With our first cache ready (see The seeker becomes a hider… its time, Flash don’t melt – Choosing and preparing cache containers, You get out what you put in! – What to put in a geocache and Final touches to our first cache) the last step of the process is to submit the cache listing for review and publishing. There are a small group of volunteers who are responsible for reviewing all geocaches in the UK to make sure that they meet the guidelines as laid down by Groundspeak. Once you submit a cache it goes into a queue and then is looked over by a reviewer. If they are happy with it they then publish it and your cache is now visible to everyone using geocaching.com.
When putting together your listing you need to have a lot of information to hand about your cache and its location. You need to provide the coordinates and I discussed how to get these in my last entry. Because this is a puzzle cache I need to provide two sets of coordinates – one set that is published for all to see that is not actually where the final cache is but is somewhere not too far away. This is necessary as all caches that are published must have coordinates attached so that they can be categorized as to where in the world they are etc. The second set of coordinates point to the final location of the container and these are only visible to the reviewer. They need to check the location to make sure that it does not contravene any rules and also that it is not too close to an existing cache. Geocaches must be at least 165metres apart.
You also need to state a difficulty and terrain rating for your cache. This gives the player an indication as to how challenging the cache will be. Both scales start at 1 and go up to 5 in .5 increments. I rated my cache as a Difficulty 2.5 and terrain 1. By rating the terrain as 1 I am saying that it is accessible to wheelchair users and the difficulty of 2.5 reflects the anagram solving and the clue collecting that needs to be done in order to reach the final hide. This is entirely arbitrary though although there are one or two guidelines such as only rating as 1 terrain if it is completely wheelchair accessible.
You also need to specify what size the container is from a choice of micro, small, regular, large and other. In addition there is a whole list of attributes that you can attach to your listing to help people decide if the cache is right for them and to assist them at GZ. These include whether there is fuel nearby, or parking, or food, or public toilets. Whether it is suitable for kids, or pushchairs, or if dogs are prohibited or if it is good for cyclists etc. These attributes allow the person to build up a picture of what the location is like and if they would need any specific equipment or footwear etc. in order to tackle the cache. It is always a good idea to check the attributes before attempting a cache as it is disappointing to travel to a site only to find that it involves UV lighting or it is up a large tree and needs special equipment to climb it.
The main visible part of your listing is the description. This is your chance to describe your cache and the reason why it is there, give the player as much information as they need to find your cache and also make it engaging and readable so that people will actually want to make the effort and go and find your geocache. You see all sorts of descriptions from the elaborate and incredibly detailed narratives about the cache location providing details of parking and nearby facilities etc. to the totally uninspiring “A 35mm film pot in a tree”. In addition to the description you can provide a hint if you like to aid people who have trouble finding the cache. This could be something like “base of tree” or “magnetic stuck to back of sign”. You don’t have to provide a hint and the geocaching world is very much split between those that use the hints and those that will do everything they can possibly do not to use the hint. I personally tend to go for the hint straight off. I already have a disadvantage being blind so I reckon that any extra help I can get is a benefit. Also I personally do not see the fun of the sport being to spend 30 minutes thrashing around in a bush looking for something that I have very little idea what it looks like or where it is… although I have done this.
Once the description and hint are in place and all the other aspects of the listing are completed you need to submit it for review. When you create the listing you can save it before submitting and this will generate you your unique geocache code. You need this as it is advisable to place a label on the outside of your container stating that it is a geocache and also the code too. This is to aid people who find it who are not aware of what geocaching is and to alleviate fears they may have about it being a suspicious item and calling in the bomb squad to have it exploded. Once the labels are on the cache then it is time to go and actually hide it in the place you have chosen and then submit your listing for review and cross fingers and wait… Then the fun begins.