Friday, June 30, 2006

Stats and Rankings

Stats! Huh-yeah.
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing.

Many geocachers that I've met in person or online are absolutely obsessed with stats. You may even be one of them. If so, this post is for you!

Part of any great sport or game is the element of competition. Geocaching is no different! Well, almost no different. Geocaching is a little different because there are so many unregulated variables that make a true comparison virtually impossible. There are at least 5 different cache listing services - each with their own rules or guidelines. There are also so many different views of what makes a "good" hide or a "true" find.

  • Does a group hunt count for individual finds?
  • Does a find count if you've had to call or ask for help?
  • Are harder hides worth more than easier ones?
  • Should a foreign cache logged at a local event be allowed?
  • Can a find still be logged on disabled caches?
Personally, I think this short paragraph from a May 2005 article by Chuck Williams in LowCountry Weekly called "An Insider's Look at the Geocaching Controversy" sums this up the best.
In geocaching, everyone who seeks a geocache is a winner, whether they find the actual geocache container or not. The real thrills are the search and the locations, not the random key chains, Mickey D toys and other trinkets that fill a geocache container. The real nugget that the geocacher seeks is the logbook to sign and prove that s/he has really been there and found that. The scorecard is a personal one.
For me, the real thrill of geocaching is the hunt without all of the stats involved. But with that in mind, there are still several sites on the Internet dedicated solely to tracking stats and ranking geocachers based on their total number of hides, finds, and hide-to-find ratio. Even I'll confess to browsing these from time to time to see where I fit in the grand scheme of geocaching. These are two of the main national Geocacher Ranking sites.
  • Stats - This site allows geocachers to register themselves and record their own statistics from any listing service which are then used for the overall or state-wide rankings. Geocachers are allowed to enter how many of each type of cache they have found and hidden. Cachers can also record many other details like how many other Geocachers they've met, how many travel bugs they have found or released, how many times they have CITO'd a cache site, how many times they were FTF, or how many states they've cached.
  • Grand High Pobah - This site automatically grabs geocaching statistics from a select number of "high profile" geocaches from each country and state. It only tracks the number of hides and finds from each cacher, but since it does it automatically, the stats are much more accurate and up-to-date than the other ranking sites. Unfortunately, this site only displays cachers with over 200 finds and cachers must have found one of the "high profile" geocaches in their state in order to appear in the rankings.


Anonymous said...

Good post...enjoyed it. I have looked at those websites a few times and they are interesting but I am not as worried about the numbers as much as I am just having fun and enjoying finding the caches. I do enjoy seeing how my stats have grown. Seemed like it was slow going at first a few months ago when I first started geocaching but now as I gain a bit of experience I am finding them quicker...and the addition of my new Palm is helping to make my caching trips more productive.

I hope you are doing well in your recovery and hope to see you out cache hunting again soon.

Take care and happy caching,


jestjuggle said...

Good post. As you probably know from reading our blog, I am a stat nut. Not just mine, but in general. There are some that stretch the limits, but they only fool themselves. We cache because it is quality time together. The basic rule is sign the log - get a smiley, although we did visit a cache a few weeks ago that was missing and the hider invited us to log it anyways as we saw what he wanted us to see (the true reason to cache). I (Mike) occassionly go on business trips and do a few caches. We have our own personal rule that Barb can't cache on those days. We also do most caches together. We have seen other teams split up and find and log separate caches. They are only cheating themselves as you said in it is your own personal scorecard.

(Mike and Barb)

BTW - I found a cool way to measure your own stats and wrote a post yesterday on Jestcaching.

ScottPA100 said...

I agree with Brandon. The people who are just after numbers and just doing the easy drive-bys are missing out on something else that geocaching can offer. Amazing locations, fun interactive puzzles and sense of achievement (I climbed that mountaim, swam that lake, navigated those rapids type of achievement). Saying that though, I also agree wtih jestjuggle that it is interesting to see how your caches grow or where you've been. There is an excellent website called geocacheuk for UK based geocaches. For an element of tracing your productivity there is another UK site called 'Cacher of the Month'. This type of site does encourage the people who just get the one terrain and one difficulty caches just to bolster their numbers, but its good to see your progress too. And see people who obviously do not have jobs, family lives and just eat and breathe geocaching!!


Cacher of the Month

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