1.1. Hiding Overview
Editors note: Our goal is for everyone to become a successful cache maker and for awesome caches to get published. These are words of wisdom from an HQ staffer who is also a long time geocacher and reviewer. If you read nothing else before placing a geocache, read this:
Consult your Reviewer - Your community volunteer reviewer is one of the best resources available for cache makers. Reviewers are chosen for their deep knowledge of the game and guidelines, discretion, ability to communicate, as well as a sincere enjoyment of helping people. Fielding questions and steering geocachers toward success is a big part of their role, so ask them if you're unsure of something or want to know if an unusual idea is viable. 99% of the time they know the answer or can steer you in a direction that can make your idea work. They can also tell you if something just isn't going to fly. Trust them - they're smart people.
One of the most important times to seek reviewer help is before you do something that is going to take a lot of time, expense, or physical effort. You will want to know before you start digging that your elaborate system of underground conduit violates the buried guideline. You will want to know your chosen location is 50 feet away from the final of a puzzle cache before you mount a custom container that can't be moved. You will want to know before you go on the mother of all hikes into a wilderness area that caches are not allowed in wilderness areas, so you don't have to do the mother of all hikes again to retrieve your container or worse, leave it there as geolitter.
Read the Guidelines - The guidelines are another important resource, and an essential one. Everyone that submits a cache for review checks the box that says I have read and understand the Cache Listing Requirements and Guidelines. They're not a software agreement - you really need to take the time to go over them before you submit a cache for publication. Probably 1/3 of new cache submissions are kicked back for basic guideline violations. You can't know what they are without reading them, and they are the biggest thing that determines whether you will have to redo your cache or get to sit back and enjoy reading the logs of people who have found it.
Here are the four guidelines that potential cache owners most commonly overlook:
Choose an Appropriate Location - Is it a place where your cache could be mistaken for a bomb, like a bridge or airport? Is it near a school where cache hunting behavior is going to draw the attention of parents or school staff who will call the police first and ask questions later? Are caches allowed in that location? Some areas require a permit, are private property, or don't allow geocaching. The Regional Land Policies Wiki is an excellent resource for land policies in your area. It was created for the geocaching community and is maintained by your local reviewers. When you consider an area to place a new geocache, check the land policy before you go to to see if there are any restrictions.
Consider Proximity to Other Geocaches - Is it close to another cache? They have to be at least 1/10 mile or 528 feet (161 meters) apart. This applies to secret locations too, like puzzle and multi finals. Check the area for other caches before settling on a spot. There's a great new planning map tool to help you, with red circles showing places that are already blocked by another geocache. It won't tell you about secret locations, but it will catch a lot of the locations that have already been taken. The planning map is easy to find - it is the first thing you will see on the form to submit a new geocache.
Avoid Commercialization/Agendas - Geocaches cannot be commercial or used to publicize an agenda. Sometimes people get tripped up by the commercial guideline unintentionally. You have a favorite coffee stand and you want to tell your geocaching friends that it's really good so they can enjoy it too. You don't own the coffee stand and won't benefit financially in any way, so how can that be commercial? Intentional or not, the effect is that it is advertising a commercial business – we have to be fair about this to everyone when it comes to promoting a business. Similarly, you might have a cause that is near and dear to your heart. There are lots of platforms that you can use to get the word out about your important cause, but Geocache pages are not an appropriate platform for an agenda. We have to be fair to everyone about this too, and if we let people promote a worthy cause, we have to let people promote some that may not be so nice. Besides, they are not what geocaching is about – it's a fun hobby that gives you a break from the stresses in your everyday life.
Don't Damage Property - Telephone poles and stop signs seem like they are public property because they are so familiar, but they are the property of the city or utility company. Don't damage things in the environment. Screwing or drilling into a live tree creates an inroad for insects and disease. Never bury a cache, even partway. If you have to make a hole in the ground, it's not OK.
If you read the guidelines and work cooperatively with your reviewer, you can be a successful cache maker too!