Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Lab Caches - FYI

There's been a lot of discussion - and frankly, a lot of confusion - around Groundspeak's (geocaching.com) introduction of Lab Cache type.  The Lab Cache type was introduced at this years Block Party (August 17th, Seattle WA) with a lot of fanfare but also a lot of confusion.

Prior to the event, Groundspeak let us all know that a "new cache type" was going to be introduced. Hey, they wanted to amp up the excitement and attendance for the Block Party, and that was successful. Subsequently, folks arrived, but then the confusion kicked in. Depending upon where you were when, and to whom you spoke, different messages (unofficial, of course) made their way around about what the deal was with Lab Caches.

Some more experienced 'cachers who'd attended the Block Party previously made assumptions (reasonable ones) based on their past experiences. New cachers tried to grasp the concept and got pieces of it. Other than the "keynote" at the event and a discussion forum posting, there was little official and consistent communication from Groundspeak on the topic.


For example; while at the event I recorded a LMGA episode on the Lab Caches to try and explain what I currently understood - by the time the video was in post production (1 week later) there was more information that I used to make some corrections in the video. Subsequent to that, deeper "research" into the Lab Caches has provided me enough information to write this blog entry - so the first thing to be cognizant of is that this is an evolving concept.


Here are three key things to help you understand Lab Caches.

1. This is a test - this is only a test. Lab Caches are, in essence, a real-world labratory to test out new ideas for geocache types; and the place(s) Groundspeak has decided to use for their "alpha testing" or lab work, are the Mega Events. This means that if you are jonesin' to get a Lab Caches icon in your profile, you'll need to attend a Mega that has announced it will host Lab Caches.

2. They count (sort of).  Lab Caches give you smilies, and count in your over-all cache finds, but
there's a catch, my statistically oriented friends - there are no logs on geocaching.com associated with these caches as they are intended as tests and aren't available after the events. Therefore applications like GSAK won't be able to add them from your "My Finds" pocket query, or from directly querying your account. The work around is to manually create the caches in your GSAK DB as waypoints, and set them to "found" on the date you found them/attended the Mega Event.

3. They're not my type.  Lab Caches aren't one specific type of cache; this is a category for Groundspeak to use to try out all kinds of different ideas (remember "Challenges?") for what might make a new cache type. So each event that has Lab Caches may have something completely different, and Groundspeak is really looking for your feedback on those caches. Attendees from the 2013 Block Party who tried out the "Adventures" Lab Caches were subsequently sent a link to a survey asking for our feedback on these.

As always, I'm really interested in your thoughts & opinions around Lab Caches, and geocaching topics in general, so feel free to post your comments to this blog or to the Lab Cache FYI video on our YouTube channel.

Cache safely, and cache often.

3 comments:

  1. Is there any chance of getting the directions that were inside of the balloon that you popped? We have a Mega Event in Yuma in February and have been given permission to do 10 Lab caches. http://www.yumaevent.com/ There still seems to be a lot of confusion about these lab caches. Any help would be appreciated.

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    1. Thanks for asking Judy, I'll take a look in my office and see if I happen to still have it. Feel free to contact me directly at my LANM0nk3y gmail address. I've heard great things about the Yuma event from last year, I hope this year's event is amazing and runs smoothly.

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