Among the German geocachers, the current big topic being heavily discussed is the existence of a list which holds final coordinates for more than 12,000 caches, mostly Mysteries, but also of Multi-caches plus answers for Earthcaches. Mainly located in Germany.
But let’s start from the beginning:
On Jan 29th, there was a blog post released (links can be found at the end of this article), talking about a “secret” German Facebook group, where the only topic was exchanging solutions and final coordinates for caches. The name of the group is “Geocaching Mystery Spoiler – Koords bitte !”, which translates to “Geocaching Mystery Spoiler – the coords, please!”.
Shortly after it became public that, in addition to the Facebook group, a spread-sheet exists which holds the name, cache id, state / region plus final coordinates of approx. 12,000 caches. As mentioned above, not only Mysteries, but Multis and Earthcaches as well.
And sometime yesterday, Jan 30th, it was confirmed that the (pretty popular) geochecker webpage "geocheck.org" was intruded, which means that the solutions for more than 20,000 geocaches were stolen.
So let’s walk through these three points:
Basically, talking about final cords is probably as old as geocaching (or, to be more precise, the existence of Mystery caches). Everybody who ever visited a local geocaching event catched a talk about this or probably even initiated one. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially as in most cases, there’s only a clear hint given towards the path to choose to solve a mystery, not the final cords. Plus, and that is the main difference to the mentioned Facebook group, you talk local, probably about caches within a radius of 20 km or so around. Living in e.g. Munich, you hardly would discuss a mystery somewhere up north, e.g. in Hamburg or so.
However, the Facebook group was nation-wide; cords for the whole country of Germany were exchanged. By the way: I only saw extracts from the full list, so I‘m not 100% sure that the caches are really all placed in Germany. But at least the vast majority is in Germany.
But, coming to the second point, there was an additional list which came to light, which held the above mentioned data for the caches in a spread-sheet, so it is easy to search for a specific cache name, cache id or filter by state (one column of the spread-sheet mentioned the state of Germany, in which the cache is placed).
For the moment, it is not clear if the intrusion into the geocheck.org database is related to the list. It is indeed true the vast majority of caches in the mentioned spread-sheet uses geocheck.org as a geochecker, but there are also caches which use a different (or no) geochecker.
As said, all of this was German-centered. Well, actually of course nobody knows if not cachers from other countries participated, too, but for the moment, it has to be assumed it is mainly German geocachers.
Which leads to the question: why the hell geocachers do something like this? Are German geocachers are really that heavily focused on having as many “found it” as they can get? Looking at the above, the answer may be: yes, they are. Well, the number of geocachers which acted in this Facebook group and helped to complete the spread-sheet is definitely only a small fraction of the overall number of active German geocachers. But this small fraction is the one which gives geocaching as a game, which is supposed to be nothing but fun, a tremendous shift to the negative side.
For me, being a German geocacher as well, it is impossible to understand why somebody can be that heavily focused on the find count. What for? Ego boost? Showing up with the personal stats? The latter only works in case the other, “normal” geocachers, are open for that. And on the former: well, of course geocaching can work for that, no doubt. Probably every geocacher is proud (of himself) when finishing a cache with a high T-ranking or solves a difficult Mystery. But if somebody takes it that far heavily exchanging final cords of caches and even breaking into a geochecker server – which is a criminal and illegal act – there something wrong with this person for sure.
However, the impression left is: German geocachers take the game too seriously. Which is not true for the majority of geocachers, but, as mentioned above, is a small fraction of morons which create this impression, not the (silent) majority of german cachers. Which is a real pity!
Reportedly, the case is in the focus of Groundspeak already. Well, I guess Groundspeak has to act, as, as far as I know, Germany is the second biggest geocaching community after the US, so Groundspeak should have an interest to get things straight again.
And, finally: How does the whole issue affect the “daily geocaching” in Germany? Well, you got the full range. Some cache owners removed their Mysteries immediately and put them to the archive while others say: “Ok, let’s see what happens next and how the whole thing develops.”
From my side, having approx. 60 mysteries out in the field, it seems like a bit less than half of them are on this list. And most of them are the easier one. The tougher ones are not listed. Anyway, for the moment, I will leave all caches active. In case we I rushed with logs, I will probably re-think what to do. But I doubt that the number of logs will increase drastically.
But, again, the whole story is nothing but sad…
And here are the four links on the blog posts, which brought the whole thing to light. These are all German posts: