Victoria and a Can of Worms


can of worms (plural cans of worms)
  1. (idiomatic) A complex, troublesome situation arising when a decision or action produces considerable subsequent problems.
    If someone gets a promotion that might not be deserved, it could open up a whole can of worms with the other employees.
  2. (idiomatic) A troublesome situation; an issue whose resolution is difficult or contentious but not necessarily complex.
    Questioning the decision would definitely open a can of worms.

“Why are there soooooo many Geocaching groups?”

Right. Let’s open that can of worms, shall we? If you’re searching for geocaching groups on facebook you’ll find about two million of them. While the Kiwis managed to get a fairly big group going, the Australian equivalent took off like a lead balloon. Of course there are big groups in Australia like
but still they are only regional, have sometimes geographical overlap and there are also stacks of mid-sized groups with a vivid participation. The fact remains that the geocaching landscape seems to be far more fragmented than other games. Let's not speculate about other states and stick with Victoria and it's five-hundred-something groups. Now first let's have a look at the official and semi-official organisations:
  • GeoStuff - the one and only brick & mortar shop in the country. Obviously Carl stays out of the politics because that's bad for business
  • Geocaching Australia - is a free site run by volunteers and is not affiliated with any other web site. It got created after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami since Groundspeak never allows any charity-related listings. It had quite a vivid forum community but that died down with the rise of the facebook groups. However their statistics section is still awesome.
  • Geocaching Victoria - is a spin-off from our group and got founded as Geocaching Melbourne in order to have an incorporated body to set-up Mega events in Victoria. They recently re-branded since the committee didn't have control over the Geocaching Melbourne facebook group although some of them are moderators.
  • Geocaching Melbourne - is mainly a big facebook group with a connected blog, facebook page and instagram account. The group got created as a stupid joke by Jim and myself but it wasn't even the first with that name. I'll get to the history later on. Jim and I still run this group although we barely interfere and don't impose group rules. 

Clear as mud so far?

These are just the organisation which have a other than Facebook front-end but there are tons of factions within the community of Victorian Geocachers. Most are just groups of friends and don't worry about what's going on in general. However a few factions are very vocal and also not necessarily friendly regarding other factions. A lot of geocaching communication happens online which means there's a lot of opportunity to talk about and not with each other - obviously I'm very guilty of that as well. To say I polarise would be an understatement.  

Geocaching leaves a lot of room how to play the game. The clashes begin when someone doesn't like how somebody else plays. Statistic cachers, adventure purists, puzzlers, occasional hunters, grey nomads, offroaders, OCD cachers and whoever else is out there have their view which is the best way to play the game. The truth is, there isn't one right way. Although every sane person agrees with that last sentence, it  doesn't mean geocachers don't get into each other's hair over rather trivial things. 

Obviously this is where the splits and the genesis of new facebook groups happen - "I don't like XY and AB is stupid, let's move somewhere else without them!" - The creation of Geocaching Melbourne is a classic example:

The Oil-Spill

Back in May 2013 there was another Geocaching Melbourne group. Somehow Jim got his hands on a rare moving cache which recently had made its way down from Katoomba. While I dropped by for a beer, I saw the mint-tin on his fridge door. A couple of beers later and with the help of a spoofed geolocation the majority of Melbourne's cacher were convinced we had moved the cache to Perth.
This is where things went out of control and pear-shaped. People got up in arms about the low act of taking this rare cache away from the community. As a result Jim and I got the boot from the group. In the meantime  we created a second group with the same name as a little poking-the-bear action. The expectation was that everyone calms down over the next few days, we close our group and everything goes back to normal. Yeah that didn't happen. People left the old group and joined ours and in no time there were hundreds of new members.

All of that over a rusty mint-tin with a magnet wrapped in electrical tape. 

Over the past years similar incidents happened again and again. Pre-facebook you couldn't just set-up a new forum with two clicks hence why everyone stuck with the handful of options available. With facebook you can just spit the dummy and create a new faction 👶 How handy is that!

A unified community?

Is it possible to reverse all of that and (re)unify the Geocaching Community in Melbourne and Victoria? Technically yes but it won't happen. The damage has already been done and too deep are the trenches. Unfortunately this is very confusing for new and only occasional cachers and I suspect it is a contributing factor for people leaving the game. However ...

It's just a game

Play it like you want it and don't care about what people say who aren't even your friends. If you're new to the game keep an open mind and take the banter with a grain of salt.

What are your thoughts about this? Post them in the comments, on the facebook page or one of the twenty-thousand facebook groups 😁


P.S.: Here are the Facebook Groups in Victoria I could find*

Ballarat Geocachers
Bass Coast Geocaching Challenge
Bendigo Region Geocachers
Bushranger's Womens Walking Club
Dirtbags Downunder
East Gippsland Geocachers (EGGs)
Geocachers Victoria
Geocaching Gippsland
Geocaching Geelong & Districts
Geocaching Melbourne
Geocaching Victoria
Geocaching Victoria - Buy, Swap and Sell.
Geocaching Victoria Oxfam Group
Geocaching Western Victoria
Legends! Victorian Geocaching Series
Mornington Peninsula Geocachers
Mountains to Murray Geocachers
Name this Geocache VIC
Nillumbik Geocachers
North East Geocaching
The Extreme Hike and Hackers
The Parkville Pow Pow

* As a result of me being a banned from some groups I can't see them, so they aren't on the list. Also all secret groups are obviously missing.


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