The Geocaching Blog

Geocaching Challenges – Thanks for the Feedback

Eric Schudiske on August 19, 2011, 3:28 pm

196 Comments | Permalink


Bryan Roth: Co-Founder of Groundspeak

By Bryan Roth,

We hear your concerns, and thank you for your feedback.  Now we are asking you to give Challenges a chance. You don’t necessarily have to participate, but give us some time to improve the feature set.  Here’s why.

For many years, the geocaching community has been clamoring for the return of Virtual geocaches. There were a lot of issues with the implementation of Virtuals that prevented us from bringing them back in their original form. When we set out to find a way to bring Virtuals back that would appeal to the community, we determined that the basic idea behind Virtual Caches was “go somewhere, do something.”

This is what Geocaching Challenges are all about. Over 99% of Challenges will be location-based Challenges created by the community. You might be Challenged to take a picture of yourself walking across the Abbey Road crosswalk or tasked to take a picture from the top of the Empire State Building. These are fun, outdoor adventures that can happen even in locations that do not support physical caches.

If a Challenge is not specifically location-based, or does not require a photo (for a photo Challenge) or an action (for an Action Challenge), please flag it or vote it down. When flagging, think of yourself as a reviewer. You wouldn’t deny a cache just because it sounds boring (though, in this case, you could vote it down), but you would deny it if it were inappropriate or did not meet the guidelines. We think the instances of locationless Challenges being submitted by the community will decrease as people come to better understand what Challenges are. We are working now to improve the educational materials within the Challenges section of so that it is clear what is acceptable for a Challenge and what is not.

Worldwide Challenges are the one exception to the location-based rule. These are Challenges created by Groundspeak that are meant to bring the community together by letting us all experience the same adventure. If everyone participated, we could have well over five million geocachers hiking their local trails one day or biking to work the next day. We will generally be creating one Worldwide Challenge per day, although we may add a few in the early days to get everyone started. These will almost always be outdoor adventures.  We started with one that was not necessarily an outdoors Challenge (Kiss a Frog) because we thought it would be fun.  But, we realize that such a Challenge is not in keeping with our mission of getting you outside.  So, we have archived the Challenge effective today. We will soon be adding functionality to allow you to remove ‘Acceptance’ and ‘Completion’ logs you’ve entered, if you choose to do so.

If you think an individual Challenge is bad, you are welcome to vote it down. All users have the ability to sort by the highest rated Challenges (simply click on the column header ‘Rating’ in the search results), so voting a Challenge down will send it further down the list.

We will be updating the mobile applications, adding functionality to the API so that other developers can incorporate Challenges into their applications and services, and working to improve the website functionality on an ongoing basis.  In the interim, we ask that you to allow us some time to innovate.

We believe that, if people use the Challenges system as it was meant to be used and populate it with Challenges they think others would enjoy, Challenges will add more to geocaching than Virtuals ever did.


  • team tisri

    It makes sense to me to put truly location-based games all in one place.

    We currently have one page on our profiles for geocaches (found and owned), and another page for trackables (found and owned). Why not simply expand the theme to have a page for waymarks (found and owned) and another page for challenges (completed and owned)?

    Regarding giving them a chance, I have to ask. When the first challenge published by Groundspeak was to “kiss a frog” where it could be a real frog, a model frog, a person called Frog, what kind of response did you expect to get? It really is the equivalent of saying what a great new sport geocaching was and then making the first ever listed cache a film pot behind a post among piles of litter that stinks of dog urine, in an area where the down-and-outs gather to get drunk.

  • NicknPapa

    After attempting to use the geocaching website today I would like to suggest that you should look to your basic functionality and get it working BEFORE adding new features that use more resources.

  • Ivan (ivan.bok)

    Are you coming in Nebilovy, Czech republic, Europe?

  • Harrie

    Please stop with challenges. Geocaching is about coordinates and logging in a logbook.

  • Fairwater

    Yes, there’s potential for good – but that potential has been squandered by Groundspeak’s ham handed implementation of the concept.  And your review process highlights one of the key reasons virts went away in the first place – the extreme difficulty of fairly evaluating them.  The second key reason was that so many of them could be done from the armchair.  (These are both things Jeremy has said over the years.)  Yet, here are virts back with the same old problems and a whole host of new ones.

