Well here we are. We are nearly five weeks away from the second anniversary of Opencaching.com. I ranted and raved, for some time about the site. There are a number of repercussions of that fateful decision by Garmin to take the step that it did. In the Geocaching website, and in the world of geocaching that we.
Where did it come from?
Really? No one knows the stories abound, and denials. Some say that Garmin was upset about the Geomate jr. that Groundspeak pushed. It felt that it was encroaching on them. Others have mentioned Garmin's shrinking market in the handheld market, and thought this was the way for it to bolster sales.
In all who knows. The ones making the decision made it. Opencaching became a reality. It was developed quietly, and without anyone knowing. In fact an announcement was made to reviewers that it was in progress only a few months before it was released. So the small company with a worldwide following was about to go head to head with a multi-billion dollar company.
Given there were a number of other caching sites. Opencaching.us (and their sister sites), Navicaching, and Terracaching, just to name a few. However all were like garage bands. Formed at home, maintained with love, and a few avid followers, they seem to plug on year after year. As long as their founders kept paying the bills, the site rolled forward.
However none really caught on. Each site had their niche, and followers, but without the support they kind of moved on. To be fair Opencaching.us (and their sister sites) were new to the scene at that point.
The site arrived in December of 2010 and many cachers, and Groundspeak and it volunteers were watching closely. I was disappointed. Even though I like Groundspeak, and follow its site, I was saddened in the quality of the site that Garmin put out at first. Buggy, no reviews by anyone. It seemed to be "import all your caches, and have fun". I wonder what they thought the reaction would be.
I remember my contacts early on. The Opencaching network, that had been around for some time was upset in the use of the name. Garmin mentioned that they had spoken with them beforehand, however all the websites that I contacted confirmed that they were not contacted, and the use of the anem was in bad taste.
There were no great features that stood it apart from Geocaching.com. Well awesomeness was there. You could rate the cache on how cool it was. I did not play enough, and no one logged my caches enough to see if ratings changed based on the finders ratings.
Well the growth was fairly stable. The few surges that appears was when they had promotions. Actually in the last 14-16 months the only significant growth was when they had a promotion. Other than that they had very little. They have away a few mediocre gps units, and Pathtags.
However the growth is kind of stale. A friend of mine used to track them pretty regularly. Weekly updating me with numbers of caches listed, and caches that were unique to the opencaching sites (not copies of a geocaching.com cache.
The numbers have been about the same since the site started. Just less than 10% of the caches are unique. A number of those were caches that were rejected from the geocaching site for one reason or another. I noticed a few that I rejected pop up.
They did finally add peer review. It was needed badly or it would have become the refuse pile of caches. Lots of junk caches were appearing, and with anarchy abounding, horrible caches are still there.
Present Day Issues
There are a number of issues that still exist. You cannot post photos to your cache page. Bugs still run rampant, thought they just added a few features.
I know for some time the community there wailed that it appeared that it had been abandoned. I personally picture a lone programmer down in a basement trying to keep things going, keep the site up, and get the money for the promotions.
We saw a number of things from them at events, and mega events. Hosting or sponsoring things. A few of my friends report a guy at an event in an opencaching shirt handing out swag. So they are about.
There has been a move of the banned, annoyed, and grumpy cachers that traveled there to discuss caching. The first people that jumped on board were cachers that had a history of problems with the geocaching site, and its forums. They promptly jumped to the site and touted its greatness, and then promptly started to complain about both sites.
Changes in the Caching Community
There are a number of smaller changes that the average person will not notice. Garmins ads have dissapeared from the website. The geocaching website.
This year when i started working on the Mega event our contact specifically states that we could not have Opencaching or Garmin as a sponsor. Another reviewer put it well when they said "Why should garmin ride the coattails of our event, let them get their own."
So for are event we have to point out to everyone that they cannot "sublease" their vendor space, or tables to Garmin. Sadly that means money and swag that could have came from Garmin is now not allowed at mega events.
A number of people have said that they are going to give serious thought at other units. Though i am a Garmin Oregon user and love it, When it is time for me to move on I will seriously look at another unit. I may not choose it, but I will not only look at Garmin. That is a switch because the horror of my second GPS unit made me swear to never buy another one from that company. Now I will look at them again. It may not make much of a change, but the phrase was put to me best by another geocacher. "Why should I support a company that is trying to tear apart a game/company that I love and enjoy." have heard that a number of times over the last few years.
I had a discussion with a governement land manager this last week. They have had a number of issues getting caches removed that they do not want. Caches that they never approved, or that were removed on geocaching.com and they cant seem to get them removed on opencaching.com. In the telephone discussion he said he discussed it with other government land managers. Why did this get published? Who oversees publishing? How can we get it removed, how long will it take? It had left a bad taste in their mouth, it reminded me of the stories when caches were banned from parks.
Ultimately I wonder if the site is just irrelevant. No one goes there. People banned from geocaching or want to complain seem to hang out.
Cachers post caches and get their prizes and walk away. I have archived caches in my area (as a reviewer) that the cacher is long gone. Yet still they sit on opencaching.com. Of course no one has looked for them, or one person. So they have no idea by the record if they are gone or not.
My cache is dual listed. In two years I have one find on opencaching. On geocaching those numbers are over a hundred to 150 (I archived it and relisted it when I made it a letterbox). A few friends archived all or many of them when nothing came of them, and they did not want to maintain two sites.
I don't know why they keep it going. They seem to put so little work into it, that I guess dumping 30k a year in it is no big deal for a company that size.
For me? I will stick with geocaching.com.