I replaced a missing container for a cache owner and thought I was being a good citizen, but instead I got an email from the owner asking me not to replace any of their containers in the future. Where did I go wrong?
First off, are you sure the cache was really missing? A string of DNFs doesn’t necessarily mean the cache is gone, especially if it is a high difficulty hide (2.5 stars or greater). It might just be a really clever hide that everyone is overlooking.
Another thing to consider is that some caches are all about the container or the way the cache is hidden. If you don’t match the same container and place it in the same way as the original hide, you may be increasing or decreasing the difficulty and terrain of that cache.
Here are some good rules of thumb to consider before replacing someone else’s cache.
- If you do not know exactly where and how it was hidden, don’t replace it. In other words, if you have a previous finder with you who can verify it really is missing, or the cache page spells it out beyond a shadow of a doubt, then proceed to rule 2.
- Only replace a cache if you have an equivalent container with you. Just like swag–either replace even, replace up or just walk away.
- If you find a damaged container or partial remains of a cache, again…only replace it if you have the same or an equivalent container and are certain how it was originally hidden.
- It is usually best to contact an owner to offer your help and get their permission first before replacing any cache.
- Also if you replace a full or soggy log, keep in mind that some cache owners want to “audit” their logs. The nice thing to do is bring the log home with you (dry it out if needed) and then contact the owner to let them know that you have the log and would be willing to snail mail it to them or scan it and email it to them if they would like.
- Some hiders take extreme pride in the difficulty of their hides or their ability to
maintain their caches. So sometimes an innocent good deed can be mistaken as an attempt to make a tough cache easier or as an implication that the owner is not able to maintain their caches.
Always remember it is good to have thick skin as a cacher, the thorns don’t hurt as bad and the occasional cranky email won’t sting as much either.
Caching Etiquette Columnist
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