  • cachecat3

    I’ve only been caching for about a year & a half, and I only have 85 finds. I don’t play this great game to compete with others or rack up big numbers. I cache because I love the solitude of the woods, I need an excuse for exercise, I love puzzles and geography and history and science and travel. Sure, I’ve logged some lame roadside micros but you have to crawl before you can walk. The easy ones build confidence and interest in new players. I took my 84-year old mother to find a easy nano and she was thrilled and proud! We can’t all get 5/5′s but I like to read about other peoples adventures. Point is, if you don’t like Challenges in their current format- don’t do them. For me, the neat thing about this game is that it is always evolving and I think Challenges are in the “crawling” stage. It’ll evolve over time.
    Its like a buffet – take what you need and leave the rest.

  • styx

    I have to agree that it is important to keep challenges separate from caches. I have completed two (just because I was unhappy about the “0″ on my profile page but was dismayed to see that my total increased by two. I know that its not about the numbers but I am working my way to my first 1,000 and I am not certain that my local geocaching chapter would like to  include challenges towards my golden ammo box. They do not apply towards a calendar challenge (the daily cache number does not increase) and they should not apply to your total (even if the total does say found/completed). When I think of the hard earned caches I have logged this just does not feel right. Quite honestly it is possible to complete many of the challenges from your computer using archived pictures….. not possible for a virtual or earthcache where you actually have to go do something and email the CO. Until this is settled I personally will not complete any more challenges and may actually delete the ones I have done. :(

  • styx

    I would agree with you if challenges were reviewed in the same way as other caches by GS reviewers. Then perhaps they would function as intended. If that occurred I would look at them in the same way as virtuals.

  • styx

    Just an additional thought…. after scrolling through more of the comments I came across one comparing them to virtuals. I believe that if challenges went through the same review process by GS reviewers as did other caches (virtuals) there would be more credibility to the concept and less resistance to including them into the totals. If that were the case then they should also be able to be used as a find on a calendar challenge and should increase your statistical daily total. Until then my comments above stand.

  • DanPan

    Why do we need to “ask” for an apology?
    Just give it to the community.

  • Joe McCarthy

    You are definitely wrong stating “Challenges will add more to geocaching than Virtuals ever did.”   And I base that statement on the quality of logs that I still receive from many of my virtuals.  *benchmarks excluded  is part of our profile and it should also have *challenges excluded.   Challenges and Waymarks are just a lower subset of geocaching and never should be considered equal to what we have known as caches for a long time.

  • Joe McCarthy

    So true.   And that is why so many of my virtuals are so popular.   Knowledge is an enhancement to a smiley.

  • somewhat peeved

    I’m totally against this idea. It’s not caching, never will be, and it opens up the door to lame caches that will completely ruin the game for a lot of people. But if only the challenge/cache find totals were separate, I’d at least stop being so anti-challenge and let these new challenges stand alone. See, here’s the thing. Just reading these comments, it’s easy to see that a solid 75% of the posters don’t hate challenges in their own right, only the fact that they’re to be mixed with traditional caching. A simple fix is all it would take to shut us all up:separate challenge finds and cache finds.

    Now, the way I see it, if you make that fix you really do just want us all to have the best caching experience possible based on feedback. If you don’t make the fix, you’re clearly shoving your own ideas down our throats. And if that’s the case, it won’t be too long before some PO’d cacher decides he’s had enough and creates his own site for “pure” caches only. And there goes a lot of Groundspeak’s members, and therefore their funds.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is, do you really listen to your customers? If you do, awesome. I’ll continue to be a most loyal follower. If not, this entire challenge project may be a disaster not just for many members of the caching community, but for Groundspeak as well.

    I’d like to stress that I mean no malice whatsoever in this comment. I respect you and Groundspeak greatly for what you’ve done for geocaching. I merely hope that our best interests, and not yours, are what drives your company. Thank you for listening.

  • Pingback: Geocaching mit chillix » Groundspeak Challenges

  • Mark+Karen

    Seperate the geocache finds count from the challenges count. Then everyone will be happy.

    As they say around here: Simples!

  • Pingback: Challenges: Die Ruhe nach dem Sturm?

  • Kevin W Smith

    Unlike the “hoards” of people (actually, probably a loud minority) that are demanding that challenge totals be recorded separately from other cache finds, I would like to see them included. If an earthcache, or grandfathered webcam or virtual caches, count as a “find”, then challenges should count, too. Anything that is designed and/or hidden by another geocacher  for others in the community to find and/or visit should be countable as finds. Not allowing them in the overall “find” counts will, I believe, result in challenges turning into the same fringe activity – with the same lack of interest – as waymarks became after they were separated from the geocaching site. If you don’t like challenges, then just ignore them and don’t do them. If everyone will just calm down and let things shake out for a while, I think challenges have the potential to become a fun and interesting addition to the activity.  

