll put a blurb in the gc online log like "came after this one after hunting the nearby terracache". Maybe someone will see it and at least check out the website.
For a brief time I was including a hyperlink to the nearby tc, but the local Geo-stapo ratted me out to the Evil Empire:
Hello JASTA 11,
We've been made aware of the link included in your archival log of your cache, MAUSHOP. Links to exterior sites are considered commercial/promotional content and are not allowed. Please remove the link to the Terracaching website as soon as possible. Failure to do so will result in further action by Geocaching HQ.
Maybe tc.com could put together a promotional pamphlet or something that could be downloaded and printed so we could spread the word? Like pass them out at events, or leave them in certain places.
Jasta, your "Maybe tc.com could put together a promotional pamphlet or something that could be downloaded and printed so we could spread the word?" is available with the cache insert (see attached) which is a modified version to highlight TC's that I leave at GCs.
Attachments50 Points 5
Thanks for sharing that Z_.
I was thinking more along the lines of , dare I say, propaganda material?
Something that would help introduce current geocachers to what terracaching is all about and what makes it different than other caching sites.
A lot of players have never heard of terracaching before, and most of those who have think it's just another listing site like all the others.
Yesterday I did the final map work for both the geo and terra, constructed the stages and caches and walked the area setting everything in place and double checking the coordinates for repeatably. Everything looked good so I submitted both. The Terra, McKenna Marsh, TC7S3C has been approved and is all set. The geo, "Shrooms, GC65BVC is "in the review queue" and it could be 3-5 days before it gets listed.
In my area the timeliness and helpfulness of review process depends on which state (RI or MA) the cache is in and which reviewer you draw. One MA reviewer consistently makes this at least a two step process (You submit a completed cache page including additional information on cache location, construction, placement and attachment and with rare exception you get an automated response back asking for additional information in the form of a response to a reviewers' log.) It doesn't seem to matter if the information is already on the cache page. So now I submit an essentially blank cache page, (name, coords, one line of text) which "locks up the location" then wait for the reviewers note, respond to that, get the approval and then add more detail to the cache page (description, photos, etc). I learned to do this after spending several hours constructing a detailed cache page only to find the cache was "too close" to a "mystery" cache stage I was unaware of. Anyway, knowing this I first submitted the cache three days ago. Last night I sent in the reviewers note info ("Yes, it's actually in the conservation area listed that allows caches, no it's not buried, or nailed or screwed to a live tree, yes it's labeled as a cache") so it will be a few more days. Score one for peer review...
So a month or so into the experiment, here are the results: I placed two multi and one single stage geo cache and left information for three similar terracaches nearby. The geo multis were found 10 times so far with 2 finds and a dnf for the terras (all by active teracachers). The single stage geo has 8 finds and the associated terracache 3 finds: 1 by a terracacher and 2 by geocachers who have joined up to log in and seem likely to continue to play. So the three caches have attracted two cachers so far. Given that previously there were only 6 Massachusetts based terracahers with finds in the past year, that's a pretty good result. We'll see what shakes out going forward.
On the related "cache approval issue", I submitted a geo and a terra simultaneously recently: the terra was listed in two hours; the geo took a week, and generated a "boilerplate" reviewer note that was twice as long as my cache's description despite the requested information already being on the cache page and in my submission note. In my response, I simply "cut and pasted" the requested information directly from the cache page and added five words about the cache container. It was clear the reviewer did not read the cache page nor consider it relevant: only the reviewer note response mattered because "cache descriptions can be edited after publication, while reviewer notes can't". I find the peer review process much more respectful and the feedback more helpful than "answer my questions my way or forget it".
This is a very interesting thread, for sure! This site honestly owes a lot to the structure of the other site - AK (and friends) had a lot of problems with their local "powers that be", and aimed to build this site to address those issues. I hope that, as this site takes off, we are able to maintain that peer community that, in my humble opinion has been one of the biggest assets of terracaching.com.
We will probably always be the 'little guy,' but that was by design from the start! Quality over quantity...
Keep on Cachin'!
Experiment Update: 5/8/16
I recently placed another terra/geo pair, a "P&G" about 400 feet in a swamp and a half mile from parking. See Hard To Get To: Four GC6VNG6 On the inside of the geo cache container I wrote "Well, if this is your idea of a fun cache, there's a terracache (Lakeville Terra TC5SDS) just a little further on" and gave the coords. Inside the terracache were instructions on how to log it. Saz made the FTF on both caches and joined up. So to this point this technique (placing a geo cache with information about a nearby terracache) has resulted in a half dozen finds and four new Terracachers in the Mass/RI area. So far none of these folks have hidden caches but it's a promising start.
