By Scott O.
You may have heard whispers of it on forums, maybe even shouting- or, you may not have heard about it at all. There is a new spin on caching that has caught a lot of attention. Called terracaching, it is geared towards people who want a rewarding caching experience, and to have some say in what happens in their caching community. There is a lot of emphasis on community, competition, and quality.
Terracaching is based on a system of ratings- MCE (Measure of Cache Excellence), UCR (User Contribution Rating), and TPS (Terracaching Point System). We will discuss the basics, without going into excruciating detail. Let it be known, however, that the scoring systems ARE complex, and take a lot of explanation and experience to understand fully. First, we should explain how to become a member of TerraCaching.com.
You might be asking yourself why you would need more than one site to go caching. The truth is, you may not. The driving philosophy behind this new concept is that there is a community of cachers that would like to see a lot of quality caches on their “To Do” list, and that that same community should be able to be self-regulating.
There is a misconception about this. Self- regulating doesn’t mean that there are no rules. Self-regulating means that the membership community determines what is acceptable. It is not some kind of rogue site to list illegal caches. It is a place for people who are passionate about being a part of a caching community that strives to put creative and challenging caches out there.
Sure, you might want to check it out, and may even get into it. Does this mean that you have to stop going to your favorite listing site? Of course not! Most terracachers still use other cache listing sites. Why not? These are people who are passionate about caching!
TerraCaching.com uses a sponsorship method for its membership, similar to the idea of Google’s gmail™. There are a couple of ways to get sponsored, so if you don’t know anyone else who terracaches, don’t worry! Many members are invited by current members who think that they fit the terracaching profile, and would probably at least have one sponsor from the inviter. Anyone can sign up for a membership, and request sponsorship on the forums. Unsponsored users will have limited access until they find sponsors.
What is the terracaching profile? Someone who likes caches that are worth logging. Whether they are placing or hunting them, these are people who are interested purely in the caching experience. There are some people who might think this means tremendous hikes, or incredibly clever puzzles, or merely interesting voyages to places worth appreciating. With any of these categories, it should be a quality experience. Terracachers are more likely to just hunt a few caches in a day, than try to hit every cache in the area on the same day.
There is more to sponsorship. Each terracacher has two sponsors, and those are the ones who will approve or reject their caches. As a sponsor, you will have a stake in making sure that your ‘down line’, or sponsorees (and their sponsorees) are placing caches that are good. It is up to the sponsors to make sure that the caches aren’t inappropriate or illegal.
TerraCaching.com allows the community to determine what is acceptable. If a cache slips through the cracks that shouldn’t have, the community can make sure that it gets what it deserves (archival)! One of the underlying motives of sponsorship is that most users will be sponsored locally, so that approvers will have a good understanding of what should be locally acceptable.
The MCE, and UCR are closely linked. Users will rate caches, ranging from “should be archived” to “excellent.” The scoring of the cache will reflect directly on the owners UCR rating, and the owner’s “up line,” or sponsors and their sponsors. Get it? This means that you are rewarded for placing caches that other terracachers appreciate!
This encourages cachers to take some interest in what kinds of caches they or their “down line” are placing. Likewise, if the community scores a cache low enough, it can get archived automatically. As of this writing, that hasn’t happened yet, though.
The TPS works on a different principle. Using a complicated formula, caches are awarded points based on the number of finds over time in comparison to other caches in the same area. The basic concept is that if a cache is challenging, it won’t get as many finds, so it will be rated higher.
What if a cache is just so unappealing that nobody wants to go after it? Sure, its TPS will go up, but the MCE will be low. The cache pages have a lot of specific information, including round trip distance, several difficulty levels, and how they are rated, of course.
TerraCaching.com now supports locationless caches, with a separate scoring system for those caches.
There are various state and national leader boards, too! If you have a competitive edge, you can compare your scores to everyone else. Chess piece icons are awarded to those deserving recognition. As an added bonus, premium members will get ‘recommended’ caches, based on how they have rated other caches.
The website puts a different spin on caching, as most people know it. People from the Inland Northwest of the United States may have seen some of the concepts in the SGPS (Skydivers Geocaching Point System). For some, it is complex and confusing. For others, it is an interesting take on the sport. For many people, this breathes new life into a game that they were once passionate about. With the emphasis on fostering a quality caching experience, this website is almost sure to guarantee a worthwhile adventure for those who seek it.
In order to visit or log any terracaches, you need to go
to TerraCaching.com, though. The terracaching community frowns on cross listing
on other sites (unless it is a caching event), so that they offer unique
caches. It is worth it, a destination worth arriving at!
The overall structure encourages
creativity, and stresses a style of caching that rewards quality-caching
experiences. Who determines what that means? The community. Who sets the
standards? The community. Who benefits from the efforts? The community!