  • LEGO Cacher

    The Challenges do not work as a replacement for Virtual Caches. Please bring back the classic Virtual Caches and the WebCam caches!

  • Lonewolf_geocaching

    They are reviewed. BY YOU !

    Vote them in or out. Peer reviewed is the future. Favourite points was just the start. The jury is still out on how this will evolve but basically plan A is we decided based on popular vote. However if you see an immediate problem or concern with a particular challengehat can be that can be flagged up to groundspeak staff using the link provided on the challenge page.

  • Landsharkz

    Hi Bryan,

    It was fabulous being about to experience the new ‘go somewhere and do something’ Challenges first hand at the Block Party. We really like that we can create Location Challenges in cool places where a traditional cache may not be appropriate.

    Upon returning home we find many new challenges awaiting us like the one at the Queen Victoria statue downtown, challenging you to submit a photo of you bowing or curtseying to Her Majesty!

    Some enthusiastic Premium Member cachers in our community are trying to use the ‘location’ based challenge type to place Worldwide challenges and also using them to place ‘challenge’ caches. We have flagged some for your review. I am not sure that it’s clear enough that they need to take people to specific coordinates to do something. We are thinking of having a coffee chat for locals to come out and share ideas about Challenges with those of us who got to experience them first hand at the Block Party.

    As an aside, it would be cool to submit some of their great ‘locationless’ ideas for Groundspeak endorsed Worldwide Challenges. Is there a link to submit suggestions for Worldwide Challenges?

    Thanks for helping this game evolve and grow.

    Helen and Chris

  • Landsharkz

    Kevin, I’d like to include your comment, with credit to you, in an upcoming Landsharkz blog post about Challenges. Would you contact me offline to give permission please? I can be reached at helen at landsharkz dot ca.
    Thank you,

  • SRacer

    You are
    thanking for the feedback and at the same time you are deleting all ideas which
    want to remove challenges from the website. It would be o.k. to ignore those
    opinions, after all you own the web-site, but deleting them is really poor
    style. It seems to me you are just trying to hush up all those opposed to the
    idea. And now you post some soothing words to calm the community and let time
    work for you. I`m disappointed!

  • Anonymous

    They are not being deleted but merged into the same feedback. So not only are we listening to your feedback, we are consolidating your feedback with similar topics.

  • Lonewolf_geocaching

    People are still finding
    it hard to understand the peer-review concept.


    Jeremy was over in the UK
    for Mega Wales and was on the interview a reviewer panel. He said that favorite
    points where only the start. The introduction of peer-reviewed challenges seems
    like a natural progression. I agree that as a community we can review by
    popular vote. However that concept was badly explained the whole community at
    the roll out of challenges. 


    I agree that counts don’t
    really mean anything across the wider community. All the arguments on cache
    counts are too subjective. I know somebody that has only five caches at the
    moment. They took six months in an active war zone to get that. There is also somebody
    else that has 1300 but most of them where done in one day whilst driving the longest
    power trail in the UK. It is the same in the USA. Some people have spent days
    trying to get a single cache and others have done the ET trail. 


    The only problem that I
    see with challenges is there is a lack of accountability and control on the
    challenge pages. They should have an owner. An owner should have his / her name
    on the challenge. There has to be options to delete bad logs and update the


    People need to understand
    the voting system is available for reviewing. The knowledge books need to
    better. I am still surprised that people still don’t understand that they can
    vote. They choose to complain someplace else where when they see a bad
    challenge. Most don’t know about the way the flag system works bring attention
    to concerns.


    I think Groundspeak
    should keep going for a while to let the message sink in. People need to take a
    little time to learn about challenges and Groundspeak needs time to see how
    things develop before rash decisions are made.


    So lets give it some time

  • Bryan

    Hi Helen and Chris,

    It was great seeing you both at the Block Party.  Thanks so much for making the trip. It’s also quite exciting to see some of the great Challenges that have been created.  

    Here is the link for people to submit suggestions for Worldwide Challenges:

    We hope to see you again soon!



  • Cuddlefish

    Except… challenges are not HIDDEN. It is not the same game as locating a hidden item.