By placing the information on terracaching inside wilderness caches a self-selection process is at work: folks who are in it for the numbers aren't going to be deep in the woods and those who are might try it and like it.
Surprisingly, the frog hasn't banned having another sites stats banner placed on your profile page over there.
Also surprising is that they've made it easier to insert hyperlinks in online logs. Hmmm, I was told that links to external websites aren't allowed.
I made up some simple labels introducing TC.com. We leave them inside caches that , in our opinion, would be of the type that'd make a good TC.
The file is attached below. It's formatted for a sheet of Avery Template 5160. Feel free to use.
That's promising news. In the past I had a log of mine on GC deleted by their management because I mentioned stopping at the GC cache along with a nearby TC cache. The reason for deleting my log was it endorsed a commercial activity, TC. (And doesn't Cash just wish TC was a booming commercial activity!) Maybe the frog is becoming less defensive about owning all things caching-related. Will have to check out your form and start using it.
Unfortunately there is still quite a bit of animosity between GC and TC, at least in the area where TC started. This was before my time and really don't care what in-fighting occurred. Your local volunteer GC overseer may or may not go for it.
A few years ago I was contacted by the wife of the owner of cache code GCJZQ5 to see if I would like to adopt the cache due to my ability to get to it. I informed her I switched to TC'ing and I would switch it over to the TC site. She declined the offer since her husband was one of the folks on GC to do battle with the original TC group.
This geocache is one worthy of the trip. Take a look at my entry in 2010 and the pictures of 7 year old mtzfamily2. If he can do it, anyone can...HA! This was mtzfamily2's last hike in tennis shoes. After this he got a new pair of hiking boots every year. Thank goodness he has stopped at size 12!!
Whatever you do, do NOT follow the path of ActionKym. Here is a guy who does not own a map nor researches the hike first and ends up in a very bad situation. He could have killed himself on his route.
Cudos for your plan to switch it over and not cross-list it. Too bad it didn't work out.
I've heard tales of spats between groundspeakers and early terracachers, but none from up over here where we are.
I'm not sure why players on either site would have a problem with each other. Animosity from the reviewers over there, that I can see. For some of them, being the local Grand Poobah is their claim to fame, so the perception of trying to change 'their game' is taken as a threat.
It's interesting that so many others have not had GC censorship of their logs. I know the regional reviewers in GC have a lot of power, and maybe I just ran into one that was particularly negative about TC. Will have to start mentioning TC again in logs when (like Terradactyl) I do an occasional GC.
2/7/17 Not much to report for the update. A few folks have found the cross linked geocaches in the past six months, but no one has logged a find of the associated terraaches during that time. The average geocacher in my area seldom ventures far from the the road and getting further into the woods doesn't seem to be all that attractive to them. Mostly P&Gs, Geo-Art and bike path power trails are the predominent cache type in favor. This appears to be the same in Florida (only more so).
We have had a (frog-listed) cache up in the White Mountains for several years. It's about a 3½ mile round-trip with 2200'~ of elevation gain. It gets a few finds each year.
I was considering taking it down and putting up a TC nearby. But I thought that this would be a good spot to try dexter's 'linked' cache idea. It's a cache that only hikers would be attempting anyway, so it would be targeting the right audience.
So, we placed a new TC a bit further up the trail and left a new cache note in the frog-listed cache with the coordinates.
We'll see what happens...
Ok, so here's another follow up: I have a GC series called "Hard To Get To" where the cache is easy to find but the route to it is not. I used the linked cache idea on the last one of these I put out, Hard To Get To Four, and the cache description makes fun of the whole Park & Grab phenomena. The idea being that only folks who actually believe "it's the hike, not the find" will ever go for the cache, will ever see the "hey you might like Terracaching" card, will ever press on to the actual TC. I've done the same with a few other caches (an easy single stage cache and a more difficult multi) and the more of a hike the cache is the better the result.
Each has resulted in a few nibbles (folks finding the Terra, some indicating they log it), but not much follow through. My belief is that Terracaching has enough "differences" (basically far fewer caches and the need to get a sponsor) that folks don't follow through. So I've decided to reach out to folks, explain some of the cache page difference, logging procedures and the rationale/benefits of Sponsorship vs The Reviewer. I offer to be one of their sponsors as part of this which "reduces the barrier to entry" a little bit. So far this has had about a 50% success rate in terms of folks actually signing up and getting Sponsorship.
So overall a moderately successful approach thus far. I don't place many GC's these days, but when I do I'll be continuing the "linked cache" idea. There has been no blowback from GC as near as I can tell. Since I don't use their website to describe this (all materials are in the cache container) and they are very clear that the cache container is "entirely the CO's property" no reason for them to object and they haven't.