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

Tuesday, June 2, 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 warm, the days are longer and you are wiping the dust off of that GPSr in anticipation of some caching. You’re day dream of the adventure, 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!


Dan the Wodsman said...

Great Article! I never realized how important the DNF was!

Here is a question for you...On one cache last fall...I technically found the cache, but did not sign the log book, but on I logged it as a found. Let me explain...

The cache was under a broken lean-to. The sides and such were gone and only a bit of the roof remained, and it was basically laying on the ground with only a little space under it. The cache was hidden under this broken roof of an old lean-to (a really cool spot, actually). The problem was, I could not reach the cache! My arms are too short, and there was no way to drag it out with a stick or something. The lean-to was frozen in place by a pile of ice and snow on top, so I couldn't lift it up either. The cache was in sight, but not accessible. I made mention of this in the log on, and logged it as a found. Was this the right thing to do?


That is a great question and you would likely get a range of answers but here is mine.
Yes, you found it so you should log your find. The CO has the right and power to delete your smiley and deny you the find because you did not sign the log. I don’t think that many folks are that strict. I would probably send you an email and ask a question or two about the cache to verify but yes, you would get the find in my book AND I would likely go see what I could do to make it more accessible.

smithie23 said...

Speaking as one of those DNF's of the cache you referenced, I second stressing the importance of posting a DNF. There was a lotta lookin' going on that morning! I knew something had to be wrong there. There was too much of a story in NOT finding the cache. Why not tell it?

Of course, being part of a group FTF on that one was an unforgettable experience. Who could ever forget the Great Seven Tubs Geocacher Bee Attack of 2010??


EXACTLY! thanks Dave....

Ann said...

I agree. We spent waaaaaay too long at a cache last week! Came away as a DNF. So annoying as someone had found it the day before, again annoying 😡but we will go back. Usually when we spend a long time searching I will say "one more look" and then bingo the cache suddenly appears! But not last week.

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