  • W27phantom

    I can’t get it to work for me. I have been trying to log 2 world challenges when I get to the part where you put in the location I do that then the button to complete goes away. So there is no button to complete the challenge is it a in programing or am I going some thing wrong? Please let me know.
    Thank you

  • K@K

    Are you saying that we have to thank you for such a crappy update ? If the updates where managed properly in the first place half of the ‘suggestions’ would not have to be made.
    There are soo many items on the site that need attention because something is wrong with them and the only thing we get is another update that introduces more bugs. Every time it’s the same story, an update to the site, introduction of major changes nobody asked for and nobody is waiting for and then… at least a week or two with bugfixes, unstable site performance, upset users, and so on… And not one time you have the guts to admit that you’ve been wrong. Not one time the update is rolled back.
    Well thank YOU very much.

  • K@K

    The problem with voting systems is that the review happens too late in the process. At the time users can vote the cache is already online and thus in a working state. Review should happen before that.

    But when I think about it, it is in the line of Groundspeaks’ view on things. That is the way they handle the website too, first implement the update and then start bugfixing. You know, that is how the website of my 4 year old son works in class. But they don’t have paying users and they’re only 4 years old.

  • K@K

    If the reviewing part is the problem as you discribe it, then there is something wrong with the concept. Fall back to the old situation and re-invent your idea, I would suggest.

  • Cybercat

    I like them.  I was upset that I got an armchair log on a Challenge I created.  I flagged the log and the next day it disappeared!! That is great! Even if I don’t have the ability to delete them, at least SOMEONE is deleting them! Thanx for that!
    Seems like Groundspeak is going to have to hire some extra people, though, to wade through all those flagged logs and flagged Challenges!
    I don’t see what all the bitchin’ is about, though……if you don’t like ‘em, don’t do ‘em.  And if someone wearing those find counts as a badge of honor bothers you, remember, it bothers you only if you LET it bother you. 
    I can see a caste system developing….those purists of ‘physical caches only cachers’ against the ‘some Challenge cachers’.  Diviseness, back stabbing, cliques being created of one camp who believe they are RIGHT.  Dang, this sounds like religion or politics, doesn’t it?
    I can see it now…….”there goes Cacher A……..he’s got bazillions of caches!”  Yeah, well,  Cacher  B has the same number and none of them are Challenges!”  Cacher B and his friends shun Cacher A and his friends.
    Almost comical, except that you know it’s bound to happen………………..sigh.

  • Cybercat

    I like them.  I had an armchair post on one of the Challenges I created.  I flagged the! log and the next day it was gone! That’s great! If I can’t delete it, at least someone is doing it! Thanx for that!
    The lame ones will surely fall by the wayside.
    Groundspeak is going to have to hire some extra people to keep up with all these flagged logs and flagged caches!

    I don’t understand what all the griping is about.  If you don’t like ‘em, don’t do ‘em.
    And yeah, if I go to the extra time and trouble to do one, why shouldn’t I get that smiley?  That’s why alot of people yawned at Waymarking……those stats ‘don’t go onto the GC smiley counts, so why bother?’  That is quoting from MANY people I know………..

     And remember that if someone has some Challenge caches in there to supposedly inflate their numbers, it only bothers you if you LET it bother you.
     I can see a caste system developing in which the ‘physical caches only’ group and the ‘some Challenge cachers’ group, secretly, ( or NOT so secretly!) have contempt for each other because they know THEY are RIGHT!  Backstabbing, cliques, gossip……Sounds like politics or religion, doesn’t it?
    Oh, look……there goes Cacher A…he has a bazillion finds! Yeah, well, cacher B has the same number and he has no Challenge caches.  Cacher B and his friends shun Cacher A and his friends.
    Comical, but sad because you know it is bound to happen……………sigh.

  • Bryan

    SRacer, Don’t be disappointed.  It’s a misunderstanding.  Per our request to Uservoice, the feedback site ( has now been updated to help geocachers understand that merged topics aren’t deleted. Now, instead of saying “Idea has been deleted”, it links to the newly merged topic and shows that the idea wasn’t deleted, it was simply merged.  

    It sucks to be accused of censorship when we were really just trying to be more efficient.  Of course, given the language presented by the feedback system, it is understandable for people to think that we were deleting ideas (when we really weren’t).

    I hope this helps.    

  • Darren Carner

    I don’t understand why you can’t just have virtual caches……  This whole challenges thing is stupid.  It tells me I have 250 finds but yet everywhere else it says I have 249….  WTF!!!!!!!!  do I have 250 or not…..  If it won’t tell me straight up how many finds I have then I will never do another challenge….. For that matter you can delete the one I did.  I think the whole challenges thing is stupid………………….  not happy

  • Anonymous

    Nor are virtual caches, webcam caches, locationless caches, EarthCaches…

  • vds

    I have to admit being beyond anti-challenge based on what I have seen so far.  I thought virtuals were fine.  I don’t understand why ‘years’ after virtuals were eliminated (still for no good reason in my opinion) you’re not listening to the thousands of customers who want them back the old way.

    Just do not get it.  I would like to see you have a way for us to hide the existence of the challenge feature on your web pages etc.

  • Bryan

    We will be separating the statistics between historical ‘finds’ and challenges going forward.  The change should be complete within the next few days.

  • Searchers L&J

    I agree that the Challenge Caches (DeLorme, fizzy, etc.) are our favorites because they ARE a challenge.  Most of these new Challenges that I’ve seen so far, aren’t.  PLEASE call them something else, not Challenges. 

  • Pingback: Challenges und die (ewige) Statistikdiskussion « Altmetall

  • alyseluvsmike

    How do I remove a challenge I accepted from my page that has been removed by groundspeak? I can’t complete it and I can’t delete it!

  • DeadTechnology

    Why not review the darn things and be done with it?  The populace is too fickle to be relied upon to accurately vote up or down.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  If you want to bring back virutals that are reviewed and follow a specific set of guidelines, then bring them back.  If you don’t, then keep the current system, quit your whining and don’t be surprised when they’re ignored, just like waymarks and benchmarks.

    Try to understand that geocaching is NOT facebook and there’s a very, very good reason for that.

  • GeekyNinja

    Today i did my first challanage today. I must say i like this better than some of the virtuals as some times theses was not suited to a location. I think you guys are shooting a idea down and not giving time for this idea to work its course. i know there are some die hard caches, for which as a cache owner i have dealt with. I am now planning my first set of challanages.

  • Cybercat

    I did some Challenges at the Alien Search Party this past week and they were great fun!
     I noticed several more ‘mature’ cachers ( and I am quickly getting there!) taking pictures to do the Challenges and we talked a bit.  The consensus was that even as we are getting more physically challenged to do those hard terrain caches anymore, isn’t this a fun way to continue to rack up those smileys?  I know a couple of 80+ yr old cachers in my area who are finding it hary to do caches similar to those they had no problems with just a few years ago.  Why not let them ( and eventually ALL of us) continue to play without being relegated to handicap accessible events and lamppost hides?  Lighten up, people….we are all on our way out…let’s all have as much joy in our lives as we can before they come to an end.

  • Frankie & Johnny

    If challenges have any merit at all they should be able to stand on their own as a fun activity. FORCING them into the geocache find totals to prevent them from becoming a, “fringe activity” is NOT the answer. Most of us would have no problem with moving earthcaches, event caches etc. etc. into the same group with the challenges. Leave geocaching – use your GPS – go find a container – sign a logbook to stand alone on its own. It won’t have a problem doing that and does not require any artificial propping up. Challenges only cheapen the accomplishments of thousands of dedicated actual cache finders and cheapen the game overall.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to see the ability for the CO to delete logs of cachers who haven’t completed the challenge correctly.
    One of the good things about virtual caches and earth caches is that finders often have to email the CO with answers to questions about the location as proof that the have been to it before they can log the find.  I don’t see why that couldn’t be incorporated into a challenge as it stands but the CO should have the ability to delete a log if the challenge has not been successfully completed to their satisfaction. 

  • Tundrazwolf

    You really should bother to actually READ my entire post. I only added that to the end as a way of explaining how challenges…in their current form…detract from geocaching due to lack of creator control. IE, I CAN delete a cacher’s log who log one of my caches from their armchair. I simply see if they have signed the log book or if they have the correct photo/information as applies to non-traditional caches. However, the ONE challenge I created has a user who DID NOT follow the directions and marked the challenge as complete. I would like to delete their log until they do it correctly, but cannot.

    I have no outward problem with cachers who pad numbers with bogus finds…they are only cheating themselves and I am not competitive so WTFE. BUT, if you log one of MY caches, you better have been there or I will delete your log.

Copyright © 2000-2010 Groundspeak, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.