CacheCrazy.Com: On The Art Of Logging

Monday, June 15, 2015

On The Art Of Logging

Logging is not just for you.
Over the last few years many older cachers have noted that cache logs have been getting shorter and shorter.  Many of the logs for my caches are just variations on TFTC (Thanks for the cache).  With the prevalence of geocaching apps on smart phones with canned logs ready to go, and a general lack of mentoring of new cachers, it is not a surprise that the art of good logging is falling by the way side.  This post is an attempt to explore this cachers thoughts on what makes a good log.

To be clear I am talking about online logs, not paper logs.  Often caches do not provide a log sheet big enough to write anything more than the date and your name.  The online logs, however, never have this constraint.

So what is the purpose of the online log?  You may be surprised to learn that it is not just about keeping score of the caches you've found, but much more important than that. It is also about contributing back to the community.  A well written log adds colour to a cache description.  Often logs provide context to the cache that is not in the description: things like how hard the terrain really is; if there are a lot of muggles around the cache site; a beautiful view along the way that you just shouldn't miss.
See anything interesting along the way?

A well written log also provides useful feed back to the cache owner.  It can let them know if the cache is in good shape, or needs some attention.  It also provides encouragement to the cache owner. Putting out a cache takes time, and often money.  It is disheartening as a cache owner to put in all the effort it takes to get a cache placed and published, only to get a short TFTC in the logs.  A good log is a real ego booster.  I have been known to show off good logs to my non-caching wife - "look at this awesome log left on my cache!"

My sons first log signing.
You bet that made the online log!
So at this stage  of this post you may be asking yourself "What makes a good log, anyway?"  Everyone has different writing style, and it is important that you write your logs in your own style, whatever that may be.  I know one cacher that write a poem for every cache they find.  However most just write in normal prose. You need to find our own voice and practice using it.

Whatever your style, I feel a good log should be at least a couple paragraphs (or longer if it is an epic story, or an epic cache run), and should capture the story of the cache hunt.  I use the following questions as ideas for content when I write my cache logs:
  • What was the weather like?  Bright and sunny?  Torrential rain?
  • Did you hit any milestones on this trip?
  • Did you cache solo, or part of a group?  Who was in your group?
  • Did you see anything interesting along the way?
  • Does the cache have any issues the owner needs to be made aware of?
  • Any interesting muggle encounters?
  • Did the hunt provide any interesting challenges? i.e. long hike, hard climb, tricky hide etc.
  • Did you trade anything, or exchange any travel bugs?
  • Any particular reason you went caching today?

Who did you cache with today?
Combining several of the above ideas into a few sentences can quickly lead to a good story about your hunt.

So you may be thinking "This is all well and good, but when I am in the field, I don't have time to write that much".  This is a valid point.  With smart phones you can log your caches when you find them, and if you don't you may forget important details.  The solution to this is not to post logs from the field, but generate field notes.  Toss the details into a field note, which can then be uploaded to geocaching.com, and when you get back to your computer you can access these notes and use them to generate your cache logs.

Caching: full of memories for a lifetime.
Share them in your cache logs!
If you are doing a lot of caches in the same day, especially if you are doing a power trail, you may not want to write a unique log for every cache. (and rightly so - I wouldn't want to try to write a unique log for every cache in a 100 cache power trail either :)  I would suggest that you write one log detailing the entire day, and then copy and paste that into each log.

Finally, you may ask "what if I didn't find it?".  Good question! This is why there is a Did Not Find log.  I use this when I honestly gave the cache my best attempt and could not come up with the find.  Posting DNF logs is important for one very good reason:  it lets others know the cache may not be there.  As a finder of a cache, I use a series of DNFs as a sign that the cache is missing and may chose to not waste my time looking for it.  As an owner I use the DNF log as a sign that one of my caches may have issues and I should plan on checking on it in the near future.  When I write DNF logs I still tend to write a bit about the hunt, and point out anything interesting that may have happened.

So I have shared my opinions on proper logging.  What are yours? Post your thoughts in the comment section below!



This post was written by Dave DeBaeremaeker. You can follow his geocaching adventures on his blog: Only Googlebot Reads This Blog.

15 comments:

Heather Cook (Lady-Magpie) said...

What a great post Dave and dear to my heart. I'm renowned for my posts and the humour I seem to express myself by. I also love to read other posts for caches that I have found, just to see what others think. I recall on one log mentioning that to avoid a herd of frisky cows I had to do a commando roll under a barded-wire fence. Not only did this cause amusement to the cache owner and fellow cachers, but it's been suggested that a camera be set up to follow my antics. Great post and how I hate the TFTC only comment.

George said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George said...

TFTP (post)

George said...

Too true! I have some caches that are C&D's (Cache and Dash) and I don't mind if someone posts "TFTC" or similar on those, but it irks me to no end when I have placed a nice cache at a nice location, or spent 40+ hours programming and testing a Wherigo cache only to have someone post as their log "TFTC" or "Got it".

Also, I love field notes. If I am doing more than 5 caches at a time I will use my field notes of either my Garmin Oregon or c:geo on my Droid phone to keep track of finds, interesting things, DNFs or notes, and in what order I found them all. One of my favorite under-utilized features of geocaching.com. Thanks for the great post!

Ann said...

Totally agree with all you say. I remember down visiting our daughter in England she is sat at one end of the table me at the other end both of us on laptops laughing away at a particular cache and it's logs. I point out that this cache is very difficullt to get to due to it's location but oh do the logs make fun reading. I like to read all that is writtten in a cache log and like you do not like T4TC? Today we were in Glasgow caching, as I logged my DNF or found logs I did try to put some effort into them once back home.

BLOODHOUNDED said...

I have written on this very subject several times. A good log is a cache owners only reward! There are so many things to say about a caching adventure but few people take the time to do it I guess. For me, I have low numbers because I am selective of my adventures. With less numbers mean fewer logs and more time to make them great! Many new cachers today "think" that the game is played with a short acronym log, a big numbers and a string of C&D's that really only warrant that criteria.
Great post Dave, thanks!

Dodger said...

"I have low numbers because I am selective of my adventures. With less numbers mean fewer logs and more time to make them great! Many new cachers today "think" that the game is played with a short acronym log, a big numbers and a string of C&D's that really only warrant that criteria."

I agree.

I consider my online logs as a sort of diary. I go back and read them from time-to-time to recall the adventure. I recommend that others consider them the same way.

Good article.

Debbie DeBaeremaeker said...

often times (as geo-driver with a sleeping toddler in back) I will read through all the logs of the cache that dave is searching for, especially if i forgot to bring a book.
Its great reading when there is something there to read!

Kathleen Sharpe said...

Oh how I hate the TFTH logs on my caches. This hits home on so many levels. Other than a few cachers in my area that have some issues with me, for the most part, logs are generally ok. What I have noticed is the new cachers that do not seem to write anything but Acronym logs. Should we point this out to them or wait til they hide their own caches and get the same response? Tough call. I do C&P logs but when I come across one that need extra I always add it to the online log at the end of my C&P. And that is were field notes come in handy. Especially when doing a lot of caches in one day. I generally just a one or two words to the field notes and that jogs my memory when I go to log online.

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