CacheCrazy.Com: Can you log those DNF's? PLEASE!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Can you log those DNF's? PLEASE!

By: Bloodhounded
Notes from the author: You might think that logging a DNF makes you look bad as a geocacher. Quite the contrary, you could be the hero not the zero.

So the air is starting to cool, the days are shorter and you are wiping the dust off of that GPSr in anticipation of some autumn caching. You’re day dreaming of the adventures, the fun and healthy exercise but what is probably the furthest thing from your mind is what I want to talk about today. Logging those DNF’s!

Oh yes, the dreaded DNF! For those new to caching it’s an acronym for Did Not Find. You know that little blue sad face that looks you straight in the eye and makes you feel the failure of the hunt. Fear not my caching friends, for all is not lost. That little polar opposite of the famed smiley has its place in the geocaching community and serves several positive purposes. Today I’ll go into a few examples of what the DNF means to me as both a Hider and a Seeker.

But first a story:

When the cache page says
an ammo can, you're think
ing big, right? WRONG!

‘What a great cache this is going to be”, I thought as I placed the final to a small multi cache that I hid last summer. “It’s going to be awesome”. First you have to figure out the puzzle on the cache page and then it’s on to an apparatus that you need to “work” in the field in order to obtain the coords to the final. Then just a short distance away, in a very beautiful spot is the treasure however, the area is truly the gift of the cache. I scouted it out several times, I have it all worked out. I even placed a spare key nearby in case there is trouble in the field with the lock on the apparatus. I carefully thought of everything! I think I stayed up most of the night doing the cache page (I always like to do elaborate cache pages) and when it was completed I sent it out to be reviewed and approved. Within a day it was approved and published on I couldn’t wait to see the log of the FTF! Who would it be? How would they fair with the apparatus? Would they appreciate the location as I did?

At work the next day I happened to glance at my Gmail account and there were three new emails. Surly one of them was the FTF. My hands made quick work of the keyboard and sure enough there were two GC emails. Much to my surprise, they were both DNF’s!!!! What? A DNF? Something isn’t right! Both of the geocachers I knew and both were very good at the sport. I immediately temporarily archived the cache until I could check it out. Within hours I stopped and found my problem right away. When copying my coords to the computer I transposed a few numbers and was off nearly 100 feet. I couldn’t apologize enough and I felt like an ass. One of the cachers drove 40+ miles to get the FTF only to take part in a wild goose chase. Then I found out that the cache was looked for the day prior by two geocachers however neither logged the DNF. Had they done this I could have had it fixed right away and saved my friend a long drive to the Poconos for nothing. But, because they didn’t, I just thought folks were slow to the grab it because it had a small hike along with it.

This was a lesson learned for me on two fronts.

1. I always log a DNF if I give the search a fair look and don’t find it.

2. To always triple check my coords on a hide and then, check one more time for good measure.

OK, so you have to log the DNF. Does it mean you suck at geocaching? No… What it means is that you have given the cache a thorough search and according to your GPSr you are at GZ but you’re not finding it today. You may return tomorrow and BAM, there it is but today, no go. No big deal and you’re doing more good than harm to your caching reputation for doing so.

If we as geocachers always found the cache easily the very first 10 minutes of searching, it just wouldn’t be as fun! Now I’m not saying a DNF is a good thing, it sucks, but it is truly part of the game.

Depending on your prospective here is what it means to me.

As A Hider

• When someone logs a DNF at one of my caches I always contact them and by the Bloodhounded law, offer a hint. So you’re likely to get a little assistance if you want to try again.

• I actually like a few DNF’s on my hides. It tells me that the cache is challenging but doable and offers a fair share of frustration and enjoyment at the same time. There is nothing like the feeling of returning to GZ and making the find after several attempts!

• My rule is “three strikes and you’re out” meaning, after three DNF’s and I’m off to check it out. I might even temporarily archive it until I know more if I can’t get out right away. This stops the bleeding and prevents others from being disappointed.

• I have had about a 50% success rate with the three strike rule. Half the time it’s there for the finding, I check the coords, and it all matches up, I post a note to the cache page and activate the cache. The other half of the time the cache is missing and needs to be replaced. I usually do that right away as I bring a replacement just in case, post a note to the cache page and activate the cache. I never ridicule the DNF posters if it’s there and ALWAYS thank them in either case.

• I respect the geocacher who posts the DNF. They are the people who keep the cache active and alive. If they don’t post it I assume everything is OK. A cache could go through a few cachers who don’t post and then you find out it’s missing by doing maintenance or from another cacher who does post it. In any case, I always want my caches to be found, stocked with swag and have a nice dry log to sign.

As A Seeker

• Before I go caching I always look at the last three or four logs. If I see a few DNF’s I know it’s either going to be a tough one or I may need to replace it if I can.

• If it is ridiculously ignored and there are several DNF’s, I’ll email the CO. If I do not get a response from them I’ll forward an archive request to the reviewer and have it cleaned up.

• If the location is super cool and there are several DNF’s I may try an adoption and take the cache ownership responsibility (more on this in the near future).

• If it’s a brand new cache and there are a few DNF’s I’ll wait for it to settle out and then go for it unless I’m after the FTF, then I am either in the DNF group with the rest of them or victorious and it means that much more knowing that others have tried and failed.

• REMEMBER, logging a DNF is GOOD for your caching reputation. Others will appreciate your efforts and make an assessment on their own whether or not to search for it. You did your job! Put the geocache on your watch list and see what happens. If the next cacher finds it, email them and ask for some assistance or just ask the CO. I always offer hints and have had some folks get three and four hints (even maps drawn for them) before they made the find. It’s cool to help others.

• DO NOT ask for a hint to be the FTF! That is just bad edict and most CO’s will not offer any hints until the FTF is completed and then it’s OK to ask.

So to wrap up this controversial topic, keep in mind that as a geocacher you have several responsibilities. Some of these include; to leave no trace, report any dangers of the cache in the log or to the reviewer, trade up or even, repair and replace as needed or to your ability at that moment, place the cache back exactly or better than you found it, log those DNF’s and most importantly have all kinds of cache crazy fun!


Kim@Snug Harbor said...

Looking at the number of finds a cacher has when he posted a DNF is a good indicator too. If it's a newbie, I'm apt to think they just didn't find it. If it's a cacher with several thousand finds, then I tend to think it may be missing.


Excellent point Kim, thanks!

BigAl said...

Nice post Kevin. I log all my DNFs. Even the ones I found, but could not get to because the water was too deep to wade.

Heather Cook (Lady-Magpie) said...

Good words from a wise old owl, all makes sense, thanks youv'e changed my attitude.

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