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Lab caches: treat them like caches

+8 votes
1,099 views
I know Lab caches are incredibly new to PGC, so new that I am refreshing my PGC page every couple of hours - I can't wait!!!

And then this popped up on my profile stats page: "the Seagnoid has 6611 finds on 6611 unique geocaches, plus 0 lab caches".

I am not concerned about the zero, that's just because the data has not filtered in yet. What concerns me is that PGC is treating lab caches differently from the way GC treats them. I appreciate that Lab caches are not like other caches, but as GC includes them in the total count, PGC should do the same. The advantage of this is that the totals will actually match between the two sites. The separate lab cache tab also seems wrong to me (although that has yet to appear for me, so I don't know what kind of content it will have), perhaps another section in the finds tab would be more appropriate. (and in the hides section - I have placed one). Although personally, I do not see a need for a different section at all. It is just another cache type. Unless PGC is present data that GC does not supply? E.g. what Mega the lab cache was released at?

In short, where possible, GC treats lab caches as just another cache type. PGC should do the same.

Or maybe I am just premature?
asked Oct 4, 2016 in Feature requests by the Seagnoid (Expert) (34,770 points)
edited Nov 14, 2016 by the Seagnoid (Expert)
Yay!! the lab caches have come through, and my total find count now matches that of GC! Thank you Ganja1447 and the team at GC. Well done.

There is still more work to do. I appreciate that lab caches are different, but they are still just another cache type.

On the finds tab:
All stats should include lab caches in find counts
Finds per type should definitely list them!!

Finds by size  / DT grid etc should also list them, which is where life gets difficult.
Add D/T/Size fields to the lab cache data. D and T would have value zero, which would make it easy for most of the code to handle, even though we all know that "0" is not really its difficulty rating. Or modify the code to handle  D/T = Null/Null (which might be harder). Size is a text field - how about "Lab"? The 81 D/T grid needs to be 82, to include the 0/0 or null/null D/T. Alternatively keep it at 81 and add "+ 21 lab caches   total 6632" underneath. I prefer an 82 grid. If using 0/0 note that it does not need to be in the 0/0 location.Above or below the 1 column would be fine.
Hides: In February 2014 Premium members were invited to create a lab cache for themselves. Did the API include owner info? My guess is that owner info does not even exist, but it would be nice to have our hide counts updated to include lab caches too.
Having populated D/T/Size fields would make it easy for challenges to handle them, but as challenge code may not handle the non-standard values correctly there would still need to be a option added to the filter to include them, with default option set to not include (and while on that, could you also add a do not include cache type filter?)
the Seagnoid mentioned labcache hides in the comment above. This data does exist in the cache setter's Groundspeak hide profile (I can click through to my original labcache listing which is still there in the original detail from 2014).

I'd like to see this included on Project-GC please because it's on my Groundspeak hide list.

2 Answers

–1 vote

Except that lab caches are not and were never meant to be geocaches in any classical sense of the word.

They were, amogst other reasons (see the links below) instituted as an instrument for officials to play around with new ideas. They even reside in their own system on labs.geocaching.com. At some point they decided that somehow very few people would care about them at all if they did not count anywhere so they changed that. First they were added only to the find count in the upper right corner on geocaching.com, later in the profile page and lastly the statistics on geocaching.com.

The problem with labcaches are that they are still not caches in the same sense that other caches are.

If you open up a cache listing (just any cache listing page on geocaching.com), it will exhibit the following attributes:

  1. Title
  2. GC code
  3. Difficulty rating
  4. Terrain rating
  5. Cache size (optional)
  6. Listed coordinates
  7. Placed date
  8. Related web page (optional)
  9. Cache owner
  10. Cache description
  11. Hint (optional)
  12. Additional waypoints (optional)
  13. Gallery of user uploaded images
  14. Favorite points
  15. Attributes (like "parking available" or "stealth required", optional)
  16. Which bookmark lists has the cache on it
  17. Inventory of trackables and history of past trackables
  18. Logs with text

A labcache has only title, description and sometimes listed coordinate and lack all the rest of the above. They must be logged within a certain (very limited) timeframe and the only thing you can do is typically enter a code that you were meant to uncover during your quest to log the cache. You do not get to log a DNF or write log text whatsoever. If you get the code right, you just get a message displayed that "that's one more cache added to your find count".

If lab caches are included as caches (even though they clearly are not, since they exhibit just as many characteristics of being a cache as a Honda Civic or the prequal trilogy of Star Wars, both of which also have a title and a description), questions arise as to how they should be included in statistics. That is a seperate and very wide-spanning debate, as there are no clear way as to how it should be done.

Groundspeak has made its decision as to how they indend to treat lab caches in their statistics. You can read about it in the following links:

This does give a guideline as to which statistics in here should include them but makes the resulting statistics more complex since they have to be included in some statistics calculations and excluded from others. Since they don't have a GC code to identify them, they will need some other unique identifier to reference them as well.

TL;DR: Lab caches are not geocaches, and how to handle them is not a trivial matter.

answered Oct 4, 2016 by Funky_Boris (9,290 points)
Sure, they can't be used for everything. But there's no (obvious) reason that Project-GC can't treat them the same way that Geocaching.com do - count them the same as any other caches for those statistics where they can be used and ignore them for the ones where they don't make sense.
I am fully aware of this, as I said in my original post.  Doesn't change that they should be treated the same way that GC does - as just another cache type, added into totals, etc. (where possible)
@sumbloke, the Seagnoid:
I see your point. You want the way project-gc handles lab cache in statistics to be consistent with how they are handled at geocaching.com. That is a fair point. There is a great deal of things that will become simpler as a result - milestones will for instance once again be aligned instead of now where my find count on project-gc trails the one on geocaching.com with 62 because of lab caches.

My goal is to provide context. IMO the issue is not clear-cut and unilateraly a good idea. It's one of those "careful what you wish for" kind of things, and I don't want people to support or reject it without context. I do, however, buy into the point about the advantages of consistency :)
Where possible, GC treats lab caches as just another cache type. PGC should do the same.
+2 votes

It's good to see that PGC now handles lab caches - are they now available from the API, or do they have to be entered manually?

With regard to The Seagnoid's question, perhaps a better alternative would be to add the number of lab and non-lab caches together in the summary, and display something like

Username has 1234 finds on 1234 unique geocaches
this includes 12 lab caches

The second line only to display if >0

answered Oct 4, 2016 by Optimist on the run (Expert) (16,370 points)
They are in the API. Patience, the lab caches will be automatically loaded into PGC over the next few days. If your lab cache count comes in and is wrong, don't complain, it just means there are still more logs to bring in.
I would prefer the numbers to match GC. So the above example would be "Username has 1246 finds on 1246 unique geocaches". That there are 12 lab caches can be seen in the cache type breakdown (again, same as GC does it).
My example assumed 1222 non lab caches and 12 lab caches.

Personally I haven't yet logged any lab caches (mainly due to avoiding discrepancies between my Groundspeak and PGC stats). I found some for the first time at a Mega this year, but I can't log them now due to the rule that they can only be logged within a day or two of the event :(
I don't understand why the number of lab caches has to be displayed in the headline at all. There is a statistics for breaking down the number to the different cache types, so why should one cache type be emphasised in the headline?
In my opinion the headline should be universally valid.
Even if the lab caches are not regarded as "usual" geocaches, this would be one reason more not to over-emphasised them